Dealing with those who want to “help” you

Living from tourists

If you go in your own way, touring around countries like Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam – and most countries – you will find in your way too many people who want to “help” you to get transport, hotels, tours, change money, buying food and even night enjoyment. Definitively, everyone has the right to work and get money to survive. But it is also true that many tourists try to keep as much as possible, at least they pay to agencies to arrange everything. 

Thai border fake money exchange scam

The crossing Thai – Cambodian border in Aranyapraeth-Poipet is particularly vulnerable. Many people offer to change your money. If you give to them a bill of 100 USD, they say it is fake. This man, working for a transport company in Aranyapraeth, helps in the scam, stating that he is very skillful in detecting when a bill is fake. Then many other guys come to “help” you, to offer to “buy” it for less money. Make always exchanges in banks or currency exchange sites.

If you are a backpacker or just you want to manage your our time in tours, follow these recommendations when you will face these insisting tourists´ helpers:

  • The most vulnerable moment to be engaged is one you just arrived to a place, coming out from a bus or van or just crossing a border. Don´t follow the first guy who insisted he can help you to get a next transport, change money or even assisting you with your passport and visas. Sad to say but just ignore them all. Get into your feed. Look around and try to understand very well where you are. Sometimes you will find what they offer just in front to your nose. Digital guides are also very much useful, especially made by other travelers.
  • Hold your belongings. Don´t let nobody to take your things, baggage, passport, money… nobody.
  • Keep in mind: if you accept the “helpful” assistance of any guy, you will have to pay to him for “his kind services”.
  • Do not take any service without consulting first the cost.
  • Do not change money with people on the street. It is dangerous because you become vulnerable of fraud. The best scam is to tell you that your money is fake. Then you get nervous. Then other guys appear in order to “assist you”. Then they offer to you to “buy” your fake currency… Change money only in banks or exchange offices.
  • Get as much as information as possible before contracting any service. The language barrier is used for scam too. If someone poses as he cannot understand you, change the service.

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

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