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500 Baht Entry Fee to Be Charged Tourists Coming to Thailand: Holiday in Malaysia Instead?

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Photo copyright – Neco, Creative Commons License


500 baht entry fee to be charged tourists arriving in Thailand in 2014

Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong has been telling anyone who will listen that a new 500 baht fee will be charged tourists coming to Thailand next year. For what you might ask? Nobody really seems to know.

It started off as a 500 baht fee to cover the medical costs of foreigners coming to Thailand, who go to local hospitals for treatment but then don’t pay their medical bills. It now seems to have expanded to become a fee that will be spent on whatever the Pheu Thai government deems is appropriate, as well as to allow Thailand to “improve the quality of tourists” the country is getting (that from the mouth of Pradit Sintavanarong as well).

So here are my questions:

1) As I have always paid any medical bill I have had in Thailand (the last one being 7,000 baht), if I’m charged a 500 baht entry fee at the Thai border, does that mean I no longer have to pay my medical bills? Because, frankly, I’m not paying twice.

2) How does charging tourists a 500 baht entry fee to Thailand “improve the quality of tourists”? After all, 500 baht is around $17, not a huge sum for any tourist that isn’t Thai. Besides, how is a “higher quality tourist” categorized? One who spends more money while in Thailand? One who dresses better? One who wais more?

3) If I can go to Malaysia for 90 days with no need to pay for a tourist visa (you get a free 90 day stamp at the airport) and no need to pay a 500 baht entry fee at the airport, wouldn’t it make more sense for me as a tourist to go on holiday to Malaysia instead. The people are lovely, the food is great, the country is beautiful (cleaner than Thailand) and the Malaysian government aren’t money-grabbing fools that will steal from tourists just so they can make more money to pay for their own ill-planned policies.

Coming to Thailand and paying a 500 baht entry fee? Looks like Malaysia could be my next holiday spot. How about you?