Strange laws in Thailand

in asean •  2 months ago 

This country is awesome and I am very happy that I moved to it - I just want to make that very clear before anyone thinks that I am "Thai-bashing" which is actually a very common thing that happens in the expat community here.

For the most part this is a wonderful, affordable, and freedom-loving part of the world. They do have some downsides or even just really strange aspects of society though and I recently discovered a few very odd laws that although rarely enforced, are on the books. I think that most countries are like this at least in some regard, I know that the state I come from that it is illegal for you to carry an ice cream cone in your back pocket so USA is not exempt from having some rather odd things on the lawbooks.

No getting tattoos of Buddha


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I don't have any tattoos. I think they look good on some people but lately I feel as though a lot of people, particularly young people, go a bit bananas with the skin ink and a lot of them will end up regretting this later. It's just a personal choice that I decided to make to be tattoo free. That being said, getting tattoos while visiting here is a very big business all over the country and many people have it done. There is one thing that you are definitely not supposed to get drawn on your body and if you do so, you can actually get into a lot of trouble.

There was talk from some out of touch politician who wanted to ban anyone that has a Buddha tattoo from entering the country but this was quickly identified as being ridiculous and almost impossible to enforce. Instead the ministry of something or other just made it illegal for all Thailand-based tattoo parlors from offering to put a tattoo of this sort on anyone. Although not widespread, it is rumored that there is a task force that will raid tattoo parlors to check their image stock to make sure they are not performing this. If a place is found to be offering this sort of work, they can be subjected to hefty fines, a rejection of their business license, and even jail time.

Don't fly any other country's flag


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Thailand is a very proud nation and I see nothing wrong with this since it is something that exists in almost any other country as well. This enforcement of national pride is taken a bit more seriously though in that as of 1979 it was made illegal to fly the flag of any other country other than Thailand's on one's property. Exceptions are made for embassies and some international hotels but for the latter the flag of another country must be smaller and lower down on the pole than the Thailand flag.

A person I know was unaware of this rule when his Irish pub had the flag of Ireland hanging from a balcony over the entrance. The police paid him a visit and thankfully didn't try to put him in jail because he meant no offense, he just wasn't aware that such a law existed. He took the flag down and was told that he could paint a flag on the wall if he wanted, but a cloth flag could not be flown. Technically, doing this can result in once again, a fine and / or jail time.

No other languages allowed on microphones

I think this rule is outdated and never enforced seeing as how almost all events in major tourist or expat areas will always have English as well as Thai spoken at them. All of the weddings I have been to have had 1 person of the marrying duo be foreign and therefore the emcee was speaking both languages. There are thousands of New Year's parties that always have English spoken on the microphone. All of these are technically illegal.

I don't know when this law began but it was determined some time ago that using amplification to make any language other than Thai louder, is not allowed. This could get very complicated if musicians were visiting obviously and as far as I know it was never enforced but still, it is a strange law that is still on the books here.

You can't own a bunch of cards


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Thailand has a rather strict no gambling policy that exists throughout the entire country. Just like most things this doesn't stop people from doing it. They go a bit further with the playing card thing though and it is illegal for anyone or any organization outside of retail outlets who only have sealed decks of cards. It is against the law for anyone to have more than 120 playing cards which if you think about most card-based games, is a bizarre number for them to land on. There are 52 used cards in a standard deck of playing cards, so I guess we are just lucky that they didn't decide on "100" being the max number.

A friend of mine entered the country with a poker set. It contained 4 decks of cards, some dice, and a bunch of chips. He found out years later that this was considered contraband and he could have gotten into a lot of trouble for having this and especially for transporting it into the country. Once again the penalty, if he had been caught, would have been a fine and potential jail time. I think in his situation they would have just taken the poker set off of him and had him sign a form of guilt.

In another instance a bridge club that had members that were exclusively retirees got raided by the police and dozens of elderly people were escorted from the premises in cuffs. No one was gambling but there were well more than 120 playing cards at the place that hosted these events. There was somewhat of an outrage, and I think deservedly, for arresting 20 grandmas who were just passing the time.


So those are just a few of the strange laws that exist in Thailand. Does your country have any weird laws? If so, let's talk about them!

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So, was it the right decision for you to have moved to Thailand?

for sure. I just don't think it is a good place for people to stay long-term when they are young. It has the illusion of opportunity for young people but that isn't the case for 90% of people.

I see. Also, I didn't know that it was illegal to have a pack of cards there. I'll have to remember that if/when I visit Thailand. hehe~