Pattaya Grapevine: Cash is king in Pattaya


Cash is king in Pattaya
Although electronic payments are becoming common, Pattayans are still putting up strong resistance. Poorer people in particular say that they don’t trust electronic banking, or sense that it costs more. Some foreign tourists say their credit or debit cards don’t always work properly here, if issued abroad. Others claim that supermarket transactions often take longer if not in cash. Some large institutions, for example immigration, don’t accept any payments except cash. The banking revolution hasn’t hit Pattaya yet.

Pattaya closing midnight?
The latest rules allow serving alcohol in the bars until midnight, at which point Covid fears officially kick in. The new closing time does not allow drinking-up time, so technically you would have to gulp down or use a plastic bag to take booze home as early as one minute past twelve. In practice, there’s a nod and a wink from officialdom. But “don’t overdo it” is the party line.

Thailand still popular
May 1 was remarkable in terms of Thai airport arrivals. No fewer than 21,000 arrivals in a 24 hour stretch. Although Thailand Pass still requires prior registration to show vaccination status and US$10,000 minimum insurance, the bureaucracy is a good deal simpler than the abandoned Test and Go with its requirement to book hotels and take extra health tests.

Borders back to normal
Well almost. All the well-used immigration checkpoints with Thailand’s neighbors are now open for business. But some foreigners have misunderstood. You can’t just turn up clutching your documents as prior registration with Thailand Pass is still necessary. Without that all-important QR code you won’t get past the gate. Air and land arrivals are now standardized.

Water water everywhere
Foreigners arriving by sea or river come under different regulations. Reports from Phuket say that passengers on pleasure boats or cruise ships must obtain a certificate of entry from port authorities and not via Thailand Pass. So a RT-PRC test on arrival is still likely to be enforced. Once cleared, water entrants are free to go anywhere in Thailand. The insurance bond US$10,000 still needed.

Covid extensions hit and miss
Immigration offices nationally can still give 60 days Covid extensions to “stranded” tourists” who either can’t or (more likely) don’t want to move on. It’s all down to officer discretion, so no point in looking for hard and fast rules. Reports say that you might have a better chance if you approach an agent first. But the reopening of land borders means that Covid extensions are on the way out.

No sign of self-insurance
Earlier reports that retirees might soon face a much heavier insurance requirement – US$100,000 was mentioned – have not been in the news of late. Immigration sources just say “dunno”. So there isn’t any update either about the concept of self-insurance for those too old or too sick to be of interest to insurance companies. As regards this subject, no news is probably good news.

Validating passports
Only your embassy can confirm that a particular passport is genuine. Any other authority, say a bank or an attorney, can only confirm that they have seen your passport and accept your word that the document is your property and is accurate. For some purposes you need an embassy stamp, but for others (certificate of life for example) you likely will not need to go to all that trouble.

Petrol prices up
The real cost of gasoline at the pumps should be around 40 baht per litre. The government has agreed, sort of, to continue some subsidy and the cost is now around 32 baht. Rising fuel prices drive up retail prices – food in particular – as most transport in Thailand is done on four or eight wheels. The price of diesel is particularly vulnerable in this context.

Walking Street struggling
Although Pattaya’s best known street is theoretically functioning again, the spirit is still missing: gogo bars closed or converted to restaurants, empty or derelict spaces, underground cable work still ongoing, for rent notices still in abundance. Meanwhile, Soi Bukhao, particularly the area around Tree Town, the fun and games have really taken off. As Bernard Trink would say, “Oh well!”