There are all kinds of scams when you're traveling.
You get hassled to come look at your tuk-tuk driver's friend's tailor shop.
You spend all day on a trip that is made as uncomfortable as possible to ensure that you will stay at the "right" hotel.
And if you're naive, and you don't watch it, you will be overcharged like crazy.
That being said, I have never fallen prey to any MAJOR scamming. I'm almost positive that I've paid a bit too much for a bag, or a book, or even a bottle of water. A few cents here and there is no problem...traveling in Southeast Asia, I know that these people need the money more than I do.
To an extent.
Crossing the Thai border into Cambodia at PoiPet (from the Eastern island Koh Chang), we were overcharged for our bus (my companion paid 600Baht, I paid 700, and everyone coming from Bangkok, much farther away, was charged 400). When we reached Poi Pet, we were taken to a "travel agency" that was going to help us with our Cambodian visas. In every guidebook, from every traveler, we knew that the visa would cost $20USD. That's 600 Thai Baht. We started filling out the form and a woman told us that it would cost 2400 Baht each.
That's right...they wanted to charge us not double, not triple, but FOUR TIMES what it actually cost.
When we started questioning them, they made it very obvious that this was a scam and that the jig was up. The woman became very rude and muttered that we should have started the visa process 3 days ago in Bangkok...because without their help, that's how long it would take. "1...or...2...or 3 days." Another man actually raised his voice and started shouting. We continued to refuse to pay the inflated prices, and they continued to be nasty.
Eventually we made it to the "courtyard of shame," where there about 10 other people who were willing to take their chances at the border. We were branded with yellow stickers, while the "suckers", as I like to call them, were given pieces of red tape.
It all worked out in the end...we ended up paying 1000 Baht for the visas, but at least we were extorted by the Cambodian government who did it with a smile.
- AND we were on the same bus going over the same endless bumps and covered by the same dust from the road as the red-sticker suckers. We all spent the same 4 hours at the Thailand-Cambodia border. The road was terrible, but we made it Siem Reap...a little wiser, a little dirtier...but with 1400 extra Baht in our pockets toward the high Angkor Wat fee.
Which is totally worth it.