A series of 6 small explosions took place around Bangkok on 2 August while a high-level security meeting was underway in the city. Four people were injured and so far nobody has claimed responsibility, but Thai authorities suspect southern insurgents and are investigating.
Another three devices were intercepted before they could detonate, and the previous afternoon, two fake bombs had been removed from a security office and two men arrested.
Understandably, the attacks have raised concerns regarding travel and safety in Thailand.
Is terrorism a problem in Thailand?
Thailand is seen as a beach paradise but it has a history of attacks, and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warns that, “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Thailand.” This threat level has been in place for some time.
Attacks in Thailand tend to receive less news coverage than those in Europe or other major travel destinations and follow different methodologies – some may be smaller explosions that injure fewer people but even those can still cause travel delays and affect travellers indirectly.
“In the past, there have been attacks in the main cities of Thailand. Further incidents are possible throughout Thailand,” advises the FCO, listing some examples from the past few years:
- On 10 March 2019 a number of small explosions occurred in Satun City and in Patthalung Province in the South of Thailand.
- In December 2018, there were a series of small explosions on Samila beach in Songkhla City.
- In April and May 2017, there were several explosions in Bangkok.
- In August 2016, there were multiple explosions and incidents in tourist areas across Thailand (including Hua Hin, Trang, Krabi, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Patong and Loma in Phuket, Surat Thani, and Khao Lak in Phang Nga) involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and incendiary devices.
- A large bomb exploded at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok in 2015, resulting in numerous casualties, including the death of a British national. In October 2016, the Thai authorities say they disrupted planned attacks in Bangkok.
What was the motive?
The Guardian speculated that the 2 August explosions may have been meant to embarrass Thai authorities during the security summit rather than cause harm, but other media have noted “growing anger” since a southern rebel was arrested and then found in a coma.
According to Channel News Asia, “Thailand remains deeply divided after a controversial election in March returned a military government to power as a civilian government, but it is also locked in a violent rebellion in the south that has killed thousands over the past 15 years… Occasionally, the shadowy rebel cells take their violence outside their region to mark key anniversaries or kickback against specific Thai actions.”
What are other governments saying?
Australia – “Thailand overall, exercise a high degree of caution. Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla, do not travel.”
Canada – “Exercise a high degree of caution in Thailand due to ongoing political tensions and sporadic demonstrations in Bangkok and elsewhere in the country.”
USA – “Exercise normal precautions in Thailand. Some areas have increased risk.”
Republic of Ireland – “We advise Irish Citizens to exercise a high degree of caution in Thailand. The political situation in Thailand can be unpredictable. Civil and political unrest may result in street demonstrations. We strongly advise citizens to avoid any political gatherings or demonstrations.”
To go or not to go?
Only you can make that decision, and when you do you need reliable information. Keep an eye on the FCO’s advice and updates, as well as local news.
As we, the FCO and most travel companies always say, the appropriate travel insurance is another must-have. Buy it when you book for maximum coverage, and be sure to check that it covers terrorism as many policies still limit or exclude this.
Safe Journey is one of the few policies to covers disinclination to travel – your right to choose to cancel if there’s an act of terrorism within 40 miles of your destination, up to 6 weeks before you depart. It also covers the indirect effects of an act of terrorism such as delays and personal possessions. Please read full details of cover, Ts+Cs and exclusions in our Policy Wording.
Get a quick quote and see how cost effective it can be to add peace of mind, wherever you go.