Grapevine: Myths of Thailand – Pattaya Mail


myths of thailand

To end the year, here are some of the most common myths about life here. So you won’t believe a word of it in 2022. Happy New Year.

Driving license

It is commonly accepted that a driver’s license from your home country allows you to drive in Thailand for approximately three months. Not so. Only international and Thai licenses are valid to drive any vehicle here. The myth probably arose out of the fact that many traffic cops may not realize the difference or prefer not to notice it. If you want to convert your residence permit to an international permit here, you may need to ask your embassy to confirm its authenticity.


Question about prostitution

You could be forgiven for believing it. But the Entertainments Venue Act of 1960, never repealed, effectively banned sex for money on a very broad basis. The law, in its early days, was used once or twice temporarily to close “bawdy” houses, but has since faded into oblivion. There are separate laws against prostitution of persons under the age of 18, most recently in the 1996 Age of Consent Law, subsequently updated.

Visitors under 16

Many foreigners register their children under 16 for the 90-day residency report and do not allow them to have an extended stay visa before leaving the country. It makes sense to do so. Nonetheless, immigration laws do not actually cover boys or girls under the age of 16, so they cannot be penalized for an extended stay or an expired visa. This discretion relates specifically to immigration laws and does not apply to other crimes.

Digital nomads

There has been a barrage of publicity lately about foreigners making a living armed only with a computer and a WiFi connection. The impression has been given that digital nomads now have their own special visa. Not so. The whole question is still obscure. However, authorities mostly ignore the matter unless they present clear evidence that the individual in question is withdrawing a job from a Thai national.

Working license

The current assumption that any work done by a foreigner requires a work permit is no longer absolutely true. There is, for example, a four-year, high-tech Smart visa that does not require a separate work permit, while volunteer work can now be covered by a special nonimmigrant “O” visa. In addition, short attendance at business meetings, trade fairs and the like are exempt, as are certain sporting and artistic activities considered to be in the interests of Thailand.

Divorce is easy

It is easy in Thailand only if both partners agree and can attest to the fact at the local Amphur office. In other words, they must agree to the terms of the settlement in advance. Otherwise, it may be necessary to prove in court that a criminal offense has been committed by the partner of the divorcee. Many foreigners have married here too lightly, not realizing how complex things can be. Not everyone is lucky in love.

Buy a condo

Foreigners can indeed buy a condominium in their name but under certain conditions. For example, he or she must be able to prove that the money was brought to Thailand for this purpose, which in turn requires certain documents to be presented to the land office. Another rule is that the units held in the condominium must be under foreign names up to 49 percent and not beyond. The percentage extension proposals have not yet been adopted.

Embassies and security

Foreigners frequently contact their embassy for help when threatened by someone. Diplomatic posts vary in the specific services they offer, but all agree that the Thai police are responsible for your safety here. Embassies do not offer personal protection programs and are unlikely to help you financially. The worst embassies will just send you a list of lawyers without any approval or recommendation.

Feed the stray

It seems harmless enough to feed homeless cats and dogs. I’m just doing them a favor. But under a 2020 law, anyone doing precisely this acts as a guarantor and can be held legally responsible for other expenses, such as sterilization or veterinary care. The same law requires pet owners to register their pets with district authorities. However, there has been no visible application to date. Maybe 2022 will be different.


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