Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 22 December 2023, 10:03 NZDT
  • Still current at: 15 June 2024

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If you are planning international travel at this time, please read our COVID-19 related travel advice here, alongside our destination specific travel advice below.

Do not travel

Do not travel to the southernmost provinces along the Thailand-Malaysia border, including Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani and Southern 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 (level 4 of 4).

Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution elsewhere in Thailand due to the potential for civil unrest and threat of terrorism (level 2 of 4).

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Political Tension/Civil unrest
The political situation in Thailand can be unpredictable. In recent years, Thailand has experienced regular large-scale political demonstrations and unrest in Bangkok and other cities in Thailand.  Violent incidents in the vicinity of these demonstrations have resulted in serious injuries.

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. 

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Thailand, including in Bangkok and Phuket. Previous incidents involving explosive devices have occurred in Bangkok and other popular tourist destinations, including Phuket and Koh Samui.

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. 

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, Koh Tao, Pattaya and at the Full Moon party on Koh Pha Ngan, where drug related sexual assaults have been reported. 

Transport Safety
Road safety is a significant issue in Thailand. Road accidents occur frequently, often causing death or serious injury. Motorcyclists and pedestrians are most at risk. Be extra vigilant during holiday periods, including Western New Year (January 1) and Songkran (Thai New Year, mid-April), as drunk driving and accidents are much more frequent during these periods. Do not drink and drive, or drink and ride. If you are walking, use overhead walkways whenever possible. Consider carefully the safety standards of any vehicle and any accompanying equipment, such as helmets, you may hire.   

Passenger boat accidents have occurred, often due to overloading or poor maintenance of vessels. Consider carefully the safety standards of any vessel and do not board any vessel which appear overloaded. 

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

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.

Exercise caution in relation to offers of employment that appear ‘too good to be true’.  There have been a number of cases where victims have been trafficked into online scamming or other fraudulent activity, with poor pay and living conditions, restrictions on movement, and the possibility of severe mistreatment.

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 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 Web Site 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



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

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