There are many rules and laws to abide in Thailand and know these could prevent you from ending up in prison

What Laws in Thailand Should I be Aware of Before Visiting?

Visitors who travel to Thailand are required to follow a few rules especially if they do not want to get into trouble. The laws in Thailand mentioned here are applicable to both Thai locals, Expatriates and tourists who visit or live in Thailand for short and long durations. 

If you prefer to watch a short video about the law in Thailand then scroll to the end of this article or click the video link below.

Video: Laws in Thailand.

Covid and Travel Laws in Thailand

As of 1st July 2022, as per the Thai laws of entry, visitors from foreign countries no longer need a pass but may need a valid visa based on which country their passport is issued. Visitors and Thai locals entering the kingdom need a professional certification of negative COVID results or an RT-PCR full vaccination certificate. Home tests and self-tests are not valid and cannot be used for entry. Medical insurance for visitors is no longer mandated and the airline officials will be checking the documents provided when you board the flight. 

It should be noted, that a fully vaccinated individual has to furnish the application of entry with an attached copy of his/her passport as well as the certificate of vaccination. Alternately, an unvaccinated individual has to furnish the application of entry with an attached copy of his passport and COVID-19 RT-PCR that is done by a professional medical centre. The test should have been conducted no more than 72 hours before the application/travel date. 

Once you gain entry into Thailand, it is recommended to carry your travel documents such as a passport on you where ever you go. In case carrying the originals is not possible, then carrying a clear printed copy is a good move as well. A safe practice to follow is to have the number of your country’s embassy in writing and also on your phone for quick access if you are in trouble. Additionally, carrying the business card or the phone number and address of your hotel or place of stay is a good safety measure. 

Another travel law to remember is not to overstay your visit, even by a day, if you are caught doing this then you would not be answering to the airline authorities at first, you would be answering to the police who would be detaining you in Thai jails. 

Respect the Thai King and Royal Family Law

Thailand is a monarchy that is led by the Thai king and the royal family. While Thailand does have a government, both Thai nationals and foreigners are required to follow the lese-majeste law that dictates, give respect to the king and his family. 

While it is not a very common incident for foreigners to be arrested for insulting the royal family under the lese-majeste law, this is a possibility, and foreigners must be cautious not to pass judgement or mock the royal family in the slightest while in the country. The lese-majeste law is not only valid while communicating with anyone in person but also online while in the country. As the rule goes, when in doubt, do not act and this rule implies that it is best to avoid mentioning the Royal Family as a whole while in the kingdom. 

In most urban areas in the Kingdom, the Thai national anthem is played by speakers at 8 am and again at 6 pm, both Thai nationals and foreigners are required to stand and pay respect to the anthem at these times. The punishment for disobeying the lese-majeste law is immediate imprisonment with a lengthy prison sentence upon being found guilty.

Drinking Laws in Thailand

The legal age to drink alcohol in Thailand is 20 and even if the legal age in your home country is 16-19, in Thailand, foreigners cannot buy or consume alcohol if they are a day younger than their 20th birthday. The Thai police are coming down hard on foreigners who partake in underage drinking and it doesn’t matter if you are sipping on a glass or two with your family or guardians.

Smoking Laws in Thailand

While travelling to Thailand, remember that you are permitted to carry up to 200 cigarettes per person and if you are caught with more than the permissible limit then there could be a fine of up to 10 times the estimated value of the cigarettes as well as the Thai authorities will be confiscating the cigarettes on your arrival into the country. 

Many of the beaches in Thailand including Koh Samui, Pattaya and Phuket do not allow visitors to smoke on the beach side and this is applicable to both Thai nationals as well as foreigners. The fine for smoking on any restricted Thai beach is both a fine of 10,000 Thai Bahts and up to a year in jail with immediate detention. 

Smoking in undesignated public areas can also attract a fine, and so can improper disposal of plastics, cigarette butts and other hazardous wastes that dirty the roads and may be harmful to wildlife. 

Interestingly, vaporizers and e-cigarettes are banned in Thailand and if you are caught with these items then you could be charged a heavy fine as well as being detained and jailed for up to 10 years. If you are caught with these items with an intent to sell then the fine is equally hefty with a jail time of up to 5 years. 

Note that there are separate designated smoking corners on most beaches as well as public places, smoking here is fine as long as you are smoking regular cigarettes. 

Drug Laws in Thailand

The drug laws in Thailand are pretty simple, don’t do drugs for recreational purposes, if you are caught with them or doing them, you will be jailed. This includes any and all drugs, both natural and chemically derived. 

In early 2018, Thailand came into the headlines for being one of the first countries to legalize marijuana, but what the papers did not tell you is that there is a list of applicable conditions. Medical marijuana is permitted but for a very small number of reasons and having a doctor’s note for glaucoma may not help you if you are caught smoking in Thailand. 

Endangered Animal Laws in Thailand

The kingdom of Thailand is a signatory to the Wildlife law also known commonly as CITIES which implies that anybody caught buying, selling or partaking in any way in the illegal wildlife trade will face both a hefty fine as well as imprisonment. The CITIES wildlife law is applicable to both live animals, and animal by-products such as fur, bones and Ivory. 

LGBTQ Laws in Thailand

Thailand is a relaxed and non-judgmental country as far as the LGTB community is considered, which means that Thailand accepts and respects people of the LGBT community but with certain restrictions. This implies that Thailand does not accept a third gender and same-sex marriages registered elsewhere in the world aren’t recognized in the kingdom, however, being part of the LGBTQ community isn’t a criminalized offence. 

More importantly, any individual that wishes and seeks to wish to change their gender marked on official paperwork can do so while in Thailand. This means that you can choose to switch genders through gender reassignment provided you have previously attempted or are currently attempting to undergo this process elsewhere or in Thailand. 

Thailand has a few clubs, pubs and private events, especially for the LGBT community that are hosted in and around various cities in the kingdom. If you visit and partake in these events then do remember not to get carried away as public decency and other Thai laws must be adhered to while you are in the kingdom irrespective if you are enjoying your time in a straight or LGBT event. 

More Information About Laws in Thailand

It can be concluded that Thailand is a beautiful place to visit with many sights and attractions for people of varying interests.

If you are considering visiting Thailand to make it your home by investing in property either as an overseas investor or as a foreigner who wishes to live there, then here is some good news for you. 

Foreigners can own certain property types in Thailand and the information blog posts on the Silk Estate website can empower you to get the information about real estate laws that you need before making an investment. 

Laws of Thailand for Foreigners and Thai Citizen

There are a few local laws of the land that have to be adhered to strictly when in the country. No drugs including natural substances are one of these laws. Chemical substances are contraband of the highest grade in Thailand which means that consuming, possessing and even dealing with these substances can get you a one-way ticket to Thai jails. Respecting the royal family is another important and non-negotiable law. While foreigners are allowed to smoke in Thailand in designated smoking areas, vaporizers and e-cigs are a big no. 

Foreigners are allowed to be comfortable with the clothing of their choice, but public decency and a code of conduct are unspoken laws. LGBTQ rights are prominent in Thailand, with many establishments permitting LGBTQ events, however, the kingdom does not recognize a third gender and the LGBTQ population has fewer rights in Thailand as compared to many other countries. The informative Silk Estate blog covers topics like local real estate, foreign property laws and foreign visitor laws in detail. 

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Chris Wyatt
Chris Wyatt

Chris is an knowledgeable real estate professional with many years experience in promoting and helping people find the right property to buy.

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Disclaimer: This article is not to be taken as legal advice in any form. The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. If you require legal advice in Thailand you should contact a professional.

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