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When travelling to a new place it is essential to equip yourself with the right information about cultural etiquette and what not to do in Thailand to avoid misunderstandings and cultural faux pas, conflicts or even worse- breaking the law. It is best to stay on top of your home country’s travel advice and any Thailand travel warning by checking the latest information on official government travel guides. Be smart;- if others advise you about things not to do in Thailand, then heed their warnings. A smart traveller is an informed traveller.
Thailand is considered one of the safest countries in Southeast Asia. It is recommended to exercise standard safety precautions such as keeping an eye on your belongings, not carrying too many valuables around and generally staying alert as you would in any new environment.
From time to time there are political tensions and public protests against the Thai government in Bangkok which are best avoided. It is advised to avoid some provinces in the southern tip of Thailand near the Malaysian border because of ongoing ethnic and racial conflicts. Check your home country’s Thailand travel advice on this. Thailand also has strict laws (lèse majesté) about defaming the monarchy which can lead to imprisonment, therefore its best to avoid discussing the Royal family altogether.
Transportation scams like non-metered taxis overcharging continue to plague urban tourist centres, as do petty crimes like pickpocketing. Another common transportation scam is taking a tuk-tuk in Bangkok where the driver insists on taking you to a gem wholesale store instead of your agreed-upon destination. The goods are usually fake and the driver gets a commission. Best to politely decline and find another driver.
So what is illegal in Thailand? Thai illicit drug laws are some of the harshest in the world with violators being subject to the death penalty. Don’t take the risk- never use, buy or transport illicit substances whilst in Thailand.
Gambling is basically illegal, apart from the government-supported National Lottery or horseracing. There are no casinos in Thailand. Those found to be participating in gambling can be subject to a fine or a jail term.
Due to environmental concerns, the Thai local authorities have outlawed littering at major tourist areas and beaches and its a felony to litter on sidewalks in cities. Litterers may receive hefty fines or even up to one year in jail.
Smoking is also prohibited in public spaces except in designated zones. Electronic cigarettes and vaping are also banned. If caught violating these laws, people will be subject to a large fine or imprisonment.
Under Thai law, it’s also illegal to drive a car if you are not wearing a shirt. Make sure you are always clothed when driving.
Regarding photography and operating drones, Thai regulations stipulate some restrictions around what can and can’t be photographed. Statues of Buddha, the Royal Family, government border checkpoints and military points are all off-limits and should not be photographed. You will need to apply for a permit from the relevant authorities to operate a drone in Thailand.
Thailand has strict laws known as lèse majesté about insulting the monarchy which can lead to imprisonment, so beware and avoid discussing the Royal family altogether.
Thai visa laws are unforgiving so if you overstay your visa you will be detained at an immigration detention centre. Thai immigration authorities don’t allow you to simply pay an overstay fine like other countries. Always make sure Thailand visa is valid and be careful not to overstay.
To stay healthy, its best to avoid drinking the tap water; it’s not treated and thus unsafe to consume. Avoid eating food that’s been sitting around for a while. Insist on the food being freshly prepared for you by the street vendor.
Some cultural points that you need to be aware of are that the Thai people consider it impolite to pat another on their head as this is considered as the holiest part of the body. The same goes for pointing with your index finger or gesturing with an open palm. These are seen as disrespectful gestures and should be avoided at all costs. The polite and correct way to greet a Thai person is by using the ” wai” hand gesture and bowing. For the “wai”, the palms of the hands are pressed together in a prayer position usually at the height of the chest, and then you slightly bow.
When visiting temples, always cover your shoulders and knees. Dress modestly as these places of worship are considered sacred. Monks are also highly revered in Thailand so you should never make any physical contact with a monk as touching them is a sign of utter disrespect.
Beginning Nov. 1, all foreign tourists—including medical tourists—must meet several conditions to gain a permit to enter Thailand once the government open borders (air borders and land borders).
According to the Bureau of Risk Communication and Health Behavior Promotion of the Disease Control Department, the foreign tourist must:
Countries deemed “low risk” by the Thai government as of Oct. 27 include Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Cambodia, New Zealand, South Korea, the UK, the USA, Italy, and Hong Kong.
The list did not include India, Vietnam, Bali, and the Philippines as “low-risk countries.” Some countries in Europe were also excluded from the list.
The full list of approved countries as well as the latest news on COVID-19 can be found on the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Regular updates are also posted on the official social media pages of the Australian Embassy.
Travellers who are fully vaccinated but are not from countries deemed “low risk” by the Thai government are required to stay in SHA+accommodations for a week in a “sandbox area.” This includes 17 provinces across Thailand, such as Phuket, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Krabi.
Foreign visitors who are unvaccinated or have yet to receive both COVID-19 vaccine doses are required to stay in ASQ hotels for 10 nights. They would also need to pass a COVID-19 test before they are given permission to travel domestically.
For non-Thai nationals, the hotels will be at your own expense and will also be allowed at hotels that received permission from the Thai government.
Children aged 11 and under who are travelling with their parents are not required to show proof of vaccination. However, children aged 12 and older would be asked to show a vaccine certificate and medical insurance upon entering Thailand.
International travellers would need to apply for the Thailand Pass, which may take up to 7 days to process. Once the pass is approved, the traveller can enter the country through six international airports, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Samui and U-Tapao. Travellers entering the country via charter flights may enter through Buri Ram airport.
From time to time there are political tensions and public protests against the government in Bangkok which can turn violent, so it is advised to avoid the city and some provinces in the southern tip of Thailand near the Malaysian border because of ongoing ethnic and racial conflicts. Check your home country’s travel advisory service on this.
Yes overall but operate caution as you would walking anywhere at night, and avoid walking in an uncrowded place where there are no other people to be on the safe side.
Thailand has a warm tropical climate all year round so it’s best to choose light clothing, a cotton fabric so your skin can breathe, and general summer attire. When visiting temples, certain museums and the Grand Palace in Bangkok, cultural etiquette requires you to dress modestly; shorts, spaghetti straps or anything exposing bare shoulders, skirts above the knee, tank-tops are not acceptable.
Thailand is considered one of the safest countries in Southeast Asia. It is recommended to exercise standard safety precautions such as keeping an eye on your belongings, not carrying too many valuables around and generally staying alert as you would in any new environment. From time to time there are political tensions and public protests against the Thai government in Bangkok which are best avoided. It is advised to avoid some provinces in the southern tip of Thailand near the Malaysian border because of ongoing ethnic and racial conflicts. Check your home country’s Thailand travel advice on this. Thailand also has strict laws (lèse majesté) about defaming the monarchy which can lead to imprisonment, therefore it is best to avoid discussing the Royal family altogether.For visitors coming in from Australia, officers from the Australian Embassy can also give advice and more information on how to have a safe and hassle-free trip in Thailand.
Visitors applying for a non-immigrant visa in the country are required to have health insurance that covers the whole period of their stay in Thailand.
Australian passport holders would not be required to obtain visas when entering Thailand, as long as it is only for tourism purposes. They will be given permission to stay in the country for a maximum of 30 days during each visit.However, an Australian passport holder entering Thailand without a visa through land border check-points can only visit the country twice per calendar year.One thing to note: If you bear no Australian visa or only a visitor visa, you would not be qualified to apply for any category of non-immigrant or semi-permanent visa in the country. The Australian Embassy can provide information about the case.
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