Travellers to Thailand are warned that circumstances have changed in the country following the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The 88year old monarch was much loved and widely respected in Thailand, you are advised to show respect and sympathy to the Thai people. A year long period of mourning has been declared.
The Thai government issued a statement on October 17th clarifying how the mourning period will affect tourists.
There are effectively two periods of mourning, one lasting 30 days in which there will be strict observance of protocol. Visitors are NOT required to wear black mourning coours, although the effort of avoiding flambouyant clothing would be appreciated. Entertainment venues are not forcibly closed, but in this period those that choose to operate may decide to not play music and to provide entertainment. The serving of alcohol is not prohibited, but visitors are asked to respect this period in Thai history.
The remainder of the year there will be a subdued but not comprehensive period of mourning. Official government activities will go ahead, but without music. Most public venues will return to normal, although they may be more sombre, close earlier, or be less ostentatious. Much of that will depend on the individual proprietor and their attitude to the death of their King.
Travellers are reminded that a military junta is in charge of Thailand and martial law may be re-imposed in tourist areas at short notice. Martial law allows the authorities to make laws by decree, and to detain, arrest or deport people without reference to the judicial system. These powers are often given to local commanders – basically the local police or army chief can make it up as he sees fit. Decrees made in one area may not apply elsewhere.
The reaction from Thais to seeing tourists going about their usual business will vary, with some likely to be hostile. If an altercation is taken to the authorities it is very likely they will side with the more conservative view towards appropriate behaviour.
Many Thais rely on the income from tourist operations for their living. If an establishment decides to continue operating (to pay their bills) it does not necessarily mean patrons have official permission to carry on as usual. Especially in the early weeks of the mourning period you should behave appropriately.
A wave of bombings has hit five provinces in Thailand, resulting in four deaths and dozens of casualties. The attacks occurred at sites popular with tourists, including the Hua Hin resort in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Trang Province, the resort island of Phuket, as well as the provinces of Surat Thani and Phang Nga.
Described as a coordinated attack with small explosives detonated by cellphone, officials say the bombings are not the work of international terrorists but "local sabotage," possibly in response to the passage of a new constitution that expands the power of the military government.
World Nomads is urging travelers to retain perspective on terror events, and understand that the chance of being a victim are still extremely small. In fact you are statistically four times more likely to be hit by lightning.
Don't confuse the possibility of a terror attack with the probability of being involved in one. Check out this piece on traveling in the age of terrorism for some perspective.
Remember there are psychological reasons why you may feel uncertain about travel; we're more afraid of events that are gruesome, unpredictable and unfamiliar. We feel less fear about every day dangers such as heart attack, auto accidents or skin cancer - all of which are much more likely to kill you.
However, there are actions you can take to further lessen the likelihood you will become a victim. These include carefully considering the security around large-scale, easily accessible, public events. If at all possible get yourself inside a secure area at any event. This may mean a ticketed event, or a secure area set up by organizers. Inside such an area, like being behind the security checkpoint at an airport, is the safest option.
Alternatively, if you stay in a publicly accessible area, stay away from the heaviest concentration of crowds, keep to the fringes where the sheer number of people presents less of a target and there is the option of making a quick escape if trouble should occur.
If you are injured in a terrorist attack your medical costs and medical evacuation (if required) are covered by your policy.
Access to the benefits of cancellation and trip interruption depends on your country of residence, so check out the information here.
Police are hunting a Thai street gang believed to be deliberately targeting tourists, or "farangs", thought responsible for a brutal attack on a British family during the Songkran Festival in 2016.
In the video below, dated April 13th, the family - including a woman in her 60s - are punched to the ground and then repeatedly kicked and stomped.
BE ADVISED, SOME PEOPLE MAY FIND THE VIDEO DISTURBING - VIOLENT ACTS ARE PORTRAYED. IT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR MINORS TO VIEW.
Witnesses say the attack was unprovoked and started after a minor altercation. The incident occured in the resort town of Hua Hin 250 kms south of Bangkok. The family had been out at a restaurant and bar for the evening and were walking back to their accommodation at around 2am.
There's not much you can do to protect yourself from an unprovoked attacks such as this. However, be aware that walking back to your hotel at 2am is a time when this sort of assault is more likely. If you are confronted, do not engage in an argument, back off and walk away.
Shortly before 7pm a bomb exploded in Bangkok killing over 20 people and injuring a hundred more.
The explosion occurred at the Erawan Shrine, on Ratchaprasong Junction, a location popular with locals and visitors. Thai authorities say it was a pre-meditated attack on foreigners aimed at harming Thailand's tourism industry.
Tourists are being advised to stay away from the shrine for the time being and exercise a high degree of caution in Bangkok.
We are advising travellers to stay away from busy tourist destinations such as temples and monuments for the time being, until it can be determined if the Erawan attack was a one-off or the first of a series.
If you wish to depart Bangkok, or to re-arrange travel to Bangkok, contact your airline or tour provider. Some airlines are waiving re-booking fees for their customers. There is no coverage for change of mind under your policy with us.
If you are unclear about your coverage please call our customer service centre.
If you require urgent help please call our emergency assistance team. The number to call for your country of residence emergency numbers.
On Friday 13th June the military junta lifted the curfew across all of Thailand. There is now no restriction on movement at any hour, in any part of Thailand. However, martial law remains imposed and everyone, including visitors, is subject to it.
The General leading the coup said the curfew was lifted because there's been no insyances of violence and in the interest of revitalising tourism. With many of the World Cup soccer games scheduled for 2am Thailand time the lifiting of the curfew is likely to be a popular move.
See our regular Thailand Survival Guide here.
Don't Do This
The military junta has made it illegal to use the 3-finger "Hunger Games" salute as an act of silent protest against the coup. Several people have been arrested for expressing dissent in this way. However you feel about the coup - save your comments until you get home.
Can I Cancel?
It‘s a bit tough, but because the hotels and resorts are still open (at the moment) and the airlines are still flying to Thailand, and the airport is still operating nothing‘s been “cancelled“ so there‘s no coverage.
Deciding to cancel your trip yourself is called “change of mind“ and is not covered either.
If you feel uneasy about going to Thailand now (and who wouldn‘t) talk to your travel provider about postponing, or re-scheduling or re-arranging (Vietnam‘s nice at this time of year). But if it costs you money to make those changes, sorry it's not covered because a military coup is a general exclusion.
Am I Covered?
Now‘s the time to go and read your policy documents because it depends on where you're from and which underwriter covers you (sorry, it's complicated). However, generally - Military coups are a general exclusion (we'll explain that below) – which means anything that happens to you because of the coup IS NOT COVERED, but everything else IS as normal.
So, fall over and break a leg – you‘re covered. Miss a flight because the public transport system is closed – sorry, not covered.
Your bag gets stolen from your hotel – no change to your cover. Your hotel is locked down by the military and you have to pay to move to a new one – again, not covered.
Without getting too "insurance-ey" let's just say there are some things that if they happened would leave the insurers open to (literally) incalcuable costs. A worldwide epidemic for example, if it were not a general exclusion, could send all the insurers in the world broke. There are two options to prevent that: charge an astronomically higher price for a policy, or exclude the event from the policy and keep the cost low - and still cover 99% of things that might happen to a traveller. That's the brutal truth.
What Should I do?
If you're still uneasy about going to Thailand (or want to leave) talk to your airline, hotel and other travel providers and ask them for help. Ask them if you can re-schedule at no extra cost. Ask them if you can cancel and get a full refund. Just ask them. Most major providers are very understanding and will do their best to accommodate your request.
Coup Safety Tips
Everything might seem calm, but the situation is unpredictable. If you see a political protest or demonstration, walk the other way.
Need assistance? Find the emergency contact telephone number for you.
So we can best assist you, please be ready with the following: