Emergency Numbers in Thailand: What You Need to Know

Kristian Ole Roerbye

In Thailand, as in any other place, emergencies can arise without warning. Whether it’s a medical situation, a security concern, or any other urgent matter, having the right emergency numbers at your fingertips can be a lifesaver.

This article aims to provide you with a guide to Thailand’s emergency numbers, ensuring you’re equipped to handle any situation confidently.

Understanding the challenge of language barriers during emergencies, we’ll also offer tips to ensure your message gets across, even if you’re not fluent in Thai.


  • Thailand’s universal emergency number is 191, connecting you to various emergency services.
  • For medical emergencies, dial 1669 to get immediate medical assistance.
  • The police can be reached at 191 for personal safety concerns or to report crimes.
  • In case of fire emergencies, the immediate number to dial is 199.
  • Tourists can contact the dedicated Tourist Police at 1155 for assistance tailored to foreigners.
  • For natural disasters or large-scale emergencies, contact the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation at 1784.
  • Effective communication during emergencies can be enhanced with basic Thai phrases, technology, and visual aids.

Emergency Numbers in Thailand

Type of EmergencyEmergency NumberDescription
General Emergency191Centralized response for various emergencies
Medical Emergency1669Direct line to Emergency Medical Services
Police Assistance191For reporting crimes or seeking personal safety assistance
Fire Emergency199Direct line to the fire department
Tourist Police1155Dedicated assistance for tourists and foreigners
Natural Disasters & Emergencies1784Contact for natural disaster assistance and mitigation

General Emergency Number

Navigating emergencies in a foreign land can be daunting, especially when you’re unsure whom to call. Thankfully, Thailand has a centralized system to assist in such situations.

What is the Universal Emergency Number?

In Thailand, the universal emergency number is 191. This number serves as a primary contact point for various emergencies, ensuring that help is just a phone call away.

When to Use the Universal Emergency Number?

Dialing 191 connects you directly to a centralized emergency response system. It’s designed to cater to a wide range of emergencies, from personal safety concerns to reporting suspicious activities. When you call, it’s essential to be as clear and concise as possible. Provide your location, a brief description of the situation, and any other pertinent details.

What to Expect When Calling?

Upon dialing 191, you’ll be connected to an operator trained to handle emergencies. While the primary language of communication is Thai, stating “English” at the beginning of the call can sometimes prompt the operator to connect you with an English-speaking responder or use basic English to assist you.

Remember, even if there’s a language barrier, your primary goal is to convey the urgency and nature of your situation. Using simple words and staying calm can greatly aid in this process.

Medical Emergencies

In moments where health is at risk, swift action and clear communication can make all the difference. Thailand has a dedicated system to address medical emergencies, ensuring that residents and visitors can access immediate medical care when needed.

The Number to Dial for Medical Assistance

In Thailand, if you or someone you know requires urgent medical attention, the number to dial is 1669. This connects you directly to the Emergency Medical Services, which is equipped to handle a wide range of medical situations.

Situations Warranting a Call to 1669

While it’s always better to err on the side of caution, here are some instances where calling 1669 is crucial:

  • Severe injuries from accidents or falls
  • Sudden severe chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Signs of a stroke, such as facial drooping, arm weakness, or speech difficulties
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Loss of consciousness

Communicating Your Situation

When calling 1669, it’s vital to provide as much information as possible about the patient’s condition. This helps the medical team prepare and respond effectively. Key details to mention include:

  • The nature of the medical emergency
  • The exact location, including any landmarks that might help responders locate you faster
  • Any known allergies or medical conditions of the patient

If you’re unable to communicate in Thai, stating the word “English” at the beginning of the call can be helpful. While not all operators may be fluent in English, they are trained to understand basic terms related to medical emergencies. In some cases, they might also connect you to an English-speaking responder.

Additional Tips for Medical Emergencies

  • If you’re in a public place, try to get the attention of locals. They might assist in communicating with the emergency services.
  • Always keep a note of any medications you’re taking or allergies you have. This can be invaluable information for medical professionals.
  • If you stay in Thailand for an extended period, consider learning basic Thai medical terms or using a translation app on your phone.

Police Assistance

In situations where personal safety is at stake or when witnessing unlawful activities, reaching out to the police is paramount. Thailand’s police force is equipped to address a variety of situations, ensuring that both locals and foreigners can seek assistance when needed.

The Number to Dial for Police Assistance

In Thailand, if you find yourself in a situation that requires police intervention, the number to dial is 191. This number connects you directly to the police department, ensuring a rapid response to your situation.

Situations Warranting a Call to 191 for Police

While every situation is unique, here are some common scenarios where reaching out to the police might be necessary:

  • Being a victim of or witnessing a crime, such as theft, assault, or fraud
  • Experiencing or observing harassment or threats
  • Road accidents where there are injuries or disputes
  • Missing persons or suspicious activities

What to Expect When Contacting the Police

Upon dialing 191, you’ll be connected to a police operator. As with other emergency services, while the primary language of communication is Thai, indicating your preference for “English” can sometimes lead to assistance in the language. When describing your situation:

  • Clearly state your location, including any nearby landmarks
  • Briefly explain the nature of your emergency or concern
  • Provide descriptions of any individuals involved, if relevant

Additional Tips for Seeking Police Assistance

  • In crowded areas or tourist spots, you might find police booths or patrol officers. Approaching them directly can sometimes be faster than making a call.
  • Always ensure your safety first. If you’re in immediate danger, try to get to a safe location before making the call.
  • If you’re involved in minor disputes, especially those related to traffic, it’s often beneficial to remain calm and cooperative. Sometimes, matters can be resolved amicably without escalating.
  • For non-urgent matters or general inquiries, consider visiting the local police station in person. They often have officers who can communicate in English and assist foreigners with their concerns.

Fire Emergencies

Fire emergencies require immediate action and a clear understanding of whom to contact. In Thailand, there’s a dedicated system in place to respond to such crises, ensuring the safety of its residents and visitors.

The Number to Dial for Fire Emergencies

In the unfortunate event of a fire in Thailand, the immediate number to dial is 199. This connects you directly to the fire department, ensuring a swift response to the situation.

Recognizing Fire Emergencies

While the presence of flames is an obvious indicator, there are other signs that warrant a call to the fire department:

  • Smoke emanating from a building or area
  • The smell of burning materials without a visible source
  • Alarms or detectors sounding in buildings
  • Electrical fires or sparks that pose a threat

Reporting a Fire

When you call 199 to report a fire:

Clearly state your exact location. Mention any landmarks or specific details that can help the fire brigade reach the site faster.

Describe the nature and size of the fire, if possible. For instance, is it a small kitchen fire or a larger blaze engulfing a building?

If you’re aware of any individuals trapped or in danger due to the fire, relay this information immediately.

Safety First: What to Do in Case of a Fire

While reporting the fire is crucial, your personal safety and that of others around you is paramount. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Evacuate the area or building immediately, using designated fire exits if available.
  • Do not use elevators during a fire.
  • If you encounter smoke, stay low to the ground as you exit, as smoke rises.
  • If a door feels hot to the touch, do not open it. Find an alternate route.
  • Once you’re in a safe location, then make the call to 199.

Additional Tips for Fire Safety

  • Familiarize yourself with fire safety guidelines and evacuation plans, especially if you’re staying in hotels or rented accommodations.
  • Ensure that smoke detectors in your residence are functional.
  • Avoid leaving open flames, like candles or cooking stoves, unattended.
  • Regularly check electrical appliances for faulty wiring or signs of wear and tear.

Tourist Police

Thailand, being a major tourist destination, recognizes the unique challenges and concerns that foreigners might face. To address this, the country has established a dedicated branch of the police force known as the Tourist Police.

Their primary role is to assist tourists and foreigners, ensuring their safety and well-being during their stay.

The Number to Dial for Tourist Police

If you’re a foreigner in Thailand and require assistance, the Tourist Police can be reached at 1155. This dedicated line ensures that tourists have a direct channel to seek help, especially in situations where language might be a barrier.

When to Contact the Tourist Police?

The Tourist Police are equipped to handle a variety of situations, including but not limited to:

  • Reporting lost or stolen items, such as passports or valuables
  • Seeking assistance in disputes, especially those involving services or accommodations
  • Reporting scams or fraudulent activities targeting tourists
  • Seeking guidance on local laws and customs
  • Reporting any form of harassment or threats faced as a tourist

What to Expect When Contacting the Tourist Police

Upon dialing 1155:

You’ll be connected to an operator, often with proficiency in English, given their role in assisting foreigners.

Clearly state your location and the nature of your concern.

The operator will guide you on the next steps, which might include dispatching officers to your location or directing you to the nearest Tourist Police station.

Additional Tips When Interacting with the Tourist Police

  • Always carry some form of identification when traveling around Thailand. This can aid the Tourist Police in assisting you more efficiently.
  • If you’re visiting popular tourist spots, you might find Tourist Police booths or patrol officers. They are approachable and can provide on-the-spot assistance.
  • While the Tourist Police are a valuable resource, it’s also essential to stay informed and exercise caution. Familiarize yourself with common tourist scams or areas where extra vigilance might be required.
  • The Tourist Police also often have brochures or resources available for tourists, providing valuable information on local customs, safety tips, and other essential knowledge. Consider obtaining these when you arrive in Thailand.

Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies

emergency numbers in thailand

Thailand’s diverse landscape, while beautiful, can sometimes be susceptible to natural disasters. From tropical storms to floods, being prepared and knowing whom to contact can make a significant difference in ensuring safety during such events.

The Number to Dial for Natural Disaster Assistance

In the event of a natural disaster or large-scale emergency in Thailand, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation can be reached at 1784. This department is responsible for coordinating responses to natural disasters and providing guidance to those affected.

Types of Natural Disasters in Thailand

Thailand can experience a range of natural disasters, including:

  • Floods: Especially during the rainy season, certain areas might be prone to flooding.
  • Tropical Storms and Cyclones: Coastal areas, in particular, can be affected by these weather events.
  • Earthquakes: While not as common, certain regions in Thailand have experienced seismic activity.
  • Landslides: Mountainous and hilly regions can sometimes experience landslides, especially after heavy rainfall.

What to Do in the Event of a Natural Disaster

  • Stay Informed: Monitor local news channels, radio stations, or official government websites for updates and advisories.
  • Follow Official Instructions: If evacuation orders are given, follow them promptly. Authorities will often designate safe zones or shelters.
  • Stay Connected: Keep your mobile devices charged. Consider having a backup power source, like a power bank.
  • Prepare an Emergency Kit: This should include essentials like bottled water, non-perishable food, first-aid supplies, a flashlight, and any necessary medications.
  • Avoid Risky Areas: Stay away from floodwaters, coastal regions during storms, or areas prone to landslides.

Reporting Large-Scale Emergencies

If you witness or are affected by a significant event that poses a threat to public safety and it hasn’t been widely reported yet:

  • Dial 1784 to inform the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.
  • Clearly state your location and describe the situation.
  • Provide any additional details that might help responders, such as the number of people affected or specific areas that are at risk.

Additional Tips for Navigating Natural Disasters

  • Familiarize yourself with the geography of the area you’re in. Knowing flood-prone regions or areas susceptible to other natural disasters can aid in planning your movements.
  • If you’re staying in Thailand for an extended period, consider enrolling in local community alerts or systems that provide updates on potential natural disasters.
  • Always prioritize safety over possessions. While belongings are valuable, your well-being and that of those around you are paramount.
  • After a natural disaster, be cautious of secondary risks. For instance, floodwaters might recede, but they can leave behind damaged infrastructure or health risks. Always follow official advisories before returning to affected areas.

Tips for Effective Communication During Emergencies

Emergencies can be overwhelming, especially in a foreign country where language barriers might pose an additional challenge. Effective communication becomes paramount in such situations, ensuring that you receive the necessary assistance promptly.

Here are some strategies and tips to enhance your communication during emergencies in Thailand.

Importance of Clarity and Calmness

  • Stay Calm: While it’s natural to feel panicked, taking a deep breath and trying to remain calm can help you convey your message more clearly.
  • Speak Slowly: Especially if there’s a language barrier, speaking slowly can make it easier for the listener to understand or even translate your words.
  • Use Simple Words: Avoid jargon or complex phrases. Stick to basic terms that are universally understood.

Basic Thai Phrases for Emergencies

While you don’t need to be fluent in Thai, knowing a few essential phrases can be beneficial:

  • “Chuai duai” (ช่วยด้วย): Help me
  • “Pom/Chan mai sabai” (ผม/ฉัน ไม่สบาย): I am not feeling well (for male/female speakers respectively)
  • “Mee panha” (มีปัญหา): There’s a problem

Using Technology to Assist in Communication

  • Translation Apps: Apps like Google Translate can be invaluable. You can speak or type in English, and the app can translate it to Thai for the listener.
  • Location Sharing: Use map apps to share your exact location with emergency responders.
  • Preloaded Phrases: Consider having a list of essential phrases or questions pre-translated into Thai on your phone. This can be quickly shown to locals or authorities if needed.

Visual Aids and Gestures

  • Pointing: If you’re trying to describe a location or direction, using gestures can help.
  • Show, Don’t Tell: If you have a medical condition, showing a medical bracelet or a written note can sometimes be more effective than trying to explain verbally.

Additional Tips

  • Stay Updated: If you’re residing in Thailand or planning an extended stay, consider taking basic Thai language classes. Even a rudimentary understanding can be immensely helpful.
  • Local Contacts: If you have local friends or contacts, inform them whenever you’re venturing out, especially to remote areas. They can be a point of communication in emergencies.
  • Emergency Card: Carry a card in your wallet or bag that has essential information written in both English and Thai. This can include your name, blood type, allergies, and emergency contact details.

ABOUT Kristian Ole Roerbye

Since moving to Chiang Mai in 2009, Kristian has established deep roots in Thailand, founding two companies and gaining expertise in local real estate. A devoted family man and nature enthusiast, he created Thailand Simple to guide expats and tourists through the beauty and intricacies of Thai life.

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