It all began with this report about two Malaysian girls being denied entry into Thailand for not bringing enough Thai baht. Having stayed in Thailand for two years and to deal with visa application processes and immigration and what not, and on top of the fact that I now travel to Thailand on a regular basis, I know that this was just an isolated case.
It’s a non-issue that need not be brought up in the first place. Unfortunately, The Sun had to run this story followed by this one based on just one incident. Coincidentally, the journalist who was tasked to write the story happens to be my close friend, but I’m not blaming him because he was just doing his duty.
But personally, I think both reports by The Sun were not necessary because an incident like this is rare. Running the stories will only cause more confusion and panic among Malaysians who probably just wish to travel to Hatyai for a day or two of sightseeing and shopping.
After these stories have made their way to the social media, says.com too decided to run a similar story, and people began posting pictures that show signs indicating the supposedly “new” ruling, like below:
I just thought to write this entry to explain the confusion, with the hope that this non-issue will come to a halt.
Of course, my two cents below are just based on what I’ve learned and observed all this while as an individual, and in no way am I representing the Thai Immigration Bureau in disseminating my opinion on this incident.
First of all, the ruling in which holders of Visa on Arrival (e.g. Malaysians entering Thailand) may be required to show 10,000 baht per person or 20,000 baht per family is nothing new. Later, you will find out why Thai immigration officers, especially those at the Malaysia-Thailand borders, seldom impose this ruling on Malaysians.
Holders of other types of visa will also be subject to different minimum cash limits. If you’re on their radar upon entering Thailand, the immigration officers have a right to ask you to show them a certain amount of cash, depending what kind of visa you’re holding. This can take place at any immigration checkpoint, such as at the airports and not just the borders.
Second of all, pictures of signboards spelling out the ruling could have been planted somewhere at the immigration checkpoints for a long time. I’ve been to various immigration checkpoints all over Thailand and signboards like that are commonly noticeable.
It’s just that because all this while Malaysians have rarely been asked to show them cash upon entering Thailand, we kind of have taken it for granted that such a ruling never exists, and therefore we don’t get to pay attention to such signboards.
In one of the articles, it writes that “… due to this lackadaisical stance at times by the Thai authorities, many Malaysian travellers tend to take this clause for granted.”
To me I do not think it’s mainly due to the officers’ “lackadaisical” attitude. The reason why they don’t normally impose this ruling on Malaysians is because unlike some travellers of other nationalities, Malaysians generally don’t enter Thailand to work illegally. Instead, we holiday and spend our money there and meet their criteria of being so-called “quality tourists.”
Thai immigration officers normally would impose checks on Westerners and certain nationalities whom they feel may work illegally in Thailand (e.g., those teaching or working without a Non-Immigrant Visa and permit/with a Tourist Visa).
Lastly, the two Malaysians who got asked to show 10,000 baht in order to enter Thailand either must be so unlucky, or have offended the officer in one way or another. In any case, you know being polite to the immigration officers is always the key!
So my take if that if you were to travel into Thailand by air, it is only reasonable that you have some cash with you and your accommodation/onward flight ticket booked, just in case they ask you to show any of these. At the borders, just carry on with what we usually do and no need to worry so much over the reports. The reported case was just an isolated one.
So long as we don’t travel into Thailand to do illegal things, and as long as we can financially support ourselves during our stay in Thailand, we definitely do not need to worry.
And yes, the “frequent traveller who drives back to Chumpon monthly” as reported in one of The Sun articles is me. So with this I risk being checked by them every time they see my name. Ha ha…