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Old 23rd June 2009, 07:27 AM
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Default A warning to all travelers about Thai Customs

I am concerned about the growing number of foreigners, both resident expats & tourists who in recent times are expressing deep anger & frustration over the treatment they have received in Thailand. A good friend recently informed me of such an incident that happened to his parents when they arrived in Bangkok on holiday a couple of days ago. As a warning to all readers of this forum I have pasted my friend's email below. Of course there are 2 sides to every story. His parents were wrong and broke Thailand's custom regulations. But it was a very small offence and I agree the fine was excessive (over $1,000 AUD). Also with tourism way down at the moment, it is not in Thailand's best interest to have tourists returning home vowing never to return again, and writing letters complaining about Thailand to the national newpapers, and telling everybody they know to avoid Thailand at all costs. It is also interesting how often Malaysia is being mentioned as a superior destination to Thailand in recent times.

"My parents are both pensioners in their 60s they came to Thailand with over the limit of exactly 400 cigarettes for personal consumption. My father does not smoke: the personal consumption is all my mother's. Their bags had been scanned and they among others had been targeted by Thai customs. They are not tobacco smugglers, they are holiday makers. They were asked if they had cigarettes in their luggage to which they replied YES. The bags were opened and the cigarettes were photographed while a customs official who could speak basic English explained. "This no good. Mistur, Wellli welli serious."
A pink slip entirely in Thai language and with customs official government stamp was produced for them to sign which they shouldn't have done but did because they were being bullied by a lot of customs officials. The official who could speak semi-passable English again prompted my parents. "You you yes you. You sign. You not sign welli welli big problem for you. You go court welli big problem. You sign mistur." They signed. The document outlined the fine and the way it was calculated which was a bulk fine that has currently gone up in a campaign to increase customs revenue plus the weight of the tobacco in excess of the personal allowance of 200 cigarettes. My parents were wrong, they explained this is not the crime of the century. Canít we just pay the tax on the amount over we're here on holiday. No reply. Any pleading with them fell on deaf ears. They were frog marched to the money exchange counter where their Euro currency was exchanged for Thai baht and the fine sum of 28,000 baht was handed to the Thai customs officials.
My parents know they were wrong. The fine was in my opinion excessive. The way in which the customs officials conducted themselves was disgusting. They had been made to feel like heroin smugglers. They were not asked if the amount was going to make things impossible for them to stay in Thailand or how they were going to get on after the fine. They could have been in Bangkok without a bean and had to then call on the help of The British Embassy to get them repatriated. This is not an isolated case. Customs are performing this heist on people everyday, so if youíre travelling to Thailand beware. Do not exceed your allowance because you will receive the same treatment. My parents are going to the newspapers about the incident as we believe no concern was shown for their safety and welfare after they had been fined and all their holiday money gone. to the "land of smiles" you have just been clobbered. Holiday over. They have very little money left so I bought both of them a plane ticket each to Penang in Malaysia where I think they will find a much better time to be had. They are sickened by Thailand now and wonít ever come for a holiday here again. My parents are the sort of old couple who really donít want a fuss and cant be bothered arguing with folks about taxi fares and prices. Thailand is a cheaters' paradise and with the two-tier system imposed on foreign holiday makers, nothing is cheap unless your willing to get into a debate about price every other Thai you meet from taxi drivers to market stall sellers and food vendors. My parents often avoided this by self catering for themselves with food bought from Tesco. Malaysia on the other hand is more laid back and people speak a much higher level of English and have good manners and respect visitors."
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Old 23rd June 2009, 10:10 AM
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Good post for people traveling from Australia.

As you know bobmac most Australian cartons of smokes come in a 250 carton and almost all duty free booze is in 1.25 litre bottles!

We have never had a problem and never decleared over our limit because most Thai officials would just see it as bottles and cartons if still in the duty free bag?

With the increasing amount of Australian people opting for Phuket/bangkok instead of their usual Bali trip this could become a good money spinner perhaps.

Many Australian Bali visitors are used to taking "well" over their duty free limits(4 or5 litre wine casks in their cases on top or the duty free limit) because they know it is just a small under the counter fine or bribe at the airport if caught.

A few of theses first time visitors to Thailand may be in for a big shock!
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Old 23rd June 2009, 10:12 AM
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Default Hi Bob

I am saddened and troubled by what I hear regarding Thailand of recent times. I think they have always had a level of anti-foreign sentiment in regard to foreigners who decided to stay there past a holiday. For it to start impacting tourists as well though. If you are right about the amount of cigarettes involved, $800+ US / $1000+ AUD is out of order IMO.

It is strange how expats derided Thaksin for being anti-farang and yet things seem to have gotten worse. All the political actions to basically remove the duly elected government, the way the Muslims are being treated in the south and the episodes with the Burmese boat refugees really has not ingaciated the Thai authorities with me. The Thai Government can thank their lucky stars their everyday people make Thailand such an attraction. If it were not for their gentle smiles, how many people would pick another destination than Thailand.

Oh well, I have fond memories of the country. I hope things start to improve again soon. Folks, don't stretch the duty free and avoid silly crimes (drugs, insulting the monarch, etc.) as it looks like Thai compassion may be on the wane
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Old 23rd June 2009, 01:30 PM
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thailand is no longer tourist or expat friendly, if it ever was. all they want you to do is come here for 2 weeks holiday, spend couple hundred thousand baht and leave. and of course, scam you as much as possible while you are here.

after living here for 8 years, i would not recommend thailand as a tourist destination or retirement destination, unless of course, you have family ties here as most expats have. many of leaving permanently. i know quite a few. many would like to, but have too much invested. others have no choice and must leave, leaving families behind, as they can now longer meet the ever changing requirements.

not sure how much longer i will remain, any more drastic changes and i'll move on myself. worst, crime is at an all time high, and not just in tourist areas, as i'm in rice paddy land. safety is starting to become a concern with the diminishing economy.

it is a sad affair from the LOS/smiles of 8 years ago, to the LOS/scams today. IMHO.
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Old 23rd June 2009, 02:25 PM
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I'm in a relationship I value. That's about the only reason I remain and put up with their racism. If my relationship ended I would leave and probably never return. PIs & Malaysia would be the countries I'd consider. Like La I no longer recommend Thailand to anybody for any reason at all. If anybody wants to retire in SE Asia then Malaysia is the place; for the beach-bar-broads brigade the PIs beat Thailand hands down; for general holiday makers looking for a friendly & exotic SE Asian destination then VietNam is the now the place to go.
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Old 23rd June 2009, 06:08 PM
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the tide seems to have changed very dramatically. It is sad to hear these things and they do themselves no favours.
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Old 24th June 2009, 05:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobMac View Post
I'm in a relationship I value. That's about the only reason I remain and put up with their racism. If my relationship ended I would leave and probably never return. PIs & Malaysia would be the countries I'd consider. Like La I no longer recommend Thailand to anybody for any reason at all. If anybody wants to retire in SE Asia then Malaysia is the place; for the beach-bar-broads brigade the PIs beat Thailand hands down; for general holiday makers looking for a friendly & exotic SE Asian destination then VietNam is the now the place to go.
I worked in Thailand for quite a few years, in the 1970s, and then again in the mid 1990s. They were good times to be working Thailand.

On my three most recent trips (2006-07-08), we have come to the conclusion that we will not be revisiting Thailand in the foreseeable future.

The racism and legistlative prejudices against farangs has now gone beyond tolerance.

I'm reasonably fluent in the Thai language and it shocks me the discussions that take place amongst shop staff, restaurant wait staff and stall holders at markets regarding farangs.

I rebuked some of them regarding their offensive remarks made in Thai to each other pertaining to the farangs they were serving, to their shock and dismay, which is not always a wise thing to do in public in Thailand.

If half of the tourists could understand what is being said in front of them, accompanied by laughs and smiles they would be disgusted.

Like everyone else, I would recommend Penang and other parts of Malaysia over Thailand in its present mode.

For something different, try Vietnam, particularly Hanoi and Hoi An. I promise you will be in for a treat.
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Old 24th June 2009, 07:11 AM
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I worked in corporate staff training for many years, training young Thais in hotels & companies, on countless occassions I listened to them having utterly racist conversations among themselves - the same reception staff & waitresses from the resorts that give sweet giggles and beautiful smiles to tourists also talk about them in the most derogatory terms. On numerous occassions I've listened to young Thai men from companies laughing about the fact that Thai louts often attack lone farang males on the streets of Pattaya and the Thai police stand by and watch these assults because "They don't like farang either."
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Old 24th June 2009, 04:28 PM
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Default Just like to say

I believe the VAST majority of Thais to be really great people. I believe MOST of the descending comments come from Thais who have been verbally abused by foreigners and / or are sick of seeing wealthy foreigners when they have so little. I wonder how much has to do with their votes coming to nothing. I make the point Amrozi Nurhasyim, one of the 2002 Bali bombers was a tour guide for a long time on Bali, and that Hambali the mastermind once dreamed of living in the USA. In short, I believe much of the nastiness around the world is as a result of social condition and that we all are guilty of creating that condition. I am very sad to hear Thailand is changing for the worse.

Getting off soap box, time to drink wine; message to brain - "disengage".
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Old 24th June 2009, 10:27 PM
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maybe I am just lucky but I have not experienced any of these problems as of yet - apart from not being allowed to take on board a flight to HKT two bottles of Captain morgans bought in Amman - where there was an obvious scam as the attendants offered to buy it for a lot less than it was worth - needless to say I poured it away rather than acceed to the scam - it was legal - it was in duty free bag etc etc - BUT not allowed on domestic flight after going thru' customs and entering Thailand thru' BKK if I had put in hold luggage in BKK or been transit and entered Thailand in Phuket I would have been ok
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