Beggars Can Make 100K Baht, Gov’t Discourages Giving


BANGKOK  —  The side effects of reopening the country to promote tourism have led to an increase in beggars in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok and the larger provinces.

Warawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), said in an interview on 11 June 2024 that the ministry is working with various agencies, particularly in Bangkok, including the Royal Thai Police and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. They conduct inspections five times a month as daily checks are not possible due to other commitments of MSDHS staff. Therefore, the public is encouraged to report sightings of beggars so that the ministry can respond immediately.

In terms of dealing with beggars, foreign beggars are repatriated while Thai beggars are sent to MSDHS shelters where they receive vocational training and work support. One reason some beggars return to begging is that the fines are less than their income and they can earn substantial amounts.

Warawut also asked why the beggars’ income was so high that fines were worthwhile. The main sources of income for beggars are tourists and the general public, as Thai society is very charitable. New forms of begging often involve children or pets. If children are present, officials will check the relationship with the accompanying adults and take legal action if they are not relatives.



“In the last 10 years, we have picked up about 7,000 beggars, of whom about 30% were foreigners. However, the increasing number of beggars requires the cooperation of the public to stop giving alms.”

When asked about the income beggars receive from tourists, Warawut said there is no confirmation, but during the high season, especially in tourist-rich areas, beggars can earn nearly 100,000 baht per month. He speculated that this could be organized groups placing beggars in strategic locations. Even if a person earns 20,000 baht a month and pays a fine of 5,000 baht, that is still profitable from a beggar’s point of view. So giving money to beggars only encourages them to beg more.

Saenyakorn Unmeesri, director of the Bangkok Social Development Office (SDO), said the SDO provides social services (drop-in centers) for the homeless at two locations: under Phra Pinklao Bridge and in Soi Sakae. These centers offer counseling, health checks, mobile ID services, toilets, laundry and bathing facilities provided by the Mirror Foundation. The SDO has created a database of homeless people in Bangkok to categorize their problems and their need for help.

At the same time, SDO has worked with relevant government and private agencies to regulate beggars and homeless people in public spaces and continuously urge the public and tourists to stop giving money to beggars near BTS stations and public places in Bangkok.