Jumping on a plane to Thailand… Having a bit too much fun… Ending up in a Thai prison… This is not an urban legend or a scene from a movie. This is the reality for more than 15,000 foreigners from over 100 countries, as of 2020.
While we all associate Thailand with crazy parties, Thai massages, pristine beaches, and lush forests, the truth is that the country has strict moral codes and regulations. Even an unintentional insult to the Royal Family can send people to prison, and many tourists learn this the hard way.
Sadly, many prisons across Thailand haven’t changed for decades, and people are forced to live in dehumanizing conditions, cramped cells, and witness daily brutality. No wonder Thai prisons are often described not as purgatories but pure hell.
Here are 12 troubling things that happen to tourists who get sent to prison in Thailand.
12 Sent To Cramped Prisons
Though many people fly to Thailand to have more fun for less money, not many tourists realize that the Kingdom of Thailand is a country with strict rules and Buddhist ethics. Unfortunately, even minor mistakes can lead to incarceration. According to the Union for Civil Liberties, Thai prisoners are forced to live in cramped cells with no mattresses or toilet facilities.
11 Tourists Facing Prison Often Struggle With Unknowns & Fears
From cramped cells to unbearable food and prison brutality, the living conditions across Thailand’s prisons are notorious all over the globe. Prisoners are forced to live in horrendous conditions and constant fear. Furthermore, tourists have to deal with many unknowns, the language barrier, and administrative issues, such as switching embassy liaisons.
10 Chained Together
Incarcerated tourists often face shocking situations and poor living conditions. When in their cells, prisoners have only one square meter instead of four-six meters as recommended by the Council of Europe. Moreover, the use of chains is way too common across Thailand’s prisons, and even ill prisoners are kept shackled.
9 Victims Of Crime Can Also Go To Jail
Believe it or not, crime victims in Thailand are often treated as criminals. For instance, a Brit was charged for defending himself after he had been attacked by a Thai gang. Although the man suffered serious injuries and had his eyeball replaced, he was charged with "fighting back" (as per The Taiger).
8 No Thai Baht, No Freedom
Though correctional facilities across the globe are subject to different laws, the sad truth is that prisons often fail to rehabilitate people and reduce crime rates. Low-income prisoners, including foreigners, are particularly vulnerable to social inequality. Thai prisoners work for little money and often, to survive in prison, they need outside funds.
7 Prison Food Can Upset Your Stomach
Many tourists know that Thai food can cause an upset stomach. Yet, nobody can prepare people for prison food! Prison meals in Thailand consist of unidentifiable vegetables and rotting meat. Even though there are prison shops, queues are huge, and some prisoners don’t have enough to get snacks and additional products.
6 Imprisoned Women Have To Overcome Numerous Challenges
It’s not a secret that female prisoners across the globe face some unique challenges. Foreign women incarcerated in Thailand are forced to live with more than 200 women - all stuck in a single cell, sleeping in tight rows. Westerners, often taller than most Thai prisoners, admit that overcrowding is a horrendous problem.
5 Prison Cells Are Not Five-Star Hotels
Even though one of Thailand’s prisons, Bang Kwang in Bangkok, is sarcastically referred to as the Bangkok Hilton, the truth is that prison cells are no five-star hotels. It’s not only the poor living conditions that endanger tourists imprisoned in Thailand, though. Brutal inmates often target foreigners and subject them to abuse.
4 Even Foreigners Can Be Made To Fight For Freedom
Although Thai prisons provide different training programs to rehabilitate prisoners, including making Buddha statues and giving a Thai massage, the truth is that some scary things happen behind bars. Many prisoners, including tourists, are forced to fight for their freedom, a practice that dates back to the 18th century when the Burmese people defeated Thailand’s old capital Ayutthaya.
3 More And More Foreign Nationals Sent To Prison In Thailand
Because of Thailand’s strict laws and Buddhist ethics, many farangs, aka foreigners, find themselves in trouble for silly social media posts or even vaping. Sadly, many people with addiction can also face long sentences. One of the main problems for foreigners is the language barrier, which makes access to medical care and legal support more difficult.
2 Prisoners Are Forced To Eat Infested Food
Prison life is intimidating and disgusting. Literally! Prison food is not only tasteless and limited but often infested, and incarcerated tourists are forced to eat maggots to survive. Drinking water is also scarce. Such outrageous meals, in combination with rude guards and clogged toilets, often lead to different health and emotional problems.
1 Despite The Moral Worth Of The Crime, Prison Yoga Is Available To Make People Feel Free
Alarmingly, the Kingdom of Thailand has the highest female prison population rates, followed by the US. As stated earlier, the moral worth of the crime weighs the most, and even minor crimes can be punished severely. At least, prison yoga is available to free the mind and ease the pain.