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The Tourist Authority of Thailand comes out of the closet

Tanutam Thawan

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The Tourist Authority of Thailand comes out of the closet | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has introduced a new marketing campaign “Open to the New Shades”, a tourist-friendly platform for the TAT to finally come out of the closet and target the so-called ‘pink dollar’, the LGBT travel community.

Indeed, the TAT have virtually burst out of the closet, complete with feathers, sequins and drag shows, as “Presenting Partner of ITB Berlin 2018 LGBT Travel”. ITB Berlin is the world’s leading travel trade show.

The TAT is funded by the Thai Government and sponsors. Thailand’s tourist numbers, ever on the rise, are expected to exceed 35 million this year.

The Tourist Authority of Thailand comes out of the closet | News by The Thaiger

The alphabet soup of the gender diverse universe can be a bit of a political-correctness nightmare. LGBT is Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender. Other letters of the alphabet have been added but we’ll leave all that for expert bloggers to explain.

Whilst Thailand has often been described as ‘gay friendly’, it hides many cultural nuances that, at the same time, tolerate differences whilst remaining very socially conservative.

At best the tolerance is superficial. At worst LGBT children are often still ostracised by their own families and communities.

Certainly, officially, there has never been a campaign that even mentioned Thailand’s possibilities as a LGBT destination. There are always pictures of the ‘overt and flamboyant’ decorating various campaigns but rarely references to the diverse Thai and expat communities that create the venues and festivals that nurture the infrastructure for LGBT tourism.

But times are changing and the ITB Berlin’s news channel says the TAT is now highlighting the country’s LGBT community in promotions.

“Open to the New Shades,” invites travellers to discover their own Thailand, and one of the videos shows a male couple going clubbing and watching a sunrise in northern Thailand together. But it’s also an attractive campaign that invites other non-mainstream tourists to Amazing Thailand as well… single girls, elderly single travellers.

TAT’s governor, Yuthasak Supasorn was more outspoken at the launch of “Open to the New Shades” campaign at ITB Berlin.

“TAT is actually honoured to be part of the LGBT Travel at ITB Berlin 2018 and to have been named ITB Berlin LGBT Presenting Partner. Without a doubt the LGBT market has always been an important travel segment for Thailand and we will continue our efforts to position Thailand as a leading destination for the LGBT community in Southeast Asia”.

The new advertising campaign ‘Open to new shades’ appears to have lifted the blinkers to allow TAT to assume the role of an official LGBT presenting partner, at least in the liberal hallways of ITB Berlin.

Do we have campaign for same-sex weddings, events and festivals from the TAT on the way?

Those that live here know, and the LGBT travellers learn quickly, that there is a fuzzy grey line that Thailand’s gender-diverse community dare not cross. The TAT have taken a step in the right direction, pushing the grey line a little further towards making Thailand a broader, wider and more inclusive travel destination for all.



Looking to jettison some items before jetsetting away or chartering a yacht? Look no further than Thaiger Classifieds where you can find and post items, work, property and more for free. Be sure to check out YonderTours for things to do in Thailand and tours across the country.

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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Thailand

Top Ten tips to tipping in Thailand

Tim Newton

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Top Ten tips to tipping in Thailand | The Thaiger

How much is appropriate in Thailand or should you tip at all?

There is no rule of thumb although tipping is not common amongst Thais whilst it remains reasonably common with some westerners, but certainly not all. Americans almost tip by habit.

Tipping in Thailand is not mandatory but will always be welcomed with a ‘wai’ and a smile.

Our ‘recommendations’ are by no means the rule. And your discretion should be advised at all times when you have your wallets out and talking about money in Thailand.

‘Nice’ restaurants

If you allow 10% of the bill as a tip for a ‘good’ or better restaurant, that would be considered a generous and well-appreciated tip. Or just rounding up the bill to the nearest hundred baht will be appreciated as well. At a ‘fancy’ restaurant with snooty waiters and a really nice view you better use the 10% rule to avoid any ‘glances’ when you leave.

Check the bill to see if there’s a ‘service charge’. If so then you can dispense with the tip – the ‘service charge’ is meant to be dispersed amongst the staff. But a personal tip to a very special staff member would be nice in these cases – 50 to 100 baht would be suitable.

But unlike many US restaurants, you will get out of the restaurant alive if you don’t tip. Remember, it’s a voluntary gesture. If in doubt just have a quiet word with the Manager who will usually be frank with you about what may be appropriate at their venue.

Top Ten tips to tipping in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Gerry’s Kitchen

Street food

If you feel inclined to tip when eating street food then you are more than likely going to confuse the vendor. Most street food is clearly priced, or at least when you ask the price, there is one price. That’s what you’d be expected to pay and you’ll receive the correct change. At the same time you’re not expected to bargain or haggle the food prices.

If you’re in a franchise like McDonalds, Starbucks, KFC, Svensons, Tom Tom’s, etc there’s no need to tip.

Top Ten tips to tipping in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

At the bar

Quite a few different situations here. If you’re going up to order from the bar in a ‘nice’ venue then there would be no expectation for you to tip (if you’re in any of the tourist zones you’ll already be paying a heavily marked up price).

But if it’s a beach bar and the waiters have been serving you drinks all day whilst you’ve been contemplating nothing-in-particular, then rounding up your bill or leaving 100 baht when you leave would be appropriate.

And if you’ve been chatting to the bar attendant all afternoon, a tip of 50-100 baht would almost be expected, but not mandatory.

As with restaurants, if there’s a ‘service charge’ on your bill then consider that your tip has already been paid, although a smaller tip for a particularly attentive waiter would be a nice gesture.

Speaking of bars, if you end up at one of the venues with lots of smiling, scantily-dressed ‘bar girls’ (or bar boys) gesturing you to have a drink with them, then it’s a different situation altogether. For these ‘Girlie Bars’ (or boy bars), they are on a commission. So, apart from your over-priced drink, you’ll also be buying them a drink (which they also receive commission on). In return you’ll get their T’inglish smalltalk and company and a good time is had by all. No tips in this situation.

Tour Guides

If you’re one of 30 people on a crowded bus or boat, on a fixed price tour, then never feel obliged to tip. If you’ve booked a tour guide for your personal use for a few hours or the day, then we would recommend a tip around 10% of the agreed tour guide hire. For a half day tour, maybe 100-150 baht or double that for a full day tour.

If you have been on an organised tour but the tour guide has been uniquely amazing, you took up a lot of their time with questions or just went above and beyond their work requirements, then a tip given straight to them would be greatly appreciated. 50 to 100 baht.

Top Ten tips to tipping in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Taking a taxi

There are two ways to take a taxi in Thailand. Either negotiate a price before you get in or check that they have a working taxi meter. There’s plenty of wriggle room in between these two solutions where you can get caught out. Firstly you should have a ‘rough’ idea of what the fare is going to be before you even think of taking a taxi. Check with your hotel concierge or ask a friend before you take your journey.

With the metred taxis there are a few, not many, taxi drivers that turbo-charge their meters so they run a lot faster than the permitted rate. If you think you’ve been ripped off take a photo of their taxi ID and threaten (nicely) to contact the Tourist Police (1155).

If you’ve taken a taxi ride, metered or negotiated, and all went well and the taxi was clean, etc, then feel free to round up your bill. The worst problem you’ll have with taxis, especially in Bangkok, is that you’ll often be turned down if you’re not heading where THEY want to go. There are big fines for taxi drivers who refuse your fare but the situation is not heavily enforced.

Top Ten tips to tipping in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Ride-hailing taxis and Apps

Uber and Grab, but most likely GrabCar which is increasingly popular in Thailand and likely to be fully legalised in 2019. In the case of GrabCar, for example, the App does it all from the booking, calculation of the fare, a pic of the driver, the registration of their car, a map showing the car approaching and an estimated time of arrival – it’s certainly the future.

There’s also a TripAdvisor-style appraisal system so you can read reviews and rate your driver. In the case of a Grab fare, you know the fee before you get in. Rounding up the bill at the end would be appreciated but it’s not necessary.

You will find the Grab fares competitive, usually less, than the government-endorsed taxis floating around the streets so feel free to offer a little something at the end.

Tuk Tuks, Baht Buses and Red Buses

No meters here. You’re in a public transport ‘twilight zone’ here and anything can happen. Good news is it usually ends well. BUT, if there are any problems you should call the Tourist Police immediately (1155).

Always negotiate the price before hiring a tuk-tuk or Red Bus (Chiang Mai). Tuk Tuks in Bangkok are the three wheel jalopies that are ubiquitous in the capital and have been for decades. It’s estimated that there are around 9,000 of these hideous, noisy modes of transport. All that said they remain a favourite for tourists and are something you MUST DO at least once in your life.

In Phuket the tuk tuks are mostly red, although you’ll see them in other bright primary colours. The Phuket tuk tuks are a blockchain – a closed system with a local ‘mafia’ keeping control of the pricing and oppressing the entry of any competitive public transport into the island. Just google ‘tuk tuk Phuket’ and read the endless stories about the island’s infamous tuk tuks.

Negotiate the fee before you get in. It will be higher than a conventional taxi ride. Haggle or bargain the price as hard as you like, with a big smile on your face. Once settled then don’t even think about trying to bargain at the end of the journey.

Just don’t.

Top Ten tips to tipping in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Massage

Traditional Thai massage is unique, an art, easily found and usually very good. After all that diving, bargaining, swimming, shopping and checking to avoid pot holes in the middle of the road, you’re going to need a massage. Most of the better massages won’t be found in the middle of the busy streets of a tourist trap like Pattaya’s Walking Street, Bangla Road in Phuket or around Patpong in Bangkok. Indeed some of the services you may be offered, including the often-mentioned ‘happy ending’, are not really ‘traditional’ Thai massage.

Ask your hotel concierge for a recommendation, check with TripAdvisor or ask a local. If you’re walking along a busy tourist street you will hear MASSAGE!? shouted at you as you make your way past their shops, usually with a rate card handy and usually in matching team outfits. These might be ok for a quick foot or shoulder massage.

For a good or even great Thai massage you need to find a spa with trained masseuse and masseurs. Most hotels will have their in-house spas, and most of these will be very good.

Anyway, back to the tip, a 50 to 100 baht would be an appropriate tip directly to your masseur. It would be customary to tip your masseur in most situations.

Tattoo artists and hairdressers

Tattoos are a very popular ‘thing’ for many visitors in Thailand. And the tattoo shops are very good with some of the world’s best exponents of the art working in the Land of Smiles. There are also traditional local tattoo artists that are highly sought after. We would recommend a 10% tip to your tattoo artist.

Much the same goes when you visit the hairdresser in Thailand. We would recommend you make the tip directly to your hairdresser, if you’re happy with their work. For the cheaper ‘barbers’ with their less-fancy premises a 20 baht tip would be appreciated.

Top Ten tips to tipping in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Bathroom attendants

Not every venue will have bathroom attendants but most shopping centres will, larger office blocks and restaurant and bar venues at night. Some of these may have a fixed price-to-pee. Other won’t but you’ll see the attendants lurking around keeping the bathrooms and toilets clean.

There is no need to tip them but, if it’s a really nice bathroom and you appreciate the cleanliness a 10 baht tip would be appreciated. If you paid to use the bathroom there’s no need to tip.

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Business

Thailand Post’s no-go list

Tanutam Thawan

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Thailand Post’s no-go list | The Thaiger

Twenty years ago postal services were thought to he going out of fashion as email and social media began to replace people sending letters in the post. But that’s all changed now as online retail services are making the world’s postal services busier than ever. Including Thailand Post.

If you’re wishing to avoid problems with Thailand Post and would like to know what you should’t be putting in the mail, this story is for you. At the top of Thailand Post’s warnings, senders are advised not to lend their ID cards (or passports) to strangers to mail their packages.

Thailand Post have issued the guidelines after police found that drug traffickers are increasingly resorting to postal services to send narcotics to their customers, after several major drug shipments, being transported in vehicles, were intercepted by police.

The managing director of state-run Thailand Post, Samorn Therdthampiboon, says the company’s post offices have intensified the screening of parcels to prevent unscrupulous senders from mailing prohibited items.

Senders are required to show their ID cards (or passports), and CCTV systems have been installed in all post offices. There are also X-ray scanners to look for explosives and flammable materials as part of the increased security measures.

There are seven types of items prohibited from being sent by mail…

  • Live animals
  • Narcotics (illegal drugs)
  • Pornographic material
  • Explosives or flammable substances
  • Unsheathed knives or other sharp objects
  • Banknotes
  • Fake products which infringe intellectual property rights

(We would add Durian but that’s still legal!)

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Crime

Surachate won’t be returning to Royal Thai Police

Tanutam Thawan

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Surachate won’t be returning to Royal Thai Police | The Thaiger

Thailand’s deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon has dissed rumours that former Immigration chief Surachate Hakparn is poised for a return to the Royal Thai Police.

Read The Thaiger’s weekend story HERE.

Over the weekend Thai media reported that the former high-profile policeman and eventual Immigration Chief, was set for a sensational return and was about to be appointed to a senior position with the police force.

But the deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters yesterday that “Big Joke” will “not be returning to the police and that his career in the police force is over”.

And that, apparently, is THAT!

In April, Surachate was abruptly side-lined from his post as immigration chief and transferred to an inactive post at the RTP HQ in Bangkok and later a civilian role as a ‘special adviser’ within the PMs Office.

At this stage there has still been no further details from either the RTP or Surachate about what led to his demotion and removal from his high-profile post. Surachate was smithed on the weekend in Thailand’s south with a contingent of police giving rise to the rumour that he may be set for a return to Thai crime-fighting.

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