I have seen this question asked numerous times on Facebook and in various forums and I have seen some ridiculous answers that claim detectorists would need a work permit to go metal detecting since it is work!
Well, no work permit is required and metal detecting is definitely legal in Thailand. There are a couple of caveats.
Private property – get permission and if you find anything you believe to be an artifact, contact the Thai Government.
Beaches are no issue even though some may claim to be private. There is no such thing as a private beach in Thailand.
I have walked through hotel lobbies to access “private beaches” with no problem. Only once, on Koh Lipe, a Thai Immigration Officer gave me some grief but I think it was because he got up on the wrong side of the bed.
I have met and chatted with Royal Thai Police Officers and staff from the Department of National Parks. All have been friendly and have given me absolutely no problems. Most people in Thailand will have no idea what you are doing and may just follow you around since you sparked their curiosity.
Smile a lot even if you don’t understand what is being asked of you. Most just want to know what you are looking for (ha alai?). Thais will also think you are crazy for picking up trash to throw away at home or in your hotel room.
For more info on how to hunt Thai beaches, read Same Same, But Different.
Anyhow, here is a list of mainly Thai beaches I have detected over the past 7 years. Just so you know – Koh = Island, Had (Haad) = Beach, Ao = Bay, and Laem = Cape
Had Sai Kaew – Koh Samed
Patong Beach – Phuket
Jomtien Beach – Jomtien
Dongtan Beach – Jomtien
Pattaya Beach – Pattaya
Patong Beach – Phuket
Long Beach – Koh Lanta
Klong Dao Beach – Koh Lanta
Klong Nin Beach – Koh Lanta
Pattaya Beach – Koh Lipe
Sunrise Beach – Koh Lipe
Sunset Beach – Koh Lipe
Had Mae Ramphueng – Rayong
Laem Mae Phim – Rayong
Had Chao Lao – Chanthaburi
Ao Nang – Krabi
Ao Napporathara – Krabi
Ao Phai Plong – Krabi
Railay East and Railay West Beaches – Krabi
Bang Niang Beach – Khao Lak
Cha-am Beach – Cha-Am
Hua Hin Beach – Hua Hin
Had Chao Samran – Phetchuburi
Had Puek Tian – Phetchuburi
Usually, I go to a Thai beach twice per year for 2-3 weeks with daily hunts of 3-6 hours. I live in Khon Kaen and there are no beaches, other than a reservoir here, so I head out to beaches a couple times per year.
Mekhong River hunts in Chiang Khan, Nong Khai, and Ubon Ratchathani.
Pattaya 2 in the Ubolratana Dam reservoir and at the Lam Pao Reservoir Dam in Kalasin.
A new beach coming up in September, 2016 in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Stay tuned!
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