All things considered, Thailand is a very safe country to visit. It has a well-developed tourism industry that welcomes millions of travellers per year, low violent crime rates, and a friendly population that’s used to interacting with foreigners. However, like anywhere else in the world, it’s important to keep your wits about you and be careful in Thailand to ensure that your trip goes smoothly. Here are a few travel safety tips to bear in mind on your holiday…
- Food: In most high-end resorts and hotels, food preparation adheres to high sanitary standards and you can eat freely. When it comes to street vendors, exercise greater caution and don’t eat anything that hasn’t been properly washed and cooked.
- Water: The safest way to stay hydrated is with bottled water, which is cheap and plentiful throughout Thailand. Most visitors use tap water for bathing and brushing their teeth, but not for drinking.
- Accommodations: When you arrive at your room, give it a quick inspection to make sure that everything is in working order, including door locks and the room’s safe. In the rare event that anything is broken or looks like it hasn’t been properly cleaned, contact reception immediately.
- Swimming: Thailand’s beaches are one of its biggest attractions, and they can provide for some truly serene swimming opportunities. However, as with beaches anywhere else, never swim alone and never swim after consuming alcohol. Always stay close to the shore and to other swimmers in case you run into trouble.
- Transportation: Taxis are plentiful and affordable, especially in tourism hot spots. Know that taxi meters have to start out at THB35; if they start higher than this, choose a different taxi. Tuk-tuks are another popular mode of transportation and can be a lot of fun, but make sure you clearly negotiate the price before you start your trip, and only pay once you’ve reached your destination.
- Jewelry: When it comes to jewelry, while outright theft is quite rare, it’s still the safest option to simply not wear it at all. Leave your high-end pieces at home or in the safe in your room.
- Embassy Registry: Register your trip with your government’s embassy beforehand so that they know when you’ll be in the country. If something happens, being registered can help the embassy offer assistance to you, as well as get in touch with your next of kin if necessary.
- Passport: Legally, all people in Thailand must carry identification at all times. While your passport can serve to meet this criteria, carrying it around at all times may also risk losing it. So, consider carrying around an alternate piece of ID and leaving your passport locked away in your room safe. Alternately, you may consider photocopying your passport and arrivals card and simply carrying the copies around.
- Vaccines: Thailand is a tropical country with many of the corresponding diseases present, including Hepatitis A/B, Measles, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, and more. In the early planning stages of your trip, you should speak with your physician about what travel vaccines may be necessary and how soon you should get them before departing.
- Petty Theft: Pickpocketing is uncommon in Thailand, but it does happen from time to time. Another occasional method of petty theft is purse-snatchings by thieves on motorbikes. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times, and don’t carry any more cash than is necessary. Be discreet when you pay for things so that you don’t draw any undue attention to your wallet or purse. Also consider carrying a small amount of cash in a wallet, and a larger amount in a hidden compartment somewhere on your person.
- Scams: Like with any other tourism hot spot, there will be those who seek to take advantage of visitors’ ignorance. Do not take part in any wagering games or accept any invitations to places you don’t know, and be wary of anyone who seems unusually eager to befriend you, even other foreigners.
- Illegal Drugs: The punishment for drug possession in Thailand can be extremely severe, so do not possess or consume any illegal drugs at any time. Never leave your drink unattended at bars, restaurants, or beaches.
The Political Situation
- Coup: On May 22nd 2014, the Thai military carried out a coup d’etat. While this may sound remarkable, it is the 12th coup in recent Thai history, so most Thais are quite used to this process, even if they disagree with it. While the coup has had little – if any – effect on tourists, martial law is still in force across Thailand, so be mindful that normal legal processes may not apply.
- Protests: Thailand has seen numerous large-scale protests in recent years. These protests can sometimes turn violent, and tourists are recommended to avoid them if possible. Tourists should also avoid wearing red (a colour currently associated with protesters), as this may attract attention from the authorities.
- Instability: Most of Thailand is perfectly safe for tourists, but a few outlying areas possess heightened risks of political instability. For example, the Government of Canada currently advises against travel to the southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla, as well as the Preah Vihear temple area near the Cambodian border. The primary tourist hubs are nowhere near these areas, but if for any reason you do choose to travel to them, you should exercise greater caution.
Now that you’re educated on Thailand travel safety and know how to keep yourself safe, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of tourists who visit this beautiful country have no problems at all. By following the safety tips in this article, you should have no problem enjoying a pleasant, fascinating holiday in one of Southeast Asia’s most popular destinations. Bon voyage!