While it’s sometimes said that certain people are just looking for trouble, this probably isn’t the case. It’s doubtful many people out there actually desire to have any kind of run-in with the police. In most cases it’s going to be a hassle at the very least, and perhaps expensive, time consuming, and inflict future problems.
It’s probably not common practice for travelers to search out the unique laws of every country they visit. On the other hand, it’s likely not a bad idea, especially if the country’s culture is vastly different from yours. Without giving it a thought one might simply assume that similar rules apply, however, there are many countries (including Thailand) where things like free speech are not always a given.
Of all of the Thai laws that may differ from one’s home country, this is the one that is most widely known. Every once in a while a story of someone being charged with this offense makes it into international news. It can not be understated how crucial it is to be cognizant of this law as the repercussions can be severe.
The most effective way to avoid any issues with lese majeste is to simply never speak a word of the King or Royal Family in public. Sounds like fear mongering or exaggerating this law? Or thinking there are no police around to hear your remarks? Making any mention that could be interpreted as negative or disrespectful could land you in jail for years – just do a quick online search for examples. Many Thai people are fervent believers in the King and will readily report someone violating the sanctity of the Royal Family.
Additionally, even having, say, a magazine or book with critical remarks falls under the purview of this law. This holds the same for objects bearing the likeness of the King such as money – don’t deface it or step on it.
smoking | Cr: Andres Siimon
Ah, remember the good old days when you could smoke on an airplane and doctor’s recommended their favorite brand of cigarettes? Yeah, me neither, but that era of absurdity did exist.
In recent years, Thailand initiated new laws prohibiting smoking in certain areas. Beaches in most of the country’s popular tourist areas are off limits to smokers. The penalty? An insane 100,000 baht fine. Are there regiments of police roaming the beaches to enforce this law? Of course not. Should you take the risk? Highly discouraged. Smoking is also not allowed on passenger boats, in markets, at playgrounds or exercise areas, sports facilities, etc. If in doubt, don’t light up.
How about e-cigarettes or “vaping”? Also illegal in Thailand since 2014. These devices may be seized at customs when entering the country.
Drone | Cr: kjpargeter
Who doesn’t love to see those beautiful images of Thai beaches from that bird’ eye view of a drone. Sure, you might see people flying drones all the time all over the place, but unfortunately, that is technically illegal. There are a few laws that apply to the regulations around drones since they fly, have cameras, etc. Technically you need to have special insurance and apply for a permit and license from the Civil Aviation Authority to legally fly a drone in the Thailand.