If you are a vaper planning a trip to the Land of Smiles soon, make sure to check out this guide about vaping in Thailand.
You’re probably wondering if you should take your vape device with you, risk buying it there or, worse, switch to smoking cigarettes during your trip.
While by no means my first international adventure, my time in Thailand was the first time I truly felt outside of my comfort zone as a vaper. For this matter, I wanted to share with you a few things you should know before your trip. Some of these things I knew before going there, but some were shocking surprises.
Let’s get into it.
Things you need to know before travelling to Thailand as a vaper:
1. Vaping is completely banned in the kingdom
Yes, vaping has been banned in Thailand since 2014. The mods, juices and disposable vapes are categorically prohibited.
There is no excuse. Even proving that you brought the vape for personal use isn’t acceptable to authorities. If they catch you, you are in trouble.
2. You could go to jail for vaping or possessing the vape
There are various kinds of penalties. Being caught vaping or even with a vape in your possession could cost you 30,000 Baht (910 USD) fine or/and a jail sentence of up to 5 years.
Luckily, there are no known incidents of somebody going to jail for 5 years for vaping to the full extent; When people get caught, they are forced to pay a bribe to the police, or spend a few days in jail and pay an actual fine.
3. Tourists also get caught
This isn’t common knowledge among travellers. Many believe this law does not apply to tourists, but this is not the case. While Thai people are usually victims of the prohibition, there have been numerous news articles of tourists being caught vaping and heavily fined.
Most recently, in January 2023, a Taiwanese actress was caught with a vape and extorted for 27,000 Baht (800 USD) by Thai police. She had been stopped and searched at a checkpoint while in a taxi with her friends during a night out in Bangkok.
Read in depth analysis from the Consumer Choice Center.
In another case, in Phuket in 2019, a French woman was fined 40,000 Baht (1,200 USD) and deported. She was stopped by police while holding a vape pen when she was a passenger on a scooter.
4. You can still buy disposable devices
This is where it gets tricky. The black market for vapes is thriving in Thailand, and you can buy disposable vapes on every street corner in big cities or small islands. It doesn’t matter where you go; you will find colorful devices in various flavors in the street markets; you can even order online and get it delivered to your door. This is why tourists assume it’s safe to vape in public, which is sometimes true but not always.
The price of disposable vapes varies between 300-600 Baht (9-18 USD). Despite the ban, Thailand’s illegal vape market has grown dramatically recently. In 2019, its overall value was estimated at between 3 to 6 Billion Baht (100 – 200,000,000 USD), which is still only 5% of the entire nicotine industry in Thailand.
Meanwhile, if you decide to buy those disposables, be careful because they are either locally made or illegally imported from China. Nobody can tell you what goes inside and how safe they are to use.
5. It is pretty safe to vape privately
If you risk it and bring your vape from home (that’s what most tourists do) or buy a questionable disposable device (lots of tourists do this, too), be careful where you use it.
In general, if you vape in public in big cities like Bangkok, Pattaya or Phuket, you could get in trouble. Most likely, nobody will care if you vape on smaller islands, such as Koh Phi Phi or Koh Pha Ngan, but I would still not recommend it.
If you can’t leave your hands off vapes or you are in danger of going back to smoking, at least, vape privately. Usually, restaurants and bars will allow you to vape, and they don’t care, but remember what you are risking if a local police officer notices you.
If you still feel brave enough to vape in tourist spots, in front of security or police, they might not interrupt you, but in case they do, keep in mind that you are the one who broke the law. Remain calm, and don’t get into an argument; all you can do is aim to negotiate a discount on any issued fine.
God forbid we allow people to practice harm reduction in private!
This blog post is a living document since vaping laws are changing daily worldwide. You are kindly invited to contribute if you have more information and recommendations.
So, did I leave anything out?
Let me know at email@example.com