Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 19 November 2013, 10:04 NZDT
  • Still current at: 19 February 2019


There is an increased, global risk of terrorism. No country is immune from a terrorist attack, and no person is immune from becoming a victim of an attack. Terrorists have little regard for civilian casualties and in many cases, attacks are designed to maximise casualties.

Although New Zealand travellers may not be targeted deliberately, they are usually indistinguishable from any “Western” tourist and frequent places where other Western tourists are found. This puts New Zealanders at the same risk as others.

Wherever you are, you should keep yourself informed about the latest alerts and stay aware of your surroundings in areas where large numbers of people congregate, such as shopping malls, markets, monuments, demonstrations and on any public transport.

Kidnappings and bombings have been the hallmark of several groups operating in the southern Philippines such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf Group. In Indonesia members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (which allegedly has links to Al Qaeda) have been charged with responsibility for the Bali Bombings in 2002 and 2005. There is a risk of kidnapping of foreigners travelling to the islands and coastal areas in Eastern Sabah (from Kudat in the north around eastwards to Tawau) by the Abu Sayyaf Group operating out of the Philippines.

Other countries in Southeast Asia, particularly those with Islamic populations, have terrorism concerns. Accordingly, there is now a region-wide warning out about the possibility of terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia.

In many Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Viet Nam, the penalties for drug offences (possession or trafficking) are severe and can include the death penalty. The possession of even small quantities of drugs for recreational purposes can result in lengthy jail sentences and deportation. While "party pills" may be legal in New Zealand, travellers should not take them on holiday overseas as they are classed as prohibited substances/drugs in many countries.

Risk Level Extreme

Destinations in South East Asia where we advise against all travel.


Do not travel to central and western Mindanao (including the Sulu Archipelago) due to the very high threat of terrorist activity, kidnapping and violent clashes between the military/police and terrorist or rebel groups.


Do not travel to the southernmost provinces of 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.

Risk Level High

Destinations in South East Asia where we advise against tourist and other non-essential travel.


Avoid non-essential travel to Papua and West Papua provinces due to civil unrest and the risk of kidnapping.

Avoid non-essential travel to Central Sulawesi, including the city of Palu, Donggala District, Sigi District and Parigi Moutong District due to damage from the recent earthquake, aftershocks and tsunami.


Avoid non-essential travel to Xaisomboun Province due to the potential of violent incidents, and the Attapeu Province where recovery efforts are ongoing since recent flooding of the hydroelectric dam. Travel to certain parts of the Xaisomboun Province requires a permit from Lao authorities. There has been a number of violent incidents in the Xaisomboun Province in recent years, including shooting attacks and the detonation of improvised explosive devices. These have resulted in a number of deaths and injuries, including of civilians.


Avoid non-essential travel to coastal areas of eastern Sabah (from Kudat to Tawau, including Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Semporna, including the offshore islands and dive sites) due to the risk of kidnapping.


Avoid non-essential travel along the borders with Laos, Thailand, India, Bangladesh and China, including official border crossings. Military activity, ethnic militias, armed drug smugglers and the presence of landmines pose a particularly high risk to your safety.

Avoid non-essential travel to Kachin State (excluding Myitkyina), the northern Rakhine State areas of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung, northern Shan State and Paletwa township in southern Chin State due to ethnic tensions and the potential for armed conflict and violent civil unrest.


Avoid non-essential travel to the remaining provinces of Mindanao due to the threat of terrorism, kidnapping and violent clashes between the military/police and terrorist or rebel groups.

Risk Level Some

Destinations in South East Asia where we advise caution.


Exercise increased caution elsewhere in Indonesia, including in Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali, due to the ongoing threat of terrorism.


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


Exercise increased caution elsewhere in Myanmar due to the uncertain political situation and potential for civil unrest.


Exercise increased caution elsewhere in the Philippines, including in Manila, due to the threat of terrorism, risk of kidnapping and violent crime.


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


Exercise increased caution in Timor-Leste due to violent crime and isolated incidents of civil unrest.

Exercise Normal

Destinations in South East Asia where we advise normal.


Exercise normal safety and security precautions in Cambodia due to violent crime.


Exercise normal safety and security precautions elsewhere in Laos.


Exercise normal safety and security precautions in Singapore due to the underlying threat of terrorism.

Viet Nam

Exercise normal safety and security precautions in Viet Nam.


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