Things to be careful of in Thailand

Want to stay safe while staying in Thailand? Do you want to avoid getting fined or worse, getting arrested and going to a Thai jail?

If you don’t want to get into any trouble while visiting Thailand, I suggest you follow the rules, laws, costume and culture of Thailand. You may actually get yourself into big trouble if you break any of these “rules” in front the wrong Thais.

My Top 20 Things to be Careful of in Thailand



World’s most dangerous roads

Things to be careful of in Thailand - #1 Traffic

In 2017, according to, Thailand is ranked first for the world’s most dangerous roads with the highest road death rate per 100,000 people.

Bangkok is ranked in the top 10 for having the most congested traffic in the world.

If you have zero experience driving a car or riding a scooter anywhere – starting to learn that in Thailand is not a good idea.

For new drivers and riders, I think it’s best to stay away from the cities. Especially in the big cities like Bangkok, central Chiang Mai and other bigger cities around Thailand.

If you are inexperienced driving or riding a scooter in Thailand, it is best to take a meter taxi or use the public transportation when inside a city like Bangkok, as well as other bigger cities around Thailand. Accidents happen more with inexperienced drivers, who do not know the driving culture of Thailand.

Dangerous roads for tourist are:

  • Highway 1095 from Chiang Mai to Pai district
  • Highway 118 from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai
  • Highways 2258 and 2296 to Khao Khor (Phetchabun)
  • Highway 4233 to Karon mountain (Phuket)

Putting the numbers in focus. In 2015, visitors to Thailand had about

  • One chance in 301,204 of dying
  • One chance in 735,294 of dying in a vehicle crash
  • One chance in 2,8 million of dying while swimming or boating
  • One tourist in every 6,250,000 committed suicide


Since we’re on this topic, some other things to be careful of in Thailand are the air quality and the air pollution. Inside high-volume traffic areas will have the worst air quality, so it’s best to avoid being outdoors around those areas or to wear a mask if you’re outside. Avoid going out for too long during the rush hours in busy parts of the town.


Water Accidents

Not the greatest safety standards

Things to be careful of in Thailand - #1 Water Accidents

After living in Thailand for many years and visiting numerous beaches, I’ve noticed there are hardly any lifeguards on the public beaches. When you decide to go for a swim, make sure you go with someone or a group of people to watch after each other. If you can’t swim or you’re not a good swimmer, make sure to have a life jacket on at all times.

If it’s stormy, do not go in the water.

Here are several risky swimming areas for tourists:

  • Tawan Beach in Pattaya’s Koh Larn (Chon Buri)
  • Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui (Surat Thani)
  • Mu Koh Similan (Phangnga)
  • Koh Hae (Phuket)


Travel Insurance

Some travel insurance companies may not cover your medical expenses

If you do decide to rent a motorbike, a scooter or other vehicle, make sure you have an international license or a Thai license to operate the vehicle. If you’re the operator of the scooter or motorbike or other vehicle and you do not have a license in Thailand, some travel insurance companies may not cover your medical expenses if you get into an accident.

Best to double check with the insurance provider if you are going to operate a vehicle or motorbike/scooter in Thailand.


No Alcohol

No alcohol sold during some Buddha festivals and other public holidays

No Alcohol in Thailand

This may come as news to you but there are different Buddha festivals throughout the year in Thailand. When they happen, alcohol sales are banned across the country. Many pubs, nightclubs and bars are closed because they are not allowed to sell alcohol and they’re not allowed to play loud music. This is the law and the owners are expected to follow the law or face stiff fines, or even jail time.

If you’re planning to come to Thailand to party, it’s worthwhile to know when these no alcohol days happen. Because when you come at the wrong day to party, you might end up wasting one or two days.

Would you like to know when they have the Buddha festivals and when they ban the sale of alcohol? Download my free eBook, there is a chapter called “Thailand Festivals & Holidays” where I listed the Buddhist holidays.


Don’t Wear Expensive Jewelry

Leave them at home or in a safe deposit

Tim Sharky in Pattaya wearing gold chain necklace and bracelet

Don’t brag or show off your wealth. No one needs to know you make 10x or 100x more than the average Thai, or how many cars you have back home. If you start show-boating and bragging about your wealth, you’ll end up rubbing the Thais the wrong way.

Here’s a good example, the image above is Tim aka Sharky. He used to wear big gold necklaces, expensive watches and other jewelry walking around Pattaya. That changed after his condo was broken into and his stuff was stolen (I believe he said 1 million baht and 1kg of gold). It doesn’t matter how intimidating you look, if you’re showing off your wealth in a place like Thailand, you have a big bullseye on your chest.


Too Hot

Temperature can get up to 100ºF/40ºC

Temperature can reach 40 degrees Celsius or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most people come to Thailand for the tropical climate. But in some parts of the year and during certain parts of the day, the temperature can be overpowering to the human body.

The hottest month in Thailand is April where temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

When that happens, it is best to stay indoors, and limit activities outdoors. If you must go outside, put on some sun lotion, sun glasses, a hat and drink more water than normal. During the peak hours (noon to 6pm) it’s best to stay inside and turn on your air conditioner.


Don’t Use Illegal Drugs

Not even Mary Jane & vaping

Don't Use Illegal Drugs

Drug possession and other drug trafficking is illegal and is punishable by death according to Thai law. If not, a very long jail sentence inside an overcrowded Thai jail. This is pretty much the same rule in all countries.

Also, don’t drink and drive. It is illegal for the driver and the passengers to drink alcohol inside a vehicle.

Although it is unlikely that a passenger in a private transport would be stopped and searched for drinking alcohol, you should be aware of the risk of a heavy fine and potential jail time if you are caught.

Vaping and electronic cigarettes are banned in Thailand. If you’re into that, don’t do it in public, some tourists have been fined and some others detained.

Tourists should be aware that e-cigarettes and other vaping devices are illegal in the kingdom. Do not bring any e-cigarette devices with you, or anything associated with e-cigarettes or vaping, such as the liquid to use with vaping.

Now you might say why are there shops selling vaping devices and e-cigarettes in Thailand? What’s going on?

Before this, the law was for companies exporting and importing vaping devices and e-cigarettes but now they seem to be after people (Thais and foreigners) vaping in public. Perhaps the police are unaware of this and going after anyone? I don’t know.

I had a friend who brought his vaping device to Thailand because he didn’t know about this and nothing happened. Just avoid doing it out in public because it is illegal.

Thailand vape ban: Travelers unaware they could face up to 10 years in prison for using e-cigarettes.

Anyone found breaking this law by using an electronic cigarette – or vaping – in Thailand could be arrested and face jail time, or a fine several times the value of the illegal item(s). This applies both to foreigners and Thais.


No Smoking On Thailand Popular Beaches

Smoking ban on 24 beaches around Thailand

No Smoking On Thailand Popular Beaches

The smoking ban does not apply to all the beaches in Thailand. There will be signs posted in different languages warning you that you’re not allowed to smoke on the beach. This is mainly to protect the environment and to protect the shoreline from cigarette butts.

Don’t worry, you can still sunbathe 😉

24 Beaches in Thailand where smoking is banned:

  1. Patong Beach, Phuket
  2. Bo Phut Beach, Koh Samui
  3. Phra Ae Beach, Krabi
  4. Khlong Dao Beach, Krabi
  5. Khok Wang Beach, Krabi
  6. Wasukree Beach, Pattani
  7. Hua Hin Beach, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  8. Khao Takiab Beach, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  9. Ban Cheun Beach, Trat
  10. Laem Sade Beach, Chanthaburi
  11. Saeng Chan Beach, Rayong
  12. Bang Kaen Beach, Chon Buri
  13. Tham Pang Beach, Chon Buri
  14. Sai Kaeo Beach, Chon Buri
  15. Dong Tan Beach, Chon Buri
  16. Cha-am Beach, Phetchaburi
  17. Hat Said Res Beach, Champhon
  18. Chalok Ban Kao Beach, Ko Phangan, Surat Thani
  19. Plai Sai Beach, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  20. Chalatat Beach, Songkhla
  21. Ko Kai Nok Beach, Phang-nga
  22. Ko Kai Nai Beach, Phang-nga
  23. Khao Lak Beach, Phang-nga
  24. Hat Samran Beach, Trang


Public Nudity & Going Topless

The same anywhere you go in South East Asia

Things to be careful of in Thailand - #9 Public Nudity & Topless

Nudity or going topless is actually illegal, and may result in some jail time, though very rarely implemented.

Most Thais find it offensive when they see half-naked people walking around in public. However, it’s ok to be wearing a bikini or swim trunks on the beach or swimming pools or inside your own private room. Also, if you have a 6 pack and you’re easy on the eyes, most Thai ladies wouldn’t mind.

While I’m on this topic, I want to add that French kissing in public is taboo in Thai society.

French kissing in public won’t get you any fine or get you any jail time but it is disrespectful to the locals. Keep in mind that there are Thais who live and work there. Not everyone is on a holiday.

Sex in public would be a big no-no, with possible fines and jail time. That should go without saying.


Temple & Royal Palace Dress Code

No skirts and no tank tops

What not to wear in Thailand

If you’re going to the temple or a Royal Palace, you must dress properly. Women shouldn’t wear miniskirts or a tank tops inside the temples or any Royal Palaces.

Avoid dressing like you’re going to a night club or out partying with friends.

Generally speaking, no skirts and no tank tops; although many temples provide coverings to use temporarily.

Once inside the temples, women are not allowed to touch the monks or the Buddha statues. Traditionally, women are not allowed to touch monks unless it is an emergency.


You’re not allowed to wear shoes, boots, sandals or any type of footwear inside temples and other religious buildings. This also includes peoples’ homes, some offices and other buildings. (Socks are OK)

Why you can’t wear footwear?

Your footwear collects filth from the street. Would you want someone stepping on some dog crap, gum, and chemicals, then go walking around your home or your bedroom in the same footwear? I think not.

When not to wear your footwear?

You’ll see other Thais or tourists taking off their footwear before stepping inside a building. This usually happens at the entrance or bottom of the steps. That’s a sign for you to take off your footwear.

In hotels?

Staying at your hotels will depend on you, unless the owner or staff ask you to take off your shoes, but very unlikely they will ask you.


Don’t Point Your Finger At A Thai

It’s a sign of disrespect

Thais pointing at things

Pointing a finger or pointing with your feet to a Thai person is a sign of disrespect. You can point your finger to another farang or animals, items and directions. That’s fine. But avoid pointing your finger or feet towards a Thai person, it’s a disrespectful gesture.


Don’t Defame The King & Royal Family

Up to 15 years in jail

Whatever you do, do not defame the King or The Royal Family, because the King and The Royal Family are highly regarded in Thai society. That’s why you always see huge portraits of the King and other Royal Family pictures posted all over Thailand.

Thailand has the world’s strictest lèse-majestè law. If convicted, you could go to a Thai jail for up to 15 years.

Writing negatively, drawing unflattering pictures or vandalizing the picture of the King, Queen or the royal family is also illegal in Thailand. (Money, books, posters, bank statements, magazines, newspaper, Facebook, twitter, YouTube and so on.)

A Thai man faces jail for insulting the King’s dog with a ‘sarcastic’ internet post.

Just stay clear of this topic and you’ll be fine.


Don’t Use Non-Metered Taxi

If you want to save money, avoid the non-meter taxi

If you get into a taxi in Thailand without a meter or you negotiate a fixed price before boarding, it’s likely you’re paying at least 2x or 3x more vs a metered taxi.

Not only it will cost you more money with a non-metered taxi, it is also illegal for the taxi drivers to turn off their meter or operating a taxi without the meter.

Avoid Tuk-Tuk or Taxi Parking in Long Line

If you see a row of tuk-tuks or taxis at a popular tourist attraction and the driver comes up to you, it is likely they are the non-metered taxi and they can charge you whatever they want.

Try to hail taxis already on the roads passing by, it might take you a minute or two to grab one. Look for a taxi with the light turned on, it means they don’t have customers and are available.


Don’t Always Use Tuk-Tuk

There are better options with air conditioner

Tuk tuks are great for first timers; I’ll admit they can be fun and they’re great for a few times, but today, there are better ways to get around a big city like Bangkok.

Use a metered taxi when in doubt or use the local mass transportation systems like the MRT (aka subway) or the BTS (aka sky train). They all have air conditioning and are a lot safer and often more affordable than tuk tuks.

Tuk tuks have fixed prices; you’ll need to get the price up front and haggle before going to your destination, or the tuk tuk driver can charge you whatever they want.

I’m not saying tuk tuk drivers will rip you off or they’re all bad, but you would probably get a better deal with a meter taxi or using the MRT/BTS.

Tuk-tuks should be your very last option when inside a city like Bangkok.

If you travel outside of Bangkok or in a smaller city or town, tuk tuks are probably your only option, but make sure you agree on the price first before boarding.



Can be expensive than your home country if you don’t watch out

If you’re coming for a vacation and staying in a hotel during your stay. You do not have to worry about this issue, as your hotel will include all of your utilities. However, if you are staying over one month or more and you are responsible to pay for your electricity. You will most likely have to pay a fixed price for your electricity and pay through your landlord.

The electricity price in Thailand is as low as 3 THB and can go as high as 5 THB per unit of electricity. If you have to pay 8 THB per unit of electricity, it means, about 3 THB will go to the landlord and the rest are paid to local electricity provider. The landlord will tell you that extra money they receive will pay for the cost of the lighting at night, or for the elevator, guards etc.

For me, I would never stay in a place that I pay more than 8 THB per one unit of electricity. Because 8 THB is about 0.32 Canadian cents for one unit of electricity and that is almost triple what I paid back in Canada.

For example, you rented this apartment somewhere in Thailand at 6,000 THB per month. Which is a great deal, but you are paying 13 THB per unit of electricity. Which is about 3 times more than the market rate. So, you have to keep that in mind, sometimes some owners lower their monthly rent but they make it back from the high electricity rate they charge you.


Don’t always use tuk tuk in a big city like Bangkok

Tuk tuks are great for first timers, but there are better options

Tuk tuks are great for first timers; I’ll admit they can be fun and they’re great for a few times, but today, there are better ways to get around a big city like Bangkok.

Use a meter taxi when in doubt or use the local mass transportation systems like the MRT (aka subway) or the BTS (aka sky train). They all have air condition and are a lot safer and often more affordable than tuk tuks.

Tuk tuks are fixed price; you’ll need to get the price up front and haggle before going to your destination, or the tuk tuk driver can charge you whatever they want.

I’m not saying tuk tuk drivers will rip you off or they’re all bad, but you would probably get a better deal with a meter taxi or using the MRT/BTS.

Tuk-tuks should be your very last option when inside a city like Bangkok.

If you travel outside of Bangkok or in a smaller city or town, tuk tuks are probably your only option, but make sure you agree on the price first before boarding.


Don’t Overstay Your Visa

Fine 500 baht per day, maximum 20,000 baht

Do not over stay in Thailnad

If you overstay, the fine is 500 THB per day. Maximum is 20,000 THB with possible jail time if you don’t pay.

Furthermore, your passport will be marked and noted by Thai Immigration. Repeated violations of overstaying 3 times may result in your passport marked as “undesirable alien”, declaring you violated the immigration laws of Thailand.

After you are marked as an “undesirable alien”, it would make it harder for you to continue traveling internationally and being barred (up to 5 or 10 years) from re-entry to Thailand.

If you overstay more than 60 days and are caught by police, you will be transferred to the immigration Detention Centre and deported.

Penalties also vary depending on whether the overstaying foreigner voluntarily turns himself/herself in or is arrested.



Thai New Year celebration

Songkran in Thailand

Do you want to experience the world’s biggest water fight or the world’s biggest wet t-shirt contest in Pattaya? If so, you will have to come during the Songkran festival that happens each year around mid-April, which lasts at least 3 days or more depending on the region.

However, if you’re not into that and you come during the Songkran festival, remember this will be the biggest holiday in Thailand where most Thais in Bangkok and other cities travel back home to visit their family.

During this period, it is also called the “7 deadly days”, the days before, during and after the Songkran festival. This is when the country gets a spike of road accidents.

If you want to buy a bus ticket or train ticket going in or out of the city, you would want to book that at least 2 weeks before your trip. This is the busiest and biggest holiday in Thailand, it will be hard to find a ticket during the festival, unless you get lucky and someone cancels their ticket.


Use Common Sense

Would you be walking in a dark alley alone back in your home country? Probably not, so why would you do it in a foreign country like Thailand?


Sick Water Buffalo

If you meet a Thai person who has a sick water buffalo, just run the other way.

If you want to know more about the do’s and don’ts in Thailand. Download my free ebook here.


Click Here To Download Free eBook, An introduciton to Thailand

Author: Thom

Hi, I’m currently living in Thailand. I’m a artist, designer, travel blogger, and sometimes a YouTuber... Tags: Viator Tours Thailand, Viator Bangkok Airport Transfer, Chiang Mai Viator

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