Pattaya is a fun packed city attracting millions of visitors each year, it is a place where sometimes the normal social rules do not apply. It can sometimes be easy to forget whilst on vacation to be aware not to put yourself in a position that lands you in a situation that can cause you trouble. Pattaya is generally safer than many other tourist destinations around the world and is safe for the single traveller, couples and families. Cases of assaults, rapes, muggings and other crimes against tourists are very rare. When such incidences occur it makes front page news, tourist police are on hand as the first point of contact in the event of any problem. If you take normal precautions, and follow our tips it will go a long way to keeping you healthy and safe.
Like anywhere there are individuals that are looking to make money from the unsuspecting. Pick pocket and theft is quite common in Pattaya and being a holiday resort it can be easy to forget this and not take care. To drastically reduce the instance of theft, only carry enough money for your daily needs always making sure large sums of money is either in the bank or the very least a hotel safe. This is obvious, but many tourists forget this and from time to time it is reported large sums of money have disappeared from their hotel rooms.
It is difficult to realise at times that you are in a strange country whilst on holiday in the fun city of Pattaya as regards the laws of Thailand. For instance it is a legal requirement to carry your passport at all times, and you could be arrested for failing to produce it on demand from the police. However, in the main tourist area of Pattaya this check is rarely carried out. In the event of any sort of trouble which might require the involvement of police, first try to deal with the tourist police rather than the general police.
You will find that the majority of Thai people are polite and their behaviour is ruled by etiquette. Avoid at all costs getting involved in any heated argument with a Thai male or female, or get between two arguing Thais. The result will be you being turned on and end up the loser. In the main Thais are usually non confrontational and in Thai society this is regarded as a sign of weakness of character. A point to remember is you must never show any sign of aggression, or try to assert authority as sometimes a situation will develop outside your control. It is important to show lots of diplomacy this will get you further, most conflicts can be resolved in a friendly non aggressive manner.
Avoid walking home alone in the early hours from a drinking spree in Walking Street to avoid unwanted attention. Be particularly wary of any lady boy who stops or approaches you. You might well be seen as a little worse for drink and an easy target. Moving close and distracting you, within minutes hands will be in your pockets your wallet and your money will be gone. Don't hang out in the early hours of the morning at the " coconut bar " a nickname for the esplanade running the length of Beach Road tourists have been mugged and robbed here. Things have improved now with additional lighting. Single western women should never be on their own on Pattaya beach very late at night to avoid unwanted attention.
Don't display signs of wealth such as wearing gold chains or expensive watches. Mainly this applies to women, but there has been numerous instances whilst a passenger on a taxi bike, for individuals on another motorcycle to draw alongside and tear the necklace from around the throat and speed away, also bag snatching by this method has been reported. Whilst visiting markets or popular attractions be aware the pickpockets frequent these area's on the express look out for unsuspecting tourists.
Thai's don't normally shake hands as a formal greeting amongst themselves, but may do so on greeting a westerner. Expect to be greeted by a gesture of pressing the palms together called a wai. Thai's regard the head as the highest part of the body, touching people on the head is not liked at all. Pointing your feet directly at Thai's is regarded as the height of bad manners. Men walking bare chest in the streets or driving a car without a shirt in public, will be seen as rude and very uncouth. Females should never go topless at the beach, which is an offence in Pattaya. The view to nudity is an oddity in itself, whilst illegal many girls in bars and gogo establishments show their charms quite openly. At the beach it would be rare to see a Thai girl in a bikini, only a full piece swimsuit with a towel wrapped around themselves for good measure. Prostuition is also illegal in Pattaya and throughout Thailand, but is conveniently ignored by all. If visiting a temple dress in a conservative manner in suitable attire, arms should be covered. Shoes are to be left outside if entering any temple.
Avoid raising your voice in any dispute regarding Thai's it will be regarded as a sign of aggression and it is surprising how quickly the situation will escalate out of your control. Arguments with Thai's can never be won often becoming overheated due to the language barrier and misunderstandings. Physical violence is rare, but even if the argument is apparently resolved it is advisable to quietly leave. In a situation you might believe you have been wronged it is far better to return with the tourist police allowing them to resolve the matter for you.
Taking the extreme, the worst thing you could do after murder is get yourself involved with drugs of any kind. Often dressed in plain clothes, the local police will use entrapment methods, legal in Thailand, but not elsewhere to offer drugs for sale, in the hope you might incriminate yourself by buying. Serious drug offences carry the death penalty in Thailand, and mercy is rarely given and only by royal decree. Underage sex 18 is the legal age in Thailand, is another offence that will not be treated lightly and would result in a lengthy term in a Thai prison an unforgettable and unpleasant experience.
Thai ladies dress and appear to look older than they really are, and if in any doubt at all you should check ID cards of any sexual partners. Although this can be difficult because the ID card is in Thai including the date of birth, using the Asian calendar. Girls are not allowed be law to work in drinking bars or go go, this being checked by the bar owner unless 18 or above and their legal age is guaranteed.
It is a legal requirement to carry your passport at all times in Thailand, and you can be arrested for failing to produce. However, in the main tourist area of Pattaya these checks are not normally carried out.
The view to nudity is an oddity in itself, whilst illegally girls in bars and go go establishments show their charms quite openly. A woman going topless at a beach anywhere in Thailand is an arrestable offence. At the beach it would be rare to see a Thai girl in a bikini, only a full piece swimsuit with a towel wrapped around themselves for good measure. Prostuition is also illegal in Pattaya and throughout Thailand, but is ignored by all.
Cigarette smoking is banned in all shopping malls, restaurants, bars and go go bars. Although it carries a 2000 baht fine and buildings are plastered with signs banning smoking. In most bars, no one not even officials or police seem to enforce this law. This is with the exception of shopping malls or public buildings. It is not uncommon to see police themselves whilst in uniform smoking in public.
Avoid the purchase of products and souvenirs made from any wild animals or reptiles like snakes, lizards, turtle shells and ivory. You may well encounter problems with customs on your return. Being predominately a Buddhist country, the image of Buddha is sacred and protected by law. The purchase is not unlawful, but don't make the mistake to purchase a large statue or image of Buddha as a souvenir. The export of such is prohibited without a special permit to do so. Being randomly stopped at customs in possession of such will lead to prosecution and serious consequences, as would any desecration of an image of Buddha whilst in Thailand.
Taking the extreme, the worst thing you could do after murder is get yourself involved with drugs of any kind. Dressed in plain clothes the police will use entrapment methods, which perfectly legal in Thailand, but not in many other countries to offer drugs for sale, in the hope you might incriminate yourself by buying. Serious drug offences can carry the death penalty in Thailand. Mercy is rarely given and only by royal decree. While illegal, the sex industry is a reality in Pattaya. Protect yourself accordingly, both from sexually transmitted diseases and from theft. Underage sex, 18 is the legal age in Thailand, is another offence that will not be treated lightly and would result in a lengthy term in a Thai prison an unforgettable and unpleasant experience. Thai ladies like to dress and appear to look older than they really are, if in any doubt at all you should check ID cards of any sexual partners. This can be difficult because the ID card is in Thai including the date of birth, using the Asian calendar. Girls under 18 are not allowed by law to work in drinking or go go bars, this being checked by the bar owner this may well go towards verify their legal age although not guaranteed.
Drinking in the bars is normally carried out by everyone all in good humour and a very enjoyable experience and it is rare to encounter any problems. Very occasionally a fight might break out being always between young western men fuelled by drink stay safe avoid becoming involved.
Using taxi bikes is a popular means of transport with tourists, keep in mind that that the driver will be uninsured and you are totally reliant on his ability. It may sound uncool, but always insist on wearing a crash helmet if one is not available refuse to go. Often it will be seen 3 people on a bike don't be one of them your travel insurance will be void in any injury. Accidents on motorcycles is an everyday accordance and usage of taxi bikes should only be used with caution even more so at night.
Recently the laws regarding visa's has been toughened up, this was due to widespread abuse of the system. It is illegal to carry out any work for pay or otherwise without the necessary visa and work permit. On being caught by police you could well be a fined more than 50,000 baht and end up deported. An over stay of a visa will always result in a financial penalty of 500 baht a day up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. You will not be allowed to leave Thailand until payment is made. Between 21 days and up to 42 days the situation is a little vague. But certainly anything over 42 days becomes very serious. A jail term is inevitable along with the maximum fine and deportation. The Thai authorities have a zero tolerance to visa infringements and will put a nasty stamp in your passport regarding your overstay. Effectively meaning you will not be allowed back into Thailand again period.
Some Thai laws may seem odd, but must be obeyed to avoid a fine, arrest and maybe deportation. A very serious offence is any derogatory remarks, overheard or made in public regarding the King or a member of the royal family. The Thai people hold their monarchy in very high regard, we would warn you never in a public place make any form of derogative remark regarding the king. This would land you in serious problems with anyone that should overhear. It is unlawful and subject to imprisonment in serious cases this will defiantly get you arrested and into some serious trouble you don't want to be in. This is known as lese majeste and carries a jail term of between three to fifteen years. Even to stand on a bank note with the kings head on it will end up in you getting into some very hot water with the local Thai's.
As a general rule of thumb if it seems illegal, then it most defiantly is. Pattaya is an amazing place, and if you want a really want to party and have a fun packed holiday, this is the place for you. This article is just to make you aware to just take that extra care to keep safe whilst you are enjoying yourself in Pattaya.
A well-documented scam that has been carried out in Thailand resorts on unsuspecting tourists is the jet-ski scam. Hire a jet ski at your peril, enjoy your hour on the water, return and when the jet-ski is taken from the water. Guess what ! the underneath is scratched and damaged. Guess who is going to get blamed ! you got it in one. American Express that will do nicely. You have been warned about this one, don't get caught.