Monday, 27 August 2018 09:48

How to Stay Out of Trouble in Thailand Featured

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Most of the backpackers I speak to here on Koh Tao all have the same thing to declare – they’d love to stay here much longer, and would do anything to do so. Here I’m going to look at the worst possible way to extend your trip to this amazing country – going to jail – and also the different ways you could end up facing a hefty cash fine.

 

Drug Laws in Thailand

Like many countries in SE Asia, Thailand can be very strict indeed with the use of illegal drugs. This following statement is taken 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. “

The death penalty is definitely not a good souvenir to have from your Thailand backpacking trip, and if you’re caught with drugs you’ll definitely end up paying A LOT of money in fines, even just a little bit of weed will cost you at least 50,000 Baht (most probably more) and result in a court case. Leave it at home if you absolutely must indulge, and never take drugs in any public place no matter how chilled it appears.

 

Drinking Laws in Thailand

Believe it or not but the drinking age in Thailand is actually 20, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen anyone being asked to prove their age in the many years I’ve spent boozing heavily here. Of course this doesn’t mean all’s well, as all it takes is a policeman in a bad mood and you could end up with a fine to pay.

Drinking alcohol is illegal in the following locations in Thailand:

  • Temples or places of worship
  • Pharmacies (well that’s my Saturday night ruined)
  • Public offices
  • Education institutions
  • Petrol stations
  • Public parks

The penalty for illegally drinking alcohol at one of the above locations is six months' imprisonment, and/or no more than a fine of 10,000 Baht (which is a lot more likely than prison, thankfully).

 

Disrespecting the Thai Royal Family

Thailand is a country that is full of love for the royal family, with pretty much every single house and business containing at least one image of the King, which is also seen on roadsides and street intersections the length and breadth of the country. To insult the royal family is a very serious offence, with the Lese Majeste law of 1908 stating that it's a serious offense to defame, insult, threaten or defile any image of the Thai royal family including the currency used here, so be careful not to damage your coins and notes! To be perfectly honest I’d suggest not bringing up the royals at all with locals just in case you unintentionally offend someone!

 

Visa Laws in Thailand

If you overstay your visa, there is a daily fine of 500 Baht that you will be charged when you try to leave the country. If you can’t pay the fine this is where you get your free stay in jail! You are also very likely to be banned from Thailand if you overstayed by a long time:

  • Overstay more than 90 Days –   1 year ban
  • Overstay more than  1 Year  –    3 year ban
  • Overstay more than  3 Years –   5 year ban
  • Overstay more than  5 Years – 10 year ban

 If you are stopped before you make it to the airport with an overstay, you can go to prison if you are caught by an immigration officer and in some cases even jailed, fined AND deported from Thailand. This also comes with a ban from the country, depending on how long your overstay was:

  • Overstay less than 1 Year  –   5 year ban
  • Overstay more than 1 Year – 10 year ban

 

Gambling in Thailand

Apart from the government-supported National Lottery and betting on horseracing at the track, gambling is illegal in Thailand yet still surprisingly common. Police (in my experience) seem to be pretty strict on games of poker if they think money is involved, and even just a friendly game amongst other backpackers can attract the wrong attention from the authorities if they’re in a bad mood.

 

Littering Fines

In February 2018, Thailand authorities finally banned littering at 24 of its most popular beaches due to increasing environmental concerns. Litterers will be prosecuted and either fined 100,000 Baht or face a year in jail. 

You can be fined up to 2,000 Baht if you're caught littering on the streets, with cigarette ends and chewing gum two of the favourites for backpackers to be pulled up for. Some travellers have reported that when they were nabbed for a littering offense they offered what little money they had on them which was generally accepted.

 

Feeding the Fish

Finally Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) is getting serious about protecting its reefs and marine wildlife, and environmental violations (especially in busier tourist areas) could cost offenders a 10,000 Baht fine, a year in jail, or both. One Russian woman found this out the hard way when she was picked up by authorities for feeding fish with breadcrumbs in Phuket last year. Other offences include collecting shells and coral, spearfishing and catching protected species – for example collecting giant clams are often a target for those looking for a free feed and will definitely get you a nice fat fine if you’re caught.

 

‘Inappropriate Dress’

Now I wish that the police would throw in jail any backpacker dressed like bloody Aladdin (or wearing Crocs or Speedos for that matter) but alas I’m not the ruler of the country yet, and until then we’ll all just have to put up with the selfishness of these absolute twats. Believe it or not however (and I’m not really sure just how the local coppers would check for this) there is a wonderful rule that says that people must wear underwear in a public place.  I want to know what the hell was going on to make them create this law!

Read 162 times Last modified on Monday, 27 August 2018 10:10