Top Tourist Scams in Laos and How to Defend

Being aware of Tourist Scams in Laos is important. These scams include "The Ripped Banknote Scam, Dodgy Motorbike Rentals, Watch Out for Hotel Theft, Tricky Shortchanging, No Accommodation on Slow Boats, and more. However, these scams can spoil your trip. But with awareness and precautions, you can protect yourself.

Nonetheless, the purpose of this article is to ensure your safety from various Tourist Scams in Laos. We will uncover prevalent scams and offer practical tips to help you steer clear of them.


Explore Laos, a land known for its natural beauty and rich culture. However, as you embark on your journey, it's crucial to be aware of potential tourist scams. Therefore, in this guide, we'll highlight these common scams and provide simple safety tips to ensure a hassle-free visit to Laos.

Moreover, whether you're admiring ancient temples or enjoying the country's lush landscapes, knowing about these scams will help you have a great time in Laos.

About Tourist Scams in Laos | De Reviews

Lists of Tourist Scams in Laos:

Below are the list of Tourist Scams in Laos that you may encounter:

1. The Ripped Banknote Scam

  • Scam Description: Some vendors hand you damaged money, hoping you won't notice.
  • How to Avoid: Always check your change as well as the condition of banknotes.

2. Dodgy Motorbike Rentals

  • Scam Description: Rental businesses might hold your passport hostage or invent damage to charge extra.
  • How to Avoid: Rent from trustworthy places, take photos, and never give up your passport.

3. Watch Out for Hotel Theft

  • Scam Description: Unscrupulous staff in some guesthouses may steal from guests.
  • How to Avoid: Read recent reviews and keep your valuables secure.

4. Tricky Shortchanging

  • Scam Description: Sellers can give you the wrong change or change prices after you've paid, especially in markets.
  • How to Avoid: Always double-check your change and make payment agreements clear.

5. No Accommodation on Slow Boats

  • Scam Description: Scammers convince travelers that rooms are scarce at their destination, henceforth, leading to unnecessary prepayments.
  • How to Avoid: Research accommodations ahead of time and don't fall for the no-room story.

6. Morning Alms Rice Demands

  • Scam Description: Locals may pressure tourists to participate in the morning alms ceremony and then charge high prices for offerings.
  • How to Avoid: Politely decline or agree on a reasonable price upfront.

7. Avoid 'Happy Restaurant' Drugs

  • Scam Description: Restaurants may offer 'happy' food or drinks with illegal substances.
  • How to Avoid: Steer clear of these places; illegal drugs have serious consequences.

8. Check Exchange Rates

  • Scam Description: Businesses may use the wrong exchange rate, thereafter, causing travelers to overpay.
  • How to Avoid: Verify exchange rates from reliable sources.

9. Tuk Tuk Troubles

  • Scam Description: Tuk tuk drivers may overcharge or demand extra fees during the ride.
  • How to Avoid: Agree on a price before the ride and pay when you arrive.

10. Unmarked Prices

  • Scam Description: Some vendors won't display prices, leaving travelers open to overcharging.
  • How to Avoid: Only buy from places with visible prices or ask before purchasing.

11. Kids as Bait

  • Scam Description: Children can be used to get money by offering help and then demanding payment.
  • How to Avoid: Politely refuse children's offers and stand your ground.

12. Transport and Accommodation Deceptions

  • Scam Description: Travel representatives promise comfort but deliver subpar or unsafe conditions.
  • How to Avoid: Inspect transport before paying or research reputable tour companies.

13. Guides Not Following Through

  • Scam Description: Guides may skip parts of the itinerary, leaving travelers unsatisfied.
  • How to Avoid: Clearly outline your route in writing or set a payment method that accounts for all stops.

14. Beware of Long Boat Tours

  • Scam Description: Tour operators claim limited accommodations, pressuring travelers to prepay for rooms they won't use.
  • How to Avoid: Research accommodations and resist the pressure to prepay.

15. Language Barrier Traps

  • Scam Description: Scammers exploit language gaps to mislead travelers on prices, destinations, or services.
  • How to Avoid: Learn some local phrases, seek trustworthy help, and use translation apps.

16. The 'You Dropped My Phone' Trick

  • Scam Description: A local asks to take your photo, and then claims you dropped their phone, demanding money.
  • How to Avoid: Use caution when accepting others' phones and assess the situation carefully.

17. Questionable Bridge Tolls

  • Scam Description: Tuk tuk drivers may ask for toll payments, sometimes without proper authorization.
  • How to Avoid: Check the legitimacy of toll charges and negotiate when necessary.

18. ATM Fees

  • Scam Description: High ATM fees can add up quickly and hurt your travel budget.
  • How to Avoid: Use ATMs with lower fixed fees like BCLE.

19. Watch USD to LAK Conversions

  • Scam Description: Hotels may covertly apply unfavorable exchange rates, resulting in overpayment.
  • How to Avoid: Stay vigilant about exchange rates and insist on fair conversions.

20. Unhonored Hotel Reservations

  • Scam Description: Some hotels may not honor bookings made through third-party websites.
  • How to Avoid: Contact the hotel directly after booking through a third-party site to confirm your reservation.

21. Ineffective Insurance

  • Scam Description: Travelers might discover their insurance doesn't cover incidents or items as expected.
  • How to Avoid: Review your travel insurance policy to understand its limitations and exclusions.

22. Taxi Meter Manipulation

  • Scam Description: Taxi drivers might tamper with meters to charge higher fares.
  • How to Avoid: Choose reputable taxi companies and agree on fares or ensure the meter is correctly set.

23. Watch Out for Pickpocketing

  • Scam Description: Petty theft, like pickpocketing, can happen in crowded areas and markets.
  • How to Avoid: Keep your belongings secure, use money belts, and stay alert in crowded places.

24. Fake Tours and Attractions

  • Scam Description: Some travel agencies offer fake tours or nonexistent attractions to lure tourists.
  • How to Avoid: Research tour providers, read reviews, and book through reputable agencies.

25. Inaccurate Activity Prices

  • Scam Description: Prices for activities or entrance fees may be quoted inaccurately to overcharge tourists.
  • How to Avoid: Confirm prices with multiple sources and pay the correct amount.

Our Additional Tips For You To Avoid Tourist Scams in Laos:

  1. Research and Read Reviews: Before booking accommodations, tours, or services, check online reviews and forums. Hence, fellow travelers often share their experiences and can warn you about potential scams.
  2. Use Reputable Tour Companies: When you're booking tours or transportation, it's a good idea to choose well-known and reputable companies. Please note that these companies typically have better safety records and receive positive feedback from customers.
  3. Negotiate Prices in Advance: Be it a taxi ride or buying something at a local market, make sure to agree on prices before proceeding with the transaction. By doing this, you can avoid surprises and unexpected price increases.
  4. Be Cautious with New Acquaintances: While it's great to meet locals and fellow travelers, be cautious about overly friendly people who may have ulterior motives.
  5. Keep Valuables Secure: Use a money belt or hidden pouch to store your passport, cash, and important documents. Futher, don't leave valuable items unattended in your hotel room.
  6. Learn Basic Phrases: Familiarize yourself with some local phrases, as this can help you communicate better as well as avoid misunderstandings.
  7. Avoid Drugs and Illicit Activities: Engaging in illegal or illicit activities can expose you to unnecessary risks and scams. Always adhere to local laws and regulations.
  8. Check Your Change: After making a purchase, check your change to ensure you receive the correct amount. Some scammers exploit tourists' unfamiliarity with local currency.
  9. Respect Local Customs: Learning about and respecting local customs and traditions can help you avoid unintentionally offending anyone and attracting unwanted attention.
  10. Use Secure Payment Methods: Credit cards and secure online payment methods are often safer than carrying large amounts of cash. Therefore, be cautious when using ATMs and shield your PIN.

FAQs on Tourist Scams in Laos:

Q1: What are the most common Tourist Scams in Laos?

A widespread Tourist Scams in Laos are the "no accommodation" trick and "Transport and Accommodation Deceptions". However, scammers claim there's no place to stay to make you pay for overpriced rooms.

Q2: How can I protect myself from Tourist Scams in Laos?

To stay safe from Tourist Scams in Laos, educate yourself about common scams, do thorough research before your trip, and be wary of any deal that seems too good to be true.

Furthermore, always double-check your change, clearly communicate with service providers, and trust your instincts. Also, secure your belongings, travel in groups when possible, and seek advice from fellow travelers.

Q3: Are shortchanging scams common in Laos?

Yes, vendors may give you less change than you're owed. Thus, be alert and count your change carefully.

Q4: What's the "wrong exchange rate" scam in Laos?

Some businesses quote prices in USD but charge in LAK using the wrong exchange rate. Therefore, double-check the rate to avoid overpaying.

Q5: How can I avoid "tuk-tuk" Tourist Scams in Laos?

Negotiate prices upfront, pay upon arrival, and be polite but firm with drivers.

Q6: Are there scams involving children in Laos?

Yes, children are sometimes used as bait to ask for money or sell items. So, politely decline their offers.

Q7: What is the "morning alms rice" Tourist Scams in Laos?

It's when you're charged to participate in the alms ceremony. Thus, politely decline or agree on a reasonable price.

Q8: What's the "happy restaurant drug" Tourist Scams in Laos?

Some restaurants offer "happy" food or drinks that are actually drugs. That's why, don't accept offers from them.

Q9: What are "ripped bank note" Tourist Scams in Laos?

Scammers give you ripped, worthless banknotes. Therefore, always check your money and reject damaged notes.

Q10: How can I protect myself from hotel theft in Laos?

Keep your room locked, valuables hidden, and choose reputable accommodations. Further, read reviews and research in advance.

Conclusion on "Tourist Scams in Laos":

In brief, as you journey through Laos, it's essential to remain vigilant against potential scams. By familiarizing yourself with these tricks and taking necessary precautions, you can significantly enhance your travel experience in this truly unique and culturally rich destination.

Additionally, immersing yourself in the natural beauty and cultural heritage while staying attentive will ensure a journey that's both hassle-free and thoroughly enjoyable. So, as you embark on this adventure, remember that awareness and preparation are key to a memorable and trouble-free visit to Laos.

Join the Conversation about "Tourist Scams in Laos":

Do You Know More? We've covered some of the Tourist Scams in Laos, but we'd love to hear from you. If you've encountered or heard of other Tourist Scams in Laos, please share your insights in the comments below. Well, your experiences can help fellow travelers stay informed and protected.

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Spread the Word about "Tourist Scams in Laos":

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Additional Info:

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Exploring new horizons? Keep an eye out for scams and leave them in the dust!

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De Roka Author
I am De Roka, also known as Suman Roka. I'm the Author, Editor, Researcher, and Founder of I've been working online since 2009. Since 2014, I've been researching scams to protect people from falling for them. I've saved many folks from scams by exposing their true nature before they can trick anyone. Until now, we have saved 20M+ people from 40K+ scams. If you want to learn more about me and my team, you can visit our About Us page. You can find more about me on my Facebook profile as well.

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