We advise you to 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. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and where possible monitor the local media, including social media, for information about possible new safety or security risks.
On 22 May, the military announced that it had taken control of the administration of the country. Martial law continues to be imposed and a nationwide curfew is in place between 2200 hrs and 0500 hrs until further notice. Authorities have advised that the curfew will not apply if travelling to or from an airport. Travellers should have passports and tickets with them when travelling to and from the airport.
Domestic and international flights are operating normally, though travellers should leave extra time to travel to and from airports. In Bangkok, some public transport services are ceasing earlier than normal.
Most TV and radio stations, including international satellite TV services have ceased to broadcast. Internet and phone services continue to operate as usual although it is possible that that this might be removed or limited without notice.
Australians travelling to Thailand should subscribe to receive regular updates and register their travel plans on smartraveller.
You should follow the instructions of local authorities and avoid any demonstrations, political events and large-scale public gatherings that may emerge. You should also avoid locations previously used as protest sites.
Australians in Thailand may see an increased presence of security forces in some locations. You should be aware that under martial law military authorities have wide powers, including to suspend laws, restrict movement and impose curfews and other security measures. Where available, you should monitor local media, including social media, for information on restrictions and possible disruption to transport and other services. For further information on possible disruptions see under Safety and Security: Civil unrest/political tension.
Carefully consider your safety and the implications of accidents if you hire a motorcycle or jet ski and seek advice on any restrictions that may apply (such as insurance cover if you are not licensed to ride a motorcycle in Australia). You should check with your travel insurer whether these activities are covered by your policy. You may be detained and arrested by police following jet ski and motorcycle accidents until compensation, often in thousands of dollars, can be negotiated between parties.
Australian travellers continue to report harassment and threats of violence by jet ski operators on beaches across Thailand, and particularly in Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
Tourists may be exposed to scams and more serious criminal activity in Thailand. Be aware that food and drink spiking occurs in Thailand, including around popular backpacker destinations such as Khao San Road in Bangkok the night-time entertainment zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, and during the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan.
Travellers planning to attend Full Moon parties at Koh Phangan or other locations should carefully consider personal safety issues and take appropriate precautions. See our Partying Overseas page for advice on the risks you may face when attending Full Moon parties and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.
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.
We strongly advise you not to travel at this time to the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla or overland to and from the Malaysian border through these provinces due to high levels of ongoing violence in these areas, including terrorist attacks and bombings that result in deaths and injuries on an almost daily basis.
Reporting indicates that extremists may be planning to target westerners in the southern border provinces.
We advise you to exercise particular caution in the areas surrounding the Preah Vihear Temple (known as Khao Pra Viharn temple in Thailand) and the Ta Kwai and Ta Muen Thom temples, all on the Thailand-Cambodia border, due to the presence of unexploded ordnance. There was renewed fighting in the area in early 2011 and there continues to be a military presence in these areas.
Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy. Remember that if you cannot afford travel insurance you cannot afford to travel to Thailand.