Canada updates travel advisory for Thailand; no nationwide advisory in effect

Canada updates travel advisory for Thailand; no nationwide advisory in effect

Government of Canada has updated the travel advisory for Thailand which now reads:

Advisories

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.

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. See Security for more details.


Related:


Regional Advisory for the Preah Vihear temple (Phra Viharn temple in Thai) area and surrounding border region

Foreign 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 Songkhla

Foreign 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.

Security

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.

While martial law was lifted on April 1, 2015 in most parts of Thailand, the military retains and exercises sweeping powers under other legal provisions, 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.

Terrorism

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 August 17, 2015, an explosion occurred at the Ratchraprasong intersection in central Bangkok, causing deaths and injuries. Avoid the area, monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities. On April 10, 2015, a car bomb exploded in the underground parking lot of the Central Festival shopping centre on the island of Koh Samui, injuring seven people. On February 1, 2015, two explosions occurred at the Siam station of Bangkok’s Skytrain system, outside a shopping mall. One person was injured as a result of these explosions.

Crime

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.

Women’s safety

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

We have received reports that there have been recent cases of poisoning linked to chemical pesticides, including phosphine. Should you believe you have been exposed to a chemical pesticide and are experiencing unusual symptoms, seek immediate medical assistance. When travelling, seek information on whether or not chemical pesticides, such as phosphine are used in your accommodations.

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.

Transportation

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.

Scams

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.

Piracy

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.