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Laws for tourists & bangkok police

United Kingdom
Level Contributor
46 posts
Laws for tourists & bangkok police

I've been doing some hard research on laws for tourists visiting Bangkok and there are several issues I'm unclear on.

1. Firstly is it a law to carry our passport? Some places say no copies will be fine, others say yes. Where can I find the official rule on this? Is carrying both advisable? The copy can be used for general checks while the real one only pulled out if necessary.

2. What are the laws on police stopping or searching tourists? I've seen users posting a list of rules but I don't know where they got them, and I'd like to be able to pull them up if needed from an official site.

We are staying at the Rembrandt which I've recently discovered is near to a popular nightlife/red light area where police are apparently keen on checking tourists. We are there solely to sight see and not interested in that side of things, but I want to be prepared in case we are stopped while walking to the MTR or BTS station.

22 replies to this topic
Penryn, United...
Level Contributor
2,143 posts
261 reviews
1. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

Officially you need your passport on you at all times but a copy is fine never been asked for mine on 7 trips

there have been stories of the boys in brown shaking down tourists for money but as long as you behave yourself you will be fine

its good you are doing research but I wouldn't worry too much just abide by the laws and all will be good

Prachuap Khiri...
Level Contributor
8,468 posts
91 reviews
2. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

As stated, carry PP is the law, I do, but it is rare, especially if not in a club at night, that you'd be asked to produce it.

Searching you, and or 'urine' / drug test, can and should only be done at the police station. Again, if not out and about, late at night, in a club, highly unlikely that will be an issue. Rare if asked, and if so, 'stand you ground', and also ask for BIB's ID, as they should be a bunch of them, not just 1 or 3 cruising the streets.

Rembrandt, not close to the red light area, and you'd have to make a major effort to enter it.

Cheshire, United...
Level Contributor
3,628 posts
105 reviews
3. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

Laws about smoking, dropping cigarrette buts, littering, importing or using vape equipment, being disrespectful to Royalty, doing anything that disrepects Thai holy places, drug and sex offences are all things you should be aware of. Also not drinking alcahol if under 20 years old. Carry your passport whenever out and about because you can be asked for ID at any time. Remember it is a country run by the military. If in any type of road accident the foreigner is always assumed to be at fault rather than a Thai. If you google Thai law, you will see that most offences are punished by several years imprisonment.

Also some things a few foreigners on holiday do, such as wandering around with no shirt on, or appearing very drunk and rowdy can also draw the attention of police who will then want to check the culprit for everything they can think of often hoping for a reason for a hefty fine.

If you are respectfully dressed, polite and do not argue with locals and have all your correct documents when travelling you are very unlikely to get any hassle from Thai police. The ones who can speak better English are usually the Tourist Police, if you should need help yourself.

Edited: 21 May 2018, 19:41
Bangkok, Thailand
Level Contributor
16,792 posts
30 reviews
4. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

This is quite old. However, if anything, the laws have become even more stringent.


However, Stay reasonably sober, keep your cool, show respect, and you should have no issues.

United Kingdom
Level Contributor
46 posts
5. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

Thanks for advice.

"Rembrandt, not close to the red light area, and you'd have to make a major effort to enter it."

I thought Asok/Nana Sukhumvit were the red light area? Our hotel is 5m walk south from there

Prachuap Khiri...
Level Contributor
8,468 posts
91 reviews
6. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

Red light areas nearest Rembrandt would be soi Cowboy, which you can't accidentally walk into from hotel to BTS / MRT / Asok - Suk intersection. A soi, up and over from suk.

Other area would be Suk soi 4, quite a ways down the road, obvious and easily avoided.


Edited: 21 May 2018, 23:15
United Kingdom
Level Contributor
46 posts
7. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

Thanks for clarification!

8. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

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Bangkok, Thailand
Level Contributor
1,495 posts
9. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

What the law actually says does not matter in Thailand until you get somewhere near court proceedings which will not happen 99% of the time. When dealing with normal police on the street it makes little difference what the law says because they all apply the law differently and often ignore it completely, depending on who you are, how you are behaving, how much money their wife needs to buy a new bike, and such other variables.

In my opinion there is no need to carry your actual passport. If the police insist on it just tell them where you're staying and let them take you there to get it. If they want to make life difficult for you or want money they might try and 'fine' you. Personally I would be polite and refuse to pay anything. It's too much hassle for them so they will probably drop it. That or they will take you to get your actual passport.

Stop and searches in Bangkok no longer happen apart from outside/in clubs/bars in the early hours of the morning. It's no longer something to be worried about.

You will not get several years imprisonment for anything unless you kill somebody or get involved with drugs or defame the monarchy. All the various laws have ludicrous upper limits which will never be handed down. I guess as a scare tactic. Nobody cares about under 20s drinking. Walking back from Big C a few minutes ago there were plenty of kids younger than that openly drinking along the canal and even outside Big C itself.

There are lots of prostitutes walking/waiting around Asoke and Nana but only late at night. They're not just in the 'designated areas'. Sometimes they have their bum hanging out but apart from that it's not really an issue for passers by.

Poulton Le Fylde...
Destination Expert
for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
Level Contributor
45,458 posts
107 reviews
10. Re: Laws for tourists & bangkok police

" If in any type of road accident the foreigner is always assumed to be at fault rather than a Thai." That statement has long since been stated to be untrue. I have personal experience to prove it untrue!

The GOV.UK travel advice for Thailand has just been updated if you are not already aware of it at https:/…thailand

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