Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 23 January 2020, 13:27 NZDT
  • Still current at: 24 February 2020

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Do not travel

Do not travel to the southernmost provinces along the Thailand-Malaysia border, including Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani and Songkhla due to ongoing politically-motivated and criminal violence, which occurs on an almost daily basis. The Thai Government has warned tourists not to travel to these areas.

Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution elsewhere in Thailand due to the potential for civil unrest and threat of terrorism.

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Novel coronavirus (Covid-19)
For travel advice and information about the coronavirus, please see our news feature on Covid-19 here.

Political tension/Civil unrest
The political situation in Thailand can be unpredictable.  In the past, Thailand has experienced large-scale political demonstrations and unrest. Several violent incidents in the vicinity of these demonstrations resulted in injuries and deaths.

In March 2019 the first general elections were held in over five years.  These led to the end of a prolonged period of Military Government in Thailand, and the return of an elected, civilian-led Government.  

Despite the return of civilian-led government, some restrictions on freedom of expressions and freedom of assembly remain.  Under these, authorities may restrict movement, public assembly or political gatherings, and prohibit the distribution of information considered detrimental to Thailand’s national security or public order.  Individuals may be detained for violation of these and other measures.

Given past political unrest, New Zealanders throughout Thailand are advised to avoid any protests, demonstrations, and large gatherings, as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to quickly turn violent.

New Zealanders throughout Thailand are advised to exercise due caution and monitor the media to stay informed of developments.  We recommend adhering to any instructions issued by the local authorities. 

New Zealanders in Thailand should be wary of making political statements in public and on social media or sharing articles online that could been seen as portraying Thailand negatively or making accusations about individuals..  There are also strong ‘lese majeste’ laws in place which make it a criminal offence to criticise or defame the monarchy in any form, including on social media.  These laws are strictly enforced in Thailand and it is strongly advised that New Zealanders in Thailand refrain from making any public statements about the monarchy including posting, commenting or liking items about the monarchy on social media.

Terrorism
There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Thailand, including in Bangkok and Phuket. There have been a number of explosive device incidents in Bangkok and other cities, including Phuket and Koh Samui in recent years.

In August 2019, several small explosions occurred in various locations in Bangkok resulting in some injuries.  In August 2016, there were multiple explosions in Thailand. These occurred in a number of tourist areas, including Hua Hin, Phuket, Phang Nga, Trang, and Surat Thani and resulted in casualties.  On 17 August 2015, an explosion near the Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok killed at least 20 people and injured many more. Further incidents are possible.

New Zealanders are advised to exercise a high degree of personal security awareness throughout Thailand. Particular care should be taken in public and commercial areas. Possible terrorism targets include (but are not limited to) landmarks or places known to be frequented by expatriates or foreign tourists, public transport facilities, hotels, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, tourist resorts, shopping areas, markets, banks, embassies, and places of worship. Thai authorities have previously warned of the possibility of attacks to coincide with symbolic dates or holidays.

Local travel
There is an ongoing threat of violence in the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani and Songkhla. Bombings and shootings are common in these provinces and over 6,500 people have been killed in an ongoing insurgency since 2004. Foreigners have been caught up in this violence in the past.

Sporadic conflict near the Thai-Myanmar border occurs between the Myanmar military and armed opposition groups as well as between Thai security forces and armed criminal groups (such as drug traffickers). Armed clashes may result in border closures at short notice.

In the north of the country, a Thai-Cambodia border dispute centred around the Preah Vihear temple (known as Khao Pra Viharn temple in Thailand) has led to hostilities and tensions in the past. Thai and Cambodian troops are deployed in this area and have clashed on occasion. The situation has stabilised however we recommend exercising particular care in areas close to the border with Cambodia and at border crossings.

There is also a danger from unexploded landmines in areas surrounding the temple and the Ta Kwai and Ta Muen Thom temples. If you are travelling in this area we recommend you remain on well-used roads and paths.

Crime
Petty crime such as bag snatching and pickpocketing, especially from thieves on motorbikes or in open transport like tuk tuks, occurs in Thailand and is common in tourist areas, in larger cities and on public transport. We advise New Zealanders to be alert to their surroundings at all times and take steps to safeguard and secure their personal belongings.

Drink spiking has been reported in tourist destinations around Thailand, with both male and female victims.  Be careful about taking drinks from strangers and at bars, clubs and parties, or leaving your drinks unattended, particularly in Phuket and Krabi provinces, around Koh Samui, Pattaya and at the Full Moon party on Koh Pha Ngan, where drug related sexual assaults have been reported.

General travel advice
It is a legal requirement to carry a form of identification with you at all times, that proves your legal status in Thailand. Failure to produce your passport or a photocopy of relevant pages could result in a fine or arrest.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include lengthy imprisonment or fines.

In January 2018, Thai authorities introduced a smoking ban on beaches in certain tourist areas, including in Petchaburi, Pattaya, Phuket, Prachuap Kirikan, Chon Buri and Songkhla provinces. Those caught smoking in non-designated areas could be fined or face imprisonment.

Making a critical or defamatory comment about the Royal Family, including on social media is punishable by a prison sentence in Thailand.  Travellers should maintain respectful behaviour around all images of the Royal Family, including on money.

Thailand has been experiencing poor air quality and high PM2.5 levels in urban areas and Bangkok in particular.  This may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions.  Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected.  Latest reports on air quality levels can be obtained from the World Air Quality Index website.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Thailand should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Thailand are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


The New Zealand Embassy Bangkok, Thailand

Street Address M Thai Tower, 14th floor, All Seasons Place, 87 Wireless Road, Bangkok Postal Address PO Box 2719, Bangkok 10500 Telephone +66 2 254 2530 Fax +66 2 253 9045 Email info@newzealandembassybkk.com Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/thailand Hours Mon-Fri 0800-1200, 1300-1630 hrs

See our regional advice for South East Asia

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New Zealand Embassy Thailand

Street Address
M Thai Tower, 14th floor, All Seasons Place, 87 Wireless Road, Bangkok

Telephone: +66 2 254 2530

Fax: +66 2 253 9045

Email: info@newzealandembassybkk.com

Website: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/thailand

Hours: Mon-Fri 0800-1200, 1300-1630 hrs

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