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.
- Safety and security
- Local laws and customs
- Natural disasters and climate
- Additional information
We advise you to exercise a good degree of caution in Thailand. Bombings in 2015 and 2016 took a number of lives and caused serious injuries including foreign visitors.
We advise against all travel to or through the southern Provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla.
Most tourists enjoy their visits to Thailand safely and happily. That is why many return. However a number, including Irish citizens, are subject to theft, scams and fraud of various kinds, and a small number to assault and violence. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep credit cards secure, use alcohol moderately, avoid drugs at all times, do not carry large amounts of cash, keep valuables safely at your hotel and take common sense precautions.
Latest Travel News
20 April 2017:
On Wednesday 13 October 2016 it was officially announced that His Majesty King Bhumipol Adulyadej of the Kingdom of Thailand had passed away. King Bhumipol reigned for over 70 years and was very much beloved by the people of Thailand. This is a very sombre and emotional time for the country. The mourning period is expected to last for a year and the cremation of the King is expected towards the end of October 2017. Thailand is a welcoming destination for visitors. However at this difficult time for the Thai nation we would advise that visitors be aware of their surroundings, ensure every respect for local customs, and behave responsibly and with decorum for the circumstances. As always, we advise those currently in Thailand to monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities. For those planning on travelling to Thailand please follow the advice of your local tour operator.
There were a series of explosions across the south of Thailand in August 2016, including in Hua Hin and on Phuket, both locations with large numbers of visiting foreign tourists. Except for the southernmost Provinces there have been no major incidents since that time. However we continue to advise Irish citizens traveling to these areas and other destinations to continue to exercise a high degree of caution and to follow the instructions of local authorities.
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.
Thailand is going through a period of major political transition and the Government remains a military one. Political tensions remain high. Several media outlets in Thailand are 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. We strongly advise Irish travellers to stay clear of any political gatherings or demonstrations. Be aware of what is happening locally. In the event of any disturbances listen to the advice of the local authorities on locations to avoid. The Embassy of Ireland will be monitoring the situation and the Embassy Twitter account is @irlembbangkok.
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.
Punishment for drug-related offences such as possession, distribution or manufacture are severe. We cannot overemphasise our message: do not become involved in using or distributing drugs in Thailand. The consequences (as a number of Irish citizens are aware) can be severe.
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. In the event of an emergency your first call should be to the Thai Tourist Police at 1155. You can contact the Embassy of Ireland at +66 (0) 2 0161360. Outside of working hours in the event of a genuine emergency, you can leave a message.
Our tips for safe travels
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- 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 @dfatravelwise and @irlembbangkok for the latest travel updates
- Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide
Safety and security
Safety and security
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 are frequent incidences of violence and there have been reports that extremists may be planning to target westerners in the southern border Provinces.
The Thai authorities have clamped down somewhat on 'visa runs'. This is the practice whereby foreigners use the visa exemption scheme aimed at tourists to illegally live or work in Thailand. The Thai authorities have announced that 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. This has already affected a number of Irish citizens. If you intend to stay in Thailand for longer than a month (which you can) please obtain the correct visa.
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.
We recommend that you exercise caution when traveling to rural areas of the 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 that country at an official border checkpoint and follow instructions of the Burmese/Myanmar and Thai authorities.
Military takeover of Government
On 22 May 2014 a military junta 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 severe restrictions remain on freedom of assembly and expression.
Several media outlets have been prohibited, some international newspaper websites remain blocked and there is extensive monitoring of online activities including social media accounts. Criticism of the coup is illegal and you should be very wary of making political statements in public and avoid any protests, political gatherings, and demonstrations.
The risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks remain high. The last major terrorist incident in Bangkok was in August 2015 when 20 civilians lost their lives. There have been a number of smaller explosions since then and a number of foreign tourists were injured in a bombing in August 2016.
Be aware of the risk of petty crime, including from pick-pockets, bag snatchers and those organising scams targeting tourists. 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.
- 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 are, unfortunately, a fairly common occurrence in Thailand, despite the best efforts of the authorities. Using common sense and exercising caution is essential to avoiding such 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. Be aware also that there are an enormous amount of motorcycle accidents in Thailand. Irish citizens in the past have been injured or lost their lives. Always wear a helmet (it is illegal not to) and drive carefully.
If you're going to be passing through Suvarnabhumi Airport, make sure that you have paid for, and have receipts for, all items in your possession before you move away from the vendor.
Avoid all offers from strangers approaching you in the streets with offers of inexpensive gems, travel, clothing, tours etc. If you feel you have been scammed contact the Thai Tourist Police on 1155. They will be as helpful as possible. But the best way to avoid being scammed is to avoid the scammers in the first instance.
Ownership of property in Thailand is very complicated. There have been many cases of property scams reported. Make sure you seek a proper legal advice. Foreigners are not permitted to own land in Thailand. Many foreigners, including Irish citizens have found themselves in very difficult situations as a result of dealing in property. Be aware of the pitfalls.
In general Thailand is a fairly safe country in which to travel once some basic precautions are taken. However there have been incidents where foreign nationals have been attacked. Female travellers, in particular, should be 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 very careful about taking drinks from strangers and be very wary at parties such as the Full Moon party on Phangan Island. Avoid all drugs, consume alcohol in moderation and exercise caution at large social gatherings.
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 advice and assistance (+66 (0) 2 0161360).
If you're planning to drive any kind of vehicle in Thailand, you should be extremely careful. Road conditions are poor and Thailand has one of the highest accident rates in the world. Irish citizens have been involved in very serious accidents. Please note:
- 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
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).
If you are planning to rent a scooter or motorcycle while in Thailand, we advise you to exercise extreme caution and always wear a helmet: it is illegal not to. 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. We have also noted a number of motorcycle and scooter hire scams whereby those hiring have left their passports for security and are then presented with a bill for damage (real or not) to the hired vehicle. Do not hand over your passport as security for vehicle hire. The same advice is also applicable to the hire of jetskis.
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.
Take proper care when swimming – Follow the instructions of beach life guards and the signage on beaches. There are many fatalities in the waters of Thailand, including Irish citizens. 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
Local laws and customs
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. Please be aware of the importation limits.
Penalties for the possession, distribution and consumption of drugs in Thailand are severe. The possession of even what some may regard as 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. A number of Irish citizens have been imprisoned as a result of drug possession. Do not possess or use drugs in Thailand.
In Thailand it is a criminal offence to make critical or defamatory comments about the King or the Royal Family under Article 112 of the Criminal Code. People have been imprisoned under this law for doing so. Be very careful of your speech in public.
Thailand is a majority Buddhist country with over 90% of their population practicing Buddhism. Thai people are very spiritual and take religion seriously. If you are visiting Buddhist temples or other sacred sites, dress and act respectfully. Be aware that is it frowned upon to use images of the Buddha as decoration, and tattoos of the Buddha are considered very disrespectful.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters and climate
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. 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.
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.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
For entry requirements for Thailand, please contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Thailand. Irish citizens can obtain permission to stay for up to a month on arrival.
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 over-stay fine or are detained and deported at your own expense. Irish citizens have often been detained for a number of days prior to being deported for overstays. It is not a pleasant experience. And it is expensive. You may also be banned from re-entering Thailand for a set period. These determinations are made by the Royal Thai Government and the Irish Embassy cannot intervene in the application of Thai law. Please obey the laws of Thailand in relation to permission to stay in Thailand.
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, including Irish, have been arrested and detained at border crossings each year with counterfeit visas and entry stamps they have obtained through these illegal services. Please do not use private visa extension services.
Health and Health Insurance – Very Important
Due to the heat and other factors some 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 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.
We recommend that you avoid tap water and drink only boiled or bottled water during your stay.