10 Ways to Get Fined or Arrested in Thailand

Category: Thailand, Travel Tips & Guides

It’s most likely that no one wants to get fined or put behind the bars when they could have spent a carefree holiday in the paradise-like Thailand, which is known to be an open-minded country. Mind that even though the people there are easy on social gaffes, the local authorities take them seriously. There are also activities that we take for granted are actually heavily policed in Thailand. But chill, savvy travelers will be just fine. To save the hassle, we have rounded up 10 things which are well worth getting aware of when traveling to Thailand

 

1. Alcohols

No kidding, issues with alcohols can get a foreign visitor into trouble in Thailand if they fail to bear the rules in mind. The government has made strict laws on drinking in terms of the following aspects.

Buying alcohols– Sorry, you can’t always get them whenever you want. Since 2015, It is illegal to order or buy alcoholic drinks outside lunch (11 am to 2 pm) and dinner (5 pm to 12 am) in every type of restaurant and other venues seven days a week. A violation of the law will result in a six-month jail sentence and/or a fine of 10,000 Baht (the equivalent of around 300 USD as of 2018). Alcohol is also banned on Election Days, public holidays such as King’s Birthday and religious holidays, many of which occur throughout the year.

Thailand liquors and alcoholic beverageDon’t get tipsy at the wrong time. Always check the time when you want to order an alcoholic drink!

Posting on social media – When other countries are lenient on your social media activities, the Thai authority has taken a further step. Since 2017, Thai police has been closely monitoring social media posts that display logos or brands of alcoholic products as such action would encourage people to consume alcohol directly or indirectly. A fine up to 1,500 USD can be issued for a single selfie with a bottle of Chang!

Drinking in the vehicle – No drinking while driving, common sense right? In Thailand, however, the passenger is not allowed to have an alcoholic beverage in the vehicle either. This is due to the concern that the driver may be tempted to take the drink, which is very likely to happen all the time. The law took effect in 2012, but many foreign visitors may not be aware of it yet. A TripAdvisor user recently shared his experience of getting fined for 5000 Baht because of having an opened bottle of beer in the taxi. Having sealed drinks are not considered “drinking” though.

Drinking area – Thailand is a highly religious country that is intolerant of profane activities. Drinking alcohol is illegal in places including temples, worship sites, pharmacies, gas stations, public offices, public parks and schools. Lawbreakers will face imprisonment of six months and or a fine of over 10,000 Baht.

11-Day Best of Thailand & Cambodia Siem Reap - Bangkok - Chiang Mai - Phuket - Bangkok
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2. Smoking

Smoking has been officially banned on more than 20 popular beaches around Thailand since February 2018.  Simply put, any behavior of flicking a cigarette or littering the cigarette butt on the beach will lead to a hefty fine of up to 100,000 Baht and or up to one-year sentence served in prison. "No Smoking" signs have been putting up and can be seen in and around Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and so forth, but note that more beaches will be included in the near future. Therefore, it is wise to drop the idea of lighting up a cigarette while enjoying the paradise-like beach!

More importantly, e-cigarettes or vapors are illegal items in Thailand for both Thais and foreigners. A ban issued in 2014 makes it clear that violators could be arrested and a severe fine. So do not risk facing jail term by having these devices in your luggage before you go.

 

3. Drones

Catching the unparalleled beauty of Thai beaches from above is tempting, but rules come along too. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, flying a drone, for the personal or commercial purpose, is legal only when you register it with a license. Drones that don’t have a camera or weigh under 2kg are not required to be registered. The pending process can take up to more than a month, so get the paperwork done in advance. There are cases that visitors escaped from registration or with a drone in their luggage yet didn’t use it were safe, but it is not a guarantee. The penalty for the violation has been upgraded to a fine of 40,000 Baht and or one year in prison. Even with the license to fly your drone, keep it away from prying eyes and tourist areas such as a crowded beach – you don’t want to get complaints or attention. Also, watch out for the sign saying No Drone Zone where droning is a strong no-no.

 

4. Feeding pigeons

From September 2018, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has been running a campaign to ban on feeding pigeons in all 50 Bangkok districts. Other cities including Chiang Mai also follows suit. Failing to abide by will lead to a 25,000 Baht fine and or a three-month jail term. The measure is promoted by the finding that many pigeons carry bacteria of bird flu and other diseases that could impose severe danger to human health. As feeding will attract more pigeons, banning the buying-feeding activity is the only way to decrease the concentration of pigeons. So when you are in Thailand, turn your back on the vendor who is trying to sell you pigeon feed!

Pigeons on the squareFeel like feeding those poor creatures? You may want to think twice now.

 

5. Nudity

Not surprisingly, going nude is not only against morality but also is illegal in Thailand. In 2016, two female tourists were fined and given a lesson in Thai culture after being caught topless in a driving vehicle. For both men and women, driving or walking around public areas without a shirt is forbidden. For females, topless sunbathing on the beach is against the law… Wait, but you have seen people doing so on Instagram or in a YouTube video? Chances are they didn’t get caught, but why take the risk? If you really want to go naturalistic, the best option is to stay in a remote place where you are not to be seen or stay in a hotel in which private beach is available. You can start with locating some of the best beaches in Thailand.

Beaches in ThailandEven in a less crowded place like this, the appearance of a drone is still something that people frown upon.

 

6. Offending the religion

It is no news that Thai people have zero tolerance on anything profaning their religious belief and temples. In 2017, two male visitors were arrested in the airport and fined 5,000 Baht for posing for a "butt selfie" at Wat Arun, one of the most famous temples in Thailand.  This case may be rare, but if you have a tattoo of Buddha, cover it when you are Thailand as Buddha is highly revered in Thailand. Never point at a Buddha statue with your finger or misbehave – rules against misconduct that are not written in the law doesn’t mean they are acceptable. Under the Customs BE2469, exporting any Buddha images or statues without a license or a written permission from the Thai Government Fine Arts Department is also strictly prohibited.

Temples in ThailandAlways take some time to read the temple rules before entering and you can’t do it wrong.

 

7. Disrespecting the Thai royal family

In 1908, a draconian law called Lese Majeste was established to state that defaming or insulting the Thai royal family is considered a crime that entails three to fifteen years of imprisonment. This includes stepping on a Thai Baht. So move your leg quickly if you accidentally step on it. The same goes with their invited foreign guests. Nor is it ok to talk about the king, the queen, the heirs publicly. According to Wikipedia, more than 700 cases violating Lese Majeste were filed in the past 10 years. It is better to be conscious of this rule since slips of the tongue is so easily, otherwise, you will find yourself in hot water. 

Thai bath Thai currencyThai Baht featuring the important royal members of the nation.

 

8. Defaming the Thai flag

Maybe you can wear or burn your national flag back home, but not here. The Thai Flag Act of B.E. 2522 was made in 1979 for the purpose of requiring people to have respect for their flag. This means you must not write on the flag, drag it, cut it, destroy it or use any other means to disrespect it. Another thing worth noticing is that you may want to avoid wearing the exact color combination of the Thai flag, which consists of red, white and blue, especially for footwear as the bottoms of feet are considered the lowest and the dirtiest part in Thai culture.

Thailand national flagThe sequence of the three colors is also something worth noting to avoid faux pas.

 

9. Drugs

If you think there is a chance, read this from the website of Thai Embassy: "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." You read it right – the death sentence, a blanket ban. The Thai government has been striving to crack down drugs since a decade ago so this is a big deal to bear in mind. Although western violators may face a less harsh penalty, it is still possible. Highly touristy islands known for full-moon parties are the places where recreational drugs are commonplace, but make no mistake since you have known it is a definite no-no now.

 

10. Gambling

Under the Gambling Act 1935, gambling and betting on an online casino operating in Thailand is against the law. People believe that gambling is a vice which leads to ruin. That being said, illegal physical casinos still can be found across Thailand, but it does not mean that taking the risk is as exciting as going to the place though. The time during World Cup usually found people on the wrong side of the law, so be careful. Betting on horse races or Thai lottery, nevertheless, is acceptable.

Congratulations - now you are clued up on the ways to get fined or arrested in Thailand, so you have had an idea of how to play it safe. To ensure a more hassle-free holiday and avoid any unintentional law-breaking behavior, it is suggested have a local guide around, even just for a knowledgeable, pleasant company! Go no further – send a free inquiry on our site or to our Thailand expert at to get a tailor-made itinerary.

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