One of the scams in Thailand that annoys me the most is the “Grand Palace is Closed” scam. It is a scam that is most lucrative for them. In front of this one gate to the palace, there were a total of SIX scammers waiting for unwary tourists. When you were growing up, your mother probably told you never to speak to strangers. So, why do so many people ignore that good advice? If a stranger comes up to you in the street there is a high chance that he will scam you. Always be polite just in case they are genuine, but do have your wits about you. See the guy in the black shirt above? That is the start of the scam. He is telling the tourists to enter the palace through this gate.
The problem is, this gate is only for Thais as they don’t need to pay an admission. All foreign tourists have to use the main entrance. An official on duty here tells the tourist in Thai that they cannot come in this way. The helpful guy on the right now lies to the tourists that the palace official said that the palace was closed for a ceremony and would open again at 3 p.m. Actually, that is about the time it starts to really close.
What annoys me the most is that this scam is going down in full view of the palace guard and the palace official sitting at a desk. They must surely know what is going on but they don’t lift a finger to help the tourists. What is happening in this photo is that he is telling them about a temple called the “Lucky Buddha” that is only open on this day once a year. Of course there is no such temple.
If they have a map he will mark the temple on it for them. He will then suggest that he calls a friendly tuk tuk for them as it will be cheaper if he negotiates the fare. Here he is hailing the tuk tuk. “Mr. Tuk Tuk, are you free to take these tourists to the Lucky Buddha temple?”. Of course the tuk tuk driver is in on the scam. There were about four or five of them waiting to “kidnap” the tourists. A strong word but that is what they are doing.
Here you can see that the tourist is so grateful to this man for helping them that he shakes his hand. What they don’t realize is that at the Lucky Buddha temple they will meet another member of this gang and they will eventually end up at jewelry and tailor shops where they will be coerced into buying overpriced and shoddy products. By the time they have finished and come back, the Grand Palace is really closed.
I feel sorry for the tourists who planned to see the Grand Palace on their last day in Thailand and they then got caught up in this scam. If anyone comes up to you in the street and says that the palace or anywhere else is closed, please don’t believe them. Always go and see for yourself. I reported this scam to the Tourist Police. I will write about what they did on my blog over at RichardBarrow.com