There’s no doubt that Chiang Mai is right at the top of the tourist’s wish list on any visit to Thailand. However, there are questions about what might have changed since the May 22nd 2014 coup, and there are reports daily about terrorist activity across the country, and about demonstrations and police action. Before confirming your plans to visit Chiang Mai, here’s what you need to know about your personal safety and about what to expect while you are there.
In fact, although there have been assorted incidents of post-coup unrest, and scattered terrorist activity, the situation at this time appears to be “business as usual”. As long as you don’t mind seeing soldiers with sub-machine guns lining the streets, or being asked to show your I.D. while you’re out for a walk, then you shouldn’t have too many worries during your visit to Chiang Mai.
That being said, travellers to border provinces in Thailand, (for example, Chiang Mai), both Northern and Southern, should use extreme caution, and check newspapers, TV, and social media before planning to visit any border province. A threat of terrorism, while not pre-eminent, exists all the same, and recent history of attacks indicates that there is no pattern, and no warning.
Staying Safe in Chiang Mai, Thailand
For the time being, things remain on the “calm” side and we shall keep you informed, should the situation change. Do, however, be on the lookout for ever-present scammers and pick-pockets while walking inside the new city. Remember to have your passport with you, as the military retains the right to arrest those without photo ID, and keep your wallet, camera, mobile phone, jewellery, and other valuables well out of harm’s way.
- Groups of 5 or more can be illegal, and it’s best to avoid any public protest that might lead you into such a situation;
- It is illegal to speak out against the Coup, the Military, or the Thai Monarchy;
- Sporadic road closures, and shut-downs of normal services such as Internet and certain TV broadcasts are now a fact of life in Thailand;
- Consult your Hotel Concierge, or your local Travel Agent for regular updates on any disruptions in service;
- Be Aware! Should you plan to go out walking at night in the city, advise someone before you leave. Do not go alone.
- Keep Alcohol usage to a minimum… apart from the obvious complications of having your thinking “clouded”, there is the threat of having someone “spike” your drink in order to rob you, or worse.
Before you travel to Thailand
a) Contact your insurance provider to be certain that your policy will cover any eventualities in light of the current situation in Thailand. Some policies will not provide cover for injuries or other difficulties arising from terrorist acts, or from civil unrest/martial law. Be sure that you have comprehensive medical and travel insurance prior to leaving on your journey to Thailand.
b) At least 6 weeks prior to the date you plan to leave for Thailand, please call our Travel Health Clinic in London to book an appointment for a check-up and review of all vaccinations you will need. When you visit us, we shall take time to talk with you about any medical issues you might have, and answer any questions you have.
c) Protect yourself against diseases for which there is no vaccination. In Chiang Mai, there is a risk of Dengue Fever, for which there is no cure. We shall be pleased to explain and answer any questions you wish to ask about Dengue and other tropical diseases, such as Malaria, which can be a risk in some areas. The best way to protect yourself against Dengue Fever is to use generous amounts of insecticide, and wear long-sleeved shirts, and long pants, and use mosquito netting.
d) Visit your Doctor and ensure that you have prescriptions for an ample supply of all medications you need for the duration of your journey. It is recommended that you keep photocopies of your prescription renewals, and request a letter from your Doctor explaining the need for the medications you are taking, in case you are questioned at Immigration.