Local laws and customs

The British Embassy in Bangkok has produced a short video on Facebook and Twitter about some important things to be aware of when living or travelling in Thailand.

Conditions in prisons and other detention facilities in Thailand are harsh, with limited access to healthcare. There have been recent cases of detainees dying in custody.

Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of even very small quantities can lead to imprisonment. If you are found guilty of being in possession of marijuana you could receive a long prison sentence and/or a heavy fine. If you’re found guilty of being in possession of 20 grams of a Class A drug at a point of exit from Thailand you risk receiving the death penalty. Amphetamines and ecstasy are regarded as Class A drugs and possession or trafficking carries the same penalty as heroin.

It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes per person into Thailand and this is enforced at customs at the airport on arrival; those who exceed the limit may be fined ten times the value of the items and face confiscation of the cigarettes.

In January 2018, Thai authorities introduced a smoking ban on beaches in certain tourist areas, including in Koh Samui, Pattaya and in Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla provinces. Those caught smoking in non-designated areas could face a 100,000 baht fine or up to a year in prison. There are also strict rules on the disposal of all forms of waste, especially polystyrene and plastic, and any act that can cause damage to coastal areas. You should follow local guidance.

You can’t bring vaporisers (like e-cigarettes and e-baraku) or refills into Thailand. These items are likely to be confiscated and you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted. The sale or supply of e-cigarettes and similar devices is also banned and you could face a heavy fine or up to 5 years imprisonment if found guilty. Several British nationals have been arrested for possession of vaporisers and e-cigarettes.

It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. Thailand is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It has also recently strengthened domestic legislation, banning trade in ivory. Those caught buying or trafficking these items could be prosecuted and receive prison sentences or fines.

Thailand is generally a tolerant and progressive place for LGBT travellers. There are active LGBT communities and social venues. Hostility towards LGBT travellers is rare, although in parts of Thai society LGBT rights and issues are more tolerated than accepted. Same-sex relationships are not criminalised by law. Thailand has no legislation on same-sex marriage; same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere aren’t recognised. Those wishing to change their gender marker on official documents can do so from male to female or vice versa, provided that they have undergone, or attempted to undergo, gender reassignment surgery. Thailand does not recognise a third gender. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.