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THAILAND - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Thailand. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to ongoing political tensions and sporadic demonstrations in Bangkok and elsewhere in the country. A military coup took place on May 22, 2014, and martial law is in effect. See Security for more details.
There is a risk of civil unrest, sporadic violence, and attacks throughout the country. Widespread flooding regularly occurs, and can leave travellers stranded for extended periods of time.
Regional Advisory for the Preah Vihear temple (Phra Viharn temple in Thai) area and surrounding border regionForeign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the Thai-Cambodian border area in Surin and Sisaket provinces. This includes the Preah Vihear Temple area between Sisaket province in Thailand and Preah Vihear province in Cambodia. See Security for more information.
Regional Advisory for the southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and SongkhlaForeign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to and through the far southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla (including the city of Hat Yai). These provinces have been experiencing criminally and politically motivated violent incidents. See Security for more information.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Political tensions and demonstrations
Political instability in Thailand has created a volatile and unpredictable security environment, which has persisted throughout the country, particularly in the capital, Bangkok, since November 2013. Political demonstrations could take place at any time in Bangkok and in other parts of the country, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Surat Thani.
On May 22, 2014, the Royal Thai Army took control of the administration of the country in a coup d’état. Martial law has been instituted throughout Thailand, granting additional powers to security forces, including the right to prevent public gatherings, censor media, impose curfews, set up checkpoints, restrict movement, search for weapons and exercise force in response to violence. Such additional measures could be enforced at any time. There is an increased military presence throughout the country and gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.
A number of television and radio stations are unavailable or are not broadcasting and access to social media services may be temporarily interrupted; however, Internet and phone services, as well as airports and public transportation, are operating normally.
Sporadic pro- and anti-coup demonstrations occur. Demonstration sites include the Victory Monument area, the Democracy Monument area, and Ratchraprasong intersection in central Bangkok. Other areas of the city may also be affected by protests and associated movements. Demonstrations may cause traffic and public transportation disruptions due to the blocking of major roads and intersections and closures of BTS stations.
Violence associated with demonstrations has occasionally intensified. Several incidents have resulted in deaths and injuries. Indiscriminate attacks using explosive devices and firearms have taken place in busy public areas during the day and at night. Clashes have also occurred between pro- and anti-government demonstrators. On occasion, police have responded with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets in their attempts to deter protesters. Attacks do not specifically target tourists or foreigners, but the danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time is always present.
Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times. Carefully plan your movements throughout Bangkok, allowing for extra commuting time (including to the airport) and identify alternate routes in case of blockages. Avoid demonstrations sites and surrounding areas, as well as military installations and concentrations of security personnel. Be aware that any public statement that is perceived to be critical of the political situation in Thailand, the National Council for Peace and Order, the Royal Thai Army, or the Monarchy could lead to detention. Follow the advice of local authorities and remain informed of current events by monitoring available media, including social media.
Preah Vihear temple area and surrounding border region (see Advisory)
There have been frequent clashes between Thailand and Cambodia over a border dispute in this region, including exchanges of gunfire and artillery, which resulted in numerous fatalities and the evacuation of civilians. Martial law is in effect in the area and the presence of landmines has been reported. Tensions are high and military hostilities could further escalate without warning. Exercise a high degree of caution if you are travelling to all other areas of the Thai-Cambodian border.
Southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla (see Advisory)
Violence in the Muslim-majority southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla is highly unpredictable. Attacks against military and civilian targets occur almost daily, and include shootings, bombings, beheadings and arson. Westerners may be specifically targeted. Deadly attacks occur frequently and are regularly directed at government and security buildings and personnel, but have also occurred in a variety of public places, including shopping districts, entertainment venues, public transit and hotels that may be frequented by tourists. Since January 2004, more than 4,700 people have been killed and many more injured, including foreigners. You risk becoming victim of an indiscriminate attack if you travel in the region.
Heavily enhanced security measures—including martial law in the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, as well as the Sadao district of Songkhla—are in place to provide authorities with increased enforcement powers that may be used to address ongoing violence in the region. These measures allow authorities to detain suspects without charge, conduct searches, seize objects or documents, and impose curfews.
Border areas in the provinces of Tak and Mae Hong Son (border with Burma)
Be particularly vigilant when travelling to the border areas in the Thai provinces of Tak and Mae Hong Son due to banditry and occasional armed clashes on the Burmese side of the border, and between Thai security forces and armed criminal groups, such as drug traffickers. Incursions and shelling into Thailand have occurred. Border crossing points may be closed without notice.
There is a threat of terrorism throughout Southeast Asia, including Thailand. Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times as the security situation could deteriorate without notice. Exercise caution, particularly in commercial and public establishments (hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship), outdoor recreation events and tourist areas frequented by foreigners.
On February 14, 2012, three explosions occurred in the area of Sukhumvit Soi 71, Bangkok. Reports indicate that five people were injured. In January 2012, following warnings of possible terrorist threats against tourist areas, particularly in Bangkok, Thai authorities increased security measures and made arrests and seizures in relation to an alleged terrorist plot.
Violent crime against foreigners occurs occasionally. Petty crime, such as purse snatching, pickpocketing and theft, is common. Do not leave bags unattended. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times, especially in tourist areas, crowded markets, and bus or train stations. Thieves sometimes use razors to slit open purses or bags to remove the contents. Use only reputable transportation companies. Thefts have been reported on the buses and vans that provide transport services throughout the country. Personal belongings, including passports, have been stolen from luggage compartments under buses, especially on long distance journeys. Break-ins occur at budget guesthouses, sometimes while guests are asleep in their rooms.
Be careful at night in entertainment areas throughout the country, particularly during Full Moon parties in Koh Phangan and similar events in other popular tourist locations. Robberies, injuries, drug abuse, arrests, assaults (including sexual assaults) and deaths related to these parties have been reported. Passport thefts and losses are extremely common at these parties and their replacement may cause significant travel delays.
Foreigners have been targeted in incidents of drink spiking, often combined with sexual assault or theft. Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers, and pay attention when drinks are being prepared and served. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect that you have been drugged.
Exercise caution when travelling to the border areas with Burma (Myanmar). Occasional violence, banditry and clashes between government forces, rebel units, and drug traffickers have been reported. Consult the Thai Tourist Police, by calling 1155 toll-free, to determine if official border crossing points are open. Cross at designated border crossing points only, with the required travel documentation.
Sexual assaults against foreign women have occurred. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
General safety information
Some media reports indicate that there have been recent cases of poisoning allegedly linked to the consumption of a Thai beverage containing DEET.
Always carry your passport and visa as you may be asked to prove your identity and date of entry into the country. Failure to provide internationally recognized identification could result in detention.
Traffic drives on the left. Paved roads connect major cities, but most have only two lanes. Motorcycle accidents kill or maim Canadians in Thailand each year. You should avoid driving or riding motorcycles in Thailand, even if you are an experienced motorcyclist. Substandard road conditions, local disregard for traffic laws, and drunk driving result in frequent accidents, particularly in the areas of Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui. Although motorcycles can easily be rented in Thailand, it is illegal to operate them without a valid Thai motorcycle licence or an international driving permit with a motorcycle endorsement. Helmets are mandatory for motorcycle drivers and passengers, but many do not meet international safety standards. Carry your identification card, driver’s licence and vehicle registration book at all times.
Private vehicle, minivan and bus accidents caused by dangerous road conditions, poor weather, driver fatigue, dangerous driving practices and driver intoxication are common. Canadians have been injured or killed in such accidents. Slow-moving trucks limit speed and visibility. Speeding and reckless passing are common. Avoid driving on mountain roads at night, especially during the rainy season (June-October).
When arriving by air, use licensed taxis from official taxi stands, limousine services or official airport buses, or arrange to be picked up by hotel shuttle services. Unlicensed vehicles (black and white licence plates) are not properly insured to carry passengers and may not use meters. Do not share a taxi with strangers. Disputes with operators of taxis, tuk tuks, etc., have occurred and have occasionally resulted in violence or intimidation. Seek the assistance of local police in settling the matter if this happens to you and you feel threatened.
There have been several incidents of passenger boats sinking due to overcrowding and poor maintenance. Vessels often lack adequate safety equipment. Rail lines in the far south have been the target of acts of sabotage and armed attack.
A number of train accidents have occurred in the past few years, some causing injuries and deaths.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Canadians visiting Thailand regularly report having fallen victim to a variety of scams. Before renting a motorcycle or jet-ski, read all rental contracts thoroughly to ensure that the vehicle is insured to cover damage and theft. Only rent from reputable companies and never leave your passport as collateral. It has been reported that, upon return of the rental, claims of damage allegedly caused by the renter have been made. In some cases, renters who refused to pay were harassed and threatened, and their passports (left as collateral) were held. If your passport is inaccessible because of such a situation, you may be subject to investigation by Passport Canada and may receive limited passport services. In other cases, particularly with jet-skis, accidents have been allegedly staged to create damage for which the rental company seeks compensation from the renter. In cases of motorcycle rentals, some companies have been known to steal the motorcycle and claim compensation from the renter for the loss.
When dealing with travel agencies, ensure that the company is a reputable tour organization before providing payment. Disputes may be reported to the Tourism Authority of Thailand by calling 1672.
In known scams involving gems and jewellery, merchants sell lower-quality items at inflated prices with promises that the items can be resold at a profit. The guarantees that merchants offer are not always honoured. Carefully consider all purchases if you are not knowledgeable about gems and jewellery. The Government of Canada cannot assist in obtaining refunds for purchases made. For further information, contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Report all incidents of crime or scams to the Thai police in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred, and before leaving Thailand. Contact the Tourist Police and the Tourist Assistance Centre by calling 1155 toll-free.
Swimming and water sports
Deaths have occurred as a result of contact with poisonous sea jellies. There have been reports of sea jellies off Koh Pha-ngan, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. Exercise extreme caution when swimming in these areas. If stung, seek immediate medical attention.
Riptides in coastal areas can be strong, including the popular destinations of Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Rayong and Cha-am/Hua Hin. There have been a number of deaths due to drowning. Heed flag warnings and under no circumstances swim when a red flag is displayed.
Diving schools and rescue services may not adhere to international standards. Rent water sports equipment only from operators affiliated with major international training organizations.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Thai authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Royal Thai Embassy or one of its consulates for up-to-date information. More information is available at the Thai Immigration Bureau.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Thailand, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country and must be in good condition.
Visas and entry stamps
Holders of regular Canadian passports arriving in Thailand for the purposes of tourism may stay for up to 30 days without a visa. Immigration officials can require visitors who are entering without obtaining a visa in advance to show return or onward tickets. Holders of Canadian special and diplomatic passports must obtain a visa at a Thai diplomatic mission abroad. Obtain the proper visa from a Thai embassy or consulate if you wish to stay longer, work or study. It is illegal to work on a tourist visa or without a work permit.
Foreigners are permitted to stay only up to the date indicated on the Thai entry stamp, regardless of the date indicated on a Thai visa. The Royal Thai Police have increased their random checks of foreigners and have arrested Canadians found to have overstayed their visas.
Travellers must obtain an entry stamp from an immigration officer at a point of entry into Thailand. Avoid visas, visa extensions or entry stamps issued through visa shops or travel agents in Thailand. Canadians have been arrested for having improper Thai visas or entry and exit stamps inserted into their passports. A passport that has been altered or that contains counterfeit visas and entry/exit stamps is technically invalid. Offenders can expect jail sentences, fines, and/or deportation, and may also be prohibited from entering Thailand in the future.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays of up to 30 days
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Working visa: Required
Staying longer than three months
All foreigners staying in Thailand longer than three months must notify the Thai Immigration Bureau of their residence every 90 days.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Southeast Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Southeastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
There have been human cases of avian influenza in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds and in rare cases, it can infect people.
Avoid high risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets including areas where poultry may be slaughtered. Avoid contact with birds (alive or dead) and surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them. Ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs, are well cooked.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects infants and children. Travellers are at increased risk if visiting or living in overcrowded conditions. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against this disease.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Martial law has been instituted throughout Thailand.
Enforcement action against people involved in all aspects of illicit drugs has increased. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are very strict and include the death penalty for serious offences. The possession of even small amounts of illegal drugs, including marijuana, can result in severe fines and prison sentences. Arrested offenders may be prevented from leaving Thailand while legal proceedings are in process.
Police spot-checks to search for illegal drugs occur, particularly in and around entertainment venues in Thailand. Uniformed or undercover police may search pockets, purses and bags, as well as vehicles. You may be asked to consent to a urine test. If you carry prescription or other medicines, it is preferable that they be in clearly marked, original packaging.
Foreigners are required to carry identification at all times. You may wish to carry a photocopy of your passport; however, police may require that you produce the original.
Gambling, with the exception of some horse racing, is illegal in Thailand.
Actions or words that are considered offensive or insulting to the King or the Royal Family are illegal and may result in criminal prosecution.
An International Driving Permit or a Thai driver’s licence is required to drive in Thailand.
If you are considering entering into a surrogacy arrangement in Thailand, be aware that the legal situation regarding these arrangements in Thailand is currently unclear. While there is no legislation in Thailand which specifically regulates surrogacy, Thai authorities are actively considering draft legislation that may prohibit commercial surrogacy and are taking immediate steps to ensure that children of such arrangements are not permitted to exit the country in anticipation of the legislation. If you are visiting Thailand for the purposes of commercial surrogacy arrangements, you should seek independent legal advice before entering into any agreement. In particular, legal advice should be sought on the implications of any new exit requirements. A list of local lawyers who speak English and/or French is available on the website of the Embassy of Canada in Bangkok.
If you have already entered into such an arrangement, you should also seek advice from a local lawyer on how this legislation could affect your situation and, in particular, on any exit requirements. You may also wish to contact the consular section of the Embassy of Canada in Bangkok to inform them of your particular situation. This will enable them to contact you in the event of any developments or should consular assistance be required.
The currency is the baht (THB). Automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available, and major credit cards are widely accepted. Traveller’s cheques are accepted at banks, large hotels and shops. U.S. dollar traveller’s cheques are recommended.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from June to October. Severe rainstorms can cause flash floods and landslides, interrupt essential services and delay overland travel, especially in remote locations. Jungle treks are not advisable during the rainy season, due to the possibility of mudslides. Flash flooding in caves has caused fatalities.
From July to November 2011, widespread flooding (including flash flooding) and landslides occurred in the central, northeast, northern and southern regions of Thailand. More than 800 deaths have been attributed to the flooding, many of which were caused by drowning or electrocution.
Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.
Bangkok - Embassy of Canada
Chiang Mai - Consulate of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Bangkok and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 001-800-156-220-0142, or make a collect call by dialling 613-996-8885.
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