Where is Thailand located?

What countries border Thailand?

Thailand Weather

What is the current weather in Thailand?

Thailand Facts and Culture

What is Thailand famous for?

  • Cultural Attributes: Traditionally, success is measured by a person's wealth and education. Wealth is generally looked on as a reflection of virtue.... More
  • Family: Members of the family (even adults) are usually expected to abide by the advice of their elders, although this is... More
  • Personal Apperance: Sandals are popular, but shoes are worn in formal situations. Straw hats are popular due to the excessive heat. Western... More
  • Recreation: A favorite pastime in Thailand is "takraw", a game in which players keep a rattan ball in the air, using... More
  • Diet: Rice is the staple food of Thailand. It is usually served with spicy dishes that consist of meat, vegetables, fish,... More
  • Food and Recipes: Thais use forks and spoons at mealtime. They hold the fork in their left hand and the spoon in their... More
  • Visiting: The person of the highest social rank or age is treated with the greatest respect. In all cases, how one... More
  • Dating: In Thailand, girls have traditionally led a more sheltered life than boys, but this is no longer the case. Boys... More

Thailand Facts

What is the capital of Thailand?

Capital Bangkok
Government Type constitutional monarchy
Currency Thai Baht (THB)
Total Area 198,116 Square Miles
513,120 Square Kilometers
Location Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma
Language Thai, English, ethnic and regional dialects
GDP - real growth rate 2.5%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $16,100.00 (USD)

Thailand Demographics

What is the population of Thailand?

Ethnic Group - note data represent population by nationality
Ethnic Groups Thai 97.5%, Burmese 1.3%, other 1.1%, unspecified <0.1%
Language - note Central Thai is the official language, with other dialects being spoken in the country. Chinese and Malay are spoken by many people. Thai is a tonal language, meaning that a given syllable can have different meanings depending on the inflection with which it is pronounced. Central Thai has five tones.
Languages Thai (official) only 90.7%, Thai and other languages 6.4%, only other languages 2.9% (includes Malay, Burmese); note - data represent population by language(s) spoken at home; English is a secondary language of the elite
Nationality Noun noun: Thai (singular and plural)

adjective: Thai
Population 69,920,998
Population - note Note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of the population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
Population Growth Rate 0.17%
Population in Major Urban Areas 11.070 million BANGKOK (capital), 1.454 Chon Buri, 1.359 million Samut Prakan, 1.213 million Chiang Mai, 1.005 million Songkla, 1.001 million Nothaburi
Urban Population urban population: 53.6% of total population

rate of urbanization: 1.43% annual rate of change
Population: Male/Female male: 34,065,311

female: 35,855,687

Thailand Government

What type of government does Thailand have?

Executive Branch chief of state: King WACHIRALONGKON, also spelled Vajiralongkorn (since 1 December 2016)

head of government: Prime Minister SRETTHA Thawisin (since 5 September 2023)

cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister, appointed by the king; a Privy Council advises the king

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister candidate approved by the House of Representatives and Senate and appointed by the king; starting in 2024, approval of prime minister needed only by the House of Representatives

note: following its May 2023 election win, the MJP formed an eight-party coalition and put forward its leader PITA Limjaroenrat for prime minister; however, the Senate blocked PITA from becoming prime minister in the first National Assembly vote in July 2023, and the Assembly subsequently voted that he could not submit his name again; the Constitutional Court also suspended PITA after accepting cases accusing him of violating election law; in August 2023, MJP handed over the lead in forming a new government to the second largest party in the coalition, PTP, which then formed a new coalition without MJP; PTP put forward SRETTHA Thavisin for prime minister, and he was approved by the National Assembly 482 votes out of a possible 747
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Citizenship Citizenship by birth: no

Citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Thailand

Dual citizenship recognized: no

Residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
National Holiday Birthday of King WACHIRALONGKON, 28 July (1952)
Constitution history: many previous; latest drafted and presented 29 March 2016, approved by referendum 7 August 2016, signed into law by the king on 6 April 2017

amendments: amendments require a majority vote in a joint session of the House and Senate and further require at least one fifth of opposition House members and one third of the Senate vote in favor; a national referendum is additionally required for certain amendments; all amendments require signature by the king; Thailand's 2017 constitution was amended in November 2021 to increase the number of constituency members of parliament (MPs) from 350 to 400, reduce the number of party-list MPs from 150 to 100, and change the election to a two-ballot system
Independence 1238 (traditional founding date; never colonized)

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Thailand Geography

What environmental issues does Thailand have?

Overview The Kingdom of Thailand is located at a strategic crossroads in Southeast Asia. With an area of over 200,000 square miles, Thailand is the second largest nation in Southeast Asia.

Topographically, Thailand presents a varied landscape of forested mountains, dry plateaus, fertile river plains, and sandy beaches. Mountain ranges extend along the border with Myanmar and down to Malaysia. Another range splits the country in half from north to south.

The Chao Phraya River originates in the north and flows southward. It irrigates the fertile ricelands of the Central Plains through a network of "klongs" or canals. This long river serves as the main water transportation route through the central part of the country. It empties into the Gulf of Thailand some 35 miles south of Bangkok.
Climate Located at 20 degrees north latitude, Thailand is generally hot and humid with a climate that is classified as tropical monsoon. A pronounced rainy season lasts from July to October. From November to February, the northeast monsoon brings a cooler, drier period, when the humidity drops from an average high of 95 percent to an average low of 58 percent. During this season, temperatures typically range from the mid-60s in the early morning to the mid-80s during the day. The period from March to June is Bangkok's summer, which is usually hot and humid; temperatures can reach 100° Fahrenheit.
Border Countries Burma 1,800 km, Cambodia 803 km, Laos 1,754 km, Malaysia 506 km
Environment - Current Issues Air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from organic and factory wastes; deforestation; soil erosion; wildlife populations threatened by illegal hunting
Environment - International Agreements Party To: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Terrain Central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere

Thailand Economy

How big is the Thailand economy?

Economic Overview With a relatively well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, and generally pro-investment policies, Thailand is highly dependent on international trade, with exports accounting for about two-thirds of GDP. Thailand’s exports include electronics, agricultural commodities, automobiles and parts, and processed foods. The industry and service sectors produce about 90% of GDP. The agricultural sector, comprised mostly of small-scale farms, contributes only 10% of GDP but employs about one-third of the labor force. Thailand has attracted an estimated 3.0-4.5 million migrant workers, mostly from neighboring countries.

Over the last few decades, Thailand has reduced poverty substantially. In 2013, the Thai Government implemented a nationwide 300 baht (roughly $10) per day minimum wage policy and deployed new tax reforms designed to lower rates on middle-income earners.

Thailand’s economy is recovering from slow growth during the years since the 2014 coup. Thailand’s economic fundamentals are sound, with low inflation, low unemployment, and reasonable public and external debt levels. Tourism and government spending - mostly on infrastructure and short-term stimulus measures – have helped to boost the economy, and The Bank of Thailand has been supportive, with several interest rate reductions.

Over the longer term, household debt levels, political uncertainty, and an aging population pose risks to growth.
Industries Tourism, textiles and garments, agricultural processing, beverages, tobacco, cement, light manufacturing such as jewelry, electric appliances and components, computers and parts, integrated circuits, furniture, plastics, world's second-largest tungsten producer, and third-largest tin producer
Currency Name and Code Thai Baht (THB)
Export Partners United States 19.6%, Japan 14.5%, Singapore 8.1%, Hong Kong 5.4%, China 5.2%, Malaysia 4.1%
Import Partners Japan 23%, United States 9.6%, China 7.6%, Malaysia 5.6%, Singapore 4.5%, Taiwan 4.4%

Thailand News and Current Events

What current events are happening in Thailand?
Source: Google News

Thailand Travel Information

What makes Thailand a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Thailand, officially the Royal Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a Southeast Asian nation at the center of the Indochina peninsula with a population of nearly 70 million. Bangkok is the capital city and Chiang Mai is an important educational and cultural center in northern Thailand. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with the King as head of state and the prime minister as head of government. The monarchy is an integral and respected part of Thai society and is protected by a vigorously enforced lèse majesté law, which makes it a crime to commit any offense or insult against the royal family. Thailand is a popular travel destination with tourist facilities available throughout much of the country. Political and civil unrest has at times been a problem affecting travel to Thailand, and political demonstrations take place with some frequency.


Although the crime threat in Bangkok and other Thai cities remains lower than that in many U.S. cities, crimes of opportunity such as pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, and burglary are not unusual. You should be especially wary when walking in crowded markets, tourist sites, and bus or train stations. Many U.S. citizens have had passports, wallets, and other valuables stolen in Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market, in the area of Khao San Road, and other areas, usually by pickpockets and thieves who cut into purses or bags with a razor and remove items surreptitiously. Across Thailand, U.S. citizens have been robbed of their valuables and other possessions after soliciting the services of commercial sex workers. Thieves also victimize travelers on long-distance bus routes. Police may refuse to issue police reports for foreign victims of theft, requiring them instead to travel several miles to a central Tourist Police station. You may request a police report, but police may ask you to pay a small fee, approximately 50 baht in some instances.

Violent Crimes: Violent crimes against foreigners are relatively rare. However, murders, rapes, and assaults do occur. These crimes happen most often at night. Frequently, victims, both male and female, have been drinking and are often alone or separated from traveling companions. These crimes have occurred all over Thailand but are most common in Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and tourist areas in southern Thailand, including Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Krabi. If you are traveling alone, you should exercise caution, stay near other travelers and ensure that friends or family know how to contact you. Sexually motivated violent incidents, committed by both Thai citizens and visitors, are most likely to occur at parties at discos or beaches, such as the full moon party on Phangan Island. Some victims find that Thai authorities do not handle their cases with as much sensitivity or consideration for privacy as they would expect in the United States. You should maintain awareness of your surroundings and travel with trusted friends or relatives to reduce your chances of falling victim to crimes of this nature.

Minor and major incidents of crimes involving taxis or "tuk-tuks" (three-wheeled taxis) can occur, especially in some tourist areas. Drivers may attempt to charge excessive fares at airports and near major tourist attractions. Before entering a for-hire vehicle, you should either request that the driver use the meter or reach an agreement on the fare for your trip. Taxis in Bangkok and other major cities have meters, and their drivers usually use them. Taxis in tourist areas often do not have meters; negotiate the fare before you get into these taxis. Taxi drivers often refuse fares, especially during rush hour or to places they do not know well. You should be aware that raising your voice and using aggressive body language could be seen as a threat to the driver. Do not hesitate to ask to be let out of a taxi immediately if the driver is acting suspiciously or driving erratically. Registered taxicab drivers have a yellow placard with their name in English and their photograph on the passenger’s side dashboard of the vehicle. If this photograph does not match the driver, you should be wary of entering the vehicle. Police will seldom intervene in incidents involving taxi drivers.

In Phuket, drivers routinely charge fares that are much higher than those in Bangkok for comparable distances. Threats of violence may accompany excessive charges. Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers in Phuket are frequently described in media reports as being a “mafia.” In 2012, a German citizen was hospitalized after a severe beating by a group of tuk-tuk drivers following an argument about the fare. The local government officials in Phuket have attempted with limited success to introduce standard fares. Drivers have organized against attempts to provide alternative services. For instance, they have blockaded van and bus services during U.S. Navy ship visits. (See also the Special Circumstances and Safety and Road Conditions sections.)

To lodge a complaint about an encounter with a taxicab driver, call 1584 (within Thailand).

When arriving at a Thai airport, you should use only public transportation from the airport's official pick-up and drop-off area, cars from the airport limousine counters, or airport buses. Major hotels also arrange to have a car and driver meet incoming flights. It is uncommon for Thai taxis to pick up additional passengers. You should be wary of drivers seeking to do so, and you should never enter a cab that has someone besides the driver in it.

You should be aware of a common scam that involves the rental of motorbikes, jet skis, and sometimes cars. Many rental companies require your passport as a deposit or collateral. If there is damage to the rental vehicle, the company often holds the passport until you pay for the damage. We have received many reports of renters having been charged exorbitant amounts for damage to jet skis or motorbikes, even in instances where the renter had caused no visible damage. A variation of this scam occurs when the motorbike is “stolen,” and the rental agency demands that you pay two or three times the price of the motorbike to replace it. For this reason, you should be cautious about rental arrangements and not use your passport as a deposit or collateral. You should be certain to examine the vehicle and note any pre-existing damage before operating the vehicle. If possible, document the vehicle’s condition with before and after photos. If you purchase insurance from the rental shop, be sure you know what the insurance policy covers, and get a receipt showing you paid for insurance. If you find yourself a victim of one of these scams, you will need to make an attempt to recover your passport by involving the local Royal Thai Police and Tourist Police and documenting the situation with a police report. You can then apply for a new passport at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General if you have not recovered your passport.

Scams involving gems, city tours, entertainment venues, and credit cards are common, especially in areas heavily visited by tourists. Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, among others, commonly tout gem stores, entertainment venues, or alternate tours. These touts receive kickbacks or commissions that drive up the prices of the goods or services, and you should not accept tours or other offers from them. You should consider exiting the vehicle to seek a different means of transportation if you feel uncomfortable. You should use credit cards only in reputable, established businesses, and you should check the amount you have been charged for accuracy.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) receives over a thousand complaints each year from visitors who have been cheated on gem purchases. Scams usually follow a predictable pattern. Someone approaches you outside of a well-known tourist attraction such as the Grand Palace and says that the attraction is closed. The friendly stranger gains your confidence and suggests a visit to a temple that is supposedly open only one day per year; the stranger then mentions in passing that a special once-a-year government-sponsored gem sale is going on and directs you to a waiting tuk-tuk. At the temple, another stranger -- sometimes a foreigner-- engages you in conversation and also mentions the "special" gem sale. You agree to go look at the gem shop and are soon convinced to buy thousands of dollars worth of jewels that you can supposedly sell in the United States for a 100 percent profit. In fact, the gems turn out to be of much less value than you paid for them, and the shop does not honor its money-back guarantee. No matter what a tout may say, no jewelry stores are owned, operated, or sponsored by the Thai government or by the Thai royal family. You can find the list of gem dealers who have promised to abide by TAT guidelines online at the Buying Gems and Jewellery in Thailand section of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's website. You can find detailed information on gem scams on numerous websites. If you fall victim to a gem scam, you should contact the local branch of the Tourist Police or call their toll-free number: 1155. Although most bars and entertainment venues operate honestly, some, especially in red light districts and some other areas frequented by tourists, try to charge exorbitant prices for drinks or unadvertised cover charges and then threaten violence if the charges are not paid. If you are victimized in this fashion, you should not attempt to resolve the problem yourself but should instead pay the price demanded and then seek out a nearby Tourist Police officer for help in getting restitution. If no officer is nearby, you can phone the Tourist Police at 1155.

Although most bars and entertainment venues operate honestly, some, especially in red light districts and some other areas frequented by tourists, try to charge exorbitant prices for drinks or unadvertised cover charges and then threaten violence if the charges are not paid. If you are victimized in this fashion, you should not attempt to resolve the problem yourself but should instead pay the price demanded and then seek out a nearby Tourist Police officer for help in getting restitution. If no officer is nearby, you can phone the Tourist Police at 1155.

Prostitution is illegal in Thailand. Bars and other entertainment venues may offer fees to take a “bar girl” or “bar boy” out for the evening. Many of the women, men, and children in the commercialized vice industry are themselves victims of trafficking rings. You should be aware that not only is prostitution illegal, but there are serious consequences for those choosing to pay for these illicit services, including criminal conviction and imprisonment, particularly in the case of child prostitution.

We have received reports of prostitutes, as well as bar patrons or bar workers drugging people with sedatives, including the powerful sedative scopolamine in order to rob them. Tourists have also been victimized by drugged food and drink, usually offered by a friendly stranger who is sometimes posing as a fellow traveler on an overnight bus or train. In addition, casual acquaintances you meet in a bar or on the street may pose a threat. You should not leave drinks or food unattended and should avoid going alone to unfamiliar venues.

Criminals have victimized some foreigners by presenting themselves as police, sometimes wearing police uniforms. After a conspirator lures the foreigner into doing something illegal, the “police officer” appears and threatens to arrest the foreigner unless he or she pays a “bribe” -- which the conspirator helps to negotiate. To protect yourself from such scams, do not engage in activities that would put you in a vulnerable position, such as soliciting sex or purchasing or using illegal drugs.

A variation commonly reported in Bangkok’s Khao San Road area involves “mistakenly” purchasing “prescription” drugs from a pharmacy. If someone claiming to be a police officer demands money from you, request to pay at the police station. Police may impose fines up to 1,000 baht per violation at the police station and should provide receipts for any fines. The Thai Criminal Code does not provide police authority to impose a fine over 1,000 baht. Only a court can impose a larger fine. We receive several reports a year of police attempting to collect fines of tens of thousands of baht without opening a court case. While these schemes can happen anywhere in Thailand, they are most often reported in Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya.

Local police are reluctant to become involved in domestic issues. They expect that the involved parties will resolve the matter on their own. The Royal Thai government’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security does maintain an English-language website, and you can contact them for assistance. In most cases, you will need legal representation to protect your interests effectively.

Criminal Penalties

While you are in Thailand, you are subject to Thai laws and penalties, even if you are a U.S. citizen. If you violate Thai laws, even unknowingly, you may be fined, arrested, imprisoned, or deported. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. For example, Thais hold the King and the royal family in the highest regard, and it is a serious criminal offense in Thailand to make critical or defamatory comments about them. This particular crime, called lese majeste, is punishable by a prison sentence of three to fifteen years. The offenses include actions that in the United States would be sanctioned as the exercise of free speech. If you use the Internet when committing this crime, you may be subject to additional criminal sanctions of up to seven additional years in prison. Thai authorities actively search for and investigate Internet postings, including blog entries and links to other sites, for lese majeste content. They have arrested and charged U.S. citizens and others with lèse majesté offenses for actions that occurred outside of Thailand. You can also be charged if you do not remove a potentially offensive item fast enough from an Internet site you control. Purposely tearing or destroying Thai bank notes, which carry an image of the King, may also be considered a lese majeste offense, as can spitting on or otherwise defiling an official uniform bearing the royal insignia.

The Thai government has publicly stated that it will not tolerate the use of Thai territory as a base by groups trying to overthrow or destabilize the governments of nearby countries. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested or detained under suspicion of carrying out such activities. Sometimes military authorities carry out these detentions, and we do not learn of them until many days after the fact. Many U.S. citizens suspected of advocating the armed overthrow of other governments have been "blacklisted" from entering the country. Attempts to overthrow foreign governments by force may violate U.S. law as well as Thai law.

Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Thailand are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences under harsh conditions and often heavy fines as well. Thailand has a death penalty for serious drug offenses and has executed convicted traffickers. We frequently do not learn of the arrest of U.S. citizens for minor drug offenses, particularly in southern Thailand, until several days after the incident. If you are arrested for a minor drug offense, you may be jailed for several weeks while lab testing is done on the drugs seized with you. Pre-trial jail conditions may be more severe than prison conditions. If you are able to post bail during this period, the Royal Thai government will place your name on a watch list for Thai Immigration officials because you are not supposed to leave Thailand until the legal proceedings are complete.

Some trekking tour companies, particularly in northern Thailand, make drugs available to trekkers. Drug-related crimes and arrests are also common in Bangkok, Pattaya, and at some beach resorts in southern Thailand. Police in beach resort areas are especially on the lookout for drugs during and after “full moon parties.” You should not accept drugs of any kind, as the drugs may be altered and harmful, and the use or sale of narcotic drugs is illegal in Thailand.

Thai police occasionally raid discos, bars, or nightclubs looking for underage patrons and drug users. During the raids, they typically check the identification of all customers in the establishment and make each person provide a urine sample to be checked for narcotics. The police do not excuse foreigners from these checks, and they arrest and charge anyone whose urine tests positive for drugs. Customers can be jailed if they do not cooperate, and we are unaware of any successful challenge to the practice.

Shoplifting is strictly prosecuted. Arrests for shoplifting even low-value items can result in large fines and lengthy detention followed by deportation. If you are accused of shoplifting at the airport, you will be detained and may miss your flight at your own expense. In 2010 and 2012, there were news reports that duty-free store employees in league with police at the airport added unpurchased items to foreigners’ check-out bags or did not charge for all the items purchased; purportedly, police then stopped the foreigner as he/she exited the stores and charged the person with shoplifting. We strongly recommend that before leaving a counter, you carefully check all receipts to make certain they list all the items you purchased and also carefully check to ensure that only the items you purchased are in your bag.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available (as they are in Thailand). The manufacture and sale of pirated goods, including music, movies, software, and counterfeit luxury goods and apparel, is a crime in Thailand and is frequently controlled by organized crime networks. In addition, if you bring these goods back to the United States, you may be fined or have to forfeit the goods. More information on this serious problem is available in the intellectual property section of the U.S. Department of Justice website.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States as well as in Thailand.

Arrest notifications in Thailand: Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a United States-Thailand bilateral agreement, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Thailand, you have the right to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy or Consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, as soon as you are arrested or detained, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.


Thai (official) only 90.7%, Thai and other languages 6.4%, only other languages 2.9% (includes Malay, Burmese); note - data represent population by language(s) spoken at home; English is a secondary language of the elite

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Medical treatment is generally adequate in Thailand’s urban areas. In Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Pattaya good facilities exist for routine, long-term, and emergency health care. Basic medical care is available in rural areas, but English-speaking providers are rare.

Alcoholic beverages, medications, and drugs you purchase in Thailand may be more potent or of a different composition than similar ones in the United States. Several U.S. citizen tourists die in Thailand each year of apparent premature heart attacks after having consumed alcohol or drugs. Many pharmacies in Thailand do not require a prescription. Counterfeit medications have entered the wholesale distribution network in South East Asia. If you must buy medication locally, we recommend that you purchase it from an international chain pharmacy. If you have a chronic medical problem, you should bring enough of your maintenance medicine (up to a 30-day supply) and not rely on purchasing your medication from the local economy. Please see Special Circumstances, above for restrictions on importing medication for personal use.

For tourists, the most common serious medical complications result from motor vehicle accidents. If you ride a motorcycle or scooter including motorcycle taxis, you could prevent a serious and disabling head injury by using a helmet.

Dengue and Chikungunya are viral infections transmitted via mosquitoes. These infections are endemic in Thailand, including urban areas, and can make patients feel very ill, and in a small percentage of individuals, they can be deadly. Although these cases are more prevalent during the rainy season, they occur throughout the year. Using a mosquito repellent with DEET at least twice a day is effective for mosquito bite prevention. Please see the CDC website for additional information.

Thailand has been experiencing an epidemic of HIV infection and AIDS. Heterosexual transmission accounts for most HIV infections. HIV is common among prostitutes of both sexes, as well as among injection drug users. HIV infections among men who have sex with other men appear to be on the rise.

The CDC, WHO, and Thai authorities have confirmed human cases of the H1N1 (commonly known as "swine flu") and the H5N1 (commonly known as the "bird flu") strains of influenza in Thailand.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Thailand.

In Chiang Mai and other areas of northern Thailand, poor air quality might pose a health threat during the dry season, from March until June. Smoke and particulate matter from agricultural burning can irritate eyes and respiratory systems and worsen heart and respiratory diseases.

Safety and Security

The State Department is concerned that there is a continued risk of terrorism in Southeast Asia, including in Thailand.

In January 2012, Thai police discovered a large number of explosive materials linked to suspected Hizballah operatives.

On February 14, 2012, an explosion occurred at a house on a busy street in central Bangkok. A few minutes later a man leaving the house threw an improvised explosive device at a taxi. The subsequent investigation attributed the incident to individuals from Iran who may have been plotting a terrorist attack against foreign interests in Thailand but whose bombs exploded prematurely.

While traveling in Thailand you should exercise caution, especially in locations where expatriates congregate, such as clubs, discos, bars, restaurants, hotels, places of worship, schools, outdoor recreation venues, tourist areas, beach resorts, and other places frequented by foreigners. You should remain vigilant with regard to your personal security and avoid crowds and demonstrations.

The political environment in Thailand remains beset by deep political divisions. Protesters hold political rallies frequently to voice their opinions. Between March and May 2010, political protests throughout Thailand resulted in the deaths of at least 91 people and injuries to over 260 people, including two U.S. citizens. For a period of several months after the protests ended in May, there were numerous explosive attacks, including several isolated grenade and arson attacks in and around Bangkok and, on occasion, Chiang Mai. Some of the explosive devices were discovered in public places in Bangkok, including near a major shopping center, a school, a bus stop, and government buildings. These incidents appear to have been motivated by domestic politics and to have no apparent link to international terrorism.

The Department of State advises all U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Thailand to monitor events closely, avoid any large public gatherings, and exercise discretion when traveling within the country. Political demonstrations are frequent in Thailand. Many are scheduled on the anniversary of political events, and others happen with little warning. Demonstrations can attract tens of thousands of participants and often cause severe traffic disruptions, especially if they include processions from one site to another. If a demonstration is expected to pass near the U.S. Embassy or Consulate facilities, Embassy and Consulate entrances and functions may be restricted. Demonstrations are unpredictable and can turn violent without warning. For this reason, we encourage you to monitor local media for information about possible demonstrations and to avoid the vicinity of demonstrations.

Violence in Southern Thailand - Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla: The far south of Thailand has been experiencing almost daily incidents of criminally and politically motivated violence for several years, including incidents attributed to armed local separatist groups. Although the separatist groups have focused primarily on Thai government interests in the southern provinces, they sometimes target public and commercial areas, including areas where foreigners may congregate. On March 31, 2012, almost simultaneous bombings in one of Hat Yai’s largest hotels and in a Yala commercial district killed at least 13 people and injured more than 500, including a number of Malaysian tourists. On September 16, 2011, three coordinated bombs exploded in Narathiwat’s business and entertainment district, killing five people, including four Malaysian tourists, and injuring over 110 others. On April 18, 2011, a car bomb exploded in Yala’s business district, killing one person and injuring 23 others. On February 19, 2011, gunmen fired on a karaoke restaurant in Narathiwat municipality, injuring two; half an hour later, a car bomb went off nearby, injuring more than a dozen people. On February 13, 2011, a car bomb exploded in Yala municipality’s business district injuring at least a dozen people.

The U.S. Embassy prohibits its personnel from traveling to the far south of Thailand -- Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala provinces--without prior approval, and Embassy personnel may go there only on work-essential travel. U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel must provide advance notification of travel to Songkhla province, and they are advised to use hotels outside Songkhla’s central business district. The Department of State urges you to defer non-emergency travel to these areas. If you must travel to these areas, you should exercise special caution and remain vigilant with regard to your personal security. You should be aware that Thai authorities have on occasion instituted special security measures in affected areas, such as curfews, military patrols, or random searches of train passengers.

Thai-Cambodian Border: Because of border disputes between Thailand and Cambodia, we recommend caution if traveling near the Thai-Cambodian border in the area of the Preah Vihear temple and farther west in the Phanom Dong Rak district of Surin province. Between July 2008 and June 2011, soldiers from the two countries exchanged gunfire on several occasions. Some artillery fire reportedly struck several kilometers away from the border. Fighting has also extended some distance along the border in both locations. Until these situations have been resolved, you should pay special attention to local conditions along this border, since past military activity has occurred with little warning.

The Thai-Burma Border: The Thai/Burma border is the site of ongoing conflicts between the Burmese Army and armed opposition groups based in Thailand as well as clashes between Thai security forces and armed drug traffickers. Pirates, bandits, and drug traffickers operate in these border areas. It is possible that significant flare-ups of military activity on the Burmese side of the border could spill over into adjacent areas of northern Thailand. You should travel off-road in undeveloped areas only with local guides who are familiar with the area. Border closings and re-openings occur frequently, and if you are considering traveling into Burma from Thailand, you should be aware that in the event of a border closure you may not be able to re-enter Thailand. In light of the continuing unsettled situation along the Thai border with Burma and the possibility of frequent closings to all traffic, the Department of State recommends that you exercise caution when traveling in remote or rural areas of Thailand adjacent to the Burma border.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Thailand, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

In Thailand, traffic moves on the left, although motorcycles and motorized carts often drive (illegally) against the traffic flow. The city of Bangkok has heavy traffic composed of motorcycles, bicycles, cars, trucks, buses, and three-wheeled tuk-tuks. For safety, if you are walking, use overhead walkways whenever possible and look carefully in both directions before crossing streets, even if using a marked crosswalk with a green "walk" light illuminated. This is particularly true in front of the U.S. Embassy on Bangkok's Wireless Road and on Sukhumvit Road, where many pedestrians have been killed and several U.S. citizens seriously injured while crossing the street. The Embassy has instructed its employees to use the pedestrian bridge to cross the road at all times, and we advise you to do the same anywhere a pedestrian bridge is available. It is common for scooters and motorbikes to “jump the curb” and ride on the sidewalks during rush hour and other periods of thick traffic. Be wary of this phenomenon while walking on the sidewalk in Thai cities.

Traffic accidents are common in Thailand, and those involving motorcycles can be particularly deadly. The Embassy strongly recommends Embassy staff and family members not use motorcycles (especially motorcycle taxis), mopeds, and tuk-tuks in Bangkok, and we advise you to follow this recommendation as well. The use of motorcycle helmets is mandatory, but this law is seldom enforced. The accident rate in Thailand is particularly high during long holidays when alcohol use and traffic are both heavier than normal. During the Songkran (Thai New Year) holiday in April, the problem is worsened when people throw water at passing vehicles as part of the traditional celebration. Watch out when opening car doors, even on the curbside. Motorcyclists and bicyclists often try to slip between the curb and stopped or slow-moving cars, and they collide with doors that are being opened. If you opened the door, you may have to pay for the damages, even if the accident was not your fault.

Paved roads, many of them four lanes wide, connect Thailand's major cities. On the country's numerous two-lane roads, slow-moving trucks limit speed and visibility. Speeding, reckless passing, and failure to obey traffic laws are common in all regions of Thailand. Commercial drivers commonly consume alcohol, amphetamines, and other stimulants. Serious bus crashes occur frequently, especially on overnight trips, and sometimes result in fatalities.

Congested roads and a scarcity of ambulances can make it difficult for accident victims to receive timely medical attention. Thailand requires that all vehicles be covered by third-party liability insurance for death or injury, but there is no mandatory coverage for property damage. The Embassy strongly encourages its employees to obtain liability insurance coverage over and above the minimum third-party liability insurance required by the Thai government. You should consider this as well, as the more affluent driver, even if not at fault, is frequently compelled to cover the expenses of the other party in an accident in Thailand. If you have a traffic accident, you should contact your insurance company for guidance in dealing with the other party and the police.

In Bangkok, the BTS "Skytrain," “Airport Rail Link” elevated mass transit systems, or the underground MRT system are reliable, inexpensive, air-conditioned, and often faster than trying to travel through Bangkok traffic. Bangkok also has an extensive bus system, but buses can be overcrowded and are often driven with little or no regard for passenger safety. Privately operated vans carrying 8-15 passengers have become increasingly popular since 2007, both within Bangkok and to and from other cities. However, these vans are not clearly regulated, the drivers are sometimes reckless and untrained, and it is not always clear who owns and operates the vans. Cities elsewhere in Thailand typically have only rudimentary public transportation and usually do not have metered taxis. In many cases, motorcycle taxis, tuk-tuks, bicycle-powered rickshaws, and pick-up trucks will be the only options available for travelers without their own transport. You should be cautious when using these services, as all can be dangerous in fast or heavy traffic.

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