Taking a trip to your dream country can be a life changing experience, as you get to witness all the amazing places, meet all the wonderful people and partake in a whole different culture.
However, for tourists looking to visit Thailand, taking the wrong decision can easily lead to a terrible experience if you disobey any of the existing laws.
There are quite a number of existing laws guiding tourist’s behaviour in Thailand and non-compliance with these laws can lead to a heavy fine or ultimately jail time.
Now in its electoral period, Thailand has very strict laws governing the country—with some being considered a violation to human rights. According to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), it noted that of all the political parties vying for positions in Thailand, none seem committed to improving human rights despite an obvious absence of basic rights in the country.
Once one of the most democratic country in Southeast Asia, Thailand had to endure a five-year military rule and despite this, the signs of progress are not encouraging, according to Debbie Stothard, secretary general of FIDH.
“It’s disappointing that most of Thailand’s political parties have failed to make bold human rights commitments,” Stothard said in a report.
“Their tepid commitments towards human rights are an alarming indication that Thailand’s challenges will continue beyond [the election].”
In ThailandAABare considered a risky venture. But, regardless, Thailand is still a beautiful country to visit and below is a quick traveller’s guide to most of the Thai laws you’re bound to encounter knowingly or unknowingly:
Drug Laws in Thailand
Thailand, just like most Asian countries have zero tolerance for drug trafficking and according to a statement from the Customs Department of the Kingdom of Thailand Website:
“Violators of laws related to illicit drugs, e.g., having and holding for use, or being a producer, seller, or transporter are subject to the death sentence.”
Visa Laws in Thailand
For tourists who overstay their visa, they will be detained at the immigration detention centre.
However, if you were already at the airport and on your way out of the country, you are simply mandated to pay an overstay fine, and you are free to travel.
Nonetheless, it is better to be on the safe side of the law and ensure that your visa is in order and not overstay your welcome.
Disrespecting the Thai Royal Family
The Lese Majeste is a Thai law which was introduced in 1908 and states that, “it’s a serious offense to defame, insult, threaten or defile any image of the Thai royal family.”
In recent years numerous people have been convicted and sentenced to long prison terms for expressing negative views of the royal family, including monarchs in bygone eras. This law also extends to defacing Thai money, so tourist should be wary of trampling on the local Thai Baht (THB) currency as it can lead to imprisonment.
Ultimately, tourists should avoid speaking about the Thai royal family in general, especially in public places.
Drinking Laws in Thailand
The legal drinking age in Thailand is 20, and it is typically in the best interest of bar owners to enforce this law—as random police raids are common in bars to search out underage drinkers and visitors under the influence of illegal substances.
Also, drinking alcohol is illegal in temples or places of worship, petrol stations, public offices, educational institutions, pharmacies and public parks. The penalty for breaking this law is a six-months jail term, and/or no more than a 10,000 Baht fine.
Additionally, the Thai police announced in July 2017 that they would be monitoring social media closely to further enforce the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (2008). This law prohibits “the display of logos and brands of alcoholic products in order to persuade people into drinking alcohol whether directly or indirectly.”
Littering in Thailand
Early last year, Thailand authorities banned littering at 24 of its most popular beaches due to increasing environmental concerns. Therefore, litterers are liable to prosecution and can either be fined 100,000 THB (US$3,190) or face a one-year jail term.
Photography in Thailand
In Thailand, street photography is generally allowed, however there are some places and instances in which photographing is not permitted.
Taking photos in a temple or places with clear restrictions on photography is prohibited and also taking photos of the Thai royal family, military posts and border points is completely frowned upon.
Additionally, for tourist with drones, you will need permission from the relevant authorities and a drone insurance before flying them in the air.
Tourists with drones are mandated to apply for a permit from the Civil Aviation Authority Thailand (CAAT) well in advance of your trip, as the application can take anywhere from 75 to 104 days.
Other Thailand Laws
In addition to the laws listed above, other Thai laws worthy of note includes carrying your passport and ID on you at all times.
Also, it is illegal to drive a car without wearing a shirt and to go out in public without wearing underwear in Thailand.