There are many laws in Thailand that may seem strange to foreigners, but are important for us to uphold. Thailand is known for its harsh sentences, and still has the death penalty, therefore it is important to know at least a few laws to ensure your stay in Thailand does not turn into a life-changing nightmare.
The Royal Family
It is very important for tourists to know that it is a criminal offence to defile any image of the Thai Royal Family, which includes defacing Thai money or even stepping on Baht; you could end up being arrested, fined, or even sent to prison for any such acts. There have been some incidents reported in the news of tourists being seen to defile images of the Royal Family and even of Thai nationals being in trouble for doing so on social media.
The legal drinking age in Thailand is 20 - it is advisable to adhere to this as it could result in jail if the police catch you.
It is illegal to drink in certain places in Thailand, including: petrol stations, public parks, pharmacies, education institutions, public offices and temples or places of worship. There are caveats, however penalties for illegally drinking alcohol is six months imprisonment and up to a 10,000 Baht fine.
You will not be able to buy alcohol between 2 and 5pm or from midnight until 11am, on election days, the Royal Family's birthdays or on special religious holidays. Although you will find that not all establishments abide by these rules.
Overstaying your Welcome
Do not stay in Thailand past the date shown on your visa, on top of a hefty fine you could be detained at the immigration detention centre, and banned from re-entering the country.
Thai law indicates that tourists should have their passports on them at all times for ID and failing to do so could result in a 2,000 Baht fine; never leave your passport anywhere, if you need it for ID leave photocopies.
However, there is conflicting information regarding carrying your original passport, some saying that tourists having a photocopy of their passport as form of identification, or driving licences for expats, is sufficient.
You should ensure that your passport is in good conditions, has at least 6 months validity and at least 1 page free; you may run into trouble at immigration otherwise.
Prostitution in Thailand
Prostitution in Thailand is tolerated and partly regulated, earning it a reputation as destination for the Thailand sex tourist, however solicitation and public nuisance laws are in effect.
Thailand has a very harsh view on drugs, those found to be in possession of, using, producing, selling or transporting illegal drugs, may be fined, imprisoned or be subject to the death sentence.
It is illegal to gamble in Thailand, however permission to build a super casino in Pattaya has been given, so the law seems to be slowly changing.
If you are caught littering you could face a 2,000 Baht fine (or more), which also applies to chewing gum.
You are not permitted to leave Thailand with any images or Buddha, religious art or antiques without a permit.
Some strange laws
- It is illegal to drive a car without a shirt on.
- It is illegal for one person to have more than 120 playing cards.
- It is illegal to leave your home if you are not wearing underwear.
- Possessing a vaping device or its liquid could land you 5 years in jail!