Drinking Laws in Thailand: A Few Facts
It’s important to know the rules regarding alcohol in Thailand. Recently, some friends from England were arrested for drinking beer in a National Park. This resulted in 3 hours in a police station and a 3,000bht fine per person.
The drinking age in Thailand is 20. It’s in the interest of bar owners to enforce this, as establishments do occasionally get raided for underage drinkers and patrons under the influence of illegal substances.
This doesn’t mean you can’t buy alcohol if you are underage. Many people do, but we heavily advise you against it. Again, it can result in jail if the police catch you.
Officially alcohol can not be purchased between midnight and 11am and 2pm and 5pm unless by special license or”an arrangement with the local constabulary”.
Drinking alcohol is illegal in the following locations in Thailand:
- Temples or places of worship
- Public offices
- Education institutions
- Petrol stations
- Public parks (including National Parks)
There is also some uncertainty regarding drinking in the streets. It’s generally accepted that it is illegal but there doesn’t appear to be any documented legislation. Still, better to err on the side of caution and find a nice bar.
Drug Laws in Thailand
It doesn’t get more obvious than the following statement taken from the Customs Department of the Kingdom of Thailand Website:
“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.“
That‘s right, The Death Sentence.
The police probably don’t give a damn if you say you didn’t inhale, you’ll be in serious trouble if you’re caught. Thai prisons are not like their comfortable European counterparts. You won’t be having a good time inside.
Don’t be stupid in Thailand. Never buy, use or transport drugs in any manner during your stay.
Disrespecting the Thai Royal Family
A law which has been around since 1908, it is a serious offence to defame, insult, threaten or defile any image of the Thai royal family.
Even talking about the Thai king and his family is generally frowned upon especially in public areas. You can be arrested and sent to jail.
This also includes defacing Thai money. Whatever you do, don’t step on any baht – it’s against the law and could result in spending time behind bars. This could be a very difficult thing to explain when you return home.
Littering Fines in Thailand
You can be fined up to 2,000 baht in Thailand if you’re caught littering on the pavement. If you are fined a sum over this amount, the individual may not actually be authorized to enforce the littering law! However we urge you not to get overly stroppy in the case of an “overfine“.
Members of the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) are qualified to enforce this fine – you can ask to see their license for this. By the way, don’t forget this law applies to chewing gum. Don’t spit it on the footpath – not only is really annoying to scrape off your flip flop, it’s against the law and Thai policemen love arresting people for this one.
Smoking Ban in Thailand
As of November 2017, smoking is also banned on beaches in numerous tourist spots including Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla provinces. This has been initiated by the Thai government to reduce the impact on the marine environment and damage to drain systems. After a three month trial period, this ban will be rolled out across all beaches, passenger and tourist boats in Thailand.
Breaking this law will see you receive a 100,000 Baht fine, 1 year prison time or both!
Smoking is prohibited in outdoor exercise spaces, facilities for sports training/playing and competitions, public parks, zoos, amusement parks, markets and children’s playgrounds. Travellers in tour groups are expected to adhere to this regulation.
Electronic cigarettes/vaping have also been banned in Thailand since 2014. Plenty of tourists have been caught out and ignoring this will result in a fine and/or arrest and jail time.