Is Thailand safe? Yes, we firmly believe that Thailand is a safe travel destination. It receives over 20 million (!) tourists every year, from all over the world. As you’ll be a guest in their country, Thai people will do everything to make you feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Tourism is, and always will be, an important source of income. Check out our top 10 tips for a safe journey through Thailand!
1. Don’t get scammed: remember one golden rule
Thailand is known for its local markets and friendly, smiling locals. However, there are also some people around who won’t have your best interests at heart; people to whom you’re no more than a walking wallet. KA-CHING!
But if you look closely, you’ll quickly notice the difference between someone who’s genuinely offering to help and someone who’s just interested in your money. Just remember one simple rule (especially if you’re in Bangkok): if a Thai person approaches you and speaks perfect English, he’s out to get your money. Before you know it, he’ll have arranged a free tuk tuk ride to take you to some out-of-the-way travel agent, where they’ll plan out your entire holidays for an absurd amount of money.
The average Thai person is shy when it comes to tourists and will not be quick to approach you.
2. Traffic safety
Traffic in Thailand isn’t very safe, that’s a proven fact. It’s incredibly chaotic and being overtaken from the left, the right or the middle lane, while driving, seems to be the most natural thing in the world. Motorbikes swoosh past cars and buses and are often ridden without helmets.
So… is it wise to rent a motorbike and hit the road?
No, it isn’t, especially if you don’t have a motorcycle license. Motorbikes in Thailand are way more powerful than most other countries. In The Netherlands (where we are from) they max out at 50 cc, while in Thailand it’s about 125 cc. So basically, you’ll be riding a far more powerful motorbike, without insurance.
3. Political (in)stability
Thailand has been on the news fairly regularly in the past few years. There’s been a military coup, a bomb attack in Bangkok and the King passed away as well. How does this affect you as a tourist?
Well, it doesn’t really. We’ve traveled to every outpost in Thailand and never once did we feel unsafe. This is why we’re very confident in saying that you can travel to Thailand with your mind at ease – also if you’re traveling with your family. Just stick to the rules and don’t take any unnecessary risks.
4. Drugs: don’t do it!
It’s a really bad idea.
Thailand has some of the strictest drugs laws in the world; if you get caught you risk a lifelong prison sentence, which is not something to be taken lightly. So, what do you do when someone offers you weed at a beach party? Use your common sense and refuse. In fact, don’t become involved and try to avoid it all cost.
5. Don’t say anything about the King
The royal family in Thailand is sacred and it’s noticeable. Everywhere you go, you’ll see visual representations of either the current King or the recently deceased King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
He was very much loved among his people and they don’t speak ill of him. Avoid the subject and don’t talk about it with Thai people, be it in a positive or negative way. In Thailand, insulting the King could land you in prison. This also goes for comments made online on platforms like Facebook, for instance.
6. Eat where the locals eat
Meet your new best friends: Pad Thai, Tom Yam, Khao Soi, Chicken Sweet & Sour and Fried Rice. The food in Thailand is amazing. Eating in the street, among the locals, is a particularly good way to get to know the real Thailand. Tasty and cheap!
And did you know that street food is actually safer than restaurant food? This is because the ingredients used by street food vendors are always fresh. The stalls also have an “open kitchen”, so you can see your food being prepared. On top of that, the locals eat here every day!
7. Tourist buses heading south: be careful!
From Bangkok you can travel to wherever you want in Thailand. Buses to the south of the country even leave from Khao San Road. They’re really cheap as well; a seat won’t cost more than a couple of Thai Baht.
But beware! Keep your bag with valuables close to you. Unfortunately, valuable items such as money and expensive gadgets have been known to “magically disappear” from the luggage compartments. This is especially prevalent with cheap bus rides. However, leaving a backpack full of clothes and toiletries is completely safe.
8. Keep your day pack with you 24/7
This tip ties in closely with the previous one. Besides a backpack (55 liters), both of us have a day pack (25 liters) in which we always keep our camera, passport and wallet. We never lose sight of it.
When walking along a busy (weekend) market street, we recommend carrying your day pack on your front instead of your back. Despite this precaution we still think Thailand is a lot safer than many European capitals!
9. Going out: expensive drinks?
Entertainment zones such as the Patpong area in Bangkok or Pattaya’s Walking Street are littered with bars, clubs, strip clubs and many more similar establishments. Be warned though, these places can potentially cause you a lot of problems.
The best advice we can give you is not to go there at all.
Ordering a drink can result in a huge bill that you’ll be forced to pay. Prices often aren’t listed on the menus, so when asking for the final bill at the end of the evening you’ll have no idea what to expect. It could be a bill for 10,000 Thai Baht!
In case of any problems, call the tourist police: 1155.
10. Never hand over your passport to anyone!
Finally, we would like to mention that handing over your passport is literally the worst thing you can do, though in Thailand it’s still generally thought of as normal. Never hand over your passport at your hotel, guesthouse or at a rental agency. Your passport is your most valuable possession. Why would you hand it over to stranger?
Make sure to take several copies of your passport with you. Not just paper ones, but digital ones as well. You can make these at home or in any copy shop in Thailand. Instead of handing over your passport as safety deposit, give them a copy. If you want to be really secure, cross out your ID and passport number with a black marker.