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Thailand

If you’re travelling to Thailand, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.  

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

We advise against all travel to or through the southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla.

Latest Travel News

There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in locations including Thailand. Infection with Zika virus has been increasingly linked with a serious birth condition called microcephaly where the baby is born with an abnormally small head and/or brain damage.

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and plan to travel to areas affected by the Zika Virus, you are advised to discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider and to consider postponing your travel to affected areas. Irish Citizens are advised to follow the guidance of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Thailand faces an ongoing threat of terrorism. Any Irish citizens in Thailand should maintain a strong level of security awareness, monitor the local media closely and follow the instructions of the Thai authorities

Several media outlets have been prohibited and some international newspaper websites remain blocked. Criticism of the regime is illegal and you should be wary of making political statements in public and also avoid any protests, political gatherings, and demonstrations.

Drugs

Punishment for drug-related offences such as possession, distribution or manufacture are severe and can include the death penalty.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravel for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Practical advice

  • Read our Know Before You Go travel guide for useful security tips when travelling abroad
  • Get advice locally about areas of risk and security concerns
  • Take common-sense precautions about safety and security
  • Know who to contact in case of an emergency

Southern border provinces

We advise against all travel to or through the Southern Thai Provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla due to ongoing instability and terrorist activity in this region. Martial law still applies in these provinces. There have been reports that extremists may be planning to target westerners in the southern border provinces.

Cambodian border

There have been occasional clashes between Cambodia and Thailand over the ‘Preah Vihear’ issue for several years. Hostilities broke on a number of occasions in 2011 and there were civilian and military deaths on both sides. At the moment, the situation has improved. However, we would recommend that you should take extra care travelling through Thailand-Cambodia border.

Burmese/Myanmar border

We recommend that you exercise caution when traveling to rural areas of Northern region and particularly near the Thai-Myanmar border. There are occasional clashes between the Thai security forces and armed drug traffickers. Military checkpoints are active and travellers are often asked to produce their ID. If you are considering traveling into Myanmar from Thailand you should only cross into the country at an official border checkpoint and follow instructions of the Burmese/Myanmar and Thai authorities.

Military announces takeover of Government

On 22 May 2014 the military took control of Thailand’s Government. Martial law which was imposed across Thailand, has been lifted from all areas except the southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, the Sadao district of Songkhla province and some border areas. However, Article 44 of the interim constitution gives General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), full power to enforce law and order, and restrictions remain on freedom of assembly and expression.

Several media outlets have been prohibited and some international newspaper websites remain blocked. Criticism of the coup is illegal and you should be wary of making political statements in public and avoid any protests, political gatherings, and demonstrations.

Terrorism

The risk of indiscrimate terrorist attacks remain high. On 17 August 2015 a bomb exploded close to a famous shrine in central Bangkok. There were numerous casualties. Later on, there was a small explosion on 18 August near Saphan Taksin Skytrain station. There have also been occasional detonations of small explosive devices in Bangkok and other Thai cities in recent years. In 2012 three explosions took place as a result of an incident involving foreign nationals in Klong Tan area of central Bangkok.

Crime

Be aware of the risk of petty crime, including from pick-pockets, bag snatchers and those organising scams targeting tourists and always take sensible precautions: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. You should also keep an eye on your credit card during transactions to prevent fraud.
  • The theft of passports and credit cards is a problem in Thailand. Leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
  • Be aware of pickpockets and bag snatchers. Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as train and bus stations. Many visitors have had their mobile phones and purses snatched by thieves on motorbikes when walking along busy streets or travelling in Tuk-Tuks.

Tourist scams

Tourists have been scammed when hiring motorcycles and jet skis (especially on the islands) so get local advice on the reputation of any rental firm before approaching it. Never hand over your passport as security when renting these vehicles. There are many motorcycle accidents in Thailand and Irish citizens have been injured or lost their lives. Always wear a helmet and drive carefully.

If you’re passing through Suvarnabhumi Airport, make sure that you have paid, and have receipts for, all items in your possession before you move away from the vendor.

Take care if a stranger approaches you offering to sell gems.

Property Scams

Ownership of property in Thailand is very complicated. There have been many cases on property scams reported. Make sure you seek a proper legal advice.

Personal safety

There have been incidents where foreign nationals have been attacked and raped. Female travellers, in particular, should be extremely careful of their personal safety.  There have also been incidents where tourists have had their drinks drugged (tourist areas and ‘red light’ districts). You should be careful about taking drinks from strangers and be very wary at parties such as the Full Moon party on Phangan Island.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Thailand, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at Embassy in Bangkok or the Honorary Consulates in Phuket if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Thailand, you should be extremely careful. Road conditions are poor. 

  • You need an international or Thai driving licence to drive in Thailand. Make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Be aware of Thailand’s traffic laws, such as speed limits
  • Wear your seatbelts at all times
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Motorcycles

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous. The majority of road accidents in Thailand involve motorcycles. A number of Irish citizens have been killed or seriously injured in accidents. Wearing safety helmets is mandatory.

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a car or motorcycle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Taxis

If you’re arriving by air, use licensed taxis from official taxi stands. Unlicensed vehicles (black and white number plates) are not properly insured to carry passengers.

Swimming

Take proper care when swimming – Follow the instructions of beach life guards and the signage on beaches. A number of Irish citizens have been drowned in Thailand. There have been reports of poisonous jellyfish in the waters off Koh Pha-ngan, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. Please bear in mind that Jellyfish can swim close to the shore and be most careful during rainy season. If stung, you should not rinse the wound with fresh water instead seek immediate medical attention.

Local laws and customs

Practical advice

  • Read our travel advice, inform yourself before travelling and get advice locally when you arrive
  • Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. The Irish Embassy and Consulate cannot intervene in the application of Thai law.
  • Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal

Passport

You must have a valid passport to enter Thailand, with at least six months validity. Be aware that a number of Irish citizens have been refused entry to Thailand for trying to enter the country on a damaged passport. It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you.

By law you must carry your passport with you at all times. Tourists have been detained because they were unable to produce their passport.

Alcohol and tobacco

There are strict limits on the amount of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, cigars and smoking tobacco which you may bring into Thailand. Tourists have been detained and fined heavily for attempting to bring cigarettes into Thailand in excess of the official limit.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for the possession, distribution and consumption of drugs in Thailand are severe and include life imprisonment and the death penalty. The possession of even very small quantities often leads to imprisonment. The Thai authorities have increased their surveillance of those involved in illicit drugs activity and undercover police carry out spot checks in and around bars, restaurants and discos in tourist areas. These checks may include searches of bags, purses, and pockets. A number of tourists have suffered psychiatric problems as a result of drug use in Thailand.

Royal family

In Thailand it is a criminal offence to make critical or defamatory comments about the King or the royal family.

Natural disasters and climate

Practical advice

  • If you’re travelling to Thailand, make sure you know what to expect – then plan and pack so that you’re prepared
  • Get local advice on how to manage in the case of a serious incident or dangerous conditions
  • Co-operate with local authorities and emergency services in the case of serious incidents 

Travel Advice Hot Cold Climates

Rain and flooding

The rainy season in much of Thailand runs from May to October. Monsoon rains and storms quite often lead to heavy and dangerous flooding. Extreme conditions caused massive flooding and considerable flooding damage across central, northern eastern provinces of Thailand in late 2011.The rainy season in south east of the Thai peninsula runs from November to March. You can get useful information on the weather conditions in Thailand from websites such as Phuket Weather Forecasts, the Thai Meteorological Department  or Tourism Authority of Thailand News.

Earthquakes

Thailand is in an earthquake zone and suffers from tremors from time to time. These can trigger tsunami alerts. Familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake, and take note of earthquake and tsunami-related instructions from your hotel or the local authorities. In 2012, two earthquakes occurred in Phuket, leading to some damage to property.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

For entry requirements for Thailand, please contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate for Thailand.

Passports

You must have a valid passport to enter Thailand, with at least six months validity. Be aware that a number of Irish citizens have been deported from Thailand for trying to enter the country on a damaged passport. It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. All visitors are required to carry their passport at all times.

Visas

It’s against the law to overstay your visa to Thailand so check the period of stay authorised by the Thai authorities when you arrive. If you 'surrender' yourself to immigration at the airport or at any other immigration bureau following a short overstay, you must pay a fine for each excess day. However, be aware that for longer periods of overstay, it is entirely at the discretion of the Thai immigration whether you pay an overstay fine or are deported at your own expense. You may also be banned from re-entering Thailand. These determinations are the legal responsibility of the Royal Thai Government and the Irish Embassy or Consulate cannot intervene in the application of Thai law.

Private "visa extension services," even those advertising in major periodicals or located close to Immigration offices or police stations, are illegal. A number of foreign citizens are arrested and detained at border crossings each year with counterfeit visas and entry stamps they have obtained through these illegal services.

The Thai authorities have announced their intention to clamp down on ‘visa runs’, the practise whereby foreigners use the visa exemption scheme aimed at tourists to illegally live or work in Thailand. The Thai authorities have announced that from 12 August 2014 they will prevent ‘visa runners’ from entering Thailand. If you wish to enter Thailand for reasons other than tourism, we advise you to obtain the appropriate visa prior to your arrival.

The Thai authorities have also announced new penalties for those who overstay their visas. If you overstay your visa you may be banned from entering Thailand for a number of years.

Health

Due to the heat and other factors, a high proportion of European visitors to Thailand fall ill. Always check with your doctor well in advance of travelling for medical advice and to see if you need any vaccinations for Thailand.

If you require medical attention, public hospitals and small clinics particularly outside of Bangkok are not always up to standard. We recommend that you go to private hospitals in Thailand which are excellent but can be expensive. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance to cover the cost.

Dengue fever

Dengue fever is prevalent in Thailand, particularly in the south. Before travelling, get up-to-date medical advice whether you need vaccination. When you arrive, avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed, long sleeves and trousers.

Water

We recommend that you avoid tap water and drink only boiled or bottled water during your stay.