Thailand Demographics

What is the population of Thailand?

Population 69,920,998
Population: Male/Female male: 34,065,311

female: 35,855,687
Population - note Note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of the population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
Population Growth Rate 0.17%
Population Distribution highest population density is found in and around Bangkok; significant population clusters found througout large parts of the country, particularly north and northeast of Bangkok and in the extreme southern region of the country
Urban Population urban population: 53.6% of total population

rate of urbanization: 1.43% annual rate of change
Population in Major Urban Areas 11.070 million BANGKOK (capital), 1.454 Chon Buri, 1.359 million Samut Prakan, 1.213 million Chiang Mai, 1.005 million Songkla, 1.001 million Nothaburi
Nationality Noun noun: Thai (singular and plural)

adjective: Thai
Ethnic Groups Thai 97.5%, Burmese 1.3%, other 1.1%, unspecified <0.1%
Language Note Thai (official) only 90.7%, Thai and other languages 6.4%, only other languages 2.9% (includes Malay, Burmese); note - data represent population by language(s) spoken at home; English is a secondary language of the elite
Demographic profile Thailand has experienced a substantial fertility decline since the 1960s largely due to the nationwide success of its voluntary family planning program. In just one generation, the total fertility rate (TFR) shrank from 6.5 children per woman in the 1960s to below the replacement level of 2.1 in the late 1980s. Reduced fertility occurred among all segments of the Thai population, despite disparities between urban and rural areas in terms of income, education, and access to public services. The country’s “reproductive revolution” gained momentum in the 1970s as a result of the government’s launch of an official population policy to reduce population growth, the introduction of new forms of birth control, and the assistance of foreign non-government organizations. Contraceptive use rapidly increased as new ways were developed to deliver family planning services to Thailand’s then overwhelmingly rural population. The contraceptive prevalence rate increased from just 14% in 1970 to 58% in 1981 and has remained about 80% since 2000.

Thailand’s receptiveness to family planning reflects the predominant faith, Theravada Buddhism, which emphasizes individualism, personal responsibility, and independent decision-making. Thai women have more independence and a higher status than women in many other developing countries and are not usually pressured by their husbands or other family members about family planning decisions. Thailand’s relatively egalitarian society also does not have the son preference found in a number of other Asian countries; most Thai ideally want one child of each sex.

Because of its low fertility rate, increasing life expectancy, and growing elderly population, Thailand has become an aging society that will face growing labor shortages. The proportion of the population under 15 years of age has shrunk dramatically, the proportion of working-age individuals has peaked and is starting to decrease, and the proportion of elderly is growing rapidly. In the short-term, Thailand will have to improve educational quality to increase the productivity of its workforce and to compete globally in skills-based industries. An increasing reliance on migrant workers will be necessary to mitigate labor shortfalls.

Thailand is a destination, transit, and source country for migrants. It has 3-4 million migrant workers as of 2017, mainly providing low-skilled labor in the construction, agriculture, manufacturing, services, and fishing and seafood processing sectors. Migrant workers from other Southeast Asian countries with lower wages – primarily Burma and, to a lesser extent, Laos and Cambodia – have been coming to Thailand for decades to work in labor-intensive industries. Many are undocumented and are vulnerable to human trafficking for forced labor, especially in the fisheries industry, or sexual exploitation. A July 2017 migrant worker law stiffening fines on undocumented workers and their employers, prompted tens of thousands of migrants to go home. Fearing a labor shortage, the Thai Government has postponed implementation of the law until January 2018 and is rapidly registering workers. Thailand has also hosted ethnic minority refugees from Burma for more than 30 years; as of 2016, approximately 105,000 mainly Karen refugees from Burma were living in nine camps along the Thailand-Burma border.

Thailand has a significant amount of internal migration, most often from rural areas to urban centers, where there are more job opportunities. Low- and semi-skilled Thais also go abroad to work, mainly in Asia and a smaller number in the Middle East and Africa, primarily to more economically developed countries where they can earn higher wages.

Thailand Learning

What is school like in Thailand?


Education is provided by the Thai government through the Ministry of Education starting from preschool to senior high school. It is stipulated in their constitution that the government provide free basic education for twelve years and children are expected to have a minimum of nine years of school attendance. Because of these, almost all villages have their own primary school, sub-districts (tambon) have a school that provides education from age 6 through 14, and all districts (amphoe) have secondary schools that cater to children aged 12 through 17. A classroom normally has 30 to 40 students in a class with one teacher.

A typical classroom has books, tables, and chairs provided by the government. You can also find other references like encyclopedias, dictionaries, storybooks, and even toys. Some classrooms have their own television where children can watch ETV programs. Meanwhile, most private schools have their own computers and other audiovisual equipment which they can use to teach children. Most schools also have their own toilet and sink.

Compared with other countries, Thailand’s national budget allocates considerable funds for education, especially in urban areas. Most schools lack computers and other audiovisual equipment. In some rural areas, children are crammed in one classroom. The lack of textbooks also hinders the delivery of quality education. At present, the Education Minister intends to provide free textbooks and learning materials to Thai children for the duration of their 15 years of free education from the government. This program ensures that learning does not stop within the four walls of the classroom but should also extend at home.

Education Culture

Education plays a central role in the lives of children and their families. They believe that education is the key to success. They value education very much and show it by sending their children to school and helping them with their assignments. In addition, the Thais are able to preserve their culture through education since their history; traditions, beliefs, and language are reflected in the books they use in school.

As mentioned, arts and music are included in the primary curriculum. These subjects help children discover and develop their talents. They also provide them with opportunities where they can show their creativity and imagination. Art exhibits showcasing the children’s outputs are conducted as well as competitions in drawing, singing, and many more.


The school year is divided into two semesters. Primary and secondary school classes begin on May 15 and end in March. There is a two to three weeks vacation in between the two semesters. Holidays include all public and Buddhist religious holidays as well as other Christian and international holidays like Christmas and New Year.

The school structure has four stages. Prathom 1-3 cater to children from 6 to 8 years old. Prathom 4 through 6 are for children aged 9 to 11. The third level is Matthayom 1-3 for age groups 12 to 14. Children in the primary grades attend school from 8 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. They have recess in the morning and lunch in the middle of the day. Mostly, they bring their own food for snacks and have a packed lunch. Others are given money by their parents to buy their food. Children who live near the school go home during lunchtime and eat together with family. Then they come back before their afternoon class starts. There is a maximum of 30 students to one teacher in a class.

The Ministry of Education realized the value of the English language even though not all children use it as a primary language at home. The government made English a major core subject in school and compulsory in all grade levels. The use of bilingual instruction is encouraged since 2006 and schools started to offer intensive English language programs. Schools also use textbooks, storybooks, and other reading materials using the English language to help children learn how to speak, read, and write using English.

There are 8 core subjects at the primary level. These are the Thai language, math, science, social science, health and physical education, arts and music, technology, and foreign languages. These subjects prepare young learners for other major subjects offered in the next levels.

The literacy rate in Thailand is very high averaging up to 95%. The majority of children proceed to secondary education since it is provided for free by the government. The school principal is the person of authority in each school. School rules and regulations are strictly implemented and the principal sees to it that there is peace and harmony in the school. He or she makes regular visits to each classroom and observes classes. Meanwhile, the classroom teachers are in charge of disciplining their children in the class. Likewise, there are rules to follow with corresponding punishments for those who disobey them. Rewards or incentives are given to those who abide by the rules or perform well in class.

Public and private schools have their own specified uniforms. Uniforms are compulsory for all students in both public and private schools. The uniform for boys in the primary and secondary grades includes knee-high dark blue, khaki, or black shorts with a white open collar short-sleeved shirt, long socks, and brown or black trainers. On the other hand, the girls wear knee-length dark blue or black skirts, and a pale white blouse with a loosely tied bow. Girls wear white socks and dark blue or black sandals to match. In some cases, the student’s name, number, and name of the school are embroidered on the shirt or blouse.

To School

The majority of the children walk to school while others ride their bikes or take the public transportation systems like buses and motorbikes. However, those who are enrolled in private schools take their school buses. Parents who have their own cars drop their children off at school before going to work. Young children are accompanied by their parents but once they get used to it, they will go with older children to school. Children also love walking to and from school with their friends and neighbors.

Thailand Population Comparison

Thailand Health Information

What are the health conditions in Thailand?

Life Expectancy at Birth total population: 78.2 years

male: 75.2 years

female: 81.3 years
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 8
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births total: 6.3 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.6 deaths/1,000 live births
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 4.4%
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population .95
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 2.1
Major Infectious Diseases - degree of risk degree of risk: high

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population
Tobacco Use total: 22.1%

male: 41.3%

female: 2.9%
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 29
Mean Age for Mother's First Birth (age 25-49) 23.3
Contraceptive Prevalence Rate - female 12-49 73%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.54
Gross reproduction rate 1
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 10%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved improved: urban: 99.9% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.1% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population
Underweight - percent of children under five years 7.7%
Alcohol consumption per capita total: 6.86 liters of pure alcohol

beer: 1.85 liters of pure alcohol

wine: 0.23 liters of pure alcohol

spirits: 4.78 liters of pure alcohol

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol
Child Marriage women married by age 15: 3%

women married by age 18: 20.2%

men married by age 18: 9.8%
Currently married women (ages 15-49) 60.8%

Thailand Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Thailand?

Life Expectancy at Birth total population: 78.2 years

male: 75.2 years

female: 81.3 years
Median Age total: 41.5 years

male: 40.2 years

female: 42.7 years
Gross reproduction rate 1
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 73%
Infant Mortality Rate total: 6.3 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.6 deaths/1,000 live births
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 29
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.54

Thailand median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 10
Median Age total: 41.5 years

male: 40.2 years

female: 42.7 years
Net Migration Rate - migrant(s)/1,000 population -0.3
Population Growth Rate 0.17%
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female
Age Structure 0-14 years: 15.8% (male 5,669,592/female 5,394,398)

15-64 years: 69% (male 23,681,528/female 24,597,535)

65 years and over: 15.1% (male 4,714,191/female 5,863,754)
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 73%
Gross reproduction rate 1
Infant Mortality Rate total: 6.3 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.6 deaths/1,000 live births
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 29
Mother's mean age at first birth 23.3
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.54

Thailand Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Thailand?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Medical treatment is generally adequate in Thailand’s urban areas. In Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Pattaya good facilities exist for routine, long-term, and emergency health care. Basic medical care is available in rural areas, but English-speaking providers are rare.

Alcoholic beverages, medications, and drugs you purchase in Thailand may be more potent or of a different composition than similar ones in the United States. Several U.S. citizen tourists die in Thailand each year of apparent premature heart attacks after having consumed alcohol or drugs. Many pharmacies in Thailand do not require a prescription. Counterfeit medications have entered the wholesale distribution network in South East Asia. If you must buy medication locally, we recommend that you purchase it from an international chain pharmacy. If you have a chronic medical problem, you should bring enough of your maintenance medicine (up to a 30-day supply) and not rely on purchasing your medication from the local economy. Please see Special Circumstances, above for restrictions on importing medication for personal use.

For tourists, the most common serious medical complications result from motor vehicle accidents. If you ride a motorcycle or scooter including motorcycle taxis, you could prevent a serious and disabling head injury by using a helmet.

Dengue and Chikungunya are viral infections transmitted via mosquitoes. These infections are endemic in Thailand, including urban areas, and can make patients feel very ill, and in a small percentage of individuals, they can be deadly. Although these cases are more prevalent during the rainy season, they occur throughout the year. Using a mosquito repellent with DEET at least twice a day is effective for mosquito bite prevention. Please see the CDC website for additional information.

Thailand has been experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection and AIDS. Heterosexual transmission accounts for most HIV infections. HIV is common among prostitutes of both sexes, as well as among injection drug users. HIV infections among men who have sex with other men appear to be on the rise.

The CDC, WHO, and Thai authorities have confirmed human cases of the H1N1 (commonly known as "swine flu") and the H5N1 (commonly known as the "bird flu") strains of influenza in Thailand.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Thailand.

In Chiang Mai and other areas of northern Thailand, poor air quality might pose a health threat during the dry season, from March until June. Smoke and particulate matter from agricultural burning can irritate eyes and respiratory systems and worsen heart and respiratory diseases.

Health Expenditures - percent of GDP


Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population


Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population


Thailand Education

What is school like in Thailand?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 3.2%
Literacy - female 92.8%
Literacy - male 95.5%
Literacy - total population 94.1%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) total: 15 years

male: 15 years

female: 16 years

Thailand Literacy

Can people in Thailand read?

Literacy - female 92.8%
Literacy - male 95.5%
Literacy - total population 94.1%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write

Thailand Crime

Is Thailand a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

Although the crime threat in Bangkok and other Thai cities remains lower than that in many U.S. cities, crimes of opportunity such as pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, and burglary are not unusual. You should be especially wary when walking in crowded markets, tourist sites, and bus or train stations. Many U.S. citizens have had passports, wallets, and other valuables stolen in Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market, in the area of Khao San Road, and other areas, usually by pickpockets and thieves who cut into purses or bags with a razor and remove items surreptitiously. Across Thailand, U.S. citizens have been robbed of their valuables and other possessions after soliciting the services of commercial sex workers. Thieves also victimize travelers on long-distance bus routes. Police may refuse to issue police reports for foreign victims of theft, requiring them instead to travel several miles to a central Tourist Police station. You may request a police report, but police may ask you to pay a small fee, approximately 50 baht in some instances.

Violent Crimes: Violent crimes against foreigners are relatively rare. However, murders, rapes, and assaults do occur. These crimes happen most often at night. Frequently, victims, both male and female, have been drinking and are often alone or separated from traveling companions. These crimes have occurred all over Thailand but are most common in Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and tourist areas in southern Thailand, including Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Krabi. If you are traveling alone, you should exercise caution, stay near other travelers and ensure that friends or family know how to contact you. Sexually motivated violent incidents, committed by both Thai citizens and visitors, are most likely to occur at parties at discos or beaches, such as the full moon party on Phangan Island. Some victims find that Thai authorities do not handle their cases with as much sensitivity or consideration for privacy as they would expect in the United States. You should maintain awareness of your surroundings and travel with trusted friends or relatives to reduce your chances of falling victim to crimes of this nature.

Minor and major incidents of crimes involving taxis or "tuk-tuks" (three-wheeled taxis) can occur, especially in some tourist areas. Drivers may attempt to charge excessive fares at airports and near major tourist attractions. Before entering a for-hire vehicle, you should either request that the driver use the meter or reach an agreement on the fare for your trip. Taxis in Bangkok and other major cities have meters, and their drivers usually use them. Taxis in tourist areas often do not have meters; negotiate the fare before you get into these taxis. Taxi drivers often refuse fares, especially during rush hour or to places they do not know well. You should be aware that raising your voice and using aggressive body language could be seen as a threat to the driver. Do not hesitate to ask to be let out of a taxi immediately if the driver is acting suspiciously or driving erratically. Registered taxicab drivers have a yellow placard with their name in English and their photograph on the passenger’s side dashboard of the vehicle. If this photograph does not match the driver, you should be wary of entering the vehicle. Police will seldom intervene in incidents involving taxi drivers.

In Phuket, drivers routinely charge fares that are much higher than those in Bangkok for comparable distances. Threats of violence may accompany excessive charges. Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers in Phuket are frequently described in media reports as being a “mafia.” In 2012, a German citizen was hospitalized after a severe beating by a group of tuk-tuk drivers following an argument about the fare. The local government officials in Phuket have attempted with limited success to introduce standard fares. Drivers have organized against attempts to provide alternative services. For instance, they have blockaded van and bus services during U.S. Navy ship visits. (See also the Special Circumstances and Safety and Road Conditions sections.)

To lodge a complaint about an encounter with a taxicab driver, call 1584 (within Thailand).

When arriving at a Thai airport, you should use only public transportation from the airport's official pick-up and drop-off area, cars from the airport limousine counters, or airport buses. Major hotels also arrange to have a car and driver meet incoming flights. It is uncommon for Thai taxis to pick up additional passengers. You should be wary of drivers seeking to do so, and you should never enter a cab that has someone besides the driver in it.

You should be aware of a common scam that involves the rental of motorbikes, jet skis, and sometimes cars. Many rental companies require your passport as a deposit or collateral. If there is damage to the rental vehicle, the company often holds the passport until you pay for the damage. We have received many reports of renters having been charged exorbitant amounts for damage to jet skis or motorbikes, even in instances where the renter had caused no visible damage. A variation of this scam occurs when the motorbike is “stolen,” and the rental agency demands that you pay two or three times the price of the motorbike to replace it. For this reason, you should be cautious about rental arrangements and not use your passport as a deposit or collateral. You should be certain to examine the vehicle and note any pre-existing damage before operating the vehicle. If possible, document the vehicle’s condition with before and after photos. If you purchase insurance from the rental shop, be sure you know what the insurance policy covers, and get a receipt showing you paid for insurance. If you find yourself a victim of one of these scams, you will need to make an attempt to recover your passport by involving the local Royal Thai Police and Tourist Police and documenting the situation with a police report. You can then apply for a new passport at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General if you have not recovered your passport.

Scams involving gems, city tours, entertainment venues, and credit cards are common, especially in areas heavily visited by tourists. Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, among others, commonly tout gem stores, entertainment venues, or alternate tours. These touts receive kickbacks or commissions that drive up the prices of the goods or services, and you should not accept tours or other offers from them. You should consider exiting the vehicle to seek a different means of transportation if you feel uncomfortable. You should use credit cards only in reputable, established businesses, and you should check the amount you have been charged for accuracy.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) receives over a thousand complaints each year from visitors who have been cheated on gem purchases. Scams usually follow a predictable pattern. Someone approaches you outside of a well-known tourist attraction such as the Grand Palace and says that the attraction is closed. The friendly stranger gains your confidence and suggests a visit to a temple that is supposedly open only one day per year; the stranger then mentions in passing that a special once-a-year government-sponsored gem sale is going on and directs you to a waiting tuk-tuk. At the temple, another stranger -- sometimes a foreigner-- engages you in conversation and also mentions the "special" gem sale. You agree to go look at the gem shop and are soon convinced to buy thousands of dollars worth of jewels that you can supposedly sell in the United States for a 100 percent profit. In fact, the gems turn out to be of much less value than you paid for them, and the shop does not honor its money-back guarantee. No matter what a tout may say, no jewelry stores are owned, operated, or sponsored by the Thai government or by the Thai royal family. You can find the list of gem dealers who have promised to abide by TAT guidelines online at the Buying Gems and Jewellery in Thailand section of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's website. You can find detailed information on gem scams on numerous websites. If you fall victim to a gem scam, you should contact the local branch of the Tourist Police or call their toll-free number: 1155. Although most bars and entertainment venues operate honestly, some, especially in red light districts and some other areas frequented by tourists, try to charge exorbitant prices for drinks or unadvertised cover charges and then threaten violence if the charges are not paid. If you are victimized in this fashion, you should not attempt to resolve the problem yourself but should instead pay the price demanded and then seek out a nearby Tourist Police officer for help in getting restitution. If no officer is nearby, you can phone the Tourist Police at 1155.

Although most bars and entertainment venues operate honestly, some, especially in red light districts and some other areas frequented by tourists, try to charge exorbitant prices for drinks or unadvertised cover charges and then threaten violence if the charges are not paid. If you are victimized in this fashion, you should not attempt to resolve the problem yourself but should instead pay the price demanded and then seek out a nearby Tourist Police officer for help in getting restitution. If no officer is nearby, you can phone the Tourist Police at 1155.

Prostitution is illegal in Thailand. Bars and other entertainment venues may offer fees to take a “bar girl” or “bar boy” out for the evening. Many of the women, men, and children in the commercialized vice industry are themselves victims of trafficking rings. You should be aware that not only is prostitution illegal, but there are serious consequences for those choosing to pay for these illicit services, including criminal conviction and imprisonment, particularly in the case of child prostitution.

We have received reports of prostitutes, as well as bar patrons or bar workers drugging people with sedatives, including the powerful sedative scopolamine in order to rob them. Tourists have also been victimized by drugged food and drink, usually offered by a friendly stranger who is sometimes posing as a fellow traveler on an overnight bus or train. In addition, casual acquaintances you meet in a bar or on the street may pose a threat. You should not leave drinks or food unattended and should avoid going alone to unfamiliar venues.

Criminals have victimized some foreigners by presenting themselves as police, sometimes wearing police uniforms. After a conspirator lures the foreigner into doing something illegal, the “police officer” appears and threatens to arrest the foreigner unless he or she pays a “bribe” -- which the conspirator helps to negotiate. To protect yourself from such scams, do not engage in activities that would put you in a vulnerable position, such as soliciting sex or purchasing or using illegal drugs.

A variation commonly reported in Bangkok’s Khao San Road area involves “mistakenly” purchasing “prescription” drugs from a pharmacy. If someone claiming to be a police officer demands money from you, request to pay at the police station. Police may impose fines up to 1,000 baht per violation at the police station and should provide receipts for any fines. The Thai Criminal Code does not provide police authority to impose a fine over 1,000 baht. Only a court can impose a larger fine. We receive several reports a year of police attempting to collect fines of tens of thousands of baht without opening a court case. While these schemes can happen anywhere in Thailand, they are most often reported in Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya.

Local police are reluctant to become involved in domestic issues. They expect that the involved parties will resolve the matter on their own. The Royal Thai government’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security does maintain an English-language website, and you can contact them for assistance. In most cases, you will need legal representation to protect your interests effectively.

Thailand Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are in Thailand, you are subject to Thai laws and penalties, even if you are a U.S. citizen. If you violate Thai laws, even unknowingly, you may be fined, arrested, imprisoned, or deported. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. For example, Thais hold the King and the royal family in the highest regard, and it is a serious criminal offense in Thailand to make critical or defamatory comments about them. This particular crime, called lese majeste, is punishable by a prison sentence of three to fifteen years. The offenses include actions that in the United States would be sanctioned as the exercise of free speech. If you use the Internet when committing this crime, you may be subject to additional criminal sanctions of up to seven additional years in prison. Thai authorities actively search for and investigate Internet postings, including blog entries and links to other sites, for lese majeste content. They have arrested and charged U.S. citizens and others with lèse majesté offenses for actions that occurred outside of Thailand. You can also be charged if you do not remove a potentially offensive item fast enough from an Internet site you control. Purposely tearing or destroying Thai bank notes, which carry an image of the King, may also be considered a lese majeste offense, as can spitting on or otherwise defiling an official uniform bearing the royal insignia.

The Thai government has publicly stated that it will not tolerate the use of Thai territory as a base by groups trying to overthrow or destabilize the governments of nearby countries. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested or detained under suspicion of carrying out such activities. Sometimes military authorities carry out these detentions, and we do not learn of them until many days after the fact. Many U.S. citizens suspected of advocating the armed overthrow of other governments have been "blacklisted" from entering the country. Attempts to overthrow foreign governments by force may violate U.S. law as well as Thai law.

Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Thailand are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences under harsh conditions and often heavy fines as well. Thailand has a death penalty for serious drug offenses and has executed convicted traffickers. We frequently do not learn of the arrest of U.S. citizens for minor drug offenses, particularly in southern Thailand, until several days after the incident. If you are arrested for a minor drug offense, you may be jailed for several weeks while lab testing is done on the drugs seized with you. Pre-trial jail conditions may be more severe than prison conditions. If you are able to post bail during this period, the Royal Thai government will place your name on a watch list for Thai Immigration officials because you are not supposed to leave Thailand until the legal proceedings are complete.

Some trekking tour companies, particularly in northern Thailand, make drugs available to trekkers. Drug-related crimes and arrests are also common in Bangkok, Pattaya, and at some beach resorts in southern Thailand. Police in beach resort areas are especially on the lookout for drugs during and after “full moon parties.” You should not accept drugs of any kind, as the drugs may be altered and harmful, and the use or sale of narcotic drugs is illegal in Thailand.

Thai police occasionally raid discos, bars, or nightclubs looking for underage patrons and drug users. During the raids, they typically check the identification of all customers in the establishment and make each person provide a urine sample to be checked for narcotics. The police do not excuse foreigners from these checks, and they arrest and charge anyone whose urine tests positive for drugs. Customers can be jailed if they do not cooperate, and we are unaware of any successful challenge to the practice.

Shoplifting is strictly prosecuted. Arrests for shoplifting even low-value items can result in large fines and lengthy detention followed by deportation. If you are accused of shoplifting at the airport, you will be detained and may miss your flight at your own expense. In 2010 and 2012, there were news reports that duty-free store employees in league with police at the airport added unpurchased items to foreigners’ check-out bags or did not charge for all the items purchased; purportedly, police then stopped the foreigner as he/she exited the stores and charged the person with shoplifting. We strongly recommend that before leaving a counter, you carefully check all receipts to make certain they list all the items you purchased and also carefully check to ensure that only the items you purchased are in your bag.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available (as they are in Thailand). The manufacture and sale of pirated goods, including music, movies, software, and counterfeit luxury goods and apparel, is a crime in Thailand and is frequently controlled by organized crime networks. In addition, if you bring these goods back to the United States, you may be fined or have to forfeit the goods. More information on this serious problem is available in the intellectual property section of the U.S. Department of Justice website.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States as well as in Thailand.

Arrest notifications in Thailand: Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a United States-Thailand bilateral agreement, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Thailand, you have the right to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy or Consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, as soon as you are arrested or detained, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

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