Thailand is an attractive holiday destination for tourists due to its tropical climate and extensive beach-filled coastline along the South China Sea. These two factors also cause Thailand to experience occasional natural disasters such as flooding during the monsoon season and moderate seismic tremors
However, these natural disasters in Thailand rarely occur and are much more frequent and destructive in other Southeast Asian countries. Although heavy rain and mild earthquakes can be common in Thailand, they are unlikely to significantly disrupt a trip to the country.
Read on to discover the best time to visit Thailand to avoid natural disasters, and how to stay safe in the rare case of an earthquake or flooding.
Are Natural Disasters in Thailand Common?
In general, Thailand experiences fewer natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons than other Southeast Asian countries.
Flooding is the most common Thailand natural disaster which affects the country, especially parts of southern Thailand during the monsoon season from November to March.
Monsoon season is comparatively mild in Thailand, but flooding can occur when other weather systems such as tropical cyclones increase the amount of precipitation.
However, Thailand is less affected by the hurricanes and typhoon winds which create stormy conditions in neighboring countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Are there Earthquakes in Thailand?
Thailand sits on the Eurasian tectonic plate, but the country is located in a region that is relatively safe from earthquakes.
Most seismic activity in Thailand is comparatively mild to other Southeast Asian nations and mostly takes place in northern and western areas of the country.
Although Thailand experiences several moderately sized tremors every year, most earthquakes recorded in Thailand are under magnitude 6.0 on the Richter scale and do not cause serious damage.
Does Thailand Have Tsunamis?
Thailand has only experienced one major tsunami in recent history, the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami which also affected parts of India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.
However, the 2004 tsunami was the result of a rare massive earthquake under the Indian Ocean and is the rare case of such a disaster impacting populated areas.
Furthermore, since the events of the 2004 tsunami, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has implemented the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. This organization uses a system of buoys and seismic data to monitor tsunami activity and issue warnings about any potentially dangerous waves.
This system allows experts to quickly asses developing situations and avise people on the ground to get out of potentially affected areas in plenty of time in the event of an impending tsunami.
How to Stay Safe in the Event of a Natural Disaster in Thailand
Travelers who wish to avoid the flooding that can affect Thailand can plan to visit the country outside of the typical monsoon season from November to March.
Those who do wish to visit Thailand during the rainy season are advised to check travel advisory updates from local authorities such as the Thai Meteorological Department and the Mekong River Commission.
In the rare event that an earthquake in Thailand occurs during your stay, it is advised that you follow the following first-response steps:
- Do not attempt to shelter in a doorway or run outside
- Drop to your hands and knees. Wheelchair users should remain seated with their wheels locked until the shaking stops
- Cover your head and neck with your arms. If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter, otherwise stay close to interior walls away from windows
- Hold on to a table or desk if you are able to get under a piece of furniture
- If in a moving vehicle, you should pull over, stop, and put on the parking brake
- If in bed when an earthquake hits, you should lie face down on the mattress and cover the back of your head and neck with a pillow.
Once an earthquake has passed, visitors to Thailand are advised to:
- Be aware that milder aftershocks can follow an earthquake
- Go outside and move away from the building if it has suffered significant damage in the quake
- Protect eyes, mouth, and nose from any dust caused by debris
- Check if they have been hurt or help other people with injuries if they have any medical training
- Be aware of hazards such as gas leaks, and broken water lines and electrical cables
- Follow local media reports, social media, or text alerts for emergency information and instructions
- Send text messages to let people know they are safe and save phone calls for emergencies
- Wear suitable protective clothing if they intend to help with my cleanup operations and avoid attempting to lift heavy debris by themselves.
Travelers who follow this advice will be well-equipped to deal with the situation in the rare event that a natural disaster in Thailand happens during their stay.
Before visiting the country, all foreign travelers should check Thailand visa requirements to see if they need a travel document for entry. Citizens of a number of eligible countries are now able to obtain an eVisa for Thailand through a simple online application, eliminating the need to apply for a visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate.