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.
- 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
- 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
- Avoid demonstrations, political events, rallies, processions and large-scale public gatherings as they can turn violent. 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
- Motorcycle accidents are common and cause the majority of road deaths and serious injuries. Always wear a helmet. Check your insurance cover carefully if you intend to ride a motorcycle, particularly if you are not licensed to ride one in Australia.
- 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
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
If you're travelling 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.
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 be given a lengthy prison sentence.
Thai Immigration Bureau
Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.
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. Don't give your passport to third parties as a guarantee, such as jet ski or motorcycle rental businesses. Companies may hold on to the passport against claimed damaged. 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.
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.
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.
There is an ongoing dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over their shared border. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
On 10 March 2019, there were several IED explosions in Phatthalung and Satun provinces. There were no casualties.
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.
- 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.
Terrorist threat worldwide
Sexual assault and other violent crime
We continue to receive reports of sexual assault, other assault and robbery of foreigners. Such crimes often 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.
- Avoid local and homemade cocktails as they may be made with narcotic or poisonous substances that could leave you vulnerable to criminals.
- Never leave drinks unattended.
- Stick with people you trust at parties and in bars, nightclubs and taxis.
- Seek urgent medical attention, if you suspect you or a companion have been the victim of drink spiking.
- If you become a victim of violent crime, including rape, seek immediate medical attention. Under Thai law, courts will only accept the results of the medical examination from a government hospital. You can then seek medical attention from a private hospital if you wish to do so.
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.
Tourists have also been robbed after the bags they were carrying were snatched by thieves on motorcycles or were sliced open by razor blades.
- 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.
- Be wary of motorcycles approaching from behind as you walk on the footpath.
- Hold bags and backpacks in front of you or in ways that make them harder to snatch.
Tours and adventure activities
The safety standards you may 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.
Thailand has one of the highest traffic-related fatality rates in the world. Motorcyclists are particularly at risk. 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.
Road safety and driving
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.
Thai driver’s licences are issued by the
Department of Land Transport. Contact them to confirm your eligibility and what documents are required when applying for the licence. The legal driving age in Thailand is 18.
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:
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 with a taxi or tuk tuk driver, report it to the local police. See
Where to get help.
Ferry and speedboat travel can be dangerous and serious incidents involving tourists have occured resulting in deaths.
- 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.
- Don't get on a boat that's clearly overcrowded.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 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.
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. 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 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 Tourist Police (telephone 1155) for English speaking officers. Follow directions from local authorities.
Carrying or using drugs
Commercial surrogacy is illegal.
E-cigarettes, e-baraku, and other related vapourisers including refills are prohibited items which can't be imported into or transferred through Thailand, even for personal use.
Producing or selling these items is illegal and subject to 10 years of imprisonment, a fine up to THB1,000,000 or both.
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. Take care not to cause offence when posting, commenting or 'liking' social media items about the Monarchy.
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.
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
Staying within the law
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.
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.
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.
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.
- what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
- that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.
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.
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
If you need to purchase medication while in Thailand, consider seeking medical advice. Foreigners have been arrested for carrying medication that was bought over the counter at a Thai pharmacy without a prescription.
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. 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
- consider taking prophylaxis against malaria
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Smoke haze and air pollution
High levels of air pollution, occasionally at hazardous levels, occur across Thailand, particularly in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. This 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. Check air quality levels on the World Air Quality Index.
- Seek medical advice on appropriate precautions.
More information: Health
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, including for cosmetic and sex-change operations, is common. 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.
Storms and floods
Severe storms and widespread seasonal flooding, including flash floods, can occur without warning. 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.
Earthquakes and tsunamis
Earthquakes can occur. 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.
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
- Fire Brigade: 199
- Medical emergencies and rescue services: 1669
- Criminal issue: contact police 191 or tourist police on 1155
- Ambulance (Bangkok): 1724
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.
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
Telephone: (+66 2) 344 6300
Fax: (+66 2) 344 6593
Australia in Thailand
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
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
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 9 am - 12 pm (by prior appointment only)
Telephone: (+66 91) 857 6996
Fax: (+66 53) 336 958
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.