The streets of Thailand are full of antique Buddha heads and stunning original artwork. It spills out of storefronts, is lined up in marketplaces and can be found for the equivalent of pennies all over the country.
Though this art is easy to find, what most travelers don’t know is that it is difficult to take out of the country. According to the Thai customs department, no antiques or objects of art (including newly cast Buddha images for religious or cultural purposes) can be removed from the country without obtaining an export license. You can try hiding your new favourite souvenir amongst your underpants, but if you get caught with it at the airport, you will lose it and maybe even be slapped with a fine.
Applications for this license must be sent to the Department of Fine Arts (0 2628 5032) and must include a photocopy of your passport and two front-view photos of the object. The department quotes 3-5 days for the process to be completed, but for those of you familiar with ‘Thai Time’, I would allow at least a week.