Guesthouse & hotel crackdown: No more 'mai pen rai'

Guesthouse & hotel crackdown: No more 'mai pen rai'

Backpackers just off a train or plane entering Khao San Road about to look for a guesthouse or hotel room to spend the night.
Backpackers just off a train or plane entering Khao San Road about to look for a guesthouse or hotel room to spend the night.

Illegal Chiang Mai hotels have 30 days to get licence or be shut-down, nationwide five-years is the deadline.


Guesthouse & hotel crackdown: No more 'mai pen rai'

Cheewin Sattha

Typical beachside cabin at tourist resort town. They will all have the proper license & safety checks now.

Tourism is an important sector in the Thai economy, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

New hotels, guesthouses, apartments, restaurants and bars open up for business at a furious pace when a new tourism destination becomes popular and there is demand to be met.

A tourist usually does not have to search very hard to find a room for the night.

Now, it seems local government authorities forgot a few things in the rush.

Around 60% of the hotel rooms throughout Thailand are reportedly operating illegally.

The government plans to bring all of them into the legal system within five years.


Last month, the Golden Cliff House Hotel with its famous swimming pool in the ocean was shut down both for its illegal pool and because it never bothered to get a business license to operate (see here).

Apparently, the 'mai pen rai' days of the past are finished.

The definition of a hotel is a business renting out rooms on a daily basis.

If such a business does not have a license and meet safety standards, it will be shut down.


About 60% of all hotel rooms, that means 400,000 to 450,000 rooms, almost a half-a-million rooms, are estimated to be in violation of the Hotel Act of 2004.

This is according to Deputy Prime Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is an instant magnet for visitors to Chiang Mai. (Bangkok Post file photo)


Operators of about 600 buildings being used illegally as hotels in Chiang Mai have been given 30 days to apply for a proper licence or be shut down.

Chiang Mai is a big city and a popular tourist destination with high demand for rooms, particularly during the current cool or dry season which includes the Christmas and New Years holidays, which is also the peak season for tourism.

It is not clear whether this crackdown will create a room shortage or not.


There were many premises licensed for other purposes, such as apartment buildings and condominiums, which were being operated illegally as hotels.

Condominiums and apartments cannot legally rent rooms on a daily basis, as hotels do.

Hotels must meet safety standards to get a hotel license.

Chiang Mai reportedly has 353 legally licensed hotels and about 600 others, mostly dormitories and condominiums, being used illegally as hotels.

Patong beach in Phuket is one of the most popular attractions in Southern Thailand. (Bangkok Post file photo)


Of about 2,700 hotels in Phuket, only about 900 had a proper licence.

About 1,000 were open for business, although still without a construction permit.

Others were commercial buildings modified for use as hotels and operating with a permit.

Illegal hotels charge lower rates than the legal ones, forcing high quality and standard hotels to lower their room rates to be competitive.

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  • according to (prep): as stated or reported by somebody/something - ตามคำบอกเล่า, ตามรายงาน
  • Act: a law passed by a country’s government - พ.ร.บ. พระราชบัญญัติ
  • apartment (noun): a set of rooms for living in that is part of a large building - ห้องชุด, อพาร์ทเมนท์
  • apparently: based only on what you have heard or think, not on what you are certain is true; seemingly - ตามที่ได้รู้มา
  • apply (verb): to make a formal request for permission to do or have something - ขอ, สมัคร
  • attraction (noun): an interesting or enjoyable place to go or thing to do - สิ่งที่ดึงดูดความสนใจ
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • clear (adjective): easy to see and understand - ชัดเจน
  • competitive: having a high level of close competition - แข่งขันสูง
  • daily (adj.): happening, done or produced every day - แต่ละวัน, ทุกวัน
  • daily basis: every day; daily - แต่ละวัน, ทุกวัน
  • definition: a statement of what a word or expression means - คำจำกัดความ,คำอธิบาย
  • demand (noun): the need and desire of people to buy goods - อุปสงค์
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • destination: the place where someone or something is going - จุดหมายปลายทาง
  • dormitory: a large building in or near a college or university, where students live - หอพัก
  • estimated: thought to be a particular amount, size, etc. based on a guess or the best information available - ประมาณการ
  • famous: very well known - มีชื่อเสียง
  • furious: done with a lot of energy and determination - เต็มที่
  • holiday (noun): vacation; a period of time when you are not at work or school - วันหยุด, วันหยุดเทศกาล
  • illegal: against the law - อย่างผิดกฎหมาย
  • illegally: in a way that is against the law - อย่างผิดกฎหมาย
  • license: an official document that gives someone permission to do or use something - ใบอนุญาต
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • magnet: someone or something that attracts and interests many people very strongly - สิ่งดึงดูดใจ, สิ่งน่าสนใจ
  • modified (verb): changed slightly, especially in order to improve it or use it in different way - ดัดแปลง; ถูกดัดแปลง
  • operate: to carry out an activity like running a business - ดำเนินการ
  • pace: the speed at which something happens or is done - อัตรา
  • particularly: especially, or more than usual - โดยเฉพาะ
  • peak (adj): the time when something is at its highest or greatest level - ช่วงเวลาที่หนาแน่น, ช่วงเวลาที่พบมากที่สุด
  • popular (adj): a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people - เป็นที่นิยม, เป็นที่ชื่นชอบ
  • premises: the buildings and land that a business or organisation uses - ที่ดินและสิ่งปลูกสร้าง
  • proper: right, appropriate or correct; according to the rules - เหมาะสม
  • purposes (noun): the intentions, aims or functions of something; the things that something is supposed to achieve - จุดประสงค์, เป้าหมาย, วัตถุประสงค์
  • rate: an amount of money that is paid or charged - ราคา, อัตรา
  • regulations: official rules that control the way things are done - ระเบียบ ข้อบังคับ
  • reportedly: as reported (often used for showing that you are not certain that something you are reporting is true) - ตามที่รายงาน
  • rush: to move or do something very quickly - รีบเร่ง, วิ่ง
  • season (noun): a period of time during the year - ฤดูกาล, ช่วงเวลา, ระยะเวลา
  • sector: a part of a country’s economic or business activity - ภาค (เศรษฐกิจ)
  • shortage (noun): when there is not enough of something - การขาดแคลน
  • shut down (verb): close , stop operations of a factory or business - ปิดแน่น, ปิดโรงงาน, หยุดผลิตชั่วคราว
  • situation: all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place - สถานการณ์
  • throughout: all over, in every part of -
  • violation: the breaking of a rule or a law - การฝ่าฝืน
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