Flying By The Seat Of Your Pants: Don’t Feed The Pigeons in Bangkok!
You might well think that you’ve read up on all the rules and regulations for your trip to Thailand, but you’d be wrong. There’s a new law that you might not have heard of that could trip you up! Large fines for feeding pigeons in Bangkok have just been introduced, and the penalties could do more than just put a dent in your holiday money.
Thailand is home to an awesome range of animals, and enjoying the natural environment is one of the main reasons that tourists flock here year after year. But you know what else flocks to the nation’s capital? Pigeons! Tens of thousands of them, encouraged by the free food on offer in the public squares left by well-meaning tourists and locals alike.
From this autumn onwards however, it’s becoming a crime to feed the birds and there are harsh penalties for anyone found contravening. The law doesn’t just cover Bangkok (although that’s where the main problem lies), so you’re likely to be affected by this on your travels wherever you pitch up. Here’s the lowdown.
A flap about nothing?
It’s true that you can’t walk down a Bangkok street without encountering a few feathered friends along the way. Sure there are a lot of pigeons, but are they really that dangerous? Well the Thai government certainly thinks so!
They’ve embarked on a program of strict penalties for selling or spreading bird food along with a public information campaign for the local population. The word on the street is that pigeons carry dangerous bacteria, and the government wants them gone.
Harsh Penalties for Feeding Pigeons in Bangkok
When we talk about penalties, we’re not just talking about a few hundred baht here. The fine for anyone caught feeding the pigeons is a whopping 25,000 baht, which is just over $750 US! And that’s not all. If you thought that shelling out the money was bad, just consider the three year jail sentence. Three years, just for feeding the pigeons! WTF? This is definitely not one to risk!
It’s not much better for local businesses either. Despite the selling of bird grain being the backbone of many a street vendor’s income, the penalty for anyone caught selling it on the streets is 10,000 baht, or just over $300 USD. It’s not as bad as the penalty for the people doing the feeding, but it’s baht that these guys can ill afford to spare.
Lost In Translation
No doubt you’ll be out scouring the streets for warning signs now, to make sure you don’t contravene the law. The problem is that there are plenty of warnings everywhere but they’re all in Thai! Does this help the local population to comply? Yes. Does this help non-Thai speaking visitors to remember the new law? Not at all!
There have been a few reports of unscrupulous scams springing up, where vendors sell bird seed to unwary tourists and then reveal the news that they’ve broken the law after the crime has already been committed. The unlucky tourist then has the opportunity to avoid the $750 fine and the jail sentence if they settle ‘unofficially’ on the spot. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book- don’t give them the opportunity!
It’s not just Bangkok – other Thai cities are on board!
Our final word on the matter is that this law is now in force nationwide, despite most of the press coverage only focusing on Bangkok. So if you’re hanging out with us in Chiang Mai or Phuket then the same rules apply. No worries though, skip buying the bird seed and shotgun another Leo instead!