Lucky Buddha scam, Bangkok
we were around the World Trade Center shooting photos of the statue when a guy approached me and explained to me about the sacred statue. He told us we were very lucky to visit Bangkok that particular day coz it was the Buddha Days. Then he said they were having some kind of ceremony at a temple/wat called Lucky Buddha not far from the place we were. He mentioned there will be a lot of people visiting the temple and will be closed before 5pm.
I started to believe coz we knew that day was really a Buddha Day in Thailand. So i asked him to show the location of the temple on the Bangkok map that i were having. He pointed to somewhere to the north of the city and i noticed there were no sign of any temple/wat there. If the place really famous it should be in the map!! More suspicious things were that he kept asking us to go straight away before they close at 5pm and to take the tuk-tuk for only THB10. I read about the tuk-tuk scam and i started to know what was actually happening. I told the guy i need to meet my friends first and we managed to walk away.
Althought i have no prove that the lucky buddha doen't exist, but the way he persuaded us was really suspicious, making i'm damn sure it was one of the jewelry scam in Bangkok. So everyone of you there, make sure you were not falling into this trap!
Unique Suggestions: just walk away if you think the person is suspicious. Get more information from other people.
Currently in Bangkok typing this. Only been here a couple of days and its an interesting city and so far have come across many people-often just wanting small business. However two days ago we were hounded outside our hotel (Royal Hotel), near ko shan road, by a (seemingly) friendly local who spoke very good English. He told us about the famous gem scams and gave us advice about places to see and lots of other information. He then got us in a tuk tuk and told us to go the prestigious Bangkok fashion centre, where we ended up, felt very embarrased, didn't buy any suits and soon departed. Clearly he would have received some sort of commission.Then yesterday we got into a tuk tuk and he told us the whole day would only cost us 10 baht and he would take us to many temples and buddhas, we obliged (perhaps foolishly), although these people are very cunning and seem to have groups along the street-teams working together, ie one says something, and then amazingly the bloke in the tuk tuk that drives down (seemingly mutually exclusive) then tells you the same thing, so you are led to believe its true-ie that the golden temple is closed until 2, but we will the see other sights first for a very small cost (rest is subsidised by the king on this particular day...yeah right). So we made our way to one temple, where a man told us about booking the rest of our holiday around the southern islands for cheap prices, and very good accomodation etc. The Tuk tuk driver then told us and we turned up at a place we thought was run by the thai tourist board, and were given a very professional service. The price we paid was 375 GBP and to be honest this seemed a fair price for 3 weeks including full accomodation, flights and boats. we will see, in the next few weeks whether it really was. In truth though this was a scam we could have done without. Be careful. These teams operate all over and speak very good english. They appear helpful and informative. Just be warned and do continue to take tuk tuks. just be on your guard.
OK, now, if you jump on a tuk tuk and the driver starts to tell you some story about today being Saturday (or Wednesday, or Tuesday...) and the petrol being sponsored by the tailor shops so, do you mind if in our way to see the Wat Po (or whatever you are going to see) I take you to the tailor shop and he tries to sell you something (no purchase obligation,really...) and he sponsors my fuel and...
In the end you have to give endless explanations to the tailor about why you came to the shop if you don't intend to get a suit/dress/pair or tailored socks, etc...
Total crap. If anybody comes to you with this story just dump them and get a taxi, really.
Other crap story is the lucky buddha. Similar thing. Come to see the lucky buddha and get a discount in the fuel. It doesnot cost you any money at all, only time really and the lucky buddha is a totally out of interest temple lost in middle of nowhere and the attendant who takes care of the poor (un)lucky buddha tells you that today is a great day to get a tailor made suit because there is a discount as it is national holiday and etc...
Unique Suggestions: There must be some foundations in all this things, you know, being tailors national day or sponsored petrol day or whatever but really, it does not have anything to do with you and you don't have any time to lose so just refuse politely or rudely, that depends on your mood and the number of times you have been told the same odd story and take a taxi who would normally pay their own gas without waiting for sponsors.
Fun Alternatives: Taxi, I believe.
After visiting the Royal Palace, we decided to walk to Wat Pho. We followed the map, but it was such a long walk that we started to get confused after a while (we were worried that we could be walking in the wrong direction). Just as we stopped for a rest and checked our map, a Chinese-looking man asked if we needed help. We asked for directions to Wat Pho, and he replied in Teochew (a Chinese dialect) that he's a Thai of Chinese descent and he could help us. Initially, we felt relieved to get help, but our suspicions were aroused when he kept asking us questions, eg. which hotel we are staying, how many days we are spending in BKK, etc... instead of telling us if we were going in the correct direction!
My husband got a bit impatient, and asked him (again) politely how to get to Wat Pho. He started to tell us that Wat Pho is closed (for lunch?!) and would open after 2 pm. He said he could bring us to see some "Lucky Buddha" instead. We instantly knew he was a scammer, trying to trick us to see some crap and purchase "jewellery at discounted prices"... We walked away immediately, ignoring his little speech about the temple being closed and we're "wasting time", etc...
After 10 mins, we finally arrived at Wat Pho, and of course it was opened! Thankfully, we didn't get conned by that man!
On our recent visit to Bangkok, we were in front of world Trade center and wanted to go to Wat Patum Wanaram, when one guy came over and offered to help. He told us that the Wat was closed now. We asked him directions for Pratunam market which was famous there. He told us that it will open late at night and it will be good for us to go to a “Lucky Buddha temple” nearby. He told us that it was the last day of some Buddha ceremony and we were lucky to be there just on this day. We believed him and thanked him whole heartedly. He then called a tuk-tuk driver and he asked for just 20B. This just aroused a suspicion in me coz tuk-tuk drivers in Thailand are expensive 20B is way too low for any tuk-tuk driver to drive. But we went ahead coz the man didn’t accompany us. We reached the place and another man also came, he started a friendly conversation. He told us that he was leaving for England and was buying some jems and also told us that today was the last day to buy some at a expo. It was then that I told sathya that it could be the racket, the books warned us about. But despite all this the Lucky Buddha temple was really good. The auto driver then took us to the expo center, we declined saying that we don’t want to shop, but he insisted saying that he will get 5lts of petrol. So we went in and came out in a jiffy. Though we were glad that we didn’t get into the racket, we were also surprised that we got into one of those without our knowledge. I know now how many foreigners become victims to conmen. By the time we came back to S’pore, we had 3-4 such conmen approaching us and we didn’t let anybody take us for a fool those times.
Unique Suggestions: Don’t ever believe anybody who says that aWat or market is closed. Check with your hotel staff or TAT for the timings and start. They are usually accurate and have a better English. Always carry a TAT number and they are usually very helpful giving you guidance and can be found in almost all BTS stations.
Beware of anyone who approaches you and said today is the Buddha Birthday or King's Birthday and all temples/shopping centres ( or whatever blg you are looking at) are closed.
This is a scam. These Thai cheaters would usually work hand in hand with the Tu-Tu driver and they will bring to see the so called 'Lucky Budhha", there you would be taught how to pray and you would 'bump' into some tourist who would then tell you how cheap they have purchased the gems.
Yes, this is the gem scam.
These people would usually appear outside temples and tourist attraction places.
Opppssss, the palace is closed. If you are coming form the pier you will surely see the back of the royal palace. It's closed, just go to the front. Some one will approach you and "show" you the "better place" where not many tourist and it's open 7 days a years and today is the "last day".
Unique Suggestions: "Lucky buddha" - open 7 days a year. Fortunately, their year has 7 days only and everyday is the "last day". Our friends went there 2 days before us. They were told the same story. Haha, even the "last day" moves accordingly.
Fun Alternatives: Alternative? Just ignore them. They are not too aggresive.
In relation to the above, one of the places they tell you to visit prior to visiting the shop 'every-tourist-go' is the 'Lucky Buddha'. It turned out, as i confided with my official and legal tourist guide named Mali, that every Buddha becomes a Lucky Buddha -meaning, unscrupulous people can just point any Buddha nearby as the Lucky Buddha for you to get their trust when you find that the Buddha is actually there which may eventually make you reconsider visiting to the 'tourist shop'! (This happened to me at the World Trade Center. The not-so-old-man who claimed to be the 'head security' (of the open car park,maybe) offered to take me a photo with the Buddha with an elephant head, located rightside of WTC and fronting 'his' guard house. What followed next were familiar conversations/tricks with those at Grand Palace and Wat Po.)