Embarrassing but true… and we knew about the tourist bus scam already, but fell for it again. :(
DO NOT BOOK WITH SAMUIPEDIA Koh Samui to Khao Lak.
Here’s the review I posted on Tripadvisor that the travel agency Samuipedia keeps taking down. What really pisses me off is that the company is in total denial (claiming we didn’t buy the ticket with them) and refuses to take any responsibility in their role in cooperating with scammy (illegal?) bus companies and sleazy Thai people (they give Thai people a bad name, as 99% of Thais we met were fantastic). So now I practice my freedom of speech and write negative things about them on my blog, as they sure as heck can’t take this review down!
We were lucky that we didn’t have any cash for them to find in our bags (they didn’t bother with our valuables, including a small laptop computer that Per’s dad left in his luggage despite that we told them not to leave valuables…). But the sleazeballs looked through everything in our (LOCKED!) bags, including toiletry bags and every small nook imaginable. One girl on our bus had money stolen that was hidden inside her SHOE! Even though I knew there was a risk of our bags being looked through, it feels like a horrible violation to know someone has looked through your things.
In any case, our trip to Thailand was a success overall, and this small thing doesn’t ruin Thailand for me.
Tripadvisor review of Samuipedia
DO NOT BOOK!! Koh Samui to Khao Lak bus/ferry thefts
We booked hotel transfer+ferry+ bus with Samuipedia (also called Samui Island Trips and Tours) from Koh Samui to Surat Thani to Khao Lak. DO NOT BOOK this tourist bus trip (which runs from Koh Samui to Surat Thani then Khao Sok / Phuket / Krabi / etc, Google search “Tourist bus scam Thailand”). This transfer is also sold through other travel agencies on Koh Samui, as we saw other tourists on our bus had their belongings searched and money stolen.
All of us of us had our (LOCKED) bags searched through sometime between our hotel pick up in Koh Samui, the ferry ride, and bus to Surat Thani. The bus dropped us off at different “transfer points” (“travel agencies”) on the side of the road in Surat Thani in small groups, rushing us away from the bus before we could realize that our bags were searched through and things stolen. We then had another transport to the actual bus station 5 mins away, and to our surprise met the other travelers from our original bus who were dropped off 2 mins prior to us who also had their bags searched/things stolen. That way the bus driver and personnel get away and we are unable to confront them as a large group and call the police.
We have been in correspondence with Samuipedia. They refuse to acknowledge that they have any responsibility and claim we did not buy the ticket from them. Perhaps their day tours are fine (I cannot say), but until they stop selling this ticket I cannot recommend their company. SCAM ALERT!