European tourists sell jewellery on streets of Thailand to fund their ‘world tour’

Photo via Twitter user @johnmangobk

Two European tourists were spotted sitting on the street in Bangkok, Thailand, this week selling handmade jewellery to fund their “world tour.” Behind them, a Thai sign reads, “selling things in this area is strictly forbidden.”

Thailand has very strict rules about what kind of work foreigners are allowed to do in the kingdom to ensure that Thais are not short of work. Who knows what kind of visa the European world travellers are on, but it’s unlikely that they have permission to sell jewellery in Thailand.

If they’re on a “world tour” as their sign states then they’re most likely on a tourist visa, which makes what they are doing illegal. No foreigners are allowed to offer services or work in exchange for money in Thailand unless they have the right visa and a valid work permit.

So it’s probably illegal, but is it really that bad?

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Bangkok-based photographer and content creator John Mango posted the photo on Twitter with the caption, “Beg packers are back, no shame,” sparking a debate about whether what the tourists are doing is wrong.

The term ‘begpacker‘ refers to a Western backpacker – usually travelling in southeast Asia – pleading for charity from locals to fund their travels. Some beg, some busk, some sell photos.

Begpackers have been criticised as irresponsible for attempting to travel the world without the proper funds or insurance to do so.

A poll conducted in Thailand in October revealed that 54.54% of Thais say their income is not enough to cover their expenses. Since the pandemic, household debt has risen and financial problems are rife.

It seems entitled to plead for financial help from locals to fund a vacation when Thais are struggling to make ends meet themselves. Others argue that no one is forcing locals to give money to begpackers. But do Thais really care?

When The Thaiger asked a range of Thais about their opinions on begpacking, the general consensus was “we don’t really care.” However, if the Europeans are stealing clientele from local jewellery makers, then that’s where some problems could arise, they said.

Some ‘begpackers’ have a story, they say they need help because they got into an accident, or lost their wallet and can’t get home. However, when such problems arise, tourists are advised to contact their respective embassies in Thailand for assistance rather than beg on the streets.

In September, a foreign tourist was spotted selling beads on Pattaya Beach to fund his trip around the world.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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