Written by Matt Gray

Thailand is one of the most popular destinations at the moment for its good value-for-money hotels, once in a lifetime experiences and beautiful scenery. Whether you’re travelling on a budget or looking to splash the cash, Thailand has something for everyone. However, something that makes travelling to South-East Asia, and in particular Thailand, somewhat different to travelling in Europe or North America, is the importance given to local customs and traditions. Whilst of course, it’s your holiday and you deserve some time to relax, make sure to respect these customs which will save you from a trip to a Thai jail!

As a Buddhist country Thailand is full of stunning temples, including Wat Phra Kaew in central Bangkok and whilst visiting these places of worship, remember to adhere to the strict dress code of no short pants, slippers, sandals and no sleeveless shirts. Whilst it is not illegal, wearing revealing clothing is of huge disrespect to the Thai people and the sacred temple itself, and you won’t be allowed entrance. It is however illegal to drive shirtless whilst in Thailand, and motorists in cars or motorcycles will be fined if spotted by the police. If you are questioned by the police, do ensure you have a form of identification on you at all times as is the law.

Souvenir stands are also often seen outside temples selling Buddha souvenirs or images. Images of the Buddha are regarded as sacred in Thailand, and any kind of Buddha souvenir, whether an image or statue requires an export license or permit to leave the country. The best advice is not to purchase any at all and save yourself any possible hassle at customs! The same can be said for any animal products too, Thailand is a member of CITES (Convention on International trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna), and so anybody found to be in possession of products made from endangered species (for example, Elephant tusks) would be prosecuted and could face imprisonment.

Street food is another reason why Thailand is a hit destination for those with wanderlust! When enjoying your street food and searching for a drink to wash it all down with, be sure to check the time of day! This might seem strange, but if you are wanting to enjoy a refreshing alcoholic beverage with your meal, it is illegal to buy liquor between 2-5pm and again from midnight until 11am. Even though some establishments do not abide by these rules, by law they should be! So, don’t be the tourist to get caught out!

Your holiday experience won’t be dramatically affected by sticking to these laws and customs, however it could be if you choose not to! Be sure to stay up to date with the latest Thailand travel advice and information on visas, insurance and more.