Thai passport worth less than Cambodian

Thais are less free to travel than the Chinese

The Henley Passport Index released this week, ranks the passports of the world based on metrics such as how many countries one can travel to visa-free. Once again a Thai passport is worth less than many comparable nations and ranks a long way behind other nations that share similar demographics and income.

There are not many surprises in the top ten, except perhaps that the top three nations are Asian, while the remaining seven are in Europe. The world’s most-welcome nations are Japan and Singapore.

  1. Japan
  2. Singapore
  3. South Korea
  4. Germany
  5. Spain
  6. Finland
  7. Italy
  8. Luxembourg
  9. Austria
  10. Denmark
  11. Netherlands

The surprises begin at number 14 on the list with Malaysia, a country highly comparable with Thailand. Also in the top 20, we see powerhouses of global confidence – Romania, Bulgaria and Chile. All medium-sized, medium-income, medium-populations countries, with comparable GDPs, purchasing power, and share of the global trade.

Europe, the UK, and the US must be swarming with visitors from countries like Brazil, Bulgaria, and Cyprus. All are entitled to free travel to the Schengen Zone, the British Isles, and North America with little to no hassle or cost.

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So, where does that leave Thailand?

That leaves Thailand in 65th place. A Thai passport is worth less than even a Chinese version. Papua New Guineans and Bolivian fly in visa-free compared to Thais. Immediately below the kingdom on the list is Namibia, and Lesotho. Unless you are a quiz show buff, there’s a pretty strong chance that you haven’t heard of either.

In ASEAN, the picture is even more revealing.

2. Singapore
14. Malaysia
23. Brunei
54. Cambodia
65. Thailand
71. Indonesia
76. Philippines
87. Vietnam
92. Laos
95. Myanmar

The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already said their mission in life is not to make enemies but to be friends with everyone. Seems that we want to be friends with everyone, but no one wants to be ours.

Almost all visa regulations have tit-for-tat aspects to them. It costs an absurdly large amount of money for foreigners to settle down in Thailand, for no reason other than it takes a similar amount for a Thai person to settle down “over there.”

With a Thai passport, worth less than many others, ideas like value for money don’t play much of a role.

See how much your passport is worth here.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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