The Grand Palace is Shut Scam

IMG_2249

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.

IMG_2297

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.

IMG_2307

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.

IMG_2311

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.

IMG_2312

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.

IMG_2318

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

12 thoughts on “The Grand Palace is Shut Scam

  1. Philip Markwat

    Thanks for sharing this. This scam has been tried on me every time I have been in Bangkok and I never understood the reason behind telling people the palace was closed because I never got into the Tuk Tuk!

    Reply
  2. Catherine

    I have friends who scrimped and saved to come to Thailand and of course the Grand Palace is a must. I didn’t go with them – they were scammed. As this was a one-off trip, being scammed meant they never got to see one of the most beautiful collections of buildings in the world. For shame Thailand …. for shame

    Reply
  3. Alex

    This scumming is used not only near Grand Palace. They were trying to say us the same about some Wat (don’t remember the name already). Some man told they can show Top10 instead.
    Guess! Top10 – 9 shops and The Emerald Buddha in the end! 🙂
    Be careful! The author noted a good rule: “if someone is coming to you on the street – 99% he is scum”.

    Reply
  4. Steve

    had to laugh at the scams,been scammed myself at grand palace bloke came up to me said it was shutting for prayers but he could get someone to take me to the lucky buddha,tuk-tuk driver said 50bht so we went 2hrs 3shops and 2palaces later got back to grand palace paid driver 100bht,to be honestit was worth it,scammed at airport with taxi,going back this xmas for 3weeks,bring it on?hopefully no more scams.

    Reply
  5. Lucy

    Happened to me and my bf today- we were near the palace entrance and a man wearing a formal shirt with a tag that said “tourist police” stopped us before we reached the enterance and told us the palace was closed for “Buddha day” and then tried convincing us to go in a tuk-tuk to see other temples (which translates to gem shops). We almost believed him until he told us that Wat Po (which we just walked by) was also closed (it wasnt). That’s when we woke up and realized what was happening. We warned a few other tourists and walked another way towards the enterance. Many other people tried to detour us. Two more official looking people tried to ruin our visit by telling us “too many Thai and Chinese are praying in there now. Come back at 2:30 and go across the street to (blah blah blah) in the meantime. We figured out quickly these people were also full of shit. It was immensely annoying and these people lurk all around the palace in every nook and cranny. Once you get lose to the enterance you’ll hear a warning over an intercom that says “do not trust anyone around the palace who tries to tell you the temple is closed” etc.

    This is my first visit to Thailand and so far every single person who has walked up to me to give me advice or “help me” has been a scammer trying to take my money and ruin my experience. Thailand needs to take this more seriously. I have no desire to ever come back based on all the decietful people I have encountered. Everyone seems to be “service to self”. It’s despicable.

    Reply
  6. Filbee

    I like to play with them but my wife doesn’t usually let me. They use the same scams all around Thailand, all around the world. I’ve been approached with the exact same lines in Rome and Delhi. In BKK I like to act undecided, start to go with them change my mind, go with them, then change again. It’s like free interactive street theatre and I like to see how long I can string it out before THEY get frustrated. Although I am a little unbalanced.

    Reply
  7. Sree

    I went to grand palace with my old aged parents, wife and 1.5 year baby on 2nd ,August,2014 ,by 2.pm. One person showed us the (wrong )entrance(scammer 1).The person, looks like palace employee in front of palace(scammer 2) told us that the temple will re open at 3pm((lie) and advised us to see floating market and lucky Buddha by taking a long tailed boat then arranged the tuck tuk too(scammer 3)

    The boat guy(scammer 4) asked 3200 thb for one hour and when I neglected him and approached another boat guy ,the first one started abusing and miss behaved to me even not considering the old aged family members and baby.

    The same scammer ,tuk tuk guy was waiting outside to help(scam) us. When I asked him to go to wat pho ,he started abusing and expressed his feeling for not taking the boat.

    I searched in internet and found that this happened to almost every day and to everybody.

    Reply
  8. COURTNEY ROBINSON

    It must have been 3 years ago when my Chiang Rai g/f and I flew to Bangkok and, one day, went to visit the Royal Palace. The traffic jam from Pradipat Rd was horrendous! We were moving at about 1 mile an hour. Arrived at The Royal Palace we were told by a man in uniform and wearing an ID Tag that it was closed until midday. He then summoned an “innocent” passerby to take us to a wharf where we would go on a long-tailed boat for a trip up the Chao Phraya to visit a famous Wat. ( Wat Arun ? ) About £40 each. We did not go. But when my g/f enquired from one of the stall holders and was told that the Story was totally untrue. My God … was she annoyed! She was in a bad mood for the rest of the day !

    Reply
  9. Al

    I recently encountered a similar scam. I got off my taxi about 50m before the main entrance due to the traffic congestion. One Thai lady immediately started talking to me. We conversed in Thai, and she told me that the temple had an event going on and I couldn’t enter until later. She asked if I had been to Wat Arun, and I told her no. She then offered a tuk tuk ride for 10 Baht apiece for me and my friend. I thought it was rather fishy, and said I would walk to the entrance to have a look myself. Obviously, it was a scam; everything was as per normal. If they are willing to cheat their own people, I believe that their morals are in question and these people are an absolutely poor representation of Thailand.

    Right after that, I entered a cab that was available near the entrance of the grand palace. The soldier directing traffic scolded him for parking and waiting (which is not allowed), to which he insisted he wasn’t and drove off. I asked him why the meter wasn’t on and he complained about bad traffic. I told him I was getting off and I boarded a taxi right behind who went by meter.

    Reply
  10. Michael Boddington

    I’d say the biggest scam at the Grand Palace is the dual pricing and the different doors for Thais and foreigners. What is this, segregation, Thai style?

    Unless the Thai authorities stop this racist dual pricing practice I will never again step foot inside the Grand Palace. Besides, I already went there a few times years ago and it’s a tourist trap; surely it’s even worse these days. There are plenty of other beautiful temples in Thailand most of which don’t charge an admission fee and aren’t full of tourists or annoying touts at the entrance.

    Reply
  11. Jürgen Scheer

    Outside the palace there was on old Lady offering guided tours through the palace. I was hesitating, considered it as a possible scam, but my wife wanted the tour, and I have to admit it was good decision. This way we avoided all the (other) scams and got a much better insight compared to visiting the palace alone.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *