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Jet-skis no longer operate under rules on Phuket's famous Patong beach

Indian Embassy Warns of Jet-Ski Scams

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
PHUKET: Jet-ski operators on Phuket are likely to come under closer scrutiny following an advisory by the Indian embassy that warns citizens about scams and rip-offs at Thai holiday resorts.

The arrival of a new governor with previous Phuket experience of jet-ski scams is also likely to bring more serious action.

With non-European tourists increasing in number along the west coast, especially in Patong, it's likely that scammers will concentrate on nationals from countries they think are more easily intimidated.

Pattaya remains the source of most complaints about jet-ski operators among tourists visiting Thailand.

However, as Patong beach is now firmly in the control of the jet-ski operators, the potential for intimidation and thuggery has grown with their rise in power there.

''Europeans and Aussies were once the victims of the scammers but there are now fewer of them so it's Asians and people from the Middle East who are most likely to succumb to the tactics of the scammers,'' said a Patong resident and longtime observer of the activities of the jet-ski operators at the beach.

For years Pattaya has tried to tackle its jet ski problem, which has been chronicled repeatedly in the press and social media and linked to organised crime gangs that pay off local officials and police, the Bangkok Post reports today.

Media reports also showed that, as far back as 2011, Pattaya mayor Itthiphol Kunpleum said Pattaya's police were part of the jet ski problem, with corrupt officers assisting scammers in extorting money from tourists and sharing some of the profits.

In an advisory issued this week, the Indian embassy said it has received recurring complaints by Indian tourists of being ''duped by unscrupulous elements'' involving jet ski rentals ''particularly in Pattaya.''

In many cases, the victims are intimidated into settling on the spot, rather than going to police.

''Tourists also claim to be threatened with harm to their self and family members, their passports withheld if they don't pay large sums of money," the Indian advisory stated. Embassy officials said they have brought the matter to the attention of ''competent authorities'' but still advised its nationals ''to exercise due caution . . . while hiring, if they have to, jet skis.''

Usually scams involve an excessive demand for payment for preexisting damage or, if a jet-ski is crashed, the repair charges will be vastly inflated and also include a ''time out of the water'' fee.

Most jet-skis on Phuket are insured but the insurance is not comprehensive, which is why operators usually demand extra for up to five days out of the water at 3000 baht a day.

Amounts demanded and sometimes paid out of fear can be three times the cost of legitimate repairs. Victims who have paid an additional fee to cover five days out of the water have sometimes seen the same machine back in the sea off Patong the next day.

Instead of following the lead of the neighboring provinces of Krabi and Phang Nga and banning jet-skis, local authorities have allowed them to expand in number despite a move by a previous governor to have all the Phuket machines phased out over seven years.

Local residents hope Phuket-born Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada, who takes over from October 1, will ban or more closely restrict the use of jet-skis.

He is also expected to speedily resolve the other problems associated with the clearance of commerce from Patong, Kamala, Karon, Kata, Surin and other popular Phuket beaches following the military takeover in Thailand in May last year.

For Indian Tourist Intending to use Jet Skis in Tourist Spots in Thailand

The Embassy of India in Bangkok has been getting reports from Indian tourists who have been duped by unscrupulous elements at different tourist resorts in Thailand.

One recurring episode that has come to the notice of the Embassy is that of accidents with Jet Ski hired by them, particularly in Pattaya. According to reports received, even though the tourists claim that they are not involved in any accident while operating the Jet Skis, some elements demand huge compensation for repair of the Jet Skis, on the pretext of some damage that is pointed out when the Skis are returned. (Tourists also claim to be threatened with harm to their self and family members, their passports withheld if they do not pay large sums of money.)

It has further been reported that these elements operate in groups and even have an Indian looking person amongst them. The Embassy has brought this to the attention of the competent authorities in Thailand.

The Embassy, therefore, advises Indian tourists visiting Thailand, particularly Pattaya, to exercise due caution in view of such malpractices and to be aware of this problem while hiring, if the they have to, Jet Skis.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


This has been going on for 20 years but nothing is ever done. The only conclusion you can make is people are being paid to ignore the problem.

Posted by Arun Muruga on September 9, 2015 18:53


First came to Thailand (pattaya) 1985 working on the QE2 were given warnings then about Jetskis and two of my workmates fell for scam the engine actuallly fell off in the water, of course was there fault ??? and full backing of boys in brown had to pay out lots of money to leave the country.

Still jetski scams are happening nothings changed and that was thirty years ago too much money for all involved.

Posted by Michael on September 9, 2015 22:55


Thanks for this report PW, the picture is spot on showing a jetski being rid so close to swimmers and it appears to be coming right at them! Appreciate our embassy taking it up with the authorities!

With Regards from India.

Posted by Deepak on September 10, 2015 17:59


At last, Phuket has a new Governor who is actually a Phuket native, a most welcome FIRST. However, one year is not long enough for anyone to come in new, facing so many ongoing problems.Surely a minimum of FIVE years should be mandatory, in order to fulfill all those gushing promises made by the new appointee every year, as the previous incumbent rushes away , full of relief, having achieved absolutely nothing during his stay in office, just look how the Patong jetski problem has escalated, due to lack of action by the Governor this past year.

Posted by Anonymous on September 11, 2015 15:17

Editor Comment:

The Governor is an intelligent man but Phuket requires learning who to listen to and who not to listen to. The previous two governors have not served apprenticeships as vice governors, which means a large learning curve that even capable people find difficult. Compromise works almost everywhere but on Phuket, it usually opens the door to corruption. The new governor has a better understanding because he's a Phuket person. All that needs to be answered now is what kind of Phuket person. Signs are promising.


News is plenty of embassy's beat the indian one re that complaint by 2 decades and there ongoing its a staged extortion scam with many corrupt influences getting a secret commission.

Posted by slickmelb on September 12, 2015 11:23


@ slickmelb

Any chance you could provide an English translation of your last comment ?

Google Translate was unable to recognize the language you were using.

Posted by Herbert on September 12, 2015 15:49

Editor Comment:

Try gibberish.


From the recent polls and reports it seems that between 75% and 97% of tourists visiting the island simply dont want them. I think we all pray that the new governor takes heed of these reports and removes them immediately. Time will tell.

Posted by Discover Thainess on September 12, 2015 17:57

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