You Might Want to Think Twice Before Begpacking in Thailand

Hustle and bustle of Thai markets | © Anansing/Shutterstock
Hustle and bustle of Thai markets | © Anansing/Shutterstock
Travellers looking to fund their travels in the Land of Smiles by “begpacking” have become increasingly common, but not for long as the Thai government has started cracking down on these free loaders. Read on to find out why you might want to think twice before leaving home without any money.

The term “begpacking” literally means begging to fund your backpacking adventure. Hipsters have embraced the movement as it has taken hold in many parts of Southeast Asia including Thailand. Beg-packers can typically be seen at busy locations around Bangkok, trying to make some cash before heading to a full moon party or a spiritual retreat. Activities range from busking by singing songs or playing an instrument to simply begging – sitting with a sign asking for money for food, travel or even a plane ticket home.

Backpacker haven, Khao San Road © Ken Marshall/Flickr

Previously begpacking was possibly less talked about or reported until recently when media outlets have highlighted the issue. Thailand has had enough of backpackers begging on its streets and the government has started to require tourists to prove they have enough money to fund their travels and must have at least 20,000 baht ($605 USD) in “Show Money” before entering the country. Immigration officials at border checkpoints have also started to ask tourists to prove they are financially able to fund their travels throughout the Kingdom. Current reports are that the enforcement of the policy is at the discretion of each immigration officer.

The issue has Thai expat forums such as ThaiVisa and expat Facebook groups up in arms on the issue and netizens are concerned of the potential knock on effect the new requirements might have on expats living in the country. Many believe the policy is not only a response to increasing numbers of begpackers but also to foreigners working illegally in the country. It is yet to be seen how strictly the policy will be implemented but it is advised to come prepared, with enough money to fund your travel plans.

A local beggar in Bangkok © Twenty-four Students/Flickr