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Thailand

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Thailand due to the possibility of civil unrest and the threat of terrorist attack, including in Bangkok and Phuket. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor local media for information about possible new safety and security risks.
  • Do not travel to the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla or overland to and from the Malaysian border through these provinces. There are high levels of ongoing violence in these areas, including attacks and bombings that result in deaths and injuries on an almost daily basis.
  • Public order and security incidents, including terror attacks, continue to pose risks throughout Thailand. Terrorists have attacked several locations frequented by tourists in recent years, resulting in deaths and injuries. See Safety and security.
  • Severe storms and widespread seasonal flooding, including flash floods, can occur without warning in Thailand. The wet season in north and central Thailand runs from May to October. In Koh Samui and the south east of the peninsula, the wet season runs from November to March. Monitor the media and weather services, and follow the instructions of local authorities. See Natural disasters.
  • Avoid demonstrations, political events, rallies, processions and large-scale public gatherings as they can turn violent. See Safety and security.
  • Hiring jet skis has resulted in harassment and threats of violence by jet ski operators, particularly in Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. See Safety and security.
  • Check your insurance cover carefully if you intend to ride a motorcycle or jet ski, particularly if you're not licensed to ride one in Australia. Jet ski and motorcycle accidents can result in serious injuries and demands for compensation, often for thousands of dollars. You can be detained until compensation has been negotiated and paid. See Safety and security.
  • Scams and more serious criminal activity occur in Thailand. Food and drink spiking occurs, including around popular backpacker destinations. See Safety and security.
  • Martial law is in place in a number of districts, mostly in border regions. Military authorities can restrict public assembly and expression, and impose other security measures. See Laws.
  • Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. The possession of even small quantities of 'soft drugs' for recreational purposes can result in lengthy jail sentences. See Laws.

Entry and exit

Visas

If you're travelling to Thailand for tourism, you may be eligible for a visa exemption which allows you to enter Thailand for a limited period without getting a visa in advance. This is available for Australians:

  • for up to 30 days, if you arrive through one of the international airports
  • for up to 15 days, if you enter through a land border (restricted to two entries per calendar year).

For longer stays, or if you're travelling for a purpose other than tourism, you'll need to apply for a visa in advance.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Thailand for up-to-date information.

The Australian Embassy can't help you to get entry permits or visas, visa extensions or work permits for Thailand (or other countries). Ensure you get visas, entry permits and extensions of stay from Thai immigration authorities or a Thai Embassy or Consulate.

Visas – overstays and other breaches of visa conditions

If you overstay your visa, you won't be allowed to leave until you pay a fine. You can be banned from re-entering Thailand. You can also be arrested, prosecuted, jailed, or deported. Thai authorities can blacklist you, which means you can never return to Thailand. If you can't pay the fine, you could also be given a lengthy prison sentence.

If you breach your visa conditions, you could be arrested, prosecuted, jailed or deported. Example: working for an employer or at a location not listed on your visa would breach your visa conditions. Check and comply with your visa conditions at all times.

Don't use individuals or companies offering visa extension services, as they could stamp your passport with a fake or illegal exit or entry stamp. If you have a fake or illegal stamp in your passport, you could be arrested and jailed for up to 10 years. Thai authorities actively prosecute offenders.

Other formalities

Some prescription medications available in Australia are controlled substances in Thailand, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor. If you plan to bring prescription or non-prescription medication into Thailand, contact the closest Thai Embassy or Consulate to confirm it's legal. See Laws.

It's illegal to work or volunteer without a work permit. Some employers (including schools, fitness centres, securities telemarketers, currency traders, modelling agencies and entertainment venues) haven't arranged promised work permits. Their employees have been arrested, jailed and deported.

If you plan to stay for more than 90 days, notify the Thai Immigration Bureau of your residential address. If you don't, you could be fined.

More information: Thai Immigration Bureau

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia. You could be refused entry to Thailand, or may not be allowed to board your Thailand-bound flight, if your passport has less than six months validity.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to get access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB). You can readily convert Australian Dollars for THB in tourist locations, and major cities and towns.

ATMs are widely available in cities and provincial centres. International credit cards are generally accepted in hotels, restaurants and higher-end shops, particularly in cities and larger towns. Card skimming occurs. 

More information: Safety and security

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

The security situation can be volatile. Thailand is under the control of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which came to power in a military coup in May 2014. Since the coup, there have been several anti-coup demonstrations in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand, including in areas frequented by tourists. Confrontations between protestors and the military can become violent.

Martial law is in place in around 179 districts in 31 provinces, mostly in border regions. Military authorities retain wide powers, including powers to restrict public assembly and public expression. The military has tried to prevent demonstrators from gathering by restricting access to some areas, including around major shopping and hotel districts in central Bangkok. This led to the closure of some nearby public transport infrastructure and major shopping malls. The military has also arrested some protest participants for failing to comply with orders to cease protest activity.

Anti-government protests have turned violent, and caused deaths and injuries. Authorities have used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to control protests. More protests and violent responses are possible.

A number of small explosions have occurred in public places since 2015. More incidents are possible.

  • Avoid demonstrations, political events, rallies, processions and large-scale public gatherings.
  • Monitor the media and other sources for possible unrest and avoid affected areas.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the advice of local authorities.

Thailand-Cambodia border

There is an ongoing dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over their shared border. The most recent fighting in 2012 caused fatalities. If you visit the Thai-Cambodia border area, be alert to the risk of landmines and unexploded military ordnance. This is particularly relevant for the following areas popular with tourists:

  • the Preah Vihear temple (known as Khao Pra Viharn temple in Thailand), located between Sisaket Province in Thailand and Preah Vihear Province in Cambodia
  • the Ta Kwai (known as Ta Krabei temple in Cambodia) and Ta Muen Thom (known as Ta Moan temple in Cambodia) temples.

Tourist attractions and border crossing points in this area may be closed with little or no notice.

Thailand-Myanmar border

There have been instances of fighting and banditry along some sections of the Thai-Myanmar border. This includes fighting between the Burmese military and armed ethnic opposition groups, as well as clashes between Thai security forces and armed criminal groups, such as drug traffickers.

Armed clashes between the military and armed opposition groups inside Myanmar may result in border closures. If you attempt to cross the border illegally, you may be detained and deported.

Bandits may target foreigners travelling through national parks in this border region.

If you travel to this region:

  • monitor the news and watch out for other signs of unrest
  • pay close attention to your personal security, particularly in national parks 
  • take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Thailand-Malaysia border

Do not travel overland to or from the Thailand-Malaysia border. This includes travel by train or road between Thailand and Malaysia. There are high levels of violence in the four southernmost provinces (Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla), including attacks and bombings that result in deaths and injuries on an almost daily basis.

Since 2004, over 6,500 people have been killed and many more injured in violence in these provinces. In May 2007, an Australian was one of seven people injured in a bomb blast in Yala province. Bombings sometimes occur in close succession and proximity in order to target those responding to the initial explosions. Over the past few years, there have been numerous instances of multiple, coordinated explosions occurring across a range of locations in the southern border provinces.

The Thai Government has warned tourists not to travel to this region. If you travel to or stay in these provinces, you could get caught up in violence directed at others. Attacks can happen at any time.

  • Do not travel to or through Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat or Songkhla provinces.
  • If you're in these provinces, consider leaving.
  • If, despite our advice, you decide to stay in the southern provinces, ensure you have appropriate personal security measures in place.

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks, including bombings, are possible anytime, anywhere, including in Bangkok and Phuket. We continue to receive reports terrorists may be planning attacks against a range of targets, including locations frequented by tourists and foreigners. Thai authorities have warned on a number of occasions of the possibility of bombings on symbolic dates or holidays.

In August 2016, around two dozen incidents involving numerous improvised explosive devices (IEDs), arson and other suspicious events occurred in multiple locations causing four deaths and over thirty injuries. Some of the IEDs were detonated in locations frequented by tourists, including in Hua Hin, Patong Beach and Loma Park in Phuket, Phang Nga, Trang and Surat Thani. Investigations are ongoing. 

There have been a number of other IED incidents in Bangkok and other areas frequented by foreign tourists in recent years.

  • In May 2017, two separate attacks at a Bangkok Military Hospital and the National Theatre injured 24 and 2 people, respectively.
  • On 18 August 2015, an explosive device detonated in the water below Taksin Bridge (Saphan Taksin), close to the main tourist ferry terminal in Bangkok (Sathorn Pier). It was thrown from the bridge above.
  • On 17 August 2015, a bomb attack at the Erawan shrine at Chidlom in central Bangkok killed 20 people and injured more than 120.
  • On 10 April 2015, a car bomb exploded in the car park of the Central Festival Mall, near Chaweng Beach on Koh Samui, injuring seven people.

Possible targets for future attacks include places frequented by foreigners such as embassies, shopping malls, markets, banks, clubs, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, schools, places of worship, outdoor recreation events, beach resorts and tourist areas. Public buildings, public transport, airports and sea ports are also targets for attack.

Minimise risks

  • In planning your activities, think about places that could be terrorist targets and the level of security provided.
  • If you go to a crowded place or other possible target, have a clear exit plan in the event of a security incident.
  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the media for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it's safe to do so. 

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Crime

Violent and other serious crime is a significant problem in parts of Thailand. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and luggage theft, is common. Criminals target 'Full Moon' (and similar) parties and places popular with tourists.

Sexual assault and other violent crime

We continue to receive reports of sexual assault, other assault and robbery of foreigners. Such crimes occur around popular backpacker and tourist destinations such as Khao San Road in Bangkok and the night-time entertainment zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. Victims' food or drink is sometimes 'spiked' before they are assaulted.

The Full Moon and other parties at Koh Phangan and in other locations regularly result in reports of food and drink 'spiking', sexual assaults, deaths, arrests, robbery, injuries and lost travel documents. In September 2014, two tourists were murdered on a beach in Koh Tao.

  • Avoid local and homemade cocktails as they may be made with narcotic or poisonous substances that could leave you vulnerable to criminals.
  • Never accept food or drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
  • If you aren't sure if a drink is safe, leave it.
  • Stick with people you trust at parties and in bars, nightclubs and taxis.
  • Take particular care when consuming alcoholic beverages (particularly spirit-based drinks) in popular tourist spots.
  • Seek urgent medical attention, if you suspect you or a companion have been the victim of drink spiking.
  • If you plan to join a beach party, carefully think about personal safety issues and take appropriate precautions.
  • Read Reducing the risk of sexual assault overseas before you travel. It includes information on how to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault and on the assistance available to victims.
  • If you become a victim of violent crime, including rape, seek immediate medical attention – HIV/AIDS is prevalent.

More information: Partying safely

Theft

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft from hotel rooms, is common. Pickpockets are particularly active in crowded markets and shopping streets.

Money and passports have been stolen from rooms (particularly in cheaper hotels and hostels) and from bags on public transport. Items have been removed from luggage on trains and from bags stored below buses. Australians have reported being drugged and robbed during bus and train journeys.

Tourists have also been robbed after the bags they were carrying were snatched by thieves on motorcycles or were sliced open by razor blades. Foreigners, including an Australian tourist, have been killed in these incidents.

  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in crowded areas.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Don't leave valuables in luggage stowed under buses or away from you on trains.
  • Never leave food or drinks unattended, especially on trains and buses.
  • Never accept food or drinks from strangers.
  • Be wary of motorcycles approaching from behind as you walk on the footpath.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch.
  • Hold bags and backpacks in front of you or in ways that make them harder to snatch.

Scams

Many Australians fall victim to scams in Thailand. Stay well-informed of the latest scams to avoid becoming a victim. The examples listed below will alert you to some common scams and suggest steps to take to avoid being scammed.

Jet ski and motorbike hire scams

Australians continue to report harassment and threats of violence by jet ski operators on tourist beaches, particularly in Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. After returning hired jet skis, tourists have been confronted by gangs claiming the tourist damaged the jet ski. The gangs demand large sums of money in compensation. In some cases, gangs have threatened violence, including at knifepoint.

Jet ski operators and businesses that hire out motorcycles may request your passport as a deposit or guarantee. If there is a dispute about damage to a rented jet ski or motorbike, rental operators may try to keep your passport until they receive compensation.

If you want to hire a jet ski or motorbike:

  • before entering into a hire agreement, ask for evidence of the operator's insurance policy covering damage to the vehicle and your liabilities (if any) in case of damage
  • before riding, take photographs of the vehicle, including underneath, to record its condition
  • before riding, ask about and check for any existing damage
  • don't provide your passport as a deposit or guarantee under any circumstances.

If you believe you have fallen victim to a vehicle scam, call the Tourist Police on 1155.

Credit card and ATM fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud occur, including the use of 'skimming' machines which can store card data.

  • Take care not to expose your PIN to others, particularly when using ATMs.
  • Monitor your transaction statements.

Shopping scams

Many Australians fall victim to scams after accepting offers from strangers or new friends, particularly when shopping for jewellery and gems.

Investment scams

Australians have lost large sums of money through bogus investment, property rental and time-share schemes, including in Phuket.

  • If you plan to invest in property (including time share) in Thailand, thoroughly research the seller and the property before entering into any agreement.
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers to invest.

Prison terms up to 15 years can be imposed for insulting the monarchy. Take particular care not to cause offence when posting, commenting on or 'liking' items on social media relating to the monarchy. Abide by local laws and respect Thai customs.

Local travel

Tours and adventure activities

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities (examples: scuba diving, elephant safaris, bungee jumping), are not always met. Suitable safety equipment may not be provided. Maintenance standards and safety precautions may be ignored.

If you plan to participate in adventure activities:

  • check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy
  • don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements
  • always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't.

If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.

Beach safety

Severe undercurrents (rips) are common in coastal areas and many foreign tourists have drowned, including in popular resort areas such as Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui. Lifeguard services are rarely available. In some locations, red flags are displayed to warn swimmers not to enter the water.

  • Take warning flags and other official warnings very seriously.
  • Never swim after dark or after consuming alcohol.
  • Take particular care when swimming in coastal areas during monsoon season (November-March in Koh Samui and the south-east of the Thai peninsula and May-October in the rest of Thailand, including Phuket).
  • If in doubt, check with local authorities before swimming.

Building safety

It's common for railings on stairs and balconies to be lower than the Australian standard height. Often they aren't strong. In some cases, railings are non-existent. Australians have been injured or killed after falling from stairs or balconies.

  • Take care when using stairs and balconies.
  • Closely supervise children on or near stairs, balconies or other high structures.

Wildlife

Encounters with wildlife carry risks for people and wildlife.

  • Respect wildlife laws.
  • Maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds.
  • Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators.
  • Closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.

Road travel

Thailand has one of the highest traffic-related fatality rates in the world. You're almost seven times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in Thailand than in Australia.

Road accidents are common, including in resort areas such as Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui. Speeding, reckless passing and failure to obey traffic laws are common across the country. The roads are particularly dangerous during holidays such as Songkran (Thai New Year), when alcohol use and congestion are heavier than usual.

  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Drive defensively.
  • If you're walking, use overhead walkways wherever possible. Look carefully in both directions before crossing streets, even at marked crossways.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence

To drive a car or ride a motorcycle, you need a valid driver's licence for the type of vehicle you'll use. Some vehicle rental companies will try to tell you otherwise. It's best to carry an International Driving Permit in addition to your Australian driver's licence. Don't drive any vehicles not covered by your Australian licence.

Motorcycles

Under Thai law, motorcycle riders and passengers need to wear a helmet. Helmets are rarely provided by hire companies or motorcycle taxis. You may need to shop around to find somewhere you can hire a helmet.

Australians are regularly injured or die in motorcycle accidents. Alcohol is often involved.

If you're in an accident, you may be detained and arrested by police until compensation, often thousands of dollars, can be negotiated between parties. Many vehicle hire companies don't have insurance. If you have an accident while riding a hired motorcycle, you could be personally responsible for paying for any damage, loss, or costs associated with injuries to others. The Embassy isn't able to assist in compensation negotiations.

A list of lawyers who can represent you is available from:

Australians have reported cases in which motorcycle hire companies have demanded large amounts of compensation for existing damage to motorbikes. There have also been reports claiming hire companies have arranged for motorbikes to be stolen from the hirer, and forced them to pay 'compensation' for the cost of a new motorbike plus lost earnings.

Your Australian travel insurance probably includes limitations or exclusions you need to consider before hiring a motorcycle. For example, your travel insurer may not pay your claim if you don't have a motorbike licence or were affected by alcohol.

  • Only hire a motorcycle if you have a valid motorcycle licence.
  • Before hiring a motorcycle, check if you'll be covered by your insurance policy and seek advice on any restrictions.
  • Before hiring a motorcycle, check the hiring company holds comprehensive insurance, including third-party, for the bike. Check the excess (if any) you would need to pay for any claims.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Don't drink and drive/ride.
  • Drive/ride defensively.
  • Don't provide your passport as a deposit or guarantee under any circumstances.

Taxis, tuk tuks and motorcycle taxis

Official, metered taxis are generally safe and convenient, but be alert to possible scams and safety risks. Riding in tuk tuks (motorised three-wheel vehicles) or on motorcycle 'taxis' poses additional risks.

You may meet friendly taxi or tuk tuk drivers, who offer you cheap 'tours'. These tours involve periods at shops where the driver receives a commission and you may be charged higher prices for goods or sold sub-standard goods or worthless gems.

In Phuket and some other parts of Thailand, taxis and tuk tuks aren't metered and fares may be set according to distance travelled or negotiated between driver and passenger. Tuk tuk drivers in Phuket can become aggressive, sometimes violent, during disagreements over fares or routes.

In Phuket, syndicates of taxi and tuk tuk drivers may operate in particular areas. Drivers can challenge, sometimes violently, other drivers who try to pick up passengers in their area.

Collisions between motorcycles and open taxi doors are common. Taxi passengers are liable to pay compensation to both the taxi driver and the motorcyclist for any damages incurred to the vehicle(s) and/or for physical injury, regardless of who is at fault.  

Thieves on motorbikes sometimes snatch and grab bags and valuables from passengers in tuk tuks and on motorcycle taxis.

  • Agree on both the fare and route before getting in an unmetered taxi, a tuk tuk or a motorcycle taxi.
  • Secure your possessions while travelling in tuk tuks or on motorcycles.
  • Never put yourself in danger by physically confronting a taxi, tuk tuk or motorcycle taxi driver.
  • If you find yourself in a dispute with a driver, call the Tourist Police on 1155 to mediate.
  • Be careful when opening taxi doors – look out for other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • If you're involved in a violent or serious incident involving a taxi or tuk tuk driver, report it to the local police. See Where to get help.

Public transport

Thailand has a highly developed public transport network in urban areas, although reliability and safety can vary depending on mode of transport. The Skytrain and metro/underground train services in Bangkok are clean, reliable and efficient. Buses reach a more extended area, but can be slow and dirty. Serious bus crashes occur, especially on overnight trips. See Safety and security for information on crime occurring on public transport.

Rail travel

There have been a number of instances of train derailments in recent years, including on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai line. Some have resulted in deaths and injuries.

Sea travel

Ferry travel can be dangerous. Passenger limits are sometimes exceeded. In many cases, there won't be enough life jackets for all passengers and crew. Australians have been killed and injured in ferry and boat accidents in coastal areas, including near Koh Samui. Several safety incidents have recently been reported on ferries and boats in Phuket.

  • Ensure that any boat or ferry you plan to board is carrying appropriate safety equipment, including enough life jackets for passengers.
  • Wear your life jacket at all times.
  • Check with your tour operator or ferry management whether appropriate safety standards are in place. If not, find another ferry.
  • Avoid travelling in ferries and boats after dark.
  • If you plan to attend a Full Moon (or similar) party, get accommodation on the island where the party is being held so you don't need to travel by boat at night.

Air safety

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Thailand.

Bangkok is a key airline transport hub. Suvarnabhumi International Airport, also known as the New Bangkok International Airport, is the main airport for international and domestic flights for Bangkok. Don Mueang Airport is also used for domestic and international flights.

Check which airport your flight will use before you travel. The distance between the two airports is 47 kilometres and the driving time can be up to two hours, depending on traffic conditions. Ensure there is sufficient transit time if you're arriving and departing from different airports.

The Airport Authority of Thailand recommends you arrive three hours before your scheduled departure time.

Laws

You're subject to local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws include the death penalty

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. The possession of even small quantities of 'soft drugs' for recreational purposes can result in lengthy jail sentences and deportation.

Thai authorities may conduct spot-checks for illegal drugs, particularly around areas frequented by tourists. Foreigners have been targeted for narcotic tests. Under Thai law, authorities have the right to demand urine samples from individuals suspected of taking illegal drugs. If you're asked to submit a urine sample, ask to do it at a police station and ask for permission to contact the Embassy or the Tourist Police (telephone 1155) for English speaking officers. Follow directions from local authorities.

See Health for information on travelling with prescription and non-prescription medication.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Surrogacy laws

Commercial surrogacy is illegal.

More information:

Other laws

Penalties for breaking the law can be severe. These penalties also apply to anyone under 18 years of age, who is subject to Thai juvenile judicial processes, including detention in a juvenile or adult prison.

The death penalty can be imposed for murder, attempted murder, rape, crimes against the state, including treason, and certain offences against the monarchy.  

Lengthy prison terms up to 15 years can be imposed for insulting the monarchy or defacing images of the monarch and his family. This includes destroying bank notes bearing the King's image.

The following activities are illegal in Thailand:

  • failing to carry identification - foreigners need to carry identification at all times
  • most forms of gambling (other than at a few major race tracks) - heavy penalties apply
  • making a false statement to police, including in relation to an insurance claim – this includes reporting any crime that didn't take place or lying about the circumstances of an incident
  • smoking on beaches in certain tourist areas, including in Koh Samui, Pattaya, Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla provinces.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal offences apply overseas. You can be prosecuted for them in Australia. These offences include, but aren't limited to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography and child sex offences, including child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • drug trafficking
  • people smuggling and human trafficking
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Thai-Australian dual nationals may be liable for military conscription. If you're a dual national, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Thailand before you travel.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

Deliberately ignoring local customs can cause grave offence. Showing the soles of your feet or touching the top of a person's head is insulting in Thai culture. Respect local customs and take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some prescription medications available in Australia are controlled substances in Thailand, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor. This includes medication to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Restrictions also apply to some over-the-counter medications available in Australia, including drugs containing codeine.

If you intend to bring prescription or non-prescription medication into Thailand, contact a Thai Embassy or Consulate to confirm it's legal. If your medicine is illegal in Thailand, consult your doctor in Australia about alternatives.

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information:

Health risks

Mosquito-borne illnesses

There is ongoing transmission of Zika virus in Thailand. Several cases have been reported, including in Bangkok. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to affected areas. The Department of Health's Zika virus bulletin includes other advice for all travellers on how to minimise Zika virus risks. There is no vaccination available for Zika virus.

Malaria can be contracted throughout the year in rural areas, particularly near the borders with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Dengue fever occurs in Thailand, and is particularly common during the rainy season (November-March in Koh Samui and the south-east of the Thai peninsula and May-October in the rest of Thailand, including Phuket), peaking in July and August. Thai authorities have reported a recent increase in dengue fever cases and a number of deaths. Australian health authorities report a number of cases of dengue each year among Australians returning from Thailand. There is no vaccination or specific treatment available for dengue fever. 

Other insect-borne diseases (including chikungunya fever, Japanese encephalitis and filariasis) also occur in many areas. 

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing
  • take prophylaxis against malaria where necessary
  • get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before you travel
  • discuss your travel plans and other vaccination needs with your doctor before you travel
  • if you're pregnant, defer non-essential travel to Zika-affected areas, including Bangkok.

More information:

MERS

Since June 2015, there have been a small number of confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in visitors who travelled to Thailand from the Middle East. Screening measures are in place at major airports.

If you arrive in Thailand from an affected country (including Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Jordan and South Korea), you may be subjected to screening tests. If your screening tests are positive or if you have been in close proximity to a person who has been confirmed as having the virus, you'll be put in quarantine.

More information: Infectious diseases

Alcohol and drugs

Australians have had serious accidents and injuries as a result of consumption of alcohol and drugs. You can be arrested for possession of even small amounts of illegal drugs. Excess consumption of alcohol and the use of drugs also pose other short- and long-term health and safety risks.  Medical services can be very expensive and penalties for breaking the law in Thailand can be severe. See Laws.

HIV/AIDS

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Thailand is high. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Marine stings

Stings from jellyfish and other marine animals can be fatal. Seek advice from local authorities, your tour operator or hotel regarding seasonal bathing conditions, how to avoid stings and other dangers.

Rabies

Rabies can cause death. It is found in dogs, monkeys, bats and other animals in Thailand. In markets, tourist destinations and animal sanctuaries, you may be encouraged to interact with monkeys. Many Australians have been bitten or scratched by monkeys in these circumstances.

  • Don't ever feed, pat or tease monkeys, no matter how much encouragement or assurance you receive.
  • If you're bitten or scratched by a dog, monkey or other animal, get treatment as soon as possible.

More information: Infectious diseases

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, cholera, hepatitis, leptospirosis and typhoid) are common with outbreaks occurring occasionally.

  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
  • Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Fish poisoning

Illness caused by naturally occurring seafood toxins such as ciguatera and scombroid (histamine fish poisoning) and toxins in shellfish can be a hazard.

  • Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Black henna tattoos

Avoid temporary 'black henna' tattoos as they often contain a dye which can cause serious skin reactions.

Smoke haze and air pollution

Bangkok and other Thai cities experience high levels of air pollution, which may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Smoke haze, which usually occurs across parts of north and north-east Thailand during March to April, can also aggravate these conditions. Regular air quality reports are available from the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre.

  • Keep up-to-date with advice of local authorities.
  • Seek medical advice on appropriate precautions.

Avian influenza

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in Thailand.

More information: Health

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities varies. Private hospitals in major cities generally have high standards of facilities and medical care. But services can be limited elsewhere.

Private hospitals usually need confirmation of insurance or a guarantee of payment before they'll admit a patient, even in an emergency. Costs can be very high.

Serious illnesses and accidents can usually be treated at private or public hospitals in Bangkok and other large cities. In other areas, medical evacuation to another city may be necessary. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

Decompression chambers are located near popular dive sites in Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Phuket, Pattaya and Bangkok.

Medical tourism

Medical tourism, including for cosmetic and sex-change operations, is common in Thailand. Standards at discount and uncertified medical establishments can be poor. Serious and possibly life-threatening complications can result. Some hospitals and clinics have refused compensation to patients not satisfied with the results of cosmetic surgery, or when patients are harmed or die during procedures.

  • Research and choose your medical service providers carefully.
  • Don't use discounted or uncertified medical service providers.

Natural disasters

Storms and floods

Severe storms and widespread seasonal flooding, including flash floods, can occur without warning in Thailand. The wet season in north and central Thailand runs from May to October. In Koh Samui and the south east of the peninsula, the wet season runs from November to March. 

Disruptions to transport (air, sea, road and rail), electricity and communications are likely during severe weather events.

  • Monitor the media, and weather and flood level reports, especially during the wet season.
  • Check with your tour operator for the latest information on disruptions.
  • Take official warnings seriously.
  • Don't enter areas affected by flooding or landslides without seeking advice from local authorities.
  • Follow the instructions and advice of local authorities.

If there is a natural disaster:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • closely monitor the media, other local sources of information and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities.

More information:

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Earthquakes can occur. In May 2014, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 affected seven districts of Chiang Rai province. Damage was caused to some buildings. For the latest earthquake information, visit the Thai Meteorological Department website. If there is an earthquake, follow the advice for natural disasters listed above.

Oceanic regions can experience tsunamis, but Thailand and its neighbours' have frequent earthquakes making destructive tsunamis more likely. Check the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre website regularly for information on seismic activity and tsunamis. If a tsunami or a tsunami warning is current, follow the advice for natural disasters listed above.

More information: Earthquakes

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting: 199
  • Medical emergencies and rescue services: 1669
  • Criminal issue: contact police 191 or tourist police on 1155

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact:

Australian Embassy, Bangkok

181 Wireless Road
Lumphini, Pathumwan
Bangkok, THAILAND
Telephone: (+66 2) 344 6300
Fax: (+66 2) 344 6593

Website: thailand.embassy.gov.au

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

Australian Consulate-General, Phuket

6th Floor CCM Complex
77/77 Chalermprakiat Rama 9 Road (Bypass Road)
Muang Phuket, THAILAND
Telephone: (+66 76) 317 700
Fax: (+66 76) 317 743

Website: phuket.consulate.gov.au
E-mail: consular.phuket@dfat.gov.au

Check the Consulate website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

Australian Consulate, Chiang Mai

195/262 Moo Baan Sansaran 2 (Mod Chic), Soi 2/7
T. Banwaen, A. Handong, Chiang Mai 50230
THAILAND
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 9 am - 12 pm (by prior appointment only)
Telephone: (+66 91) 857 6996
Fax: (+66 53) 336 958
Email: australianconsulate.chiangmai@gmail.com

Australian Consulate, Koh Samui

Koh Samui
Surat Thani, THAILAND
Telephone: (+66 93) 584 7074
Email: honconsamui@gmail.com

If you're unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources