Corruption in Thailand

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First published 1st July, 2009

It seems barely a week passes without some new ghastly story hitting the airwaves about corruption in Thailand. Be it beer mat nabbing mums in Phuket, tourists being extorted at the airport or the old tried and tested gem scam story it seems Thailand should be slapped with a "buyer beware" sticker. Over the last year, and far more seriously in Travelfish's humble opinion, we've seen ongoing political uncertainties, street protests in Bangkok, border clashes with Cambodia and the neverending shifting sands of visa regulations. More and more often I wake wondering: Does Thailand really want tourists to come at all?


It's true, Thailand has problems with corruption -- as do most of its neighbours. On the one hand, tourists are seen as walking money bags and on the other, an ample supply of corrupt (and underpaid) police and assorted dodgy con men and shysters are on the loose. The current economic situation has seen an increase in reports of theft and fraud -- though I'd hazard a guess this isn't unique to Thailand.

What does seem to be unique to Thailand is the amount of press some of these cases get. We're all for exposing police corruption and scams -- and the attention given to the recent extortion case at Bangkok's international airport is a great example of the foreign press helping to get a few backsides kicked.

But let's get a bit of perspective here. Thailand will receive in excess of ten million foreign visitors in 2009 and the vast majority of these people will have no problems whatsoever. In many of the cases you read about -- but not all -- the people being taken advantage of have put themselves in a situation where they are going to be taken advantage of. We're not excusing the corruption, but we are saying that if you conduct yourself in a sensible manner, familiarise yourself with the laws and customs of the land, and don't forget to pack your brain, chances are you will have few -- if any -- problems in Thailand.

Take this example of a post recently submitted to Travelfish:

"After visiting Ko Sukorn twice over a period of four years we decided to buy a lease on some land and build a school. We used our life savings. Then the police and the land office demanded 500,000 baht extortion money. We were teaching up to 100 students at the time (for free). We have been threatened with a two-year prison sentence and deportation for teaching without a work permit (unless we pay). I think all travellers should know just how corrupt Thailand can be. We have no problem with the people on the island and still keep in contact. If you go to Ko Sukorn please ask about Small Sea School and what happened to it. We have lost our life savings of four million baht. "

We're getting only one (very limited) side of the story here, but one wonders if they'd done some basic research, they'd have found out that you need a work permit to teach in Thailand -- even if you are not being paid. Did the school have a license? Was there a Thai director? Pure and simple, it's Thai law. While undoubtedly the police and land office were corrupt, if you aren't completely legal, you're setting yourself up as prey to the local predators and lowlife.

We lived in Bangkok for seven years and have been in Asia upwards of a dozen. In all that time we've been extorted once (in Indonesia) and it was our fault -- we hadn't got an exit permit and in the end had to pay a bribe to get out of the country. We've had friends who have been extorted. One was caught with a small amount of grass at a Bangkok bus station and marched to an ATM to be liberated of about 70,000 baht. Yes, the police who caught him acted corruptly, but he was breaking the law and so put himself in a vulnerable position.

I'm not saying all the cases that hit the press should be discounted as happening to naive or idiot foreigners -- undoubtedly there have been some tragic cases in Thailand, with the murders of foreigners in Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi and Pai (all by police) coming to mind. But these are individual aberrations and do not, in any way, point to a larger "problem" of gun happy corrupt cops running around shooting tourists willy nilly.

Yes, I know -- we run a website for people heading to Thailand and it's in our interests to talk this down. We're not trying to talk it down, but rather asking for a bit of perspective. Go to Thailand, get drunk, steal stuff, get caught, abuse the police and you will probably be arrested -- as would probably happen in your home country. Thailand isn't a magical fairyland where you can behave however you want because the laws don't apply to you. The laws apply.

If you conduct yourself appropriately, educate yourself about the local customs, laws and regulations and, well, generally behave -- chances are you'll have a trouble free stay in Thailand.

Have you experienced corruption first hand in Thailand? Do tell...


About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton and he spends most of his time in Bali, Indonesia.


Read 30 comment(s)

  • I absolutely agree, Thailand gets a bad press and is 'infamous' for bribery and corruption.

    The recent Aussie debacles (women taking mat from pub and guy eating 2 doughnuts before paying) painted the country as hostile for unsuspecting foreigners. In fact, in each case, the alleged victims tried to run from the police - no surprise they ended up in trouble.

    As with our example, a healthy dose of common sense will help avoid 99% of bad tales in Thailand.

    Posted by Jon on 2nd July, 2009

  • Corruption can be bad sometimes in Thailand, but there are positive parts as well. If you get cought by police for breaking the law and you pay a bribe straight away you safe yourself a lot of hassle with getting arrested and going to court. At the end you probably don't pay more to a corrupt cop than you would do to court, but most important it safes you time when you are on holiday.
    Cops get paid really low here, so it is kind of their tip money which is part of their overall income. If thats a good thing or not, but thats a reality.

    I have traveled and lived in thailand now for about 3 years and i never got hassled by cops directly with fines.
    but i can see it sometimes in the news and hearing from friends.

    My advice if your are in contact with a cop demanding a direct fine:

    most important: stay very friendly and very repectful. Many tourists bring themselve in deep trouble for showing no repect and even worse, verbally abusing the police. think of what your chances are and negotiate the fine. yes, you can negotiate about the bribe. try that in a court in your homecountry :)
    often cops can be paid off with half of what they initialy demanded if they see it's a quick deal. Thats for things like breaking minor laws.
    I don't know that can be done when counght with drugs, cause then you are in a very bad situation. Try to avoid that by any chance is the best advice. You might travel to thailand, Cambodia and laos. If you are into drugs, better do it in Cambodia.

    I agree this couple is very naive about their school. It even sounds as if they bought the land illegally. If there is no Thai involved, you can usually not get ownership on land in Thailand. Just because they thing they are "doing good" does not excempt them from the law.
    They probably even got a good deal with paying off 500K for something which was entirely against the law.

    Just image a bunch of Thai folks would come over to your country and open a Languageschool without license and work permit. How much would it be worth that they might have had a good intention by offering free courses.

    Posted by Jan on 2nd July, 2009

  • You're in a bit of a state of denial right? I've lived in Thailand over twenty years now and I've heard more godawful tales of friends running bars etc being skinned by the locals than you've probably had hot breakfasts. About the only thing you say in the story that is true is that things are worse now and they are.

    Thais are inherantly dishonest and most of them hate farangs -- especially if you're marrying into them. As the saying goes, don't trust a Thai further than you can spit a fridge.

    New visitors should ABSOLUTELY have their wits about them and this story borders on the irresponsible.

    Posted by Old Hand on 2nd July, 2009

  • Saying that the people being taken advantage of have put themselves in a situation where they are going to be taken advantage of is like blaming a rape victim for wearing a miniskirt.

    It is true, statistically speaking, that you will have few - if any - problems in Thailand, especially if you are a short time visitor.

    They say that Thailand is a wonderful country to visit as long as you don't run into ANY problems.

    The real issue is that if you do run into ANY problems (medical, legal, criminal) you will encounter a system where you are not protected by any laws or rules and being a foreigner you will be expected to pay your way out of it.

    The system is not based on law, it's based on who you know and who you can buy. Of course, you should stay out of trouble and conduct yourself appropriately. But if you find yourself in trouble, your fault or not, expect to deal with rules of the jungle.

    If tomorrow they don't catch a guy with some pot be to be liberated of 70,000 baht, what will stop them from planting the pot on an innocent guy? The children need to be fed and money needs to be sent up the chain.

    The cases like the recent extortion at Bangkok's international airport should be exposed as much as possible in hopes of changing the system.

    Posted by Hippo on 2nd July, 2009

  • Disagree with Hippo, as, at least in Thailand, wearing a miniskirt isn't illegal.

    What is being talked about in the story (I think) is that people break the rules, get caught and then start bleating about corruption.

    As for Old Hand, the question begs -- what on earth are you still doing in Thailand with an attitude like that?

    Posted by Miniskirtwearer on 2nd July, 2009

  • Yeah I must protest: a miniskirt wearer is NOT breaking the law!! The point is that a lot of people breaking the law in Thailand then complain when they are stitched up. Don't break the law and 99% of the time, you won't have a problem. And if you do break the law, as Jan says, the corruption can work to your advantage if you're quick and respectful.

    Posted by Bad analogy! on 2nd July, 2009

  • There has been a discussion on the Thai Real Estate Forum.
    Many of the scams are documented here.
    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=676476

    Lots of info photos of the tourist mafia posted here :http://www.flickr.com/photos/29324583@N05/sets/

    Hard to avoid the scams now days in Thailand.
    The Police are running many of them.
    Here is a photo of a cop that has been scamming tourist for years at one of Thailands main attractions:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/21533131@N06/3655794935/



    Posted by c siam on 3rd July, 2009

  • I will explain the rape analogy. It's not whether wearing a miniskirt is illegal or not, it's that you automatically assume that the victim is in some way guilty.

    Was the couple involved in the airport extortion case guilty? We will never know. The case will never go to court. The evidence will never be presented. Your article implies that they have done something wrong to end up in this situation.

    The system helps the guilty and really f#$%s up the innocent. The publicity helps to expose the system.

    Posted by Hippo on 3rd July, 2009

  • It's a real pity because Thailand left me a beautiful impression when I was there years ago on a mission trip. We stayed in the suburbs of Rangsit in a small church and the people in the neighbourhood were all simple and genuine. The kids had the most innocent and purest eyes ever. Well, there is always a better side to all things isn't there? =)

    Posted by Mich on 3rd July, 2009

  • Let me tell you a story about the last time I was in Thailand. I had only American money at a time when there was a rash of counterfeit U$ money being floated around in Thailand. Nobody, but nobody would change my money for me and I needed Thai Baht to buy a bus ticket. This was in Chiengrai province. A cop changed my money for me and assumed the risk that my money would be good.

    Posted by Jack Roth on 4th July, 2009

  • In reply to your comments on our school on Koh Sukorn. Firstly I have lived in Thailand for 5 years and have taught English in several Asian countries. I hold a degree and a TEFL certificate. I have written travel features for local publications. I do not consider myself naïve.
    On the question of work permits. Technically if you meet a couple of Thai people on the beach and help them with their English language abilities you need a work permit.
    In our situation we quite legally paid for a long lease on a small derelict resort. We had an abandoned restaurant on the resort and we suggested to the owners of all the major resorts on the Island that we would be prepared to convert the old restaurant into an English language school. We had the backing of all the Islanders, the local state schools and Village heads. The purpose of the school was to help the people on Koh Sukorn with their English so that the Island could move forward in its efforts to establish international tourism. This Island relies on rubber production and desperately needs tourism.
    The Trang police, “we like helping foreigners” got involved when we reported a break-in in one of the bungalows. Our legal adviser (who worked for the Chiang Mai Ex Pats club) had the land in his name and had agreed to issue a long lease to us. The Trang police and Trang land department then refused to register our lease unless we paid 500,000 baht.
    The post (by Jan) states that we would have got a bargain by paying 500,000 baht. I would like to remind everyone that is against the law in Thailand to offer bribes to the police (5 years in prison).
    In conclusion, I maintain that at no time did we break the law (we would have done if we had tried to bribe the police). The end result of this fiasco is that the Islanders of Koh Sukorn have been deprived of free English lessons because of callous and cruel corruption by the police and land department. The school we built has now been left empty to rot. The money spent on school furniture (kindly donated by an English friend) will be wasted.
    David Wenman
    Small Sea School

    Posted by David Wenman on 4th July, 2009


  • Just want to add...
    "Respecting the laws" also refers to respecting the King and Queen of Thailand. Moreso than most of the other countries of Asia, Thailand grants its citizens nearly complete freedom of speech.

    However, the one exception is when it comes to the King and Queen. Every year we see a new foreigner locked up for defacing or bad-mouthing the King in some way, and every year we hear another cry from foreigners about Thailand not being a free country.

    Never underestimate the Thais reverence for their King. And remember, just because he's not your King doesn't mean you can disrespect him while in Thailand. If you do, you're breaking the law, and you will be punished.

    Posted by dluek on 4th July, 2009

  • hi "old hand" i bet your a right laugh,20 years in a place and among a race of people you hate,i nearly wet myself laughing at your grumpy old git comment,reminded me of victor meldrew (grumpy old git on uk tv).i think travelfish were in a very kind and gentle way just saying be careful and you should be ok as you should be in most lands,my wife and myself like many people have been all over south east asia and the world and have never been conned or ripped off,and all over thailand we were met and greated by some of the lovliest people on earth,im not saying i will never be caught out but if i am i pray i will never end up as synical and hate filled as you.the only upsettig thing we saw in thailand was on the night train from bangkok to chaingmai where a bunch of english and u s yobs kept pulling their genetles out everytime a thai female member of staff walked past they were asked for up to two hrs by soft spoken guards to please stop doing this they eventually did stop but only because they fell into a drunken stuper and nothing more was said can you imagen what would have happend to them anywhere else in the world.the only place iv been ripped off in is the uk and not on my travels and where iv been all my life just let my guard down for a moment.so thankyou travelfish for your useful advice and comments a bunch of us 50 somthings are of on a thai laos adventure at the end of next year and will be keeping a close eye on your brilliant site and old hand please keep your zenaphobic grumy git comments to yourself there not helpful.aliduff.

    Posted by aliduff on 7th July, 2009

  • My son has worked in Thailand for a decade and has been scammed by an Italian who has scammed others as well. But he doesn't think all Italians are scammers!

    Posted by vickinz on 30th July, 2009

  • Been to Thailand two years running and never had a problem, obviously there are small time opportunists who will over charge if given the chance. Use a little common sense when travelling abroad. Chris.

    Posted by chris murrell on 23rd September, 2009

  • it sounds like this site is saying its the fault of the victims for not knowing or doing do diligence , here a case for you one of thousands , a family member of mine has a bissness in cha am thailand with his thai wife and there two children , they have all the licenses and permits for a woman to sing thai songs , the imigration police showed upand arrested the 2 girls singing my brother and his wife and sead the permits where not good although they were applied for and given by the police dept and the city ,my brother was told he needed to pay 60 000 baht to resolve this issue 2 months before he had to pay 100 000 baht for moveing a chair in there restaurant the reason he did not have a work permit , to date almost every expat bissness in cha am has been shaken down with huge fines , the thais want our money but the dont want to play fair

    Posted by George on 14th October, 2009

  • my suggestion to my brother was to get the hell out of thailand its the number 2 most corrupt country only losing out to the phillipines , the thai's are highly prejudice even to there own people light skinned thai's are prefered to dark skin , they treat the burmese people like slaves and often cheat them etc etc , iv spent 10 winters in thailand with my thai wife , i know thailand and only travel there now to visit my wifes family for 3 weeks a year , at election time in her provence iv watched the monks giving out bribes 200 to 300 baht to the poor villagers to get them to vote for a favored politician and this go,s on all over thailand even there religion is corrupt

    Posted by George on 14th October, 2009

  • how stop to corruption in Thailand.

    Posted by cover on 9th November, 2009

  • Thailand needs change

    Posted by Slide on 16th November, 2009

  • It is true that most police, military, government officials, etc., here are corrupt. It's almost impossible for them to be otherwise, because corruption is built into the system. This is the perception of locals, not just cynical ex-pats. Foreigners who buy even 'soft' drugs increase their chances of being set up - but the cops also quite frequently set up quite innocent tourists. My advice to travellers is to be wary of cops. If you see a table of cops drinking in a bar, for example, go to another bar. Be careful of locals in tourist areas who are overly friendly, especially if they offer dope. Be aware that an unaccompanied Thai woman, no matter how 'respectable'-looking, walking around a tourist area at night will have an agenda, either prostitution, scamming or drugging-&-robbing. Keep your money on your body, not in a shoulder bag, etc. (bag-snatching is on the increase). Being careful & 'law-abiding' is a good idea, but it's not a guarantee of safety.

    Posted by michael on 1st January, 2010

  • Hi im Mick from Australia & have been to thailand 10 times & married a Thai now , yes there is corruption in Thailand like every country but most Thais are very nice unfortunayely not well educated so they dont understand some things . Unfortunately some have learnt about greed & corruption ( i mean around the bars , massage etc )& this is where i have seen alot of guys get ripped off by so called girlfriends who have so many other boyfriends. I advise anyone who is looking for a Thai wife to find a nice girl who has a normal job & is westernised a bit , someone who doesnt choose to work in the bars as many do & isnt trying to get money you have a much better chance of a real relationship - many Thais despise the bar scene good luck Thailand is a great country & true Thais are a very lovely people with very different way of thinking try to learn before u go there

    Posted by Mick on 16th January, 2010

  • "Thailand needs change" - right - but that is the problem with Farangs and Thais. Farangs come to Thailand and try to tell the local people how to live their life and that they do so many things wrongs and blabla. It is Thailand, a different country, different thinking, different system, different people. If everybody acts like the typical stereotype of a disrespectful Westener - no wonder that Thais hate us.
    So get your shit together, learn some Thai, respect the culture and be adaptive - we are the visitors, not the locals...

    Posted by Jonathan on 31st July, 2010

  • Just because we're "visitors" doesn't mean that we should endure rampant corruption or racism.

    Thailand wont change much without realizing its place and reputation on an international level.

    According to some articles, Thailand is second to China as far as corruption goes. It'd be interesting to see what happens when tourism suffers more because of it.

    I, for one, would NEVER invest any money here given what I have seen in only two short years living in Bangkok. For honest Thai people its a shame...

    Posted by Drone on 10th September, 2010

  • Thailand I am afraid is no more corrupt than any other country in the world. Whilst some countries are shrouded in rule and legislation the behavior is not dissimilar. Police are corrupt in other countries, as are business people and individuals who avoid taxation and other aspects of living. Yes, Thailand corruption is seen and heard, but in my view this is a lot safer than not knowing what is occurring as is the case in many developed countries.

    Posted by Simon Coleman on 9th December, 2010

  • I totally agree with this article, I travelled Thailand for 3 weeks last year with 3 friends and, particularly as young girls, we became very wary after hearing horror stories from friends and online. We were led to believe we would almost certainly have our backpacks stolen from, and cut even if we used padlocks on the night trains, told we would likely be scammed by dodgy locals or fake travel agents and warned we would be over charged on tuk tuks. Although the corruption is there, as I'm sure it is in almost all developing countries, I completely agree that with awareness and common sense you will be fine. The only "scam" we did experience was our own fault. In Bangkok a local lady was feeding the pigeons and offered us a bag of the food, seemingly as a kind gesture. However, after feeding the pigeons so as not to seem impolite(an unpleasant experience as there were loads)she demanded 300 Baht and then more after we'd given her that so that we walked away feeling very silly having paid for something we could have done at home for free! However, as I said this was our own fault and was certainly no great loss. After this we soon learnt to be much more wary and ignore hassling locals (especially in Bangkok!) Also, although a cliche, it helps to go with adventure tours and budget hotels recommended by Lonely Planet as at least you then have some assurance they are genuine. A brilliant company we went with in Chiang Mai for white water rafting and a day's trekking and elephant ride was Siam River adventures. Great value, friendly locals taking us out, full safety equipment and talks given to us and a fantastic meal which was easily our favourite of the whole trip.

    Thailand is an amazing country and I think if you have a bit of common sense and a lot of awareness, you will not experience any problems!

    Posted by sgb324 on 3rd January, 2011

  • Please help Brit in Thailand Bangkok KLONG PREM PRISON PETER DARREN CHECKLEY B-5 will die soon. i am a close friend to Peter he is very well liked. he is doing a life sentence of which he has now done 4 years. he has no visits no letters he is all alone. the britsh embassy comes to see him from time to time but Peter does not.go to see them. he realy is inocent and has the prof in black and white stamped by the big police in Chanthaburi. the English Embassy have a copy and say yes we can see he is inocent and the British Goverment says the same. but do not do a thing to help. many of us here can easyly see by the paperwork PETER DARREN CHECKLEY has he should never be here. his been in Thailand over 20 years never been in trouble has wife children bessness but all lost and gone. Please help him if only to get his side heared i have been asked by 22n prisoners to beg you to help. A man should not die like this not when he is inocent. even the Thai Law its writon its better to let go 10 gilty men than to put one inocent man in prison. well Peter is that one inocent man. Peter Darren Checkley B5 Klom Prem Prison 33/1 Ngamwongwan Rd BKK 10900 Bangkok Thailand
    I AM NOT ASKING AND HE DOES NOT WANT MONEY ONLY TO BE HEARD.

    Posted by A Friend on 8th April, 2012

  • Please help Brit in Thailand Bangkok KLONG PREM PRISON PETER DARREN CHECKLEY B-5 will die soon. i am a close friend to Peter he is very well liked. he is doing a life sentence of which he has now done 4 years. he has no visits no letters he is all alone. the britsh embassy comes to see him from time to time but Peter does not.go to see them. he realy is inocent and has the prof in black and white stamped by the big police in Chanthaburi. the English Embassy have a copy and say yes we can see he is inocent and the British Goverment says the same. but do not do a thing to help. many of us here can easyly see by the paperwork PETER DARREN CHECKLEY has he should never be here. his been in Thailand over 20 years never been in trouble has wife children bessness but all lost and gone. Please help him if only to get his side heared i have been asked by 22n prisoners to beg you to help. A man should not die like this not when he is inocent. even the Thai Law its writon its better to let go 10 gilty men than to put one inocent man in prison. well Peter is that one inocent man. Peter Darren Checkley B5 Klom Prem Prison 33/1 Ngamwongwan Rd BKK 10900 Bangkok Thailand
    I AM NOT ASKING AND HE DOES NOT WANT MONEY ONLY TO BE HEARD.

    Posted by A Friend on 8th April, 2012

  • I live in Thailand (Canadian) and I'd say the article is generally fair but does indeed "talk it down" a bit. Or maybe more correctly there are other aspects to the problem worth mentioning. One is that if you are a tourist in Thailand, following all laws and not breaking any rules or being stupid, you still have a chance of being hassled from the police. I see this on Sukhumvit all the time - cops coming up to foreigners (usually single men) and just start searching you. No previous suspicion or anything. I've been stopped a couple times as well. When they dont find anything, they will snarl in their disappointment in not being able to extort from you, as they send you on your way, as if you are being "let off this time". Low-salaried or not, protecting the public peace or not etc., I have nothing positive or good to say about these cops. They are corrupt, unethical dicks that give the wrong impression of what is generally a fair and ethical and spiritual people.

    So the article, while generally pretty good, isnt really accurate in saying that if you do not break any laws etc. you will have nothing to worry about. I'm not talking about folks who knowingly carry drugs around (I agree they are stupid) or tourists who get caught in a gem scam (naive), I'm just talking about the everyday kinda hassles that make a person feel nervous and crappy even if they have nothing to hide.

    I had one friend who was searched randomly in this way (in BKK) and they took his bag and emptied it out and shook out every bit of dirt and particles in there and, what do you know, they found a speck of weed...as he said "not even one fifth of a bong hit". The cops threatened him to go down to the station and get a blood test. He had been smoking a few days earlier in Ko Chang (the beaches are generally OK but practically EVERYONE knows not to travel with anything). He made sure he wasnt carrying when he left, or so he THOUGHT. It's an interesting consideration, whether or not the cops at the station really would have been able to run a blood test on him from a tiny speck. Or whether if the test showed up positive, what kind of hassle that would mean. But he wasnt interested to find out, who would be?and so paid both cops $300 US each. In this case its too bad as it wasnt really his "fault", he wasnt really trying to be an idiot, but by his own admission he was dumb not to check everything top to bottom and leave no specks behind. Interesting too that with the cop in the taxi, he started asking him (the cop) about his children. My friend is kind and dedicated to his work (an NGO helping Thai society) and loves Thailand. He told me that when he gave the money he said "this is for your children". It was his way of trying to see (or at least imagine) something positive out of it, as opposed to what he was thinking which is these guys are a$$holes that give a bad name for the 99% of Thai people who are kind and honest. I can imagine it musta been a bizarre and surreal conversation in that taxi...talking about their kids, on the way to the hotel to get $$$ to pay off these crooked guys.

    So that is my advice to you all...you need to be EXTRA cautious and diligent especially when it comes to things outside of the resort or your home/hotel. They will not come search your room for no reason - that would be far too public for them. They have their little underworld of realities and mechanisms....but on the street they will come up to you our of nowhere and will take the fullest advantage of any door left open just a teeny bit. They are dicks yes, but they are the cops. Its about being smart as the articles says but also more than that: on a practical level if you dont want to be hassled even though you are not really doing anything stupid/wrong: 1. dont walk around BKK looking like you are on the beach or dressed like too unconventionally (I've been stopped and searched twice, and both times I was dressed quite casually, bandana etc....coincidence?) 2. avoid walking around tourist areas carrying a bag...that will get you marked from what I have seen/experienced 3. dont smoke a cigarette while walking (I have seen how they follow those who do, hoping they will butt it out on the ground and then WHAM a $100 (or whatever they decide) "fine".

    The fact that corruption gets a lot of media here doesnt mean anything is being done about it. All levels of the govt/police have problems, and each level has its own way of generating the black money.

    Posted by stymie on 29th April, 2012

  • I have been many, many times to Thailand, the 1st time in the early 70ties, when there was no airport and no hotel at beaches of Phuket, just a few very simple bungalows. There is no city in Thailand where I haven't been, I know the country from the far south to Mae Sai in the far north.
    I never had any problems in Thailand, nor with any people, and also not with the police, because I was always aware of legal regulations about visa, etc. With one exception: I paid 200 Bhat of fne, because drivng a motorbike without helmet, they did not want to see my driving licence.
    If xou have any problem with police, always remain friendly and smiling, even when you know that you are wrong, p.e. drunk driving. The chances are high, that you will get away without any problem. But if you start yealing and shouting, the chances are lost.
    Now I am married with a Thai wife since several years, and we married in Thailand, all went smooth, but a lot of paperwork, not only from the Thai side, but also from the side of "my" embassy.
    We did not buy a house, because my wife owns one already. I heard bad stories, about farang men buying a house (must be bought in the name of the wife, because officially foreigners cannot buy property), so be very careful, if your wife wants to force you to buy property in her name. The chances are not too small, that you will not only loose your wife, but also the invested money. If in doubt, rent a house or an appartment, also better for your flexibility, and the risk is much smaller.
    There are other stories about farang buying property for opening a guesthouse or hotel. Also very tricky, and the chance is high, that you will be moved out of the place, if your business is running well. Thailand is a nice country, but Thais come first, and if they feel, you are taking away business from them, they can show you the very nasty side.
    Always fulfill the legal prescription, p.e. about visa, work permit, drugs, traffic, etc. Then you will have no proeblems.
    If intending to buy property, think twice about it, I consider the option of renting much better.

    Posted by Armando696 on 11th June, 2012

  • Being a Malaysian who also have visited Thailand many times, I can say that corruption is institutionalized in both Malaysia and Thailand, perhaps more so in the latter. While it is generally true that if foreigners do not break the local laws, respect the people, and stay out of troubles, they will not be harassed, there are always exceptions. Because Thailand is not a small country, it has more than 60 million of population many of which are still living hard lives, and honestly the spirit of Rule of Law is not yet etched into their culture (same applies to most of the SEA region too), abuse of power and corruption are really part of the system, at least for the foreseeable future.

    It would be interesting to find out what's the rate of this happening amongst the millions of tourists entering the kingdom, and compare it to other developed and developing nations so that we can get a fair idea, instead of just making a blanket accusation to the entire country.

    I also feel that western tourists are more likely to fall prey compared with asian tourists in Thailand, but of course, it is just my unconfirmed perception without statistical proof.

    Yes, Thailand is not as tourist-safe as advanced countries like NZ, Japan, and the US. After all been said, are we still going to visit Thailand?

    Posted by chopin on 25th February, 2013

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