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. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
National lower house elections, which were held on 2 February 2014, have been annulled. A new government has not yet been formed and in coming months there are likely to be further elections, other legal processes and political events. The security environment remains volatile, particularly in Bangkok and surrounding areas.
Protesters have occupied a number of major intersections and other public locations in Bangkok since mid-January, disrupting local traffic, government services and some commercial activity. Following the closure of some of these sites, protesters are now centred in Lumpini Park, at Pan Fah Bridge on Rajadamnoen Road and at the government complex at Chaeng Watthana. For further information on possible disruptions see under Safety and Security: Civil unrest/political tension.
Firearms and hand-grenades have been used in attacks against protesters in recent months, often at night-time but also during the day in busy public areas around protest sites in central Bangkok and when protesters have been moving around the city. There have also been attacks on protestors and other violent incidents in other provinces across Thailand. Since 30 November 2013, incidents associated with the protests have resulted in over 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Further indiscriminate attacks are likely.
Travellers are advised to avoid all protest sites and surrounding areas, political rallies and processions through Bangkok and in other locations, political events (including polling stations when elections are rescheduled) and large-scale public gatherings due to the risk of further violence. This includes streets near protest locations that have been closed to vehicles and converted into outdoor markets.
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.