Anyone who visits the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand knows what a pain in the rear the touts and illegal tour guides are. Hovering around the gates of the palace, they lie to tourists telling them the Grand Palace “is closed today” and then pull them off on a tour of gem shops or jewelers in the area or try to get them on a river boat tour — all in an effort to make money. That, hopefully, may soon change as Bangkok police have begun a crackdown on illegal tour guides and touts around the Grand Palace area this week, with three illegal tour guides/touts arrested yesterday.
Police in the Grand Palace area of Bangkok yesterday arrested two Thai men while they were trying to persuade tourists the Grand Palace was closed and to arrange a river tour for them instead. When stopped by police, the two men could not show tour guide licenses so they were immediately arrested.
Another man was also detained after police saw him pulling on tourists’ arms in an effort to persuade them to get into his tuk-tuk so he could take them on a ‘gem tour’.
The arrests have taken place after police reported more than the usual number of complaints about illegal tour guides and touts operating around the Grand Palace. They say the crackdown will continue as this kind of harassment of tourists is bad for Thailand’s reputation.
You do have to wonder, though, why it has taken them so long to respond. I’ve lived in Bangkok for more than 10 years and this kind of harassment of tourists outside the Grand Palace has not only been happening all the time I’ve been here, it’s also a common scam that’s known and reported all over the internet.
Let’s hope, now they have started, Bangkok police will make sure this problem stops as, yes, it’s very bad for Thailand’s reputation.