Top Ten Ways to get arrested, deported or worse in Pattaya, Thailand
By: Adam Judd
Today, I present to you the top ten ways to get arrested, or worse, in Thailand. I’ve seen many of these in action in the nine years I’ve been in town and likely will continue to see many more. You often see in the news media here foreigners that get into trouble….it’s a very easy thing to do, contrary to belief. Here are, in no particular order, the top ten ways to get arrested, or worse, in Pattaya Thailand.
1. Walk around Vaping openly.
Thailand has some of the strictest vaping laws in the entire world. Many of the visitors come from countries where vaping is legal. Although worldwide attention is turning to the alleged dangers of vaping, Thailand was one of the first countries to ban it. Regardless of the reason for the ban (critics on social media claim it’s not health related but rather for tax and profit reasons), the law is the law. It is enforced especially heavily in Pattaya and if you are caught openly vaping you can face fines of between roughly six hundred US dollars up to nearly two thousand!!!! This is on top of a detainment and possible arrest. It’s best to leave the vaping equipment at home in Thailand, or at the very least, don’t go out to Walking Street or pull out the vaping device on a motorbike taxi stopped at a red light in front of a local police officer.
2. Go on an extended overstay.
You will also see in the news often Thailand collecting and rounding up people on overstay and deporting them, often giving them extended blacklists for multiple years at a time. These overstays can range from only a few days to many, many years. Recently, a South Korean man was caught on a 24-year overstay, having been here against the law since 1994. In Thailand, it’s important to note that penalties can change if you turn yourself in vs. if you are actually caught. If you are caught during a random checkpoint or search and are on overstay you can end up at the deportation center in Bangkok, which is likely NOT where you or anyone else wants to be. It’s said the conditions there make Thai prison look appealing. Follow the terms of your VISA and if you find yourself getting into trouble or low on funds reach out to friends, your embassy or family.
3. Use hardcore drugs and constantly be off your head on them
Many of you likely know who THAT guy is. The guy who is always walking around strung out, fighting everyone, constantly in trouble, sweating in cold weather, obviously heavily using drugs. Worldwide Thailand is known for its strict penalties for drugs and extended prison sentences for a drug that, in one’s home country, would likely get one maybe only probation or a slap on the wrist. In Thailand, I know of people serving fifty-year sentences for a few pills that would get a maximum of six months in, say, the United States. Yet because the country can feel relaxed and laidback one can get the illusion that it’s acceptable to use heavy doses of drugs and wander around town. It’s not, and most of those guys end up in jail, deported or dead from my experience.
4. Selling hardcore drugs.
Basically, see above and double the problems and penalties.
5. Don’t pay your bill/checkbin at a business and make a scene out of it.
Wait, you say. The cashier was rude. The drink was a bit too warm. You are really drunk and think a mistake was made on your bill. You didn’t really mean to buy that lady drink. You didn’t know what ringing the bell meant. You were just joking about not paying your bill. All of that doesn’t matter when push comes to shove. I was in the bar industry for many years and if you want to refuse to pay your bill here it usually, if not almost always, will cause a massive scene that will end up costing you a whole lot more than the original problem. In many cases, it can cause you to end up at the police station and in almost every single case, the business owner will end up winning. Certainly, there are ways to resolve problems in Thailand if there was a true issue with your bill (I’ll be making a blog on this in the future, I’ve done videos on this before) but for the most part if you refuse to pay your bill and think you can just walk out, think again. It’s a very small town and you will likely be known around town before the sun has risen the next day. It’s usually best to vote with your feet, pay the bill to avoid a further confrontation or situation and just don’t return to a business you were not happy with for most cases.
6. Slander a business, especially Thai owned, online.
Thailand has some of the strictest libel and slander laws in the world. What a lot of people don’t understand about the law here in Thailand is that IT DOESN’T MATTER IF WHAT YOU ARE WRITING OR SAYING IS TRUE OR NOT. In Thai law, slander or libel is generally defined as causing defamation or harm to a business or individual in front of a third party. This means blasting them over the internet, writing negative reviews (This is why reviews are so carefully controlled in Thailand), complaining loudly to everyone about them, etc. This approach works very well in the West, but in Thailand, it’s considered slander. The way Thailand wants you to resolve an issue is to take it to the courts, the police, the management, etc…not to the court of public opinion. Most foreign business owners (But not all) are used to Western ways of business and will take a negative review as constructive criticism. However, blast the wrong business or person online or in public and you could find yourself reported to the police or charged with libel or slander. Importantly, again, it doesn’t matter if what you said is true and proven true….the only fact is if you made them look bad by sharing it in public.
7. Insult the Royal Family of Thailand
Thailand has some of, if not the, strictest laws in the world against insulting the beloved Royal Family. Insult them, disrespect the images of them, don’t stand for the King’s Anthem in the movie theater, etc…and you could find yourself in very, very serious trouble. In fact, most people will suggest to not even discuss the Royal family at all and stay out of all Thai politics. Remember the image of His Majesty the King is actually on Thai baht, so taking out Thai money and ripping it in half or stomping on it because you were angry can actually be seen as an insult to His Majesty the King and you could be facing some very serious charges.
8. Scam and rip everyone off, including Bar girls and incur huge debts
Don’t be this guy. The one who gets “everything for free”, constantly pretends to not know what is really going on, gain a reputation of borrowing money from Peter to pay Paul, etc. These people sometimes manage to stick around for quite a period of time but eventually, their debts and luck run out and they end up arrested or worse. If you get to the point where you cannot afford to live here and your money has run out it’s probably time to consider going home or see if you can find a legitimate job. You don’t want to be the guy who is living off of a bar girl and broke or constantly hiding and changing rooms around town to avoid a dozen or so people who you owe money and are looking for you. In Pattaya especially this is a very small town and eventually luck runs out. This includes individuals with more complex rip off scams like selling fake shares in other people’s businesses or getting involved in a business with a fake name, stealing money and fleeing town.
9. Love to settle things with a fight, constantly confrontational and angry
Some people enjoy fighting. Some folks from certain countries seem to be well known for starting and having fights. It’s not a good idea in Thailand. If you are the sort of person who likes to intimidate others, resolves things mostly with your fists, constantly staggering around drunk and challenging people you are eventually going to have a problem. Sometimes these folks last a long time also, generally due to having a large amount of money, but eventually, their time runs out also. If you are the sort of person who starts swinging the moment you think someone looks at you wrong or challenges a bar owner to a fight because you are upset that you were drunk and rang the bell and don’t want to pay it’s probably better you stay home.
10. Get involved in a Thai on Thai situation
Last, but not least, involve yourself in things that are not your business. This includes Thai politics, seeing two Thai men fighting on the street and wanting to break it up, offending and “going to war” with certain Thai business owners, pissing off Thai women and causing drama between them, etc. If it’s not your business, stay out of it.
The average tourist or expat will never break any of these rules, but if you do, be forewarned that consequences could follow!
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