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No foreigners at Wat Pho, Bangkok temple says Thais only

Caitlin Ashworth



PHOTO: Richard Barrow

The Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) is open, but only if you’re Thai. Foreigners are not allowed in, even if you’ve been living in Thailand for years. The famous Bangkok temple re-opened last week but are keeping foreigners over fears of the coronavirus.

A sign with red letters, all capitalised “ONLY THAI PEOPLE … NOW NOT OPEN FOR FOREIGNERS” is posted at the entrance. Expat blogger Richard Barrow posted photos of the signs on Facebook after visiting the temple and being denied entrance.

“I told them in Thai that I’m not a tourist, but wanted to pay respect to the Buddha. They just replied to me, no tourists allowed.”

Wat Pho is in the process of restoring the Reclining Buddha as well as some of the temple’s paintings. The temple is restricting access for the “safety of tourists”, Wat Pho posted on its Facebook page. The temple will reopen to the general public on July 1. Another spokesperson says the coronavirus is the reason the temple is banning foreigners.

“It’s because most Covid-19 cases were found in foreigners,” a temple representative told Coconuts Bangkok, confirming that they are only are only allowing Thais to visit at the moment.

There’s limited reports on the number of coronavirus cases in foreigner in comparison to Thais, but incoming international travel has been restricted since the end of March. Back in March, out of the 1,524 coronavirus cases reported at the time, 1297 were Thai and 227 were from foreigners coming into Thailand. In recent weeks the only new cases have been repatriating Thais, returning from overseas.

A spokesperson from the tourism ministry told Khaosod that temples can decide to allow foreigners or not, but said tourist destinations should wait before letting foreigners in.

Other recent cases of xenophobia have reared their head with foreigners reporting restaurants refusing them entry, bus companies (Transport Company has an official ‘policy’ to refuse foreigners based on the ’emergency decree… no such passage exists in the decree) denying foreign passengers, random tourist attractions, hair salons and massage services getting in on the act as well.

Thailand’s Public Health Minister also made his feelings well known with a public outburst against ‘dirty farang’ at a health ministry PR outing at Siam BTS station in early March when foreigners declined the free handouts of the ubiquitous cheap blue medical masks.

SOURCES: Khaosod | Coconuts Bangkok| Bangkok Post

‪I was hoping to visit Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, as I had heard it had just re-opened. But the sign…

Posted by Richard Barrow in Thailand on Wednesday, June 10, 2020


Posted by วัดโพธิ์ ท่าเตียน Wat Pho on Thursday, June 11, 2020


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  1. Avatar

    R Gray

    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 10:28 am

    This is very disturbing and totally ignorant. Many Non-Thais are Buddhist like myself and find this appalling. I must ask “Is this being Buddhist or just Xenophobic?” I have visited and lived in Thailand for more than 50 years and never been discriminated against before.

    • Avatar

      Michael Lewis

      Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 9:38 pm

      Maybe it has been ordeted by the flamboyant obnoxious Minister of health Anutin who has already posted some insulting and false anti foreigner statements.

  2. Avatar

    Martin Glynne

    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 10:33 am

    Another case of misguided xenophobia and a tirade against foreigners expressed in a Nationalistic selfish and unbecoming attitude by insulated Thais. They want our money but not us.!!!!
    The authorities are in for a shock next year. Tourism which accounts for 15% of GDP wil be about 1% as Thailand has become too expensive, too Nationalistic and too intolerant to outsiders. Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia and Myamar welcome tourists and do not put such restrictions.

  3. Avatar

    Vincent Vermeulen

    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Just name and shame all companies on social media who do this and never let them have a single bath from us dirty foreigners!!!

    • Avatar

      Steve Gritt

      Friday, June 12, 2020 at 2:45 pm

      Agree with you. Let them enjoy their ruins alone

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Well they are showing their true colours now.
    How about banning foreigners from the Grand Palace = cost B500 to foreigners, free for Thais.
    Let us see they do without that revenue.
    How about banning foreigners from the boxing matches at Lumpino Stadium – B2000, while Thais pay nowhere near that.
    Better still, ban yourself going to any of these rip off, duel pricing for the foreigner. places, and watch them go out of business.
    Thank you Thailand for banning us. You are killing the golden goose you stupid people.

  5. Avatar

    Too sensitive subject

    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Shame for them. Their understanding of the Buddhist doctrine is biased and shallow. Foreigner and Buddhist, is not allowed. Even in Burma, I had to have a letter from minister of religious affair to let me in, in exactly the same situation…… What a pity for us. But ultimately, what a pity for them.

  6. Avatar


    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    Guess which high ranking Thai lives in Germany.

    • Avatar

      James Lese Majeste

      Sunday, June 14, 2020 at 3:16 am


      Re: James June 12, 2020 at 1:09 pm, who posted:
      “Guess which high ranking Thai lives in Germany.”

  7. Avatar


    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks to Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul all this happens now. And new Tourist will remember this and his words about “dirty farang” for ever. Sorry for all the people who work in this industry.

  8. Avatar


    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    I’m not mad about this, but it seems so senseless. I assume that this is allowed because it’s a temple as opposed to something like a restaurant?

  9. Avatar

    Peter Wilson

    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    The Land of Smiles is quickly becoming the Land of Scowls for us ‘dirty foreigners’. You need tourists for your economy, but then close the country to us, despite more Thai’s having had Covid than foreigners. Also despite no domestic Covid for three weeks, you still refuse to open bars, even to Thai’s. If they cannot get a drink whilst on holiday or have a social life, the ‘dirty foreigners’ and their money will go somewhere else. Thailand’s loss will be Vietnam’s gain. Or Tahiti, or Cambodia, or anywhere else they are not regarded as being ‘dirty’ by the host Government or discriminated against for being tourists by local companies and organisations. Sorry Thailand, but I know when I am not welcome.

  10. Avatar

    EDY F.

    Friday, June 12, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    They are opening the Pandora box. They don’t want foreigners but they want the money.. ha ha, something is wrong somewhere.. Yes, they are showing their true face. Everything can happens now..

  11. Avatar


    Monday, June 15, 2020 at 9:10 am

    the advantage of being stupid is, you dont have to make sense.

  12. Avatar

    alain koch

    Monday, June 15, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    i dont really see this as a problem. if some business doesnt want to allow foreigners, just stay away from it. its really just a view cases.. and there are enough alternatives that dont mind about foreign customers. not everyone here is a racist..

  13. Avatar


    Monday, June 15, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    Buddha clearly asked his disciples not to build temples or statues of him. He told them not to worship. Thais have no clue what Buddhism really is. It’s just a mish-mash of superstition the way they practice it.

    Non of this should come as a surprise. Thais have discriminated against anyone who isn’t Thai since the beginning of time. It’s a wonder anyone visits the country at all. Once the travel industry in Myanmar develops, Thailand will die a death.

  14. Avatar


    Tuesday, June 16, 2020 at 9:29 am

    my wife, born in Thailand, and i have been married for 32 years and now live here in Thailand. we are both Buddists and like almost every Thai i spent my time as a monk in a monastery. It hurts a lot when you have to read what arguments Wat Pho puts forward to deny entry to foreigners (also those who live and are married here). these arguments are not compatible with Buddhist values and beliefs.

  15. Avatar


    Friday, January 1, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    Don’t expect this story to be forgotten. This “news” has been reprinted in newspapers and on website in many countries. Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over foreigners who have visited Thailand before will remember that we and our money are no longer welcome in Thailand!

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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