Ignorance is bliss. That is, of course, until you get thrown in jail. Being a foreigner in Thailand doesn’t give you an excuse to break the laws, as the strict enforcement here demonstrates. So here’s a few of the main “do’s and don’ts” that you may not expect. Following these ten rules, and doing your own extended research on the laws of Thailand, will help you save money and stay out of jail when you travel or stay in the country.House on water Bangkok Thailand travel photography freelance expat

  1. Do not sit next to a monk of the opposite gender on public transportation (and don’t ever touch them, either). No, not even if there are no other available seats. The reason is because it is inappropriate for a monk to touch someone of the opposite gender, so it is therefore disrespectful and inappropriate to be so near to them. Through the grapevine, I heard a rumor that a tourist was once slapped in the face for sitting next to a monk on the train, at the time completely unaware of the law.
  2. Do not try to buy alcohol between 2 PM and 5 PM. Alcohol purchases are restricted from 12-11 AM and 2-5 PM daily, and also on Buddhist holidays. You may get a dirty look from a Tops cashier if you put a beer bottle on the belt at 4:45, while even 7-11 puts a sign on their beer fridge on holy days. However, it is common knowledge that private convenience stores may sell alcohol anytime, regardless.
  3. Carry your passport and visa with you at all times. Not only is this the law for foreigners, but in many situations you must provide your passport information–often the actual passport, rather than a copy the passport number. Such situations include signing up for a temporary or continuous gym membership, setting up a prepaid phone or Internet plan, applying for the 1Card rewards card, and so on. When extending your visa and registering with customs, you may even need to provide your country departure card.
  4. Live in accord with your visa. Tourists begging for money on the streets near Chatuchak, while offensively bold, don’t realize that they’re asking for trouble. Thailand has very strict laws about working. Even begging could be misconstrued as violating your tourist visa. Likewise, telling people that you do volunteer work, work online, are learning Thai, or are even CONSIDERING teaching English could jeapordize your time in Thailand. To put it simply: if you’re a tourist, act like one. Don’t risk deportation or getting barred from the country.
  5. Don’t work in a restricted industry. While teaching is a type of employment extended to foreigners, few other industries are. In fact, before accepting any type of employment in Thailand, first make certain that the job is allowed for people from your country (as indicated by your passport), and that you will be provided with the appropriate work permit AND visa in order to work in Thailand legally.
  6. Don’t discuss Thai government, politics, or the king. To anyone. At all. Ever. Therefore, I have nothing further to say on the subject.
  7. Make sure you extend your visa or make visa runs according to the exact amount of days you were given when you entered the country. There’s a catch, so listen up! For a single entry with a 90-day visa, for example, you are granted only 60 days before you must extend for 30 more, if desired, at an immigration office. The catch is this: your entry stamp may falsely indicate that you are granted to stay the full ninety days. The same rule applies for the multiple-entry visa: you must chop your visa accordingly, and exit and re-enter every 60 days, or else extend within each 60-day limit to exit and re-enter every 90 days.
  8. Buckle up in taxis and transport vans. As of April 2017, each passenger is required to fasten their seatbelt unless they are riding a songthaew, tuk-tuk, bus, or motorbike (obviously, right?). The complications this has caused include the fact that not all vans have enough seats for the psssengers they are willing to take on, or enough functional seat belts. Meanwhile, taxi drivers now refuse to take more than four passengers, which was a huge bummer for my buddies and I. (And, by the way, taxis don’t always have good seat belts, either.) So you must ride at your own risk of being fined.
  9. Don’t drink if you’re under 20 years of age. Of course, I can’t make your decisions for you. But I was surprised that the drinking age in Thailand is not only quite high, but also strongly enforced–especially when compared to neighboring countries. I’ve never been carded in Asia at all, but I hear on good authority that the Skybar in Bangkok will card people. So don’t be shocked if this happens to you, even if you’re obviously well over 20 years old. My advice to you is: take it as a compliment.
  10. Don’t be fooled by the amount of litter on the streets–it’s illegal to litter here. In fact, a violation of this law could cost you up to 2000 baht. The reason being, practically enough, is that litter contributes to the terrible flooding that plagues Thailand each rainy season.

Melissa Dailey

Hi, I’m Melissa. I established this site to help you accomplish your goals in working for yourself to lead a free life. Even if you think you’re too busy or too lazy to succeed.