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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

If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, we advise you to exercise extreme caution.

Travel alert

On 22 May 2014, following months of political protests, the Thai army announced that the military was taking over the government. There is an increased military presence in Bangkok and the surrounding areas. Martial law had been declared two days previously. This enables the military to take action it considers necessary to enforce law and order. Instructions may change rapidly.

Irish citizens in Thailand should exercise extreme caution, monitor developments via media and social media, and follow the instructions of the authorities. Irish citizens should take extra care to care to avoid any demonstrations, protests or security operations. It is illegal to criticise the coup and you should be wary about making political statements in public. There have been some demonstrations against the army's actions and there is a risk these could turn violent. Stay alert to the situation, and if you feel your safety is at risk, stay in your accommodation.

Before travelling to Thailand, we strongly recommend that you check with your travel insurance provider that they continue to cover for claims arising from the current situation, as some policies exclude cover during a coup or when martial law has been invoked.

A curfew which was imposed on 22 May has now been lifted in all parts of the country since 13 June.

The army has said it will act to assure the safety of foreigners in Thailand.

By law, foreigners must carry their passports at all times in Thailand.

‘Visa Runs’

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.

Large-scale political protests have been taking place in Bangkok since November 2013. A number of large-scale political demonstrations have taken place in Bangkok since the beginning of November 2013. Some of these have been violent and have involved indiscriminate attacks with weapons and explosive devices. There have been injuries and deaths. Even peaceful protests can quickly turn violent. You should take extra care and avoid all protest sites, political gatherings, demonstrations and marches.

We recommend against all travel to Preah Vihear, Ta Kwai and Ta Muen temples near the Thai/Cambodian border. We also 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. The Australian authorities report extremists may be planning to target westerners in the southern border provinces. You should also take particular care when travelling near or across Thailand’s border with Burma (Myanmar).

If you are planning to rent a scooter or motorcycle while in Thailand, we advise you to exercise extreme caution. In the past few years there have been numerous accidents involving motorcycles and scooters in which Irish citizens have been seriously injured or lost their lives.

Register with us

If you’re visiting or planning to stay in Thailand, you should register your details with us so we can find you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or if you have a family emergency while you’re abroad. And, if necessary, we can offer help to you and your family.

Our advice

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Thailand before your trip.

We also recommend reading our Know Before You Go travel guide for practical tips on travelling abroad.

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.

Contact the Embassy

Because there is no Irish Embassy in Thailand, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consuls (one in Bangkok and one in Phuket) or the Irish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:

  • Your name
  • The nature of your problem
  • Where you are now
  • Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you’re staying)

We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.

How we can help you

We have a lot of experience helping Irish citizens who run into problems when they’re abroad. Learn more about the kind of emergency assistance we can offer you.

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

Political unrest

We recommend against all travel to Preah Vihear, Ta Kwai and Ta Muen temples near the Thai/Cambodian border. The elements of the border between Cambodia and Thailand are disputed and there have been occasional clashes between the two states for several years. Hostilities broke on a number of occasions in 2011 and there were civilian and military deaths on both sides. The situation could escalate again at short notice. 

We also 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 applies in these provinces. The Australian authorities report extremists may be planning to target westerners in the southern border provinces. You should take particular care when travelling near or across Thailand’s border with Burma (Myanmar).

Military announces takeover of government

On 22 May 2014, following months of political protests, the Thai army announced that the military was taking over the government. There is an increased military presence in Bangkok and the surrounding areas. Martial law had been declared two days previously. This enables the military to take action it considers necessary to enforce law and order. Instructions may change rapidly.

Irish citizens in Thailand should exercise extreme caution, monitor developments via media and social media, and follow the instructions of the authorities. Irish citizens should take extra care to care to avoid any demonstrations, protests or security operations. There is a risk of violent reaction to the military’s announcement. Stay alert to the situation, and if you feel your safety is at risk, stay in your accommodation. 

A curfew which was imposed on 22 May has now been lifted in all parts of the country since 13 June.

The army has assured the safety of foreigners in Thailand.

In the past, there have been mass demonstrations by pro- and anti-Government supporters in Thailand. A number of large-scale political demonstrations have taken place in Bangkok since the beginning of November 2013, and these have escalated in recent weeks. There have been violent incidents and attacks with arms and explosive devices which have resulted in casualties and deaths. Take extra care to avoid all areas around protest sites, demonstrations and marches.

The protests have caused major disruption to travel on main roads in and around Bangkok. Allow extra time for travel, including to the airport, and consider public transport alternatives.

Terrorism

There is a risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates. There have 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 the 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
  • 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
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations. Many visitors have had their passports stolen on long- distance overnight bus journeys 

Tourist scams

Tourists have been scammed when hiring jet skis so get local advice on the reputation of any rental firm before approaching it. Never hand over your passport as security when renting jet skis or motorcycles. 

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.

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 the Honorary Consulates in Bangkok or Phuket, or the Irish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur 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

Take proper care when using a motorcycle – a number of people have been killed in accidents in Thailand. 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 – a number of Irish citizens have been killed in accidents in Thailand. There have been reports of poisonous jellyfish in the waters off Koh Pha-ngan, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. If stung, visitors should 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

By law you must carry your passport with you at all times. Tourists have been arrested 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.

AH1N1 swine flu

There have been thousands of reported cases of Influenza A/H1N1 in Thailand and several deaths. 

Dengue fever and malaria

Dengue fever and malaria are prevalent in Thailand, particularly in the south. Before travelling, get up-to-date medical advice as to whether you will need anti-malarial medication. When you arrive, avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.

Water

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