Is Thailand safe to travel to in 2020?

With the right precautions and cover, Thailand is full of adventures and a safe country to travel to.

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Important Read: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

From 25 March 2020, the Australian government placed a travel ban on all overseas travel to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. At this time, it's not safe to be travelling overseas.

  • If you buy a policy today, you're unlikely to be covered for any claims.
  • If you purchased your policy before this became a "known event", check directly with your insurer to see if you're affected.
  • Go to Smartraveller for more information on Thailand.

In the past Thailand has experienced both terrorism and natural disasters. As recently as 2017 there have been terrorist attacks in areas frequented by tourists. The most recent natural disaster was an earthquake in northern Thailand that hit a magnitude of 6.3. Before that the largest natural disaster was the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

The majority of Thailand is safe for Australians to travel but common crimes include petty theft, sexual assault and taxi scams.

Travellers must avoid travel in the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla and overland travel through these provinces to the border of Malaysia due to ongoing violence. Travel to these provinces will not be covered by travel insurance and the Australian government can not guarantee assistance.

Travellers to Thailand are urged to proceed with a high degree of caution. Travel insurance covers medical expenses on most plans, petty theft up to a certain amount and motorcycle accidents if the driver has the required licence.

Get travel insurance for Thailand

warning Finally, some good news! Domestic travel is picking up, so some insurers have started offering cover again 🦘
Just remember, you won't be covered for any pandemic related claims if you do take out domestic travel insurance.

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Is the food and drink safe in Thailand?

Is it safe to eat in Thailand?

Food poisoning is common in Thailand as food handling techniques are not always up to scratch.

Tips for safe eating

  • Eat where the locals eat as they would never go back to a restaurant that continued to make them sick.
  • Avoid foods that can’t be cooked or peeled such as lettuce or apples as they’re often washed with tap water.
  • Don’t shy away from street food but watch as your food is being cooked or avoid eating meat. You can even stick to tofu as an extra precaution.

Is the water safe to drink?

Is it not safe to drink tap water in Thailand, but bottled water is very cheap and readily available at restaurants and convenience stores which are on almost every corner so water purification tablets are not needed.

Water tips to ensure you're drinking safely:

  • Only drink bottled water and make sure the bottle cap is sealed.
  • Drinking boiled water for tea and coffee is fine.
  • Ice cubes are okay to drink as it’s cheaper for restaurants to buy ice cubes made with purified water than it is to make their own.

Is Thailand safe to travel alone?

Luckily, Thailand is safe for solo travellers, even solo female travellers. It’s very common for solo travellers to make their way throughout the mainland and the islands safely.

Like any country it is always smart to travel with a degree of caution and to keep these tips in mind:

  • Watch your drinks so that they don’t get spiked.
  • Be aware of your belongings and your surroundings in regard to petty theft and assault.
  • Dress appropriately to avoid unwanted attention.
  • Only travel with official transport companies.
  • Book accommodation before you arrive.

Is it safe to travel to Thailand when pregnant?

Thailand is a developing country and it is not recommended that women who are pregnant travel to developing nations. Some vaccinations for travel to Thailand are harmful to women who are pregnant. Medications used to
treat food poisoning or diarrhoea are also considered harmful and all travellers to Thailand have a high risk
of getting food poisoning. You should also review your travel insurance for its limit on how many weeks
pregnant you can be before it won’t offer cover.

Looking for other insurance options?

Find out how to protect your finances during the global coronavirus pandemic with insurance.

Do you need vaccinations before going to Thailand?

Along with having your routine vaccinations up to date it is good practice to consult a doctor about other vaccines that you could need before leaving on your trip to Thailand.

Smartraveller.gov.au and a doctor can give you the best advice on diseases/viruses to know about which include:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • Zika
  • Typhoid
  • Cholera
  • Malaria
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Dengue fever

Malaria is present in Thailand in the rural areas and along the borders of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Cases of dengue fever have also been reported in Thailand, especially during the rainy season (May to October on the mainland and on the Andaman Sea islands, November to March for the Thailand Gulf islands).

If you opt to pass on any of the suggested or required vaccinations before travelling to Thailand your travel insurance may not cover you if you fall ill while abroad, which could leave you with a hefty medical bill.

Is there malaria in Thailand?

There is ongoing transmission of malaria in Thailand. It is most common for travellers to contract the disease while in rural areas, especially near the Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar borders.

Is Zika in Thailand?

Zika is a present and ongoing issue in Thailand with a number of confirmed cases, which is of special concern for pregnant travellers.

Avoiding mosquito-borne diseases

To protect yourself consider taking prophylaxis, be sure to use mosquito repellent, wear loose, long and light-coloured clothing (mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours) and stay in accommodation that is mosquito proof.

Is Thailand a safe place to get dental work and cosmetic surgery?

Getting dental work and cosmetic surgery done is Thailand is very common since the prices are a fraction of what is offered in Australia.

It is safe to get work done so long as you avoid discounted and uncertified establishments. Private hospitals have very high standards and are in most major cities in Thailand. In some cases even public hospitals are okay to be treated in as well.

It is unlikely that travel insurance will cover you for medical tourism as travel insurance is designed to cover travellers for unforeseen circumstances and emergencies. Getting planned dental work or cosmetic surgery done would be considered a pre-existing condition.

How safe is it to get a tattoo in Thailand?

Like you would in Australia here are a few things to look out for before getting a tattoo done:

  • Be sure the artist uses new needles (even bamboo needles come in plastic as new).
  • Ask how long the artist has been practicing and check out their designs from previous completed tattoos.
  • Make sure they aren’t pushing you to get a tattoo done. The artist shouldn’t be pushy and should take the time to answer any of your concerns.

If you want to get a sak yant tattoo done by a monk be sure that the monks use a new needle as traditionally they re-use the same needle which is unsanitary and unsafe.

Is it safe to drive in Thailand?

Thai roads share one similarity with Australia, you drive on the left-hand side. However, driving in Thailand can be scary for first-time visitors, especially if you’re piloting the most common conveyance – a motorcycle.

If you do plan on getting behind two or four wheels, you need to have a licence. While the rental company may not require it, if you get into an accident, your insurer will only pay out if you’re licensed to drive that type of vehicle in Australia.

Is transport safe in Thailand?

Transport is safe in Thailand so long as you take mild precautions. When getting a taxi, motorcycle taxi or tuk tuk always negotiate the price beforehand or insist that the driver uses the meter (car taxis only).

Grab (Uber has been merged with Grab in Thailand) is common for travellers to use as a low-cost alternative to traditional taxis.

If travelling by ferry be sure to use reputable companies that provide the necessary safety equipment on board. Avoid sea travel after dark.

The Smart Traveller website does not advise against any airlines travelling to and from Thailand from Australia but you can visit the Aviation Safety Network for up-to-date information on Thai airlines.

Are bombings in Thailand common in tourist areas?

While not common, there have been bombings in the past such as the 2015 Bangkok bombings which killed 20 people and the bombing in Hua Hin in 2016 which killed 1. Mostly tourists were killed or injured in both events. However, none were Australian.

Is Thailand safe from tsunamis?

Tsunamis are a risk if travelling to Thailand as earthquakes in the surrounding regions and Thailand itself are common. The last tsunami to hit Thailand was in 2004, known as the Boxing Day tsunami.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre gives up-to-date warnings and activities for tsunamis in Thailand.

Picture: GettyImages

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