Black Buddha Scam in Bangkok

The "Black" Buddha or "Lucky" Buddha

The "Black" Buddha or "Lucky" Buddha

Finally done with the Grand Palace, I started to walk to my next destination. I was intending to go to the Wat Pho which was just nearby the Grand Palace. While I was trying to get my bearings on my map, big mistake, a nice middle aged man approached me and asked where I was going. He told me that he once worked in the Middle East and he had a lot of colleagues from where I came from. I told him I wanted to go to the Wat Pho. Luckily for me, I ran into him and he told me that the Wat Pho was closed at that time.

The Black Buddha Temple

The Black Buddha Temple

He rcommended that I go visit a temple with a Black Buddha which, surpise, is open only once a year and only on that day! Imagine my luck! He then hailed a tuk tuk passing by to bring me to the Black Buddha Temple, the Golden Mount and a mandatory trip to the gem factory which he said will give the driver a petrol coupon, so he was requesting that I drop by there and not even buy anything from the place. Fine. Since the trip was cheap, I could do him a favor.

Bell Outside the Temple

Bell Outside the Temple

The tuk tuk driver quickly got me to the Black Buddha or Lucky Buddha temple, whatever. It was suspiciously located in a back alley with a lot of cars. The driver then asked me to get off to see the Black Buddha. When I got there the Buddha wasn’t black at all but golden. Fortunately someone was there to explain what was going on. So convenient. This Buddha temple was supposedly open only one a year and I was lucky enough to be here when it was open. I didn’t think there was anything special in the Buddhal itself as it seemed ordinary to me.

Scam or No Scam The Detail on the Temple is Good

Scam or No Scam The Detail on the Temple is Good

The nice gentleman was a business specializing in jewelry, he claimed he goes to Singapore quite often on business and even has a business card of his client to prove it. He said that if I was interested, there are gems that can be bought for “factory” price without taxes. But I need to hurry since the government will be imposing taxes on them soon. I was not really into jewelry anyway and I think he was able to tell, so he just continued on with his offering of incense.

Scam or not I would never know either way it didn’t work, I think. I think it was all in preparation for the trip to the jewelry factory. Either way, I’m not really interested in any of their stuff. But this story sounds suspicious similar to other scam stories I’ve read about. It seems that they are really that good.

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  1. Same thing happened to me in April 2010 when we were leaving Wat Pho on our way to Wat Arun we were told by a gentleman that it was closed until 1pm and that we should visit the Black Buddha as well. He stopped a tuk tuk and got us a so called cheap deal with the driver. We were then driven to the same temple where a man greeted us telling us we were very lucky to visit this Black Buddha and then continued to discuss gems and how we should buy them as they were very cheap in Thailand – cheaper than anywhere else in the world – yeah right! We then ended up spending 1 hour driving around with a tuk tuk driver begging us to go to 2 gem galleries so he could get free petrol vouchers. Is this the type of thing good Buddhist people do – lie to tourists? Beware of this scam.

  2. These guys are really pros at this kind of thing as they practice this on hundreds of tourists everyday and this is probably the kind of thing Thailand needs the least considering its current problems. Generalising all Buddhists might be a little too much, these are just a few of the rotten eggs which threaten to unravel the famous Thai hospitality. I hope you were safe there in Bangkok despite the turmoil. It is usually not as bad as the media protrays it but it pays to be careful nonetheless. Thanks for visiting!

  3. We were just in Bangkok, and read in the tourist books about men “tourist police” coming up and telling you the temple was closed for a day or that you should come back tomorrow…mean while they take you to a different temple…blah blah. WELL IT HAPPEN TO US!!! Even after I was aware of it. This is the situation. It was around 6pm and we were walking around and saw What Ratchanatdaram. He told us that the place was closed, which we figured because it was after 5pm and most of the temples close at this time. He asked if we watched the news last night to see that TODAY was a holiday for the Buddist people and the government has grated all the TUK TUK to take people any where they want in the city for as long as they want for only 20THB ($.60USD). He also explained that today was the only day of the year that the BLACK BUDDHA was open. I don’t know how I let myself fall for this!! Next thing I know we are at the Black Buddha. It was Buddha and it was black, but that was about it. It was located inside this gated area, but no temples or anything….kind of boring to be honest. Then he was going to take us to a Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple). However, he wanted to take us here after we made a stop at the factory so he could get a gas coupon because they were about to close. He said he would bring us back to the Marble Temple after. We went to the factory, and by know new it was a scam but since we were only going to pay $.60USD we wanted to see what was going to happen. He dropped us off at this store where you could purchase mens suits, silk scarfs and just about anything you wanted. We walked in, ignoring all the salesmen, walked around for 3mins and left as quickly as we could. When we got back to our TUK TUK he asked “Where do you want to go now?” I guess he forgot he was suppose to take us back to the Marble Temple. It was a far walk to the Metro line so we told use to take us to the closest stop, so we could use our all day pass and head back to our hotel. We finally arrived and we paid him the 20THB and he was really happy…also admitted he had been drinking. We said good bye and called it a day! My advise …DON”T WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THESE SCAMS. We were lucky but some of them really rip you off. You can read about them on the internet. Save the time and money.

  4. it is really unfortunate to fall victim to these scams. however, one could ask if it was really a scam since they didn’t really get any money out of us. however, with all things considered, they were only after the gas coupon and nothing else. i didn’t even get to pay my tuktuk driver my THB 20. i actually considered myself to be quite savvy in this kind of thing, only to fall victim to it myself. these guys are real pros and they can convince you to go with them with the greatest of ease. this sort of thing is slowly but surely ruining the tourism industry in thailand, not that the need any more help, they’re already doing a good job ruining it themselves. my advice to the tourist – be firm, and know where you’re going, if you need to ask, don’t ask the man on the street, ask the people working in the area, people tending stores or policemen, these people will be more reliable.

    thanks for visiting!

  5. Hahaha. December 28th 2010. Fell for the same scam today. However the guy that just haaaaaappened to be at black buddha was there praying for his son’s uconing wedding and he showed us how the offerings worked and then proceeded to tell us everything about his gem purchases and how if I loved my wife I’d buy her one. We got put onto a tuktuk by a friendly guy at a gate of pho wat. “oh my friends, no flip-flops until after 12!” then sent us on the scam tuktuk ride. However it cost us no money and was a bit of fun zooming throughout Bangkok. So no harm no foul!

  6. hearing all these happen to everyone else at least makes me feel normal. although it also didn’t cost me any money, it really tarnishes the image of thailand as a tourist destination. to think that i already consider myself very careful when it comes to travelling. they did say that they would be passing by a jewelry shop up front which i guess was okay, “just to help them out”. so yes, for me they only wasted my time, but i think thailand stands to lose more if this continues.

    thanks for visiting!

  7. The nice-looking 30ish guy who approached us outside Wat Pho today said he was a teacher at the university and that he happened to be standing there because he was waiting for his wife who was shopping in the market across the street. We didn’t fall for the Black Buddha deal, BUT we did believe him when he told us the Grand Palace was closed till 3 pm for some festival. So we went into Wat Pho and then made our way to the Grand Palace around 3. Couldn’t get in because, guess what — it had been open all day and it was now closing time. We’re learning!

  8. for every one which manages to get away, they catch five more. you were smart than most and i was the gullible one. the next time i go there i would know to just ignore everyone.

    thanks for visiting!

  9. Today I was stung by the “Black Buddah’ Scam coming out of Wat Po. The thing that makes me more angry than paying the Tuk Tuk driver 100 baht and going to some naff gem shop is the fact that I believed the palace was closed. This means I wil now have to go tomorrow!

  10. judging by the amount of feedback i get from this post, it would seem that this is really very common. it is tragic that such a beautiful country would be corrupted by this. this has left me with a particularly bad impression of the country such that i’m not really that keen on visiting thailand anymore. fascinating as it is, the few bad eggs really leave bad taste in my mouth.

  11. Maybe you were scammed, but I was told exactly the same story. and went in a tuck-tuck that took us first to the standing Buddha and then to a very expensive travel agency, after with said no in the travel agency he was not very happy but took us anyway to the Black Buddha temple, it’s very near the Great Palace, wen we got there it was closed because the monks were praying, we took a walk and came back after one our, and it was opened the monks were there praying and there is a black Buddha in the altar really beautiful statue. I have a picture to prove it, I´ll come back to give you guys the day of the year and the address. Love Thayland

  12. Do not, I repeat, do not ever get into a tuk tuk when solicited. They will always take you to a jewelry or fabric or whatever shop because they receive a commission. They will often just take you there and take off because the commission is more than their fee.

  13. This happened to me today in the middle of a drenching rain. Today was, of course, “Buddha’s birthday” I was told by a middle-aged “ex- Navy Officer” and Wat Pho was “closed”. I was able to shake him off so I can ask others. I got myself right up to the door of Wat Pho where I saw tourists streaming in, and was caught again by another middle age guy who told me the same thing. I almost came to believe him until he pitched the whole thing with “Black Buddha”, then my brain clicked. I tried to shake him off, but he kept yelling at me as I was entering the door way, “don’t go in, don’t go in, it is closed”. I went in, bought a ticket, and enjoyed my visit.

    If you are visiting Thailand, be aware of a lot of scams. Mind you Thai people have been wonderful and generous, but they also have their share of scammers. And with tuk tuks, when they give you a price, knock it down by a third. For a trip to my Hotel, a tuk tuk gave told me 300 B, a Taxi 200, and I got to my Hotel with a Tuk Tuk and paid 100 B. I am sure I could have gone lower, but it was raining cats and dogs….enjoy your visit.

  14. I have the same stories like this just last week when I was at the Wat Pho 12 12nn on my way to Wat Arun[Temple of Dawn]. An old man, maybe at his 60s told me Wat Arun is closed because the monks are praying and will be open at 2:00pm. He said he is just outside because his wife is working as a teacher inside Wat Pho. He suggested that I go to the black Buddha. while waiting for 2:00pm. Then after the black buddha, I should visit the Export Store because they are offering 30% discount on jewelries and tax free, then to the Golden Mount before going to Pier 8. And that I will pay for only 40Bht and go to all the places mentioned. He got me a tuk-tuk. Then 1st stop was at the Black Buddha and a middle-aged man met me there, he told me I was lucky I was told to go to the Export Store because the jewelries are cheap due to the going down economy of Thailand. Then he told me about the buddha, about getting an incense … and ask for a wish … When I was already at the tuk-tuk, I asked the driver what’s the name of the temple. He said it’s the temple of the Black Buddha. Then I was a bit curious because I have not seen a black buddha in there .. It’s at Luang Rd…. The went to export store … I didn’t buy anything except for the set of elephant keychains for 250 Bht and have if for 200Bht. Because it’s almost 2:00pm, I asked the tuk-tuk driver to drive me to the Pier 8. And I paid him 40Bht.

    I don’t know if that was a scam or not. But is did me no harm anyways. I just spent 240 Bht all–in-all.

    Is it a scam really? How about the Black Buddha which is not black? The same buddha photo attached by the admin at the top…

  15. The scam was still alive in February 2013 when my girlfriend and I visited Bangkok! Probably the same cast of actors and entertaining too! Our tuk-tuk driver did leave us on street corner when I kept refusing to go to his petrol sponsor!

    The best part was reading this blog, I knew it was a scam but had no idea what a long running ‘play’ it was. We spent nothing and not even the 50 Bht tuk-tuk fare as he sped off before collecting that!! 🙂

  16. hi david,

    I seriously doubt the scam would go away since tourists will be too busy to bother trying to report something like that, I doubt that anyone would be able to pin point them from a police lineup either. besides, nothing was stolen, except maybe your time, however, they need to realize that this may be slowly killing the goose the lays the golden egg. such a pity.

    thanks for dropping by!

  17. haha, sigh Trip 5-7 July 2014 at Bangkok, at Erawan Shrines. (Near Chi Lom BTS)
    was googling what the heck is lucky buddha day when i came this website.
    I just return from my bangkok trip, was approach by a senior elderly guy who open his wallet, show a card & claimed he is a policeman, was told today is a special day and i should visit the “Lucky buddha &..some other temple”, he recommend a tuk-tuk which costs only 30 baht. i paid 100B

    The 1st temple, i went there to pray and donate 100B, and the other was the one shown in this website. There i met another guy, can’t remember what he said, i was persuaded to pay a small box of 5 Buddha status for 500B, he later ask me to shown him my palm and recommend what kind of gem is good for me. The tuk-tuk waiting outside took me to this gemstore, i didn’t brought anything and the tuk-tuk want to bring me to another place which i denied due to limited traveling time i have, he show a fuel coupon card & told me he will get fuel coupon if i visit another place, i sort of argue with him about me paying 100b instead of 30b.
    Till finally, he continue the way back to Erawan shrine. While on the way, i saw Platinum Fashion Mall and ask him to drop me there. Hope, someone else will learnt from my experience.

  18. oh almost forgot, the ‘policeman’ will talk to you first asked where are you from. then he will say he have families in your country before he mention about the 1pm special day and visiting the ‘Lucky Buddha Temple’

  19. Sadly they are still doing this scam today. We were in Thailand Dec 2014, and it happened to us outside Wat Pho as well. The man was overly helpful, offered us a tuk tuk for the day to take us around the temples for 200 baht. The deal seemed too good to be true, but he didn’t give us much time to think about it before pushing us into a tuk tuk. The tuk tuk driver dropped us off at a jewelry store and told us to go inside. This isn’t what we were looking for, we were suppose to go to the Black Buddha. When we got back to the tuk tuk he told us he wanted 400 baht each from us or he would leave us there. We settled on 300 baht for the two of us, it was really only an extra $3, so he dropped us back off at Wat Pho and we left. The next day we saw the same guy and gave him shit. He didn’t seem to care 🙁

  20. Reading these posts with some amusement. I’ve only JUST realized that I was scammed by this back in 2007! First time in Bangkok and only just arrived. My partner and I were wandering and were approached by a middle aged man asking if we were lost. Conversation commenced, asking where we were from, said he taught English at a near by university and that he had the day off to assist the nearby temple.bthe temple housed a black lucky Buddha and was only open to the public one day a year. We had never heard of scams and were trusting individuals.. So went with him to see the lucky statue. To cut a long story short, we were tuk tucked all over Bangkok, saw umpteen temples, bought two made to measure suits and shirts and matching Ruby and white gold rings… As we had initially went to Thailand as a celebration of our engagement and decided to buy our rings while we were there!! The rings cost £600 for the both, lucky for us though when we got back to the UK we decided to have them valued for insurance purposes and found them to be worth almost £2000 🙂
    Ps….. The engagement lasted a year and we parted company, however I still visit beautiful Thailand and now reached further afield to Cambodia. I’ve not been put off and will continue to visit every year… Little older, lot wiser! Enjoy the beautiful country… And it’s people. All countries sadly have scammers all to willing to take advantage.

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