The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends that Irish citizens obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling to or in Thailand which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. You should check your policy carefully and ensure that it covers all the activities that you wish to undertake.
Irish citizens should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
Many thousands of Irish tourists visit Thailand every year and the overwhelming majority of visits are trouble free.
Damaged passports will not be accepted for entry into Thailand. Visitors are required to carry their passports at all times.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. It is important to take proper care when swimming or using motorcycles - a number of Irish citizens have been killed in accidents involving these activities in Thailand. Visitors should be aware of the risk of petty crime, including from pick-pockets, bag snatchers and those organising scams targeting tourists.
Since 2006 there have been several mass demonstrations by pro and anti Government supporters. A number of large-scale political demonstrations have taken place in Bangkok since the beginning of November 2013. The main protest areas are around the Democracy Monument, at government buildings and along Rachadamnoen Avenue, but protests can occur with little warning at various locations.
Following a recent escalation in protests, including the occupation and surrounding by protestors of some government buildings including the Finance Ministry, the Internal Security Act has been implemented in all parts of Bangkok and Nonthaburi as well as the Bang Phil district of Samut Prakan and the Lat Lum Kaep district of Pathum Thani. This Act will result in an increased security presence, and provides police and military with powers to impose curfews, operate checkpoints, restrict the movements of demonstrators, search for weapons, and use force in the case of violence.
The protests have resulted in violent clashes, there have been reports of gunfire, and there have been several deaths. Police have used tear gas and water canon against protestors, and there have been reports of use of rubber bullets. The situation remains volatile and Irish citizens should take care to avoid all large gatherings, demonstrations and protests in Thailand, and should follow the instructions of authorities. You should also be aware that there may be severe disruption to traffic and transport.
We recommend against all travel to Preah Vihear, Ta Kwai and Ta Muen temples near the Thai Cambodian Border. We also advise against all travel to or through the Southern Thai Provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla. Particular care should be taken when travelling near or across Thailand’s border with Burma (Myanmar).
SAFETY & SECURITY
A number of Irish visitors have been killed in motorcycle and swimming accidents in Thailand. Take the same safety precautions as in Ireland. When driving, wearing safety helmets is mandatory. An international or Thai driving license is required to drive in Thailand.
Some Irish tourists have been the victims of scams related to the hiring of jet skis and motor cycles. Please seek local advice on the reputation of any rental firm before approaching it. Renters should also examine their travel insurance to make sure use of jet skis and motorcycles are not excluded by the policy. Renters are advised never to hand over their passports as security when renting these machines.
There have been reports of poisonous jellyfish in the waters off Koh Pha-ngan, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. If stung, visitors should seek immediate medical attention.
Visitors should be aware of the risk of petty crime, including from pick-pockets, bag snatchers and those organising scams targeting tourists. Many Irish visitors have had their passports stolen on long distance overnight bus journeys. The theft of passports and credit cards is a problem in Thailand. Do not carry all of your money at once and please ensure that your passport is secure at all times.
On arrival by air visitors should use licensed taxis from official taxi stands. Unlicensed vehicles (black and white number plates) are not properly insured to carry passengers. Visitors passing through Suvarnabhumi Airport should ensure that they have paid, and have receipts for, all items in their possession before they move away from the vendor.
Take care if a stranger approaches you offering to sell gems.
There have been incidents where foreign nationals have been attacked and raped. Female travellers, in particular, should maintain a high state of personal awareness. There have also been incidents where tourists have had their drinks drugged (tourist areas and "red light" districts). You should be careful about taking drinks from strangers and be very wary at parties such as the "Full Moon" party on Phangan Island.
We advise against all travel to or through the Southern Thai Provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla due to going instability and terrorist activity in this region. Martial law applies in the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and in the Sadao district of Songkhla province.
Elements of the border between Cambodia and Thailand are disputed. There have been occasional clashes between the two states for several years often near the Preah Vihear, Ta Kwai and Ta Muen temples. Hostilities broke on a number of occasions in 2011 in civilian and military fatalities on both sides. The situation could escalate again at short notice.
Since 2006 there have been several mass demonstrations by pro and anti Government supporters. Some of these led to violent clashes, resulting in death and injury. Some have involved the use of explosive devices. Between March and May 2010, violent incidents took place in Bangkok in which at least 80 people are known to have died. There have been further large-scale protests in Bangkok since November 2013, and the Internal Security Act has been imposed in Bangkok and some surrounding areas, leading to an increased security presence. Irish citizens are advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings and make themselves aware of the local situation in their area by monitoring the local media.
On the afternoon of 14 February 2012 three explosions took place as a result of an incident involving foreign nationals at Soi Preedee 35 in the Klong Tan area of central Bangkok. The explosions lead to injuries and arrests were made at the scene. In the weeks before this, the authorities seized bomb making equipment in Bangkok.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
For entry requirements for Thailand, please contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate for Thailand.
You are required to have a valid passport to enter Thailand. A number of Irish citizens have been deported from Thailand for attempting to enter the country on a damaged passport. The Thai immigration authorities also require that travellers have at least six months validity on their passports in order to enter the country. It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. All visitors are required to carry their passport at all times.
Overstaying is the act of staying in Thailand beyond the date stamped in the passport by Thai immigration. Overstaying is breaking the law so please check the period of stay authorised by the Thai authorities when you arrive. If you 'surrender' yourself to immigration at the airport or at any other immigration bureau following a short overstay, you will need to pay a fine for each excess day. However, you should be aware that for longer periods of overstay it is entirely at the discretion of the Thai immigration whether you pay an overstay fine or are deported. The authorities may also be less flexible where a visitor is stopped by the police and found to have overstayed. Such situations can lead to detention in an Immigration Detention Centre while the case is being processed.
Please note that there are strict limits on the amount of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, cigars and smoking tobacco which you may bring into Thailand. A number of tourists have been detained and fined heavily for attempting to bring cigarettes into Thailand in excess of the official limit.
Penalties for the possession, distribution and consumption of drugs in Thailand are severe and include life imprisonment and the death penalty. The possession of even very small quantities often leads to imprisonment. A number of tourists have suffered psychiatric problems as a result drug use in Thailand. The Thai authorities have increased their surveillance of those involved in illicit drugs activity. Undercover police carry out spot checks in and around bars, restaurants and discos in tourist areas. These checks may include searches of bags, purses, and pockets.
In Thailand it is a criminal offence to make critical or defamatory comments about the King or the Royal family.
NATURAL DISASTERS AND CLIMATE
The rainy season in much of Thailand runs from May to October. Monsoon rains and storms quite often lead to heavy and dangerous flooding. Extreme conditions caused massive flooding and considerable flooding damage across central, northern eastern provinces of Thailand in late 2011.The rainy season in south east of the Thai peninsula runs from November to March. Useful current information on the weather conditions in Thailand can been accessed from sites such as: www.phuket.com/island/weather.htm ; www.tmd.go.th/en/ ; http://tatnews.org
In April 2012 two earthquakes occurred in Phuket, leading to some damage to property.
ADDITIONAL COUNTRY INFO
Due to the heat and other factors, a high proportion of European visitors to Thailand fall ill. Travellers should seek professional medical advice before travelling. Since January 2005, the number of reported cases of Dengue Fever in Thailand, and in particular Southern Thailand, has increased sharply. You are advised to take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. There is a risk of Malaria infection in some areas. There have been thousands of reported cases of Influenza A/H1N1 in Thailand and several deaths.
The Embassy of Ireland in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia represents Ireland's interests in Thailand. Within Thailand, there are Irish Honorary Consulates in both Bangkok and Phuket. All relevant contact details are available on the Embassy's website, which you can access here.
If you are unable to register online, please e-mail your full details, including contact numbers, location and travel dates to one of the consulates. They can also be contacted if you require advice or assistance locally. Alternatively, you can reach the Consular Assistance Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin on +353 1 408 2000.
There are two Irish Honorary Consuls in Thailand:
Mr Peter Gary Biesty
Consulate of Ireland
4th Floor, Room 407
62, Silom Road
Ms Hélène Fallon-Wood
Honorary Consul of Ireland
Consulate of Ireland
Tamarind Valley, 79/6 Moo 4
Phuket, Thailand 83130