Thailand is an upper middle-income country with an impressive history of economic growth that has made it the most economically advanced country within the Greater Mekong Subregion. As a consequence, it has attracted ‒ and still attracts ‒ migrants from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and countries further afield. Migrants currently account for an estimated 6‒8 per cent of the Thai labour force, and tend to concentrate in low-tech factories or work in construction and informal jobs in agriculture, fisheries, services and domestic work. In recent times, Thailand has faced a number of crises, such as the economic shocks in 1997 and 2008, the tsunami in the Andaman Ocean in 2004, the 2011 floods, as well as the still ongoing, decade-long period of political turmoil. This study explores how a country with double-digit economic growth through the 1980s and into the 1990s experienced a significant influx of migrants, and what implications the migrants’ presence might hold for future emergencies, especially those arising from natural hazards.