The dark aspects of Thailand's culture

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

In this article, I will cover some of the dark aspects of Thailand's culture that are hidden just beneath the surface. From an outsider's perspective, Thailand seems to be a very free and easy-going country where the friendliness and smiles of the locals seem second to none. Whilst it is true that Thai people are indeed friendly and tolerant, they are also deeply conservative and many have a mild dislike for Westerners. This is partly caused by jealousy and feelings of anger at the West's intrusion both politically and socially into their country.

Most foreign tourists that come to Thailand are funneled into the red light areas of Phuket, Pattaya, and Bangkok. Full moon parties on the beach fueled by alcohol and availability of easy sex are abundant in every tourist location but this is not the real Thailand. The real Thailand still exists in the provinces where the traditional older way of life has remained. However, the attitudes of society and culture have changed over the years and mostly for the worse due to economic factors.

The natural beauty of Thailand's forests, islands, and beaches still remain one aspect that is without criticism. There are still many places that remain unspoiled by tourism and pollution. However, its the culture that sadly does have some issues that I merely aim to point out. In no way is this article intended to degrade or portray Thailand as an undeserving place to visit or live in. In fact, there are many great things about Thailand which makes Thailand a far better country than most.

Arial view of the red-light district in Bangkok.

The past and present

Is Thailand a true democracy? If one looks at history it becomes clear that the Thailand government is corrupt and lacks regard for human rights. Currently, the military junta as still in control and there is an uneasy distrust of government by the people. Here is a quick overview.

1. During the Vietnam war, Thailand supported Pol Pot when it was driven out of Cambodia by Vietnam and allowed the Khmer Rouge to stay and operate from Thai soil.

2. During this war, Thailand collaborated with the axis forces and declared war against the USA. Thailand supported the Burmese Junta for many years. People who fled the Burmese army's brutality and crossed the border into Thailand for safety were turned back. The Mon and Karen people had their land taken away and property pillaged whilst women were raped and children were put into slavery.

Thailand bought billions of dollars worth of gas from corrupt Burmese generals.

3. Thailand is a feudal nation disguised as a democracy where the very rich exploit the majority of the poor and where money can buy anything and justice doesn't exist. If you want the police to do something it will cost you some money because the police are corrupt. Don't expect justice from the courts unless you have lots of money to bribe judges and officials.

4. The education system in Thailand is substandard and University degrees can be bought. Degrees attained in Thailand usually have little value in the West.

5. The student uprisings in 1973, 76, and 1996 resulted in a massacre of students that to this day remains unreported. The same thing happened as recently as the 2010 demonstrations where many people simply vanished.

6. Culturally there is absolutely zero responsibility by the Thai people where losing face is not an option. Even accepting to have made an error in a traffic accident cannot be expected. Excuses, alibi's, and lies are the norm when it comes to avoiding any blame or responsibility for something.

7. Drug and alcohol abuse is widespread throughout every demographic and is destroying the lives of even the poorest families.

8. The mafia and corrupt police control prostitution, drug trafficking, gambling, human trafficking, contract killing, embezzlement, money laundering, extortion, robbery, and even taxi cab services.

9. Globally, Thailand ranked 9th in 2018 in terms of road traffic fatalities, down from second place in 2015. However, it ranks the highest for traffic fatalities in South East Asia. Motorists are simply not sufficiently trained and have no idea about road rules. To obtain a driving license only takes one day and everyone passes the paper test.

10. Thailand has a huge underground economy that is currently estimated at 40.9% of GDP.

11. The unemployment rate is well above 10% and is under-reported by the government statistics to save face.


It is not clear if people create scams because they just don't earn enough money or they are being greedy. The preoccupation with scamming tourists has become an art form and below are a few examples.

1. Hotels have devised a scam that makes you pay a "joiner fee" for an additional person. Whilst all hotels automatically allow for two adults per room if you are traveling solo, some will want to charge you a joiner fee if you bring back a lady friend and haven't registered your room for two people.

2. Another is the monetary deposit when you check-in to the hotel. This deposit is refundable if there has been no damage but they find ways to avoid refunding your money by accusing you of causing some type of damage. They can do a simple trick during their final check when you check out where they would replace your towels or sheets with a torn one. Always be present when they do their final check of your room.

3. Tuk-Tuk drivers are renowned for inflating their prices or charging you extra for traffic congestion even after an agreed price. It is good practice to always discuss the price before you get into the Tuk-Tuk.

4. Renting a scooter or bike has its risks as well. Firstly never give the vendor your original passport, instead, give them a photocopy. A common trick is for them to send one of their own people to either steal the scooter or accuse you of making a dent or a scratch that wasn't there before. This applies to Jet skies as well.

5. Restaurants and bars have their own scams which are known as double billing or bill loading. This is very common throughout the world and involves putting items on your bill that you didn't order.

6. The littering scam is another whereby persons will approach you and pretend to be the tourist police. They would then try to ask you to pay a large fine for littering. This fine would then be reduced to get you to pay.

7. Then there are the people who want to sell you a cheap suit from a suit-maker or to buy real cheap gems from a jewelry shop. You may be approached in a Mall by a friendly local who will suggest that you don't buy from the Mall but go and buy the same item from their shop that is very near and way cheaper.

8. Free ping pong and sex shows in the red light districts are also scams whereby the customer is charged additional money for the shows and almost held captive if they refuse to pay.

Two tourists talking to a tuk-tuk driver.


In Thailand, as in most Southeast Asian countries, there are two rules, one for the locals and one for the Foreigners. Laws are created and enforced on Westerners but not on to their own citizens.

There are so many rules and regulations that control everything from purchasing alcohol from stores at a certain time of the day to getting some kind of permit. The government has developed an outward image that there is law and order whilst on the other hand breaking its own laws through corruption and bribery.

Thai people love to label all Western men as sex tourists or perverts but fail to admit that their country has the biggest red-light districts in the world. Prostitution is illegal in Thailand but the ruling junta pretends it doesn't exist and allows corrupt police and criminals to profit from it.

Road rules and motoring

In Thailand, most people do not obey any road rules and don't even know what the rules are. The fact that one has to pass a written test when sitting for the driving exam does not mean people must know the road rules in order to pass the test.

If you are a Thai national you are automatically given a pass mark and a driving license unless you are a foreigner or mentally retarded. If you pay a bribe you can even get a fake license from the same place. A lot of Thai's don't even bother to have a driving license or even vehicle registration. These same people just keep getting fined over and over and don't pay their fines. There are just so many motorists on the roads the government has given up.

Motorists not obeying road rules whilst driving.

Education system

The education system is a "chalk and talk" childminding system that employs untrained and uneducated teachers who seem to think they are demigods and should be worshipped as such. In Thai culture, it is believed that saying "No" to a child means taking something away from it and so children grow up thinking they are entitled.

Schools give the appearance of being good educational institutions whilst they fail to properly educate young people on the most basic things. It is not uncommon for graduates to be unable to add up basic sums without resorting to a calculator. Almost all do not even know where Australia or the UK is located on the world map.

Currently, only 38% of the new generation of young people have a secondary school education. This means that the vast majority who are uneducated cannot find decent employment and have no opportunity for earning a decent wage.

Almost all graduates that marry a foreigner and move abroad do not work in jobs equivalent to their educational qualifications. Most end up working as carers, waitresses, cleaners, or nurses aids.

A teacher talking to classroom children.

Skin Whitening and obsession with beauty

Thailand's obsession with beauty is having a huge social impact. Thai women feel they need to be attractive or white-skinned in order to be more successful and more desirable. There is one thing that a lot of young females in Thailand will admit to and that is that they don't have white enough skin.

This is nothing more than insecurity that has been caused by the advertising media, fashion, and Korean pop culture. Thai men think that a white-skinned woman is a better choice as an employee and partner.

Being in the sun for too long is avoided by many Thai women and they can't understand why many female tourists chose to lie on the beach all day to get a tan.

The skin whitening industry is flourishing throughout Thailand and indeed throughout South East Asia but due to a lack of quality control and cheap fake products from India some women have developed skin problems. The level of toxicity in some products that contain mercury and hydroquinone can cause bleaching and a bluish-black discoloration of the skin called "cutaneous ochronosis".

A Thai girl promoting skin whitening products.

Sex and Prostitution

Sex has always been an integral part of the Thai culture and past kings had been known to have hundreds of wives, unlike their European counterparts who couldn't manage one wife. In an effort to improve social standing and lifestyle, Thai women have always used their feminine abilities to gain favor with men. In fact, all women have engaged in some type of prostitution for personal gain even on the smallest level, since the beginning of time but Thai women are the undisputed masters.

What makes Thai women better are their feminine qualities, natural beauty, and mastery of male manipulation. This is in stark contrast to most Western women whom these days prefer to be more manlike. Thai men are also undisputed masters and in a league of their own because they can transform into women successfully.

Thailand has had its own brothels for centuries and sex tourism was flourishing way before the GI's came in the mid-1960s but it was always hidden from public view. There are actually brothels in every town either big or small in Thailand but you have to be a local to know what to look for to find them. The gogo bars that cater to Western tourists are not the real whorehouses that Thailand keeps in secret.

Thai husbands run around with whores and mistresses and it is culturally tolerated because this is a mark of manhood and because he is the breadwinner. Divorce is unheard of and once a Thai man loses all interest in the wife he looks elsewhere but stays married to save face. The Thai culture as a whole plays the same part in saving face by keeping quiet about a man's infidelity. If a foreigner is unfaithful to his Thai wife he can quite easily end up in a Thai prison for adultery. That's the hypocrisy part of the culture.

In the provincial area's families live together in small huts that consist of one room. The children grow up watching their parents and siblings having sex openly. Thai girls grow up believing that sex is something purely physical and are not ashamed of it. Many Western men complain that Thai women just don't possess the meaning of true love.

A group of prostitutes standing on the street.

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