Thailand Risk Report
Security travel advice for Thailand
Threat level: Medium-High
The current travel safety advice for Thailand is to remain vigilant in areas popular for tourists, public and governmental offices due to the ongoing terrorism risk. The terror threat level is now at its highest following recent indiscriminate bomb and grenade attacks on locations often visited by expatriates and travellers.
There have been a number of multiple attacks in recent years in the main cities of Thailand, including in Koh Samui in 2015, Bangkok in 2015 and 2012, and in Chiang Mai in 2010.
Since 2005 there have been regular daily incidents, including suicide attacks in the south of the Thailand. Both civilians and members of the security forces, government offices, and tourist hotels have all been targeted in these attacks. Many of these terror attacks are connected to such extreme groups as Adem Karadag and the Grey Wolves. Remain vigilant at all times.
Although there is a high risk in Thailand, people still travel there and the tourist industry is still in good stead. The Thai people rely heavily on the tourist industry and are eager to continue their high standards of hospitality towards foreign visitors. Most travellers have an enjoyable and trouble free visit, exploring the diverse cultures and destinations the country has to offer.
The political situation in Thailand is currently very unpredictable and can sometimes be volatile. Over the recent years there have been many instances of civil and political unrest resulting in large demonstrations and in some cases violence on a large scale.
For specific security threat information with regards to Bangkok, see our: Bangkok Travel Risk Report.
Recent Security Risk Events
The latest terrorist attack in Thailand took place on Monday the 22nd of January 2018 in the Yala province in Thailand’s far south, a province that is mainly Muslim, where a long-running insurgency by ethnic Malay Muslims fighting for autonomy has been taking place.
This bombing was carried out using a motorcycle to attack a pork stall, killing three people and injuring a further 22. No groups have claimed responsibility for this attack.
On May 22nd, 2017, a pipe bomb exploded at an Army-run hospital (also treats civilians) in Bangkok. The attack took place at around 10am injuring at least 24 people.
On the evening of the 19th of April 2017 there were 13 attacks across the country, resulting in two dead and many people injured.
There are now almost daily bombings in the South of Thailand in the area of the boader with Malaysia. Tourists are warned to avoid this region. Thai Police link the attacks to ethnic Malay armed groups that are seeking greater autonomy from Thailand's Buddhist-majority state.
On the 11th August 2016 seven bombs blasted across the country in a set of coordinated attacks. Two bombs were hidden in plant pots spaced 50m (164 ft) apart, exploding within a 20-30 minutes of each other in the popular seaside resort of Hua Hin. Four people were confirmed as killed, with 36 people including foreign tourists injured. During the weekend of the 13th and 14th August, authorities found and neutralised 5 other explosive devices before they could be detonated. The attacks occurred on the eve and morning of Friday’s national holiday for Queen Sirikit’s 84th birthday.
Authorities have no reason to believe that the attacks in the country are terrorist related and are reassuring tourists, perhaps suggesting instead that they were "local sabotage” aimed at causing “public disturbance". The investigation into the attacks continues.
Thailands King Bhumibol saddly passed away on the 13th of October 2016. With his death comes a year of mourning for Thailand. Thai authrorities have urged that tourists behave with the upmost respect during these difficult times. Various diplomatic missions in Thailand may close during the mourning period.
In Koh Tao there have been a number of suspicious deaths, most noticeably in 2014 when two British backpackers were found dead on the beach. The Thai police have not undertaken investigating such high profile crimes to the standards expected, nor in dealing with press interest. The poor policing of these cases has led to international criticism of the Thai police and government.
Many of the Thai islands are notorious for non-stop parties, relaxing beaches and cheap alcohol. Occasionally tourists can get hurt or fall ill when consuming vast amounts of alcohol, particularly when bought as 'buckets' from street vendors. It is advised that you monitor the amount of alcohol you are drinking and avoid mixes of unknown drink.
In November 2015 there was a bomb blast at a village checkpoint in Thailand’s far south Khok Pho district of Pattani, one of three Muslim-dominated provinces, which killed four people and wounded countless others. As with many bombings in Thailand, there was no claim of responsibility as to who carried out the attacks.
In 2014, Thailand was going through a period of political instability. This led to anti-government protests that took place between 2013 and 2014, by the People's Democratic Reform Committee. The protests were first triggered by a proposed blanket amnesty bill that would have immunised several politicians from various charges. The democratically elected government was then found to be corrupt, resulting in a partial coup and governmental change. The last coup before this one was in 2006, when the Prime Minister at the time Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled by the armed forces after he was accused of corruption.
A number of people have been killed in political violence since 2013. Today the remnants of civil unrest are still apparent in parts of Thailand especially the south, government soldiers still patrol areas such as Chiang Mai
In recent years, despite its political instabilities, Thailand has now increasingly become more of a role model in the international community. When East Timor gained its independence from Indonesia, Thailand was one of the first countries, for the first time in Thai history, to contribute troops to the international peacekeeping efforts. Thailand also has strong diplomatic relations with the Republic of China and India.
Be vigilant against pickpockets and bag snatchers in all areas of Thailand. Backpackers in particular have had items snatched by thieves on mopeds when walking in built up areas, or travelling in open transport like tuktuks. If you decide to travel by coach or train, make sure all your personal possessions such as passports, cash and valuables are kept securely. Passengers have had items taken from bags while asleep, especially on overnight trains where you might have to share a carriage with someone you don’t know.
Since November 2017 there is a smoking ban in place in Thailand. This is confined to beaches in some tourist areas including in Koh Samui, Pattaya and in Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla provinces.
Currency: Thai baht
Time now in Bangkok:
If you are a UK citizen, a visa isn't required to visit Thailand if you plan on staying less than 30 days in the country.
It is advised that visitors to Thailand are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus, which is usually administered when you are a young baby - your doctor will be able to tell your more information. You may also want to consider Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations.
Although there is no direct risk of Yellow Fever in Thailand, if you have been in a country where there is a risk of the disease, or have transited for longer than 12 hours in an at risk country, you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Street vendors are common in Thailand and most do not adhere to any health and safety standards, eating and drinking from them could lead to illness. You may want to consider malaria treatment in rural areas during the wet season, however this is not mandatory.
Dengue and Zika that are two viral infections transmitted by mosquitoes are present in the country. You should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
It is recommended against swimming in fresh water as Schistosomiasis can be contracted via a parasite that penetrate human skin when the water is contaminated.
Avoid direct contact with all animals and consider the vaccination against rabies, as the disease has been reported in this country and several people subsequently died after contracting the disease.
Coastal islands frequented by tourists may not have adequate medical facilities and anything other than basic treatment may require evacuation either to a better equipped city such as Bangkok or to another country.
Mopeds are a popular mode of transport and often travel insurance will not cover you for accidents or treatment due to moped travel. If possible, you should purchase insurance that includes this as accidents are frequent.
U.S. Embassy Bangkok
120-122 Wireless Rd,
Telephone: +66 2 205 4000
British Embassy Bangkok
14 Wireless Road Lumpini,
Telephone: +66 2 305 8333
Other useful info
Tourist police: 1155 (24-hour national call centre)
Fire/Medical emergency: 1554