Bangkok Scams: The Grand Palace

May 7, 2011

Following on from the Bangkok taxi scam I spoke about in an earlier post, I almost forgot to tell you about the Grand Palace scam….the grand palace

So there we were, fully stuffed from breakfast and just about over the fact that my newly arrived friend had been overcharged on a meter by around 750 Baht. “No worries”, he said, “Onwards and upwards”. We jumped in another taxi and headed over to a place I was convinced would lift his spirits.

We pulled up, jumped out and avoided the immediate onslaught of touts babbling the usual “Where you go” lyrics. In truth, I had forgotten which way the palace gate was, and ended up walking the long way around. The one thing about Bangkok that immediately lands tourists in trouble is not having a clue where they are going. You become an instant target for scams like the one I am about to reveal.

We were approached by a few guides along the way, all of whom spoke very good English and seemed like nice guys (ahem), don’t be fooled I thought, this is tourist Thailand now. One guy approached us in a very cool manner and said, “The entrance is over there, but you can’t get in now, it’s not open until 3pm because the monks are praying. But you can go to….” He reeled off the name of some other historical landmark and something about getting a Tuk-Tuk.

I was very skeptical, yet a little curious…but we kept walking…

On the way to the palace we were approached by three more Thais telling us the palace was closed. The story had now evolved to “It’s only for Thai people until 3pm, but you can go to….”. Even a security “looking” guard outside the palace tried to stop us just yards from the door. It was of course bull, yet very believable bull for the unsuspecting tourists who were falling for it left, right and centre, and no doubt missing the palace visit altogether because it really does close at 3.30pm.

Had it not been for the variation between stories, it is very possible we may have fallen for the scam, particularly because so many people were saying the same thing.

When we finally got in and hired our long trousers, I spoke to one of the staff and explained the con that was going on outside. Typically, she laughed and said, “Yes, it’s not true”. “I know that, I am in here now, but you really should do something about it.”

I then cast my mind back to a time when two friends had visited last year. I remember them saying to me, “Oh, we missed the palace because it closed until 3pm today, but we saw some other stuff….” Wow, the con has been going on that long….

Take care out there folks….

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris October 5, 2011 at 11:54 am

Yep, my first trip to the GP(with a Thai woman too that almost fell for the scam) we were hit with the “it’s closed now but we can take you to…” story but luckily we did not fall for it & just a few meters down the road was the main entrance where we went in with no further hassles. Is such an easy & believable scam even for Thai people to fall for & as has been said before it is really unfortunate because it casts doubt on everyone in BKK & Thailand where the good people really do out weigh the bad.
Another scam that I unfortunately DID fall for was at a Thai massage place in Pratunam that had a sign outside for a 1 hour massage for 200TBH but come time to pay they showed a menu style book charging 350TBH. I naturally jacked up about the price pointing to a now non existent sign outside that they had taken away once we went inside & out of view. So the moral to this story is…negotiate a price for everything everywhere beforehand so you know what you will be paying & don’t get hit with any surprises.

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TheThailandLife October 5, 2011 at 8:15 pm

That massage trick is a new one, indeed. I must say I have never experienced that. I live outside of the main centre of BKK (about 5 stops) so tend to get my massages here in a friendly local place frequented mostly by Thais. The TAT really should step up and do something about that Grand Palace scam though. If you only have a day to view the Palace and you get misled by the scammers then you may end up missing the Palace altogether and never seeing its glory, which would be sad if this is your once of a lifetime trip to thailand.

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Eric March 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm

remember don’t trust any one outside the palace. They will treat you very nice and ask you to visit some place 1st cause palace having player every weekend only for Thai. So if you follow the tut..tut. He will bring you to the 1st tample and in that temple that is another guy will talk to you very nicely that the temple not open and keep telling you that you should go to Thai export (jewelry shop) and how make money with the gold you buy. After that, the tut..tut. will bring you to the Thai export. If you end up never buy any jewelry than the tut..tut. will start to show his angry face than keep telling you to ask for the gasseline at the next jewelry shop. So be very carefull with all this scam.

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TheThailandLife March 22, 2012 at 12:25 am

Solid advice Eric. I was nearly a victim of this scam once!

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Mon7que July 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Hmm..this is very good to know indeed! *mark it in my binder*
That is pretty bad that they even have someone who looks like a security officer. That would definitely make me believe it as well…. good thing the story changed!

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TheThailandLife July 15, 2012 at 12:33 am

it’s a horrible scam that so many people fall for. I overheard a family in a local cafe talking about this exact thing the other day; they were driven to various shops and temples and missed the palace!

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Gina Will January 19, 2013 at 9:31 am

My friend and I used this scam to our advantage. We had 1/2 a day left and had no idea what to do as it we had both been to Bangkok a few times before and had hit all the major attractions already. So, we went to the Palace and took out our guide books in order to “look” for something to do. A male scam artist came up and told us the same thing about it being closed, to which we said we knew and were trying to find somewhere else to go. He starting naming off all the major places to which we said we had already been there and there and there. He finally got around to suggesting a smaller temple and hill top where we could get a good view of the city. Sure we also had to spend 10 minutes in some jewelry store (we knew it was part of the scam and not to buy anything), but we also found two places that weren’t in the guide book and got a good price on a tuk-tuk without having to negotiate. I’m not sure if this works all the time because I’ve heard of cases where the tuk-tuk driver gets mean if you don’t buy anything, but we made sure to look around and talk about much we like this or that piece of jewelry and how we wished we had the money to buy something. It worked out great for us.

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TheThailandLife January 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm

lol, that’s awesome Gina. Where was that hill-top place, I’d like to check that out.

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Gina Will January 20, 2013 at 9:37 am

Sorry, no idea. It wasn’t in our guide book. We didn’t see anyone else on our way up or down…I’m not sure if that means it’s not popular or if we were just lucky. It was an awesome find. The temple they took us to only had one other foreign couple at it (I’m sure they were on the same scam we were). It was small, but peaceful and beautiful. I’d try the reverse scam again if I find myself in Bangkok with time to kill.

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