Comprehensive protection is essential
Having the right levels of Thailand insurance in place is advised before you travel or work in this fascinating but unsettled country. Some areas are currently considered by the FCDO to be unsafe to visit – non-standard Thailand insurance may be necessary in these areas.
- It is illegal to criticise the coup
- Avoid political demonstrations
- International health insurance in Thailand is advised, along with cover for emergency evacuation
- There is a threat of terrorism in southern regions
Potential risks in Thailand
Thailand is a country of extraordinary culture and natural beauty, but the political situation is unpredictable. In May 2014 the military seized control following months of protest and political turmoil. Though the current security and political situation seems stable you should check that your travel insurance will cover you should it deteriorate. You should also be aware that criticising the coup is illegal and that talking in public about Thai politics is unwise. It is also a criminal offence to say anything critical about the King and the Royal family and can result in a prison sentence of many years.
Another potential source of danger is in the southern border states where tensions are strained between the minority Muslim population and majority Buddhist. Since 2004, the far south has seen almost daily occurrences of arson, bombing and shootings. It has been reported that Muslim extremists are targeting westerners. If you plan to visit this area, make sure your Thai insurance provides appropriate levels of protection.
Some areas along the Thai/Cambodian border also a present potential dangers in the form of unexploded ordnance and occasional cross border clashes.
The situation elsewhere is much calmer, but visitors should avoid getting caught up in political demonstrations. By law, you must carry your passport with you at all times in Thailand or risk arrest – do not leave your passport as collateral when renting motorcycles or jet skis.
Petty crime, such as purse snatching and pickpocketing is common and foreigners in busy streets and open tuk-tuks have had items snatched by riders on motorbikes. In tourist areas and red light districts, foreigners have been drugged then robbed; the drugs can be hidden in drinks, food, aerosols, cigarettes, chewing gum, or in powder form, so be careful what you accept from strangers. Never become involved with recreational drugs of any kind in Thailand. Possessing even a very small quantity can lead to imprisonment.
Western tourists should be particularly cautious during “full moon parties” in Koh Phangan, as unprovoked attacks have occurred, especially near bars in Haad Rin. Be vigilant in this area at any time, particularly after dark.
September and October are the height of the monsoon season; torrential rain can cause flash floods and mudslides. Avoid jungle and cave treks during this time.
Statistics show that as a British national, you are more likely to be admitted to hospital in Thailand than any other country you visit. The risks include dengue fever, malaria and food poisoning. There have been cases of swine flu, avian flu and rabies. People have died from contact with poisonous jellyfish. Make sure your Thailand health insurance includes Medical cover and Emergency Evacuation. The private hospitals in Thailand are excellent but expensive. If you have a business here or you are importing exporting, Trade and Political Risk insurance will cover operational uncertainties.