People who have not been to Thailand before often message me to ask “How much money do you need to enter Thailand as a tourist? And am I going to be asked by Thai Immigration to show it to them before they will let me in?”
This is usually because they have read somewhere they must have a certain amount of money to show an immigration officer before they will be allowed admittance into the country?
Some websites are even publishing hysterical articles about it just to get page views, and to make the people reading them worry unnecessarily. I have no idea why.
But, is this true? Do you have to have a certain amount of money before a Thai immigration officer will allow you to enter Thailand?
No. It is not.
Well. Most of the time.
How much money do you need to show Thailand immigration if you are a tourist?
Here’s the thing.
There is a law on Thailand’s immigration books that says anyone visiting the Kingdom should have at least 10,000 baht for their visit. Or, if they are visiting as a family, should be able to prove they have 20,000 baht.
This law has been on the books for decades. Long before I moved to Thailand almost 20 years ago.
Is the law ever put into practice? Do Thai Immigration officers ask every tourist coming into the country if they have 10,000/20,000 baht?
No. Of course they don’t.
So why is the law on the books?
Primarily because it gives the Thai Immigration Department the right to ask some people if they have enough money before they will allow them to enter.
These people tend to be people who look like they have little money, or people who have too many Thai visa stamps in their passport and so may be living in the country illegally.
In other words, Thai Immigration do definitely do occasional spot checks to try to stop people entering the country who could be a financial problem when they get there, or who could be living and working there illegally.
Anyone else is not likely to ever be asked for proof of finances. And especially if you are a legitimate tourist, with or without a tourist visa.
How can you make sure you are not asked about your financial ability?
A large number of people do not want to have to arrive in Thailand carrying $300 to $600 or more. Especially because it is not very safe, and they will get better exchange rates within the country with traveler’s checks or an ATM card than outside it.
That is why they worry about having to show a certain amount of money before they will be allowed entry into Thailand. There is, however, an easy way to almost guarantee you will never be asked, and so can put your mind at rest.
Appearance is extremely important in Thailand, as Thais place great value on being and looking clean, and on wearing clothing that is neat, appropriate and well-taken care of.
That means, if you arrive at a Thai airport or border wearing scruffy clothing with holes in it, you haven’t had a shower for a few days and you generally look as if being able to afford a hotel on Khao San Road is beyond your means, there is a decent chance you will be asked if you have enough money to be able to pay your own way.
If you dress like a backpacker with low funds, you could also have problems.
If, however, you arrive in Thailand, you are showered, as clean as it is possible to be after a long flight, politely dressed and are polite in manner, it is extremely unlikely you would ever be asked by Thai Immigration to produce a certain amount of cash.
Sure, it can happen. But will it?
All I know is, in my almost 19 years of living in Thailand, I have done many trips into the country from both my home country and other overseas locations. Sometimes I had a work permit and a visa, sometimes I did not.
During those well over 100 trips, I have never once been asked if I had enough money to enter. Neither have any of my many friends, my parents or other family members. Not once.
In other words, if you want to minimize your already extremely low chance of ever being asked about your finances upon entering Thailand, look clean, dress well and be polite.
It usually is as easy as that.
But, of course, do make sure you have enough money for your entire trip to Thailand, as you do not want to fall on hard times and not be able to pay your way.