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Travel Advice – Thailand

The British Embassy in Bangkok and the FCO states that travel to the southern provinces of Thailand is only good for essential travel as the situation is always volatile. These are the areas of  Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla on the Thai-Malaysia border.

Political Situation

Thailand is again experiencing political upheaval and this has become almost normal. As yet there has been no real violence. Most if not all of the violence that has occurred during these political upheavals have mainly been away from the tourist areas. Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket and other tourist spots have never seen any of these demonstrations in all the years of political unrest. The political situation in Thailand has always been a bit unpredictable and sometimes volatile. Take care to steer clear of areas where there will be mass demonstrations.

Crime

Since January 2009 there had been 7 murders of British nationals. These have mainly been spouse murders rather than random acts of violence against tourists. If you are going to a full moon party in Koh Phangan then it is best to exercise extreme caution and always to travel in groups.

It is not advisable for women to travel alone to these parties as sexual assault and spiking of drinks is not uncommon. In January 2013 a British national was shot and killed at a beach party in Haad Rin. DO NOT take drinks from strangers or accept open drinks and also do not take any parcels from people you do not know. Date rape drugs are not uncommon.

Don’t ever lose sight of your credit card. It is always best to try to obtain a pre-paid debit card which you can afford to lose without much problem.

Gem scams are common as well as ATM fraud so what you pack and watch your pockets as pickpockets mainly lady-boys are well known to hangout in Pattaya and the nightlife area in Bangkok. One will want to hug you while the other empties your pockets from behind. DO NOT keep anything in your back pockets!

Common Problems

  • 1. Do not rent a motorbike when in Thailand as most disputes are about motorbikes and scratch marks which will just ruin your holiday in the Kingdom. Thailand also has a hectic traffic problem and more than 12,000 deaths occur each year;
  • 2. Do not rent a Jet ski as most problems in Thailand are about Jet-skis and motorbikes and scams which revolve around them. Take it from me you can simply leave this alone. It is very problematic;
  • 3. Do not do drugs or get so drunk that you do not know where you are;
  • 4. Do not take drinks from strangers;
  • 5. Do not talk about the Royal Family;
  • 6. Do not step on money as the face of The King of Thailand is on it;
  • 7. Do not point with your feet as it is highly offensive;
  • 5. DO use common sense as you would in the UK.

Over 800,000 British tourists visit Thailand every year. Most visits are trouble-free, but incidents of crime (sometimes violent) can affect visitors. Be sensible.

Local laws and customs

  • 1. Do not do drugs in Thailand not even weed (Its not Amsterdam – you will get a 5 year sentence for a single  joint in Thailand) and they give the death sentence for drug trafficking;
  • 2. It is a criminal offense to be critical of the Royal Family with up to 15 years in prison for this;
  • 3. It is illegal to bring in more than 200 cigarettes per person. If you are crossing a land border they always check the minivans again 5 kilometers into Thailand;
  • 4. You have to carry your passport at all times in Thailand.

Money

It may not be possible to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes.

Entry requirements

  • – Your passport must be valid for 6 months or more
  • – If you arrive by air you can stay in Thailand for 30 days. If you arrive in Thailand by land you can only get 15 days. This is a visa waiver and not an actual visa.
  • – If you overstay you will be arrested and deported and fined 20,000 THB plus the cost of your arrest.  Each day overstay is 500THB to a maximum of 20,000THB
  • – You can apply for a Thai tourist visa which is good for 60 days when you enter Thailand and if you wish to stay longer you can apply for have this extended in country for an additional 30 days

Employment

You need to have a work permit in Thailand to work. There is no such thing as a work visa. The work permit is very difficult to obtain in Thailand.

If you have a problem in Thailand then you can contact the British Embassy in Bangkok or the British Embassy in Chiang Mai for assistance. There is also an Honorary Consul in Phuket.

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