Travel Tips

Laws, Policies, Customs, and Cultural Conventions

Thai law governs all legalities and limitations of Project SEAPonyCon's execution, and must be respected by all visitors to Bangkok. Please read on for a summary of important information regarding Thai laws, policies, customs and cultural conventions for your information and safety. It is stressed that local laws apply even as a visitor to Thailand, and international visitors will be subject to the same laws. 

The presented information is summarized and acts as a guide only, with no guarantee of accuracy from its summarized form in lieu to the laws, practices, and customs it refers to, and does not substitute the policies, laws, and regulations officially put in place, or customs which are expected or exhibited. We attempt to summarize this for your convenience and information, but you are invited to continue reading at your leisure various resources to inform you better with visiting Thailand.

Click on any of the following items to jump to a particular section.

 Information of Thai Policies, Laws and Regulations

  • If you are visiting internationally, please ensure to check the entry, exit, and visa requirements which are imposed on your passport. This includes any conditions of entry, length of stay, or if you are required to obtain a visa before entering the country.

    • Project SEAPonyCon does not provide any guarantee of admission to Thailand, and merely only mentions this information as a reminder to our attendees.

    • Project SEAPonyCon does not provide assistance in visa applications should you need one.

  • By law, you are required to bring a valid piece of Photo ID at all times.

    • If you are a visitor, you are legally required to carry your passport with you at all times.

  • Politically inclined gatherings, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly is restricted in Thailand. It has also placed restrictions on the media. For your safety, please refrain from organizing, attending, or supporting any political rallies, movements, or conversations. Avoid areas where this occur as they may not be legal, and passer-bys can be arrested.

  • Please note that lèse majesté laws apply in Thailand. This means that the monarchy is treated with utmost respect and regarded very highly by all Thais. It is illegal to promote any criticism against the monarchy, the government, or other political affairs. Any offenders may be detained - including international visitors. For your safety, please refrain from making any politically sensitive remarks, whether it is in our convention space or in public.

  • The legal age of alcoholic consumption is 20. It is a crime to sell alcoholic beverages to anyone under 20. Laws apply that bans selling alcohol between 2pm and 5pm, and between midnight and 11am seven days a week. Additionally, laws apply that restricts licensed venues to close at midnight, except for areas in Silom/Patpong, New Petchaburi, and Ratchadaphisek, where it is allowed to open until 2am. Restrictions also apply on locations where you are allowed to consume alcohol.

  • Illegal drugs carry severe penalties, with incarceration under harsh conditions, heavy fines, or death penalty.

  • A summary of common things illegal in Thailand includes, but are not limited to:

    • Portable radio devices such as walkie-talkies, transmitters, all frequency tuners.

    • Bearing, consuming, distribution, or creation of any form of illicit or illegal narcotics or drugs.

    • Counterfeit or pirated items.

    • Electronic cigarettes.

  • There are things which are restricted or forbidden to be carried in/out of Thailand, by Thai customs policy, such as, but not limited to:

    • Import or export of Buddha images or other religious artifacts.

    • Possession of firearms, explosives, or weaponry.

    • Books, recordings, or digital files which may be restricted/censored.

    • For more information, please check with Thai Customs.

  • There are no known legal restrictions for LGBTQ relationships, identities, or events, but there may be different biases or alibis for law enforcement to handle cases pertaining to violation of LGBTQ rights or sexual offenses.

 Information on Thai Cultural Customs

We have compiled several tips, facts, acceptable and/or expected customs, and general information of what you can expect from Thailand here. This information is not exhaustive, and we recommend you to perform further reading and research at your leisure.

Here are a few things you may expect to encounter, or may be expected to conform to, when traveling to Thailand.

  • Absolute reverence: The Monarchy is a strong figure in Thai culture, especially the recently deceased King. Always stand when the King’s Anthem is played. Strict lèse majesté laws apply and offenses are punishable by incarceration. Do not talk about the monarchy, especially the King.

  • National pride: Patriotism is largely enforced in Thailand, with twice daily broadcasts of the national anthem. Pedestrians, commuters, students, and traffic are required to stop or stand whenever the song is played.

  • Particular colors are associated with each day of the week, based on pre-Buddhist Hindu legends, in particular

    • Pink or darker shades of red on Sundays

    • Yellow on Mondays, acknowledging the day the King was born

    • Pink on Tuesdays

    • Green on wednesday days

    • Grey on wednesday nights

    • Orange on thursdays

    • Light blue on Fridays, acknowledging the Queen's day of birth

    • Purple on saturdays

  • Versatile greeting: The Wai, or the palm greeting at chest or nose level and bowing is a form of handshake/greeting that can be used to express a hello, thank you, or goodbye. This gesture is appreciated even from foreigners.

  • It is recommended to learn several polite greetings and phrases, such as "please" and "thank you", in order to help expressing yourself politely.

  • “No worries”/Man pen rai: Local culture prefers to not stress about trifling matters. It encapsulates the Thai’s philosophy on life. They are incredibly laid-back, and it is not acceptable for Thais to lose their cool. This may mean things can be less efficient, so you should take everything in stride.

  • Sexual tolerance: The country is very safe to LGBTQ travelers. This is predominantly evident by the acceptable culture of “Ladyboys” (which is a non-derogatory term for transgender person(s)), found very commonly in Thailand. This is a widely accepted and recognized group in Thai society that contributes to the culture.

  • Religious objects: Avoid touching displays such as altars, amulets, Buddha images, or spirit houses.

  • Bodily conduct: Touching someone’s head is highly offensive, as is raising your feet and pointing them at people or religious objects. Shoes are to be removed when entering homes and religious structures.

  • It is a good idea to cover up when visiting temples and shrines; sleeveless tops, short skirts, shorts and flip flops may be denied entry.

  • People don’t stand in lines: Thais form a crowd. Stand your ground and get used to a lack of personal space in public spaces.

  • Gambling is only permitted on certain days, as ordered by the King.

  • Take care when eating food, in food carts, hawkers or informal restaurants for your health and safety. A good indicator is when there are a lot of locals flocking the cart.

 Staying Safe

There are several ways where you might be exposed to greater threat of thefts, scams, or intimidation. Here's a summary of several pointers to stay safe.

  • While you are legally required to carry your passport with you at all times as an international visitor, you should consider stowing it at a very secure place, such as a body belt which you can tuck in and conceal under your clothing. You may also use this to store any other important documents, reserve credit cards and cash

  • Scams or price discrimination is commonly encountered in Thailand, especially when you do not look local from the country or from the region, or speak fluent foreign languages (not limited to English.) Be assertive at times when required.

  • Taxis and tuk-tuk drivers may attempt to charge excessive fares or refuse passengers. To avoid this, attempt to find a metered taxi, or otherwise use online ridesharing services such as Grab (Southeast Asia's own ridesharing conglomerate) or Uber if you cannot negotiate a feasbile price. However, do keep note that these services are not strictly speaking legal, so use your best judgement when using them on areas with larger presence of law enforcement authorities.

  • At the airport, it is best advised to use public transport from the pick up area, the MRT Skytrain, official airport limousine services, or cars or shuttles from your hotel. When taking a taxi, you may still encounter overcharged fares on unmetered cabs. It is not advised to get a Grab or Uber at the airport as these are not legal means of transport and may lead to you being fined or the driver being prosecuted.

  • Rental scams exist when offering bikes, outdoor equipment rentals, and cars or motorcycle rents, among others, exist. Scams on hotel rooms, city tours, or entertainment venues also exist, and should be treated with caution. Do some research before renting or visiting anything, or using any tourism services, or ask a local you know.

  • Bars may charge you more than you should be paying, so keep an eye on bar tab scams.

  • Thai authorities may impose curfew laws during periods of unrest. Even if you're a foreigner, you must abide by these rules and know the curfew hours, as anyone will be prosecuted for violating curfew, even if it is unintentional.

  • Political gatherings are banned and can be forcefully dispersed by authorities, and prosecution of offenders is common. For your safety, avoid areas where these are occuring, and attempt to not observe or stand too close, as you may be interpreted to be part of the gathering and risk prosecution.

  • Check English-only media publications in Thailand, such as The Nation or The Bangkok Post which provides updates of local current events, inclduing changes or movements from Thai authorities you need to be informed about.

  • Several phone numbers exist to help you gain information or help during your visit in Bangkok, provided by private and public authorities. The numbers, as dialed locally, are as follows:

    • Bangkok Tourist Assistance Center: 02-281-5051

    • Tourism Authority of Thailand: 1672

    • Bureau of Prevention and Assistance in Tourist Fraud: 0 2356-0650 (central office) or 0 2134-4077 (Suvarnabhumi Airport)

 Emergency Information

In case of emergency, these are the contactable numbers of Thai authorities or emergency services.

  • Tourist Police, for assistance during emergencies: 1155

  • Police (General Emergency Call): 191/1555

  • Fire Brigade: 199

  • Ambulance and Rescue: 1554

  • Medical Emergency Call: 1669