FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Thailand

Thailand travel guide

About Thailand

The attractions of Thailand are myriad – ruined cities, ancient monasteries, Buddhist monks, colourful hill tribes, floating markets, rave parties, dense rainforests, exotic wildlife, tropical islands, golden beaches and pristine coral reefs. Then there’s Bangkok, the most exuberant capital city in Southeast Asia, which would justify a trip to Thailand all by itself.

The Thai people are famously hospitable, and Thailand was one of the first corners of Southeast Asia to really open up to outsiders – helped by the 19th-century king of Siam Rama IV and his love of all things Western. It was Rama IV who launched Thailand on the path to modernisation, and also persuaded his people to swap chopsticks for knives and forks.

This travel smorgasbord has attracted everyone from backpackers to billionaires, and visitors can find any level of comfort they desire, from hippy hostels to five-star palaces. If anything, Thailand has become more upmarket as a destination since its backpacker heyday, with air-conditioning everywhere and almost every hotel offering Thai massages and spa treatments.

As well as relaxation – and what could be more relaxing than a massage on the beach? – Thailand is a place for adventure. The beaches and islands of the south call out to scuba divers, rock-climbers and water sports enthusiasts, while the dense jungles of the north are a natural playground for trekkers and wildlife spotters. Try bathing under a waterfall in an orchid-filled jungle clearing – you won't forget it.

Then there’s the cuisine – one of the world’s finest, and certainly one of the spiciest. From fine restaurants to street stalls and night markets, Thailand always seems to have a fork in its hand. Above all else, though, Thailand is a place to feel at ease – stroll along the sand, take tea with a monk, snorkel over a coral reef, and let the stresses of modern life slowly slip away.

Key facts

Area:

513,120 sq km (198,120 sq miles)

Population:

68,863,514 (UN estimate 2016)

Population density:

135 per sq km

Capital:

Bangkok.

Government:

Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state:

HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavanangkun since October 2016.

Head of government:

Interim Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha since 2014.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Thailand on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can find the latest information on COVID-19 case numbers in Thailand on the Department of Disease Control website.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Thailand.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health for information on testing facilities.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Thailand

Domestic travel options within Thailand are available but remain subject to disease control measures. These may include restrictions on movement between provinces.

If you are taking an internal flight in Thailand, you may be asked to download an app or complete additional travel documentation.

You will be required to wear a face mask and follow other disease control measures when using public transport, including planes, trains, buses and taxis. In some provinces public transport may stop earlier than normal or have less capacity than normal.

Domestic flights in and out of provinces categorised as dark red, including Bangkok, are currently prohibited.

An emergency decree is currently in place. This includes instructions that you must not:

  • enter high risk areas
  • hoard essential goods
  • attend public gatherings
  • propagate false information

Until further notice you must also wear a mask in all indoor and outdoor public spaces in Thailand and in vehicles if you are with others. If you do not wear a mask you may have to pay a fine.

The Thai government also advises that you should avoid unnecessary travel and crowded places, and scan the ‘Thai Chana’ QR code where available.

A number of disease control measures at national and local levels are also in place. These include a colour rating for each of Thailand’s 76 provinces based on the number of COVID-19 cases. Restrictions in each province and for movement between provinces depend on the colour rating and any additional local rules, and they may change at any time.

In some provinces measures may include restrictions on dining in restaurants, gathering in groups, closures of shops and curfews. You are advised to follow all preventative and disease control measures to minimise risks and avoid penalties.

Measures change frequently. You should check the current situation with local authorities and the Thai government’s Facebook page and PR website.

Accommodation

Hotel and private rental accommodation is available throughout Thailand. However, some hotels remain closed so we advise you to contact hotels directly when booking.

The majority of hotels will ask to take your temperature on arrival and ask you to provide information on your recent travel history and any symptoms you may have related to COVID-19. You may also need to follow other disease control measures.

Some services and facilities in hotels may not be available e.g. leisure facilities.

Health

For contact details for English speaking doctors, visit our list of healthcare providers.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call the Thai COVID-19 Hotline on 1422.

If you need a COVID-19 test, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has compiled a list of private and government-managed testing facilities. These will provide you with a test and normally contact you afterwards with the result. Authorities may also contact you as part of their tracing process.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, Thai authorities recommend that you self-isolate at home or in a community setting dedicated to this such as a school or temple, where you can receive appropriate care. This also applies to school age children. National Health Security Office (NHSO) provides medical support and services for home isolation. To register, you can call the 1330 hotline.

If you have more severe symptoms Thai public health regulations require that you quarantine at either a hospital, hospitel (a repurposed hotel with medical capabilities) or field hospital.

You should ensure that you understand your health care provider’s policies before you take a test as these will include where you quarantine and receive medical care if you test positive.

In areas designated as dark red zones there is increasing pressure on medical services. You may find it difficult to access COVID-19 testing and medical care.

There may also be specific measures in place that impact on maternity services in some hospitals, including quarantine for newborn babies and C-sections as the preferred form of delivery. In most cases, these are recommendations only but in some hospitals they are mandatory. You should ensure you understand your health care provider’s policies so you can make the choices that work best for you. The WHO has useful guidance on COVID and maternity/post-natal care.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Thailand.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Thailand

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. As further information is available about the national vaccination programme, this page will be updated. Sign up to get email notifications.

A national vaccination programme is now in progress in Thailand.

Residents of Thailand, including foreigners, can register for a vaccine at any hospital that holds your health records. Registration online and at hospitals that do not hold your records may also be possible. Short and longer-term visitors may not be eligible under this scheme. You can find more information on how to register for vaccines in our Living in Thailand page.

In many areas there are limited supplies of vaccines and registration and vaccination programmes can change. You should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider in Thailand and check the current situation with local authorities and the Thai government’s Facebook page and PR website.

The only vaccines that are being used in the national programme are AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Pfizer-BioNTech, although others such as Sinopharm may be available privately.

The mixing of vaccines may be offered. In some circumstances, AstraZeneca may be offered as your second dose if Sinovac was your first. Pfizer-BioNTech may also be offered if AstraZeneca was your first. You should seek more information from your local vaccination sites.

When you have received your vaccine, you can register on the “Mor Phrom” application to get the digital vaccine certificate. Instructions can be found on the PR Thai Government Facebook page.

Find out more, including about the vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad webpage.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

Sign up for travel advice alerts and follow the British Embassy on Twitter and Facebook.

Political situation

The political situation in Thailand can be volatile. In recent years, there have been instances of civil and political unrest. You should avoid any protests, political gatherings, demonstrations or marches.

Lèse-majesté (criticism of the monarchy in any form) is a crime, which can be interpreted broadly and carries a long jail sentence. Some foreign (including British) and Thai journalists, Human Rights Defenders and members of the public have faced criminal charges, including for defamation, sedition, and under the Computer Crimes Act for raising concerns, making political comments, and sharing articles online that could been seen as portraying Thailand negatively or making accusations about individuals.

Crime

If you’re the victim of a crime in Thailand and wish to report it to the Thai police you should do so before leaving the country. If you do not, your case may not be investigated. Be aware that the way the media report crime is different from the UK. Local authorities, including the police, may give detailed press briefings. There have been instances where the victims of crime have been identified and threatened with prosecution by the police for damaging Thailand’s reputation.

Be aware that posting images on social media of people drinking alcohol or wearing inappropriate clothing can result in fines and/or imprisonment both for the person who uploaded the images and the people in them.

Be on your guard against pickpockets and bag snatchers, especially from thieves on motorbikes or when travelling in open transport like tuk tuks. Make sure valuables are kept securely and out of sight. Passengers on buses and trains have had items taken from bags while asleep.

Violent crime, including gun crime, rarely involves foreign tourists, although in 2018 several foreign nationals were victims of gun violence in Bangkok. You should take care when travelling in unfamiliar areas and avoid walking through less travelled areas alone, especially at night.

Don’t hand over your passport to third parties as a guarantee (eg to motorcycle or jet ski rental businesses) as companies may hold on to passports against claimed damage.

Violent sexual assaults and unprovoked attacks have been reported in tourist destinations across Thailand. These are particularly common during Full Moon parties and other similar events and late at night near bars.

Drink spiking and date rapes have been reported in tourist destinations around Thailand, with both male and female victims. Be careful about taking drinks from strangers or leaving your drinks unattended, particularly in Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Pattaya and at the Full Moon party on Koh Phangan.

Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment resulting in accidents, injuries, robbery, assaults and lost travel documents. If you drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. Some British nationals in Thailand have suffered severe psychiatric problems because of drug use, resulting in some suicides.

Be aware of the possibility of credit card fraud. Don’t lose sight of your card during transactions. There have been incidents of ATM skimming in Thailand. Where possible use an ATM within a bank and always protect your PIN.

Buying a property in Thailand isn’t straightforward and you should be aware of the risks before making any financial commitments. British people have been caught up in property scams. Several face criminal defamation charges for alleging fraud and malpractice in response to being scammed. The legal process can be lengthy and expensive.

Local travel

Due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, unless you qualify for an exemption under the Emergency Decree you should not attempt to cross land borders at present. See Entry requirements

Myanmar border

There are occasional clashes between the Thai security forces, armed criminal groups and drug traffickers along the Thai/Myanmar border. Outside the main towns, police and military checkpoints are actively manned and travelers may be asked to produce ID. See the Tourism Thailand website and seek advice locally before you travel to this part of the country.

Only cross into Myanmar at an official border checkpoint, and after obtaining any relevant permissions/visas from the Burmese and Thai authorities.

Cambodian border

The line of the international border near the Preah Vihear temple was disputed by Cambodia and Thailand. The exact border is still being agreed.

You should take extra care in border areas and follow the instructions of the local authorities. There are unexploded landmines in the border area, you should stay on marked paths especially around Ta Krabey.

Remain alert to the local situation when travelling anywhere near to the border with Cambodia, and at land crossings between the two countries.

Laos border

Not all land border crossings into Laos are open to foreigners and you may need to get a Laos visa before you arrive to cross the border. Much of the exact border is still being agreed.

Air travel

Due to the coronavirus situation internal and international air travel options remain more limited than previously. If you intend to leave Thailand and need to take a domestic flight to reach your international airport you should check with your provider and plan carefully as travel between provinces is still subject to some limitations. There are two airports in Bangkok: Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang Airport.

Occasionally airports (especially in the north of Thailand) can close in March and April caused by poor air quality affecting visibility. You should check with your airline before travelling.

The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines, but the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

Road travel

There are a high number of road traffic accidents in Thailand especially involving motorcycles. The World Health Organisation (WHO) rates Thailand as the world’s deadliest country for fatalities on motorcycles, citing an average of 5,500 motorcyclist deaths annually.

To drive a car or ride a motorcycle in Thailand, under Thai law you must have the correct licence and appropriate insurance for the category of vehicle you’re using. You will need to apply for a Thai driving licence or, if you already hold a UK licence, an International Driving Permit. If you drive a car or ride a motorcycle in Thailand without a valid licence, this may invalidate your travel insurance if you have an accident or injury.

Under Thai law, you must wear a helmet when riding motorcycles.

There have been a number of accidents involving overnight coach travel. Seek local advice if you are in any doubt about the safety of your transport provider.

Motorcycles or scooters for hire in beach resorts are often unregistered and can’t be used legally on a public road. Before you hire a vehicle, make sure you’re covered by your travel insurance and check the small print of the lease agreement. Don’t hand over your passport as a guarantee against returning a motorcycle or scooter.

Riding quad-bikes can be dangerous. It is also illegal to drive these on the roads even though they’re available to hire on the roadside.

Rail travel

Due to the coronavirus situation rail travel options may be more limited than previously. If you intend to leave Thailand and need to travel by train to reach your airport you should check with your provider.

There have been a number of train derailments in Thailand. Some have resulted in deaths and injuries.

Sea travel

Due to the coronavirus situation sea travel options may be more limited than previously. If you intend to leave Thailand and need to use a boat service to reach your airport you should check with your provider.

There are numerous passenger boat services operating between the mainland and islands. There have been some sinkings and collisions which have resulted in fatalities, including British nationals. These incidents are usually due to overloading and/or poor maintenance, but also due to rough seas, particularly during local monsoon season.

During the Full Moon parties, speedboats to and from Koh Phangan are often overloaded. Take care at all times and avoid travelling by sea when conditions are rough or on vessels that are clearly overloaded or in poor condition. Make sure life jackets are available and check local weather conditions before travelling.

Adventurous activities and swimming

Check that your insurance covers you for any activities.

Extreme sports, including bungee jumping can be dangerous. Make sure the company is using the most up-to-date equipment and safety features, and that they are fully licensed and insured.

When jungle trekking use a reliable, licensed tour guide. Elephant treks and rides can be dangerous, especially when the elephants are mistreated or not handled properly. Foreign tourists, including British nationals, have been killed and seriously injured when handlers have lost control of their elephants.

Take particular care when swimming off coastal areas, especially during monsoon season. Strong riptides have drowned people in several areas including Phuket, Koh Chang, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Rayong, Pattaya and the Koh Samui archipelago. Always comply with warning signs, especially red flags, and only swim from approved beaches.

Jellyfish can swim close to the shore, particularly during the rainy season. Their sting can be fatal. If in doubt take local advice from hotel management and dive centres.

Take care when swimming, diving, kayaking or white water rafting in rivers or close to waterfalls, particularly in the rainy season. Currents can be extremely strong.

The standards maintained by diving schools and rescue services are not always as high as in the UK. Check a dive operator’s credentials carefully before using them and make sure you’re covered by your insurance. If you’ve had no previous diving experience ask your dive operator to explain what cover they offer before signing up for a course. Make sure safety equipment is available on the boat, particularly oxygen.

You should also ask about contingency plans which should include the ability to call for help while at sea and to evacuate divers to the nearest hyperbaric chamber if necessary.

Travellers with limited mobility

There are many interesting places in Thailand that are accessible to all people. But wheelchair access is often limited due to uneven paving, street furniture and a lack of lifts, ramps, etc. This includes buses, public transit systems, and many taxis have limited storage space for wheelchairs. See our general information on planning a safe trip for disabled travellers.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Thailand.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Bomb and grenade attacks have been indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should take care, particularly in public places, follow the advice of the local authorities and monitor local media reports. The Thai authorities have on a number of occasions warned of the possibility of attacks to coincide with symbolic dates or holidays.

In the past, there have been attacks in Bangkok and other parts of the country:

  • On 2 August 2019, coinciding with the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting, a number of small explosions occurred in Bangkok.
  • On 10 March 2019, a number of small explosions occurred in Satun City and in Patthalung Province in the south of Thailand.
  • In December 2018, there were a series of small explosions on Samila beach in Songkhla City.
  • In April and May 2017, there were several explosions in Bangkok.
  • In August 2016, there were multiple explosions and incidents in tourist areas across Thailand (including Hua Hin, Trang, Krabi, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Patong and Loma in Phuket, Surat Thani, and Khao Lak in Phang Nga) involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and incendiary devices.
  • A large bomb exploded at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok in 2015, resulting in numerous casualties, including the death of a British national.

In October 2016, the Thai authorities say they disrupted planned attacks in Bangkok.

The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to Thailand’s southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, and to southern Songkhla province. There are regular attacks in these areas. On 5 November 2019, an attack against a security checkpoint in Yala province resulted in 15 deaths. Methods of attack can include arson, bombings and shootings. Targets have included civilians and members of the security forces, government offices, tourist hotels, discos, bars, shops, marketplaces, supermarkets, schools, transport infrastructure and trains. Over 7,700 people, including civilians, have been killed and several thousand more injured since 2004.

Martial law has been in place in nearly all areas within these provinces since 2006. The security authorities can detain suspects without charge, censor the media, conduct searches and seize documents.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Thailand set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Restrictions in response to coronavirus

Entry and transit

If you want to travel to Thailand, you must apply for permission to travel via the Royal Thai Government’s online platform.

You should keep up to date with the latest information on the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Royal Thai Embassy London, Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, and the Ministry of Public Health.

Residents currently outside Thailand

If you have a Thai resident visa and normally live in Thailand but cannot return within the required year, you will be granted an extension to your compulsory return deadline. However, you are required to return to Thailand as soon as the situation improves.

On arrival

Certain categories of foreigners arriving in Thailand will be tested for COVID-19 on entry and again during quarantine – see Entry section above.

Quarantine requirements

Most travellers to Thailand, including British nationals travelling from the UK, are required to complete 14 days’ quarantine at a State Quarantine or Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility. Whilst in ASQ, you will normally not be allowed to leave your room except for medical treatment or COVID-19 tests.

In some areas of Thailand it is possible to complete some or all of the quarantine period without being restricted to an ASQ facility. Schemes include the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus. You can find out more information on the Royal Thai Embassy London website.

Data collection

You may be required to download the Thai Chana COVID-19 tracking app on arrival in Thailand.

Visas

You need a valid visa to stay in Thailand. If you do not have a valid visa you will be subject to overstay penalties. You should speak to your local Immigration Office or visit the Thai Immigration website.

You are legally required to have a valid passport in Thailand. Any visa you hold will become invalid from your passport expiry date. If you need to renew or apply for a new British passport, see Overseas British passport applications.

If you are unable to renew or change your visa and unable to travel to your home country (because the border is closed, for example) and need support you should contact the Embassy.

More information

If you have any queries about visas or entry requirements, check with the Royal Thai Embassy, Thai Immigration Authority and Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thai authorities may introduce further measures. You can monitor the latest updates from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health website.

Regular entry requirements

Passport validity

Your passport must have at least 6 months’ validity remaining from your date of entry into Thailand. Entry to Thailand is normally refused if you have a passport which is damaged or has pages missing.

If you’re a dual national, you must depart Thailand on the same nationality passport you used to enter. If not, you may experience difficulties as you pass through immigration.

Visas

For current information on entry and visa requirements refer to Restrictions in response to coronavirus.

Under normal circumstances, British passport holders arriving by air or land can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa (a ‘visa exemption’). If you need to stay longer, it’s possible to extend your stay once for up to 30 days. You must apply for the extension before your visa exemption period ends.

You can only enter Thailand through a land border using the 30 day visa exemption twice per calendar year. To cross more frequently, you’ll need to get the appropriate visa in advance of travelling. This doesn’t apply if arriving by air. For more information, contact the nearest Thai embassy or consulate.

If you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than 30 days, are going to work, or use land borders regularly you must get the appropriate visa before you travel.

The only legal way of getting a new visa, entry permit or extension of stay is from a Thai Embassy or Consulate, an Immigration Officer at a point of entry into Thailand, or one of the Immigration Offices around the country. Visas issued by visa shops, travel agents or by any other means are likely to be illegal and lead to criminal proceedings.

If you stay beyond the period of your visa (‘overstay’), you’ll be fined 500 baht per day up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. You also risk being held in detention, fined, deported at your own expense and banned from re-entering Thailand. The enforcement of penalties for overstaying is strict and conditions in detention centres can be harsh. Deportation by the Thai authorities can be a lengthy process and you will also be banned from re-entering Thailand for up to 10 years.

If you’re living or staying in Thailand on a long-term visa, immigration rules can be complex and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to ensure you meet the requirements of your visa. Stay informed and contact your local immigration office for more information.

If you have any queries about visas or entry requirements, check with the Royal Thai Embassy or Thai Immigration Authority.

Proof of onward travel and funds

Immigration officials in Thailand may ask you for proof of onward travel (e.g. a return or onward air ticket). You should make all reservations before travelling to Thailand. Some airlines have refused to board passengers without evidence of onward travel.

Immigration officials may also ask for evidence of adequate finances and have refused entry to people who could not show this. This is not defined in law and can be interpreted in a number of ways.

Employment

To work in Thailand you will need a work permit or business visa. Failure to observe this rule can lead to arrest and deportation.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Thailand. If you’re planning to enter Thailand using a UK ETD, you should contact the nearest Thai Embassy or Consulate before you travel to seek advice about whether a visa is required. If you’re requesting a two-way ETD from Thailand, you must provide proof that you have a non-immigrant visa.

The British Embassy in Bangkok has produced a short video on Facebook and Twitter about some important things to be aware of when living or travelling in Thailand.

Detention facilities

Conditions in prisons and other detention facilities in Thailand are harsh, with limited access to healthcare. There have been recent cases of detainees dying in custody.

Drugs

Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of even very small quantities can lead to imprisonment. If you are found guilty of possession of marijuana you could receive a long prison sentence and/or a heavy fine. If you’re found guilty of being in possession of 20 grams of a Class A drug on exiting Thailand you risk receiving the death penalty. Amphetamines and ecstasy are regarded as Class A drugs and possession or trafficking carries the same penalty as heroin.

Smoking

It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes per person into Thailand. This is enforced at customs on arrival. Those who exceed the limit may be fined ten times the value of the items and face confiscation of the cigarettes.

In January 2018, Thai authorities introduced a smoking ban on some beaches, including in Koh Samui, Pattaya and in Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla provinces. Those caught smoking in non-designated areas face a 100,000 baht fine or up to a year in prison. There are also strict rules on the disposal of all forms of waste, especially polystyrene and plastic, and any act that can cause damage to coastal areas. You should follow local guidance.

On 27 March 2020 the Thai Department of Disease Control linked the smoking of cigarettes to the impact of coronavirus. Smoking in public could result in a fine of up to 5,000 Baht. This includes electronic cigarettes which are illegal in Thailand and their use may incur further fines or imprisonment. Electronic cigarettes are already illegal in Thailand and their use may incur further fines or imprisonment.

Vaporisers (like e-cigarettes and e-baraku) and refills are illegal in Thailand. These items may be confiscated and you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted. Their sale or supply is also banned and you could face a heavy fine or up to 5 years imprisonment if found guilty.

LGBT

Thailand is generally a tolerant and progressive place for LGBT travellers, although in parts of Thai society LGBT rights and issues are more tolerated than accepted. There are active LGBT communities and social venues and increasingly people from the LGBT community play high profile roles in the public sphere, including trans-MPs.

Same-sex relationships are not criminalised by law. Thailand has no legislation on same-sex marriage and same-sex marriages conducted elsewhere aren’t recognised. Those wishing to change their gender marker on official documents can do so from male to female or vice versa, provided that they have undergone, or attempted to undergo, gender reassignment surgery. Thailand does not recognise a third gender. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community.

Wildlife

Thailand is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence and the ivory trade is banned.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Thailand on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Thailand.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest health advice on travelling to Thailand from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. This has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy whilst in the country. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re in Thailand.

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines that are available in the UK are considered controlled substances in Thailand. Restrictions tend to apply to medication containing narcotic and pyschotropic substances, which means that you may not be able to bring certain types of medicine into Thailand. You can find more information on the website of the Royal Thai Embassy. You can find further guidance on the NaTHNaC website on best practice when travelling with medicines.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Health risks

Rabies has been reported in domestic and wild animals, and there have been fatalities. You should avoid direct contact with animals and take precautions to protect yourself.

There are excellent private hospitals in Thailand but they can be expensive. Public hospitals and clinics in Thailand do not always meet UK standards, particularly outside Bangkok. Many hospitals require guarantee of payment. Make sure you have adequate health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost.

UK health authorities have classified Thailand as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with the Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Dengue fever is present in Thailand and the number of reported cases is rising, some of these have been fatal. To avoid Dengue Fever, Zika Virus and Chikungunya virus you should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Water supply

Thailand’s Metropolitan Waterworks Authority advise that there is no risk to public health from drinking tap water. If you are concerned about the risks to your personal health, you should drink bottled water and/or get medical advice.

Air quality

High levels of air pollution can occur in major urban areas, including in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, which is also affected by regional smoke haze. The high pollution and PM 2.5 counts, occasionally enter the unhealthy and hazardous levels. This may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can check air quality levels for many cities in real time on the World Air Quality Index website.

During March and April there is often smoke haze and resulting poor air quality and pollution across parts of the north, north-east and south of Thailand, this can also close regional airports due to visibility. Keep up-to-date with local information and seek medical advice.

Medical treatment

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 1669 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Prescriptions issued in the UK are widely accepted at hospitals and pharmacies across Thailand. Patented brand name medication can often be considerably more expensive than locally produced equivalents. Most private hospitals and larger pharmacy chains have English speakers available, should you require a consultation in the event of an unplanned extension of your stay.

Medications which are only available on prescription in the UK like Viagra, Cialis and Valium are readily available in popular nightlife districts across Thailand. Medication sold on the street may not be genuine and/or may have been stolen. Taking medication without medical advice or a prescription can have serious health consequences.

The currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht. It may not be possible to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes.

Rainy season

The rainy season in much of Thailand is from May to October. In Koh Samui and the south east of Thailand it is from November to March. However, the rainy seasons have been unpredictable in recent years. Heavy storms can cause disruption including from flooding and landslides. Lakes, caves and waterfalls are particularly prone to dangerous flash flooding during the rainy season.

The Thai Meteorological Department posts official updates and weather warnings on its website.

The Mekong River Commission posts updates on the Mekong River levels on its website.

Earthquakes

Northern Thailand can be subject to earthquakes and tremors of varying magnitude.

The Earthquake Track website lists recent seismic activity. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the FCDO in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Book a Hotel