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Is Thailand Safe to Travel?

Thailand is a paradise destination for travelers all over the world with its stunning beaches, tropical islands, incredible food, fun cities.

But there’s sometimes trouble in paradise. We hear about scams as the country gets more popular with regular tourists and even instances of violence. You may be wondering, “Ok, so is Thailand safe?

We dive into all of the need-to-know details to keep you safe while in Thailand and discuss all the popular safety topics, and some tips to avoid any trouble that may arise.

In this article, we’ll be covering a whole host of topics from whether or not it’s “safe to eat the food in Thailand” to “safety tips to travel alone in Thailand (even for a solo female)?” and much, much more. 

We’re also going to answer questions like “should I take my family to Thailand?” and “should I rent a motorbike in Thailand?” in addition to whatever else has been plaguing your mind.

So, if you’re concerned about staying safe on your Thailand holiday, don’t worry – we’ve got your back. Whatever it is, our insider guide will have you covered.

Always arm yourselves with good behaviors and sense of keeping things right as you do at your home countries, then you are good to go.

Let’s check it out more detail below

Is Thailand safe to visit?

Thailand is generally a safe country to visit, but it's smart to exercise caution, especially when it comes to dealing with strangers (both Thai and foreigners) and travelling alone.

  • Assault of travelers is relatively rare in Thailand, but it does happen.
  • Possession of drugs can result in a year or more of prison time. Drug smuggling carries considerably higher penalties, including execution.
  • Disregard all offers of free shopping or sightseeing help from strangers. These are scams that invariably take a commission from your purchases.

Is it safe to visit Thailand right now?

In recent years Thailand has been on notoriously rocky ground when it comes to politics. Protests have often turned violent as huge groups of politically affiliated demonstrators clashed on the streets.

This was an issue mainly only in the capital, Bangkok, and since the National Council for Peace and Order, i.e. Thailand’s military junta, took power in 2014 there’s been less of this.

It does still happen (May 2018 saw protests) and when it does: AVOID THEM.

Thailand is safe to visit right now, but some governments issue travel warnings for the southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat around Southern Borders Provinces (SBP). These Malay majority provinces were captured by then Siam in 1795, but in 2004 started to revolt against the powers that be. It’s an ongoing issue that has lessened in the last few years – although there WERE deadly bombings in Bangkok in 2016.

Dangers and annoyances in Thailand

You can see below some of the danger and annoyance that you may have in Thailand

Assault

Assault of travellers is relatively rare in Thailand, but it does happen. Causing a Thai to ‘lose face’ (feel public embarrassment or humiliation) can sometimes elicit an inexplicably strong and violent reaction. Often alcohol is the number-one contributor to bad choices and worse outcomes.

Border Issues & Hot Spots

Thailand now enjoys friendly relations with its neighbours, and most land borders are fully functional passages for goods and people. However, the ongoing violence in the Deep South has made the crossing at Sungai Kolok into Malaysia dangerous, and most Muslim-majority provinces (Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla) should be avoided by casual visitors.

Check with your government’s foreign ministry for current travel warnings. You can see the information below in the Government travel advices section

Drug Possession

Belying Thailand's anything-goes atmosphere are strict punishments for possession and trafficking of drugs, which are not relaxed for foreigners. It is illegal to buy, sell or possess opium, heroin, amphetamines, hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana. Possession of drugs can result in at least one year or more of prison time. Drug smuggling – defined as attempting to cross a border with drugs in your possession – carries considerably higher sanctions, including the death penalty.

Scams

Thais can be so friendly and laid-back that some visitors are lulled into a false sense of security, making them vulnerable to scams of all kinds. Bangkok is especially good at long, involved frauds that dupe travelers into thinking they’ve made a friend and are getting a bargain, when in fact they are getting ripped off.

All offers of free shopping or sightseeing help from strangers should be ignored. They will invariably take a commission from your purchases.

Check out the 9 most popular scams in Thailand below

Theft & Fraud

Exercise diligence when it comes to your personal belongings. Ensure your room is securely locked and carry your most important effects (passport, money, credit cards) on your person. Take care when leaving valuables in hotel safes.

Follow the same practice when you’re travelling. A locked bag will not prevent theft on a long-haul bus.

To avoid losing all of your travel money in an instant, use a credit card that is not directly linked to your bank account so that the operator doesn’t have access to immediate funds.

Touts & Commissions

Touting is a long tradition in Asia, and while Thailand doesn’t have as many touts as, say, India, it has its share. In Bangkok, túk-túk drivers and other new 'friends' often take new arrivals on city tours. These almost always end up in high-pressure sales situations at silk, jewelry or handicraft shops.

Touts also steer customers to certain guesthouses that pay a commission. Travel agencies are notorious for talking newly arrived tourists into staying at inconveniently located, overpriced hotels thanks to commissions.

Some travel agencies masquerade as TAT, the government-funded tourist information office.

22 top safety tips for traveling to Thailand?

It may be generally safe to travel around Thailand, but there’s no end to how careful you can actually be. To make sure you really do stay as safe as possible, here’s a list of top tips for staying safe in Thailand.

  1. Make sure your vaccines are checked and up to date – seems simple, but boy would you save yourself a BIG headache (literally)!
  2. Stick to bottled water – it may be well touristed, but Thailand’s water isn’t great (more on that later).
  3. Don’t hop on any old moped – make sure you’re renting off someone with good reviews or you could end up in a bad way.
  4. DON’T insult the Thai king or royal family – lèse-majesté laws mean it’s literally illegal. You can serve prison time.

  1. Don’t buy Buddha images – you’ll need a special license to ‘export’ them.
  2. Have copies of important docs copied – you don’t NEED to carry them around, but in case you lose something it helps.
  3. Watch your back at the Full Moon Parties – ok it’s a time for fun, but getting completely senseless can lead to BAD situations.
  4. Be wary about taking drinks from strangers – many date rapes occur this way, especially on the Thai islands.
  5. Know where you’re going when you get in a taxi – Bangkok taxi drivers are notoriously poor.
  6. Carry a small amount of cash when you go out – if something happens it’s a small loss. Using a money belt is an excellent way to hide cash.
  7. Be aware of air pollution if you’ve got asthma – check air quality in Chiang Mai or Bangkok, mainly in March/April.
  8. Definitely, don’t get involved in protests – don’t even get CLOSE; you could get injured, arrested, deported, or worse.
  9. We’d recommend that you don’t feed monkeys – they may seem cute (to some) but they’re vicious and greedy!

  1. Be aware of riptides, especially in monsoon season – the tropical seas look beautiful, but they can be seriously deadly.
  2. Be careful of what you share on Facebook/online – sharing articles that portray Thailand negatively can get you arrested (for example, BBC articles that ‘defame’ the royal family are blocked).
  3. Watch your bags if you’re on a tuk-tuk or motorbike – people can and do swoop by and snatch ’em right away.
  4. Wear a helmet when you ride a motorbike – a) it’s a legal requirement, and b) it could save your actual life.
  5. Don’t give your passport as insurance/guarantee – if you end up magically breaking whatever it is you’re renting, how will you get it back?
  6. Know your (drink) limits – those buckets are STRONG. So are the other mixer drinks, so be sensible.
  7. Be aware of the sex trade – even if you’re tempted, we’d recommend not. Human trafficking is a real issue in Thailand and you never know WHO or WHAT you’re really funding…
  8. Only use OFFICIAL borders – crossing over into Burma, Cambodia, Laos, or Malaysia unofficially is not only illegal, it’s also extremely dangerous – there are still unexploded ordinances here from old conflicts.
  9. And whatever you do, don’t ride the elephants – a) it could be dangerous (people have died) and b) those ellies are most likely abused.

If you follow our safety tips, you’ll get to properly enjoy the wonder that is Thailand. At the end of the day, it’s all about being smart as you go about your travels.

Top safety topics for Thailand

Is Thailand safe to travel alone?

If you’re traveling to Thailand by yourself, don’t worry, thousands of others have done it before you. It’s totally doable!

Generally speaking, Thailand is very safe for solo traveler, and most travelers should feel comfortable traveling alone in Thailand. 

It is the fact that, the country is a well-trodden, quintessential travel destination. Many of the routes and destinations have been definitively tried and tested over the years. It’s more than ready for you to explore.

But of course, there is nothing like a risk-free situation. The paradise can change quickly to be your hell. To help you out, we’ve got a few clever tips to keep in mind to make Thailand safe to travel alone in.

  • Meet other travelers. This is crucial to beating the “solo traveling blues” and to finding people to make your time even more memorable. Head to Chiang Mai and stay in a social hostel where you can get to know fellow travelers.
  • Thailand has no shortage of tours and this is a two-birds-with-one-stone scenario: you get to experience some amazing culture/nature AND meet people in the process. Start off with a food tour in Bangkok to get the ideas flowing!
  • As gratifying as it can be to meet other people, don’t go home with strangers. They could be a lot stranger than you think. It sorta goes without saying too, but buy your own drinks and keep tabs on what you’ve been drinking – especially at Full Moon Parties.
  • Read reviews for travel companies, tour companies, bus companies – just about every company that offers you a service – is a great way to avoid mishaps. These are even more of a pain in the butt when you’re traveling solo in Thailand, we can assure you!
  • Keep in touch with family and/or friends at home. Send a message every few days just to let them know where you are and what you’re up to (they want to hear, of course!). Even if you haven’t got much internet and you’re traveling around the Thai islands, a simple message is the difference between nobody knowing where you are and somebody knowing where you are.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Thai people are super friendly and will do what they can to help. From a punctured motorbike tire to simple directions, you’ll be surprised at just how nice people can be.

Thailand is the perfect choice for the apprehensive first-time solo traveler. It’s so traveler friendly that you’ll probably end up having the best – and safest – time ever. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful!

Is Thailand safe for solo female travelers?

We believe that Thailand is safe for solo female travelers. Just to be on the safe side, here are a few pointers to make sure you stay safe while you’re at it.

  • You can opt to stay in female only dorms in hostels. These are a not only a nice place to stay (away from potentially creepy guys), but a great opportunity to get to know other female travelers of all types and ages.
  • You might want to wear as little as possible since it’s hot in Thailand! But remember this is a Buddhist culture: locals rarely dress like this. Avoid the wrong sort of attention and keep respectful. Obviously, it’s different at the beaches, but once you’re off the sand it’s a different story. Layering is a smart move.
  • Thankfully, catcalling is basically non-existent: that is more likely to come from a fellow traveler.
  • The island of Koh Tao, in particular, seems to suffer from more disappearances and mysterious deaths than usual – if you plan on visiting, do your research.
  • As soon as you arrive at the airport, get a Thai sim card. This is a good way to keep in touch with people you meet, to track tuk-tuk and taxi rides, and to check reviews for hostels and guesthouses that you haven’t booked in advance. No-brainer.
  • Learn a little bit of Thai. It goes down well, but it is by no means required.
  • Keep your wits about you when it comes to other travelers. If something dodgy is going to happen – on a night out, in your hostel, or just traveling around – it will most likely be due to attention from another farang (foreigner). Make friends and stay away from people who seem weird – they probably are.
  • Don’t do drugs. Sorry to be a downer but this puts you at risk and you can literally be jailed if you have them on your person.
  • Seems odd but honestly stay away from monks! They’re not allowed to talk with, touch/be touched by or be in the vicinity of females!
  • On a night out be confident and act like you know your surroundings. Make sure you keep enough cash with you to get you back to your hostel safely.

On the whole, Thailand is the ideal place for solo female travelers. There’s less harassment than many other destinations – even than in Europe – people are super friendly, the hostels are amazing, transportation is easy, and there are loads of other backpackers to meet. What’s not to like?

Is Thailand safe to travel for families?

Thailand is a safe place for traveling with children and babies. The culture is very family oriented, and that includes your family, too. With a few considerations, your trip to Thailand can be safe and a lot of fun for everyone.

1. Avoid any long transfer especially with multi connections

The more connections you have along the way the higher the risk of losing your bags. This is the nightmare that you do not want to have with your children.

2. Various activities

The kids will get bored if they have same toys for 1 week though it is the most interesting one that they have been long dreaming of.

Plan activities that include something everyone can enjoy. Definitely have a few beach days but ask what your family wants. Perhaps hiking, water sports, golf, or tours of fantastical temples would be interesting.

There is plenty of things to do in Thailand. It’s a shame for anyone to feel bored. Do some research before you leave and discover the activities that are geared for children.

3. Make a good and safe food choices

This is absolutely right with no doubt, and there is nothing to worry to find a good and safe place to eat.

Thailand is home to some of the world’s best restaurants. Your young children may not always appreciate it, though, if they are unaccustomed to the flavor. While there are always many wonderful mild Thai dishes you could try, don’t worry.

First off, there is every imaginable kind of restaurant. Italian, French, American, Mexican–if your children won’t eat Thai food, they will still have plenty to eat.

Secondly, come prepared with a few snacks. Finding a corner gas station is an easy feat in most of Thailand. Grab a few snacks that will hold up in the heat, just in case your child gets the munchies.

Third, don’t eat from a street vendor or place that others aren’t eating from, or that you don’t feel confident about. Children have sensitive stomachs, and the last thing you want to deal with is a child who is sick.

4. Always bring water along

Thailand has different seasons, but all of them veer towards warm. The entire family should stay hydrated, but children especially so. Dehydration leads to headaches, tiredness, and irritability at the beginning, and far more serious problems if it progresses.

Carry bottled water with you and have it readily available. Do not drink the water in your hotel or at restaurants unless it is bottled or purified.

5. Choose a family friendly hotel

Though Thailand is safe, you may not want to expose your young children to the nightlife. Research which places are best suited for children in the evening, and which ones are great during the day.

A family-friendly hotel should locate inside the family-friendly location with various suitable activities around the corner.

The next strong bullet, the hotel should have a kid-friendly swimming pool. And finally, it will be perfect if the hotel also offers a babysitter service.

6. Prepare your child in advance

Vacations are always more memorable if your child knows a bit about the country and its culture in advance of arriving. Thailand, with its unique culture and wonderful flora and fauna, is an excellent example of a destination that’s begging for this treatment.

Let your children know about the weather, the temples, the history, the animals. Talk about the ocean and some of the wonderful landscapes they might see. This helps them understand what they experience in a better way.

7. Have everything your child needs

Traveling with an infant is a challenge, no matter where you are going. During the long flight, they will experience the compression and decompression of takeoff and landing, as well as being in an airplane for many hours. 

If you are certain that you want to travel to Thailand with your baby, be sure that you have the necessary travel papers and vaccinations that your baby should have.

While baby supplies are common in Thailand, and not difficult to find, you may want to bring your own if your child is fussy towards a specific brand or has allergies or other requirements.

8. Your first day should be a relaxing day

Whether you got a direct flight or not, the first full day in Thailand should be relaxing. Everyone will be experiencing tiredness from travel. Plus, your child needs to acclimate to the time zone, the climate, and the understanding of new surroundings.

Don’t plan any huge activities your first full day in Thailand. Take it easy and let everyone get rested and ready for the rest of the vacation. Consider keeping your mornings as the time when you do the activities, and the afternoons and evenings for relaxing fun. Mornings are cooler, and your child will be more refreshed and less prone to public breakdowns or weariness at the start of the day.

9. Keep cool when necessary

If the heat is getting to your child, don’t be afraid to go into a 7-11 store or a mall. Enjoy a respite from the heat and take in the cool A/C as needed. The more uncomfortable your child gets, the more likely they’ll show it with fussy behavior or crying.

It’s perfectly OK to take advantage of a little A/C now and then.

If you follow all these tips, then there is nothing to worry bringing your small family to Thailand

Is it safe to get a tattoo in Thailand?

It is the same everywhere, there is a few things to look out for before getting a tattoo done in Thailand:

  • Be sure the artist uses new needles (even bamboo needles come in plastic as new).
  • Ask how long the artist has been practicing and check out their designs from previous completed tattoos.
  • Make sure they aren’t pushing you to get a tattoo done. The artist shouldn’t be pushy and should take the time to answer any of your concerns.

If you want to get a sak yant tattoo done by a monk be sure that the monks use a new needle as traditionally they re-use the same needle which is unsanitary and unsafe.

Is it safe to drive in Thailand?

Driving in Thailand is really dangerous – Don't do it (if possible). Thailand's roads are the most dangerous in the world, not mention that they drive on the left-hand side, which makes it super headache for the travelers from right-hand side country. 

It's not just a statistic but a very real human tragedy. For foreigners visiting Thailand and thinking of driving, it is worth taking a look at the risks involved.

In case you really want to try, here are some notices to reduce the risk:

  • Go with a very well recommended rental company – why risk bad bikes and bad service?
  • Take pictures of the bikes before you head out – you’ll want to be able to prove you didn’t do the damage.
  • Wear a helmet (your passenger, too!) – if the worst does happen, you’ll want to protect your noggin’.
  • If something happens, find your nearest garage – these are everywhere.
  • Get on/off the left side of the bike – getting off the right side is a good way to get your leg burnt on the exhaust!
  • Don’t drink and drive, don’t drug and drive – why would you?
  • Let other drivers see what you’re doing – your intentions will help them not hit you.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the horn – it may be rude in your home country, but it’s just a friendly “here I am!” in Thailand.
  • If you don’t feel 100% confident, just don’t ride – not feeling confident leads to errors of judgment, which is plain dangerous.

You can hire a proper car if you want to avoid bikes altogether. Do your research first, obviously; you’ll need to be over 21 years old and in possession of an international driving license to do so. These are a good idea for multi-person road trips. Always keep an eye out for those motorbikes – these can come out of nowhere.

The roads themselves in Thailand range from super new paved highways to bumpy dirt tracks and roads-in-progress. Some can be super steep and very winding, especially in mountainous areas. In these sorts of places, we’d recommend only confident, experienced drivers go for it and not first timers.

As long as you’re sensible and you take care of your surroundings, you’ll be fine. Many backpackers motorbike their way around the Thai islands, or up in the famous motorbike loop near Chiang Rai, without issue. That doesn’t mean accidents don’t happen. Just be careful!

Check out how to get around in Thailand HERE

Is UBER safe in Thailand?

Uber has merged with rival Grab in Thailand. But it’s the same amazing service. Uber is very safe in Thailand. You won’t be overcharged, you’ll be able to track your journey, and the drivers are pretty competent.

All you’ll need to do is create a Grab account. Simple as that.

Are Taxis safe in Thailand?

Taxis are generally safe in Thailand but sometimes you will be astounded at how bad they are – especially in Bangkok.

You might want to put your luggage in the boot, but no – this is where the driver’s huge speakers are, of course. You might want the meter on, but of course, it’s broken and the driver will just shake his head. Some of the cars used are pretty rickety as well. Yep – it’s a minefield.

Some drivers have absolutely no clue where they are going either. (Have a GPS app ready for this as you may have to become a literal navigator.)

The biggest ‘safety’ issue is probably taxi drivers trying to rip you off. It’s not exactly about haggling, they won’t budge; it’s more about just knowing your destination and how much the fare should be, and then asking till you actually find a taxi driver offering a fair price.

Oh and another thing: if a destination is too inconvenient, too far, or even too near for it to be worth the money, the driver will just refuse.

The language barrier can be a little hazardous. Ever tried pronouncing any Thai? What about place names? If not, a good tip is to have a card from your hotel with the address in Thai script for the driver. They’ll understand that and get you back to your hotel/hostel/guesthouse safely.

Then there are motorbike taxis and samlors. These are more common in less urban areas where car taxis are less frequent. They’re good (and fun) if you’re solo traveling. Samlors have sidecars, motorbike taxis don’t. The licensed drivers wear orange vests.

Whatever you do, be respectful, considerate and appropriate. Any concerns? We recommend taking a picture of the drivers’ license inside the taxi. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut.

Is public transportation in Thailand safe?

When it comes to public transportation in Thailand, you’re going to have a lot of options – especially in the capital, Bangkok. Here you can basically take your pick of the bus, the BTS (Skytrain) or the MRT (metro).

The best thing of all:  public transportation in Thailand is safe, absolutely. As a bonus, it’s super cheap too! You won’t even have to worry overheating since they’re mercifully air-conditioned.

About the only danger that you’ll have to worry about on either the MRT or BTS is getting lost. The city buses, in particular, are often crowded and it’s not easy to understand the routes. That’s about the only risk.

How could we not mention tuk-tuks? They take you here, there and everywhere! You’ll find them in Bangkok and all over Thailand. The whole country boasts more than 35,000 of these. Some drivers may be oddballs but tuk-tuks are generally safe.

Then there are the long-distance buses. These are a backpacker’s best friend. They come in two types: normal and VIP.

Normal buses don’t have air-con. They pick up and drop off people at seemingly random points. They’re cheaper than the VIP buses but they’re also decidedly less about quality and service.

Now, the VIP buses…(hold on one moment while I wipe away a tear). They DO have air-con! They have scheduled stops! These buses ply common backpacking routes and can be booked through our hostel or hotel! They even have bottled water, a ticketing system for your luggage, and stickers for combined journeys! God, do I miss those buses.

Buses often include ferry services as well! This is the only way to get around the Thai islands and booking a combination ticket for a ferry and a bus is a completely stress-free experience. Basically, the ferry services are sleek operations in new, fast boats that go between all the classic island destinations including Koh Samui and Koh Phangan in the east, and Phuket and Koh Phi Phi in the west.

The trains in Thailand are next level. They may not be VIP, they may not be high-speed, they may not even be very new, but they’re safe and allow you to travel literally the whole length of the country. The popular backpacking night train that runs between Chiang Mai in the north and Bangkok in the south was a raucous experience – until there was an alcohol ban instated in 2014.

The trains come in three classes – all are clean, only one is very, very comfortable; the other two are varying degrees of bearable. And if you feel like it, or it’s on your itinerary, you can get a sleeper train from Bangkok to Penang in Malaysia. Second class sleeper services feature privacy curtains. You’ll have a blast no matter how you get around the country!

Is the food in Thailand safe?

Food in Thailand is a gourmet delight. It’s absolutely amazing. This is a cheap and easy way to really dig into the culture of the country.

There’s a huge variety of delicious food on offer, from the farang favorite of pad thai to the Thai favorite of pad kha pao. There’s Burmese style cuisine of the north, the Laos-Thai style of the Isan region, and even Chinese dishes added into the mix. Damn, it’s good.

And generally, if not wholly, speaking the food in Thailand is safe. But of course, it’s always too easy to fall prey to that pesky lil’ thing called food poisoning (or worse). To avoid becoming ill, we recommend the following tips.

  • Pretty much a rule of thumb anywhere in the world: if it’s busy – especially with locals – not only will the food be good, it’s less likely to have sanitation issues.
  • You must try the street food in Thailand! It’s cheap and incredible and there are stalls EVERYWHERE. We recommend eating somewhere where you can literally see the food being cooked before your very eyes – germs hate being fried.

  • Does it look clean? If it looks clean, go for it. If it looks grimy, even if it’s popular, there’s always a distinct possibility of catching something.
  • And if the food looks like it’s just been lying around for ages and there’s not even the hint of a flame ready to heat it up for you again, pass. Not only will it be stale and not-as-tasty, but it could also very well send you to the bathroom.
  • Fruit is good. Fruit can also be very bad since it’s not cooked. Ask for it to be peeled or else peel it yourself before you eat it.
  • A simple way to avoid any food-related illness is simply to wash your hands! The issue may not be a part of establishments’ sanitation, but it must be a part of your own!
  • You might not be able to trust other customers, either. Shared bowls can be a hotbed for germs. If you want to be on the safe side, avoid sharing.
  • Traveling with an allergy? Research ahead of time how to explain your allergy. Keep in mind that store owners and restaurant staff might not know all the foods that contain allergens, so it’s helpful to know the names of some of these too. If you’re gluten-free, pick up a handy Gluten-Free Translation Card with descriptions of Celiac disease, cross-contamination risk, and local Thai ingredients in Thai.

At the end of the day, food in Thailand is fine to eat. Who are we kidding, it’s more than fine – it’s amazing! Thai people love their food and eating out is a perfect way to soak up local life. The food is usually cooked FAST and from fresh ingredients. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone and try something new… our mouths are watering just thinking about it.

Can you drink the tap water in Thailand?

No, drinking tap water in Thailand is not safe, and you should avoid it by any means. If there are no other options than to drink tap water, it is recommended to boil it.

Although the overall tap water quality in Thailand is improving it still could be better. Current water treatment plants in Thailand produce clean water, but the problem is its delivery to clients.

So do as Thai people do and buy big bottles of water – convenience stores and supermarkets have a seemingly endless supply of these.

Plastic waste is an issue all over the world, so if your accommodation has a water filter use a refillable bottle and refill whenever you’re thirsty. 

Trust us: Thailand is hot so you’ll need to be keeping hydrated, especially if you’re doing any sort of outdoor activity. Seriously, don’t be a rookie and forget your water bottle.

Is Thailand safe to live?

In general, outside of traffic accidents and taking risky behavior, Thailand is actually a very safe place to live. Theft, muggings, and personal attacks are all quite rare. Most dangerous situations involving foreigners occur due to speeding, drunk-driving, and swimming in unsafe conditions

It feels genuinely safe. There are low violent crime rates – e.g. theft and murder – meaning you’ll never really feel unsafe. Ever.

The issues that make Thailand feel unsafe to live in are relatively few, but they can be biggies. Political corruption can make it feel like you’re living in a lawless land, there’s the risk of terrorist attacks due to the ongoing trouble in the southern provinces, and then there’s an ever-present threat of national unrest, which can lead to (sometimes violent) protests, riots, and clashes between opposing political factions.

Sexual assault and exploitation is also a real issue. An average of 87 people per day came forward in 2013 to report an assault or to seek counseling; the majority were not registered as crimes. If you want to help, plan on working for a reputable charity.

There are a few places that are more dangerous than others. Avoid living in or visiting the southern provinces, for instance, and walking through sketchy areas that could be as sketchy as anywhere in your own country. Most unsafe situations are those you directly choose to enter – be sensible.

Outside of all the issues, Thailand is a wholesome, safe place to live with a healthy expat community to get involved with. Many people that choose to live in Thailand end up living there for a long time.

How is health care in Thailand?

Healthcare in Thailand is good; really good.

It’s so good that people who find themselves injured or sick in neighboring Laos or Cambodia are often flown to Bangkok for treatment. In fact, it’s a major destination for medical tourism in Asia!

Major provinces usually have one hospital, and top tourist destinations have a few. English is widely spoken.

Government hospitals have good medical services, but they’re often overcrowded (meaning long waiting times) and facilities might not be as good as private health organizations.

Private medical facilities are excellent and have great staff. And they’re very, very affordable.

One particular issue to be aware of is getting an ambulance to a hospital. They’re a little hard to come by – and traffic doesn’t move for them, either!

It goes without saying, but having insurance is 100% a must. You’ll have to pay for treatment upfront, then your insurance will reimburse you later.

Thailand tourist scams

That said, most locals are friendly and welcoming, some people do exploit first-time visitors with scams and schemes. Before you book a vacation to Thailand, be aware that certain tricks are quite common. Because there’s no better way to avoid falling victim than to be prepared, watch out for these 9 tourist scams during your trip.

Top 9 tourist scams in Thailand and how to avoid

The Grand Palace scams

During a trip to Thailand, a seemingly official Thai officer told me, “the Grand Palace is closed.” But something seemed fishy to me, and my gut told me to ignore him, which I (hesitantly) did.

Later, I learned this scam was a classic in the Thai tourist scheme book. A local (typically costumed as a security guard, officer or tour guide) will tell you the Grand Palace is closed, and offer to give you a tour of other temples instead. Occasionally, you might be told that you’re not properly dressed, and won’t be allowed entrance to the Palace.

You’ll likely end up paying a very expensive tuk tuk to take you to his friend’s tailor shop, or to buy gems, which is also a scam. Worse still, you’ll miss the Grand Palace.

How to avoid it: Don’t be afraid to ignore anyone who tells you the palace isn’t open. Check the hours online and, if you’re concerned, have your hotel call to confirm that the palace is open before leaving the property. Clothing can be a concern, so be sure to cover your knees and shoulders to gain access to the Grand Palace. But if you forget, don’t panic: you can rent clothing at the main entrance of the temple.

The rental scams

Renting a motorcycle or jet ski is common around Thailand. I’ve rented scooters on numerous occasions — sometimes for as little as 200 THB (about $6) per day. However, it’s easy for scammers to prey on renters when they return the jet ski or the scooter, claiming the vehicle has been damaged and demanding money. If you don’t pay up, they may keep your passport, or threaten to take you to the police (who, unfortunately, may be in on the scam, too).

How to avoid it: While giving your passport for scooter rentals may be unavoidable (you can ask if they’ll accept a copy or a cash deposit instead), always take photos and a video of the vehicle before renting, clearly pointing out any scratches or issues beforehand. I deliberately make sure the person who’s renting the vehicle sees me do this, so he or she knows they can’t get away with a scam later. Ask your hotel to recommend a trustworthy spot to rent scooters or jet skis, which helps weed out scammers. And in extremely touristy areas such as Pattaya or Patong, it may be best to avoid jet ski rentals entirely.

The gemstone scams

TPG’s Editor-at-Large, Zach Honig, almost fell for the gem stone scam when he was approached by a well-dressed man named ‘Charlie,’ supposedly the head of security at his Bangkok hotel. Charlie told him the Grand Palace was closed (sound familiar?) and he should head to other locations instead — one being the wholesale gem market.

After Honig perused the gems at the Exotic Center Gem market, he returned to the tuk tuk Charlie had arranged and asked to be taken to the Grand Palace. But the driver was taking him in the wrong direction, forcing Honig to hop out and hail a taxi. He may not have completely fallen for the scam and purchased gems (which are often fake or grossly overpriced), but many tourists do.

Often, the people orchestrating the scam claim to be security officers for either hotels or malls, luring travelers with a false sense of safety.
Like gemstones, travelers may be tricked into purchasing unauthorized electronics, so be wary of anything you buy in a non-conventional setting. That camera, iPhone or set of noise-canceling headphones won’t have a warranty, so if it breaks after purchasing, you’ll be left without options.

How to avoid it: Unless you’re a gem expert, stay away from jewel markets in Thailand, especially Bangkok. Avoid purchasing large ticket items or electronics at markets, too: if you really need something, go to a mall and shop at a store where you can get a valid receipt. “If something’s feeling off, use your smartphone to search for keywords that describe the experience,” Honig suggested. “If you’re being taken for a ride, you should come across similar accounts posted online.”

The tailor shop scams

You may be coaxed into having a custom-made suit or dress at a nearby tailor shop. You’ll hear the same pitch from the tailor or their friend: a celebrity from your country always gets his or her clothing made at this tailor shop, and the tailor has worked for years in designer goods. Of course, once you’ve chosen your style, you’ll be asked to pay a large sum of money upfront. When you go back to pick up your items, the shop may be mysteriously closed, or your new suit isn’t quite as promised.

How to avoid it: If you want garments made, research the best tailors beforehand online, or speak to someone at your hotel for a recommendation. Never pay the entire cost upfront either.

The transportation scams

During your trip to Thailand, you’ll almost certainly hop in a cab, take a bus or ride in a tuk tuk, if not all three. But be wary, as all three methods of transportation can be abused by swindlers and cheats

Taxi cabs

Every time I grab a taxi in Thailand, I insist they turn on the meter — and you should do the same. Expect them to argue and try to fix a rate (usually 5 to 10 times what the price would be on the meter) before eventually agreeing to use the meter. Know that drivers can still tamper with the meter to move at a faster rate than normal or say they don’t have change when given a large bill.

How to avoid it: Use the apps Grab or Hailo to ensure you know the fair price of the trip, even if you end up using a cab. If your driver won’t turn on the meter, simply get out. (If you’re leaving from a hotel, have a staff member demand meter use in Thai.) And having a variety of small bills will help if the driver can’t — or won’t — make change.

Overnight buses

Booking long-haul bus routes can often end in disaster. Some drivers, rather than take you to the bus station, will drop you far away from the city center — conveniently at a friend’s hotel late at night, or in front of a buddy’s tuk tuk stand.

How to avoid it: No matter how legitimate it seems in the tourist office, don’t take long or overnight bus rides unless absolutely necessary. Just fly instead. If you have to cut costs, do so elsewhere.

Tuk Tuks

There are several variations of the tuk tuk scam, including the aforementioned gem market ploy (that pushy driver was probably getting commission). The driver may also change the fare once you’re inside the tuk tuk or offer to give you a city tour at an exorbitantly low price — but all you’ll see are the gem and tailor shops of friends, rather than real tourist attractions.

How to avoid it: Tuk tuks are much more expensive than taxis, so avoiding them entirely can save you money. That being said, it can be fun to try them. If you’re inclined to do so, write down the agreed-upon price so it can’t be disputed later, and stay firm about your destination. Don’t do any ‘tours’ with a tuk tuk driver and always choose your tuk tuk and avoid ones that approach you.

The “Local Price” onward travel scams

“After the tuk-tuk scam looped us in and taking a ride through a tailor and gem shop, our tuk-tuk driver’s friend came over for a chat. He asked us about our travels and made it seem like we were crazy for not having anything booked beyond our time in Bangkok. We were missing out on the best deals, he told us.

Luckily, he knew a local travel agency that could book us all our flights and hotels for the next month—and not at tourist prices, but local prices!

Paying local prices instead of inflated tourist rates? Let’s do it!

We spent an hour in the travel agency and purchased plane tickets, bus tickets, and hotels.

The next morning, a bus that was supposed to bring us to Krabi didn’t show up. Upon further investigation, we realized that no one booked anything from our itinerary, but they had charged our credit card.

We should’ve already realized that the driver had scammed us when the same tuk-tuk driver simply disappeared while we were visiting a temple, before we even paid him. He got a commission from the booking, so of course he wasn’t going to wait for our 10 baht.

We had no idea where the travel agency was so had no way of going back to complain. This was an expensive lesson to learn.”

How to avoid it: Always beware of tuk-tuk drivers offering all-day tours for prices as low as 10 baht, or other tours that seem too cheap to be true. Don’t fall for it, or you’ll be spending all day in tailor shops and gem stores. And someone may end up talking you into buying something at a much higher price than it’s actually worth.

Dani, Globetrotter Girls

The tour boat scams

If you’re ever approached by someone offering a canal tour at a too-good-to-be-true price, you’re right to be suspicious. With tour boat scams, you may at first get a great rate and even a fun ride, but as the tour concludes and you approach the pier, the captain will stop, and the guide will demand more money. Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to pay — unless you want to swim to shore.

How to avoid it: Don’t boat with anyone who approaches you, period. If you want to do a canal tour, organize it in advance with an agency or through your hotel. Be wary of extremely low prices.

The drink scams

“In the party areas of Bangkok, there are many shows on offer to tourists which, of course, have cover charges.

Many street vendors will say you can go in for free if you just buy one beer. But when the bill comes, the beer will cost a fortune and there will be extra charges for watching the show.

In our case, a large security guard blocked the doorway to leave and said they would call the police if we didn’t pay. We gave them the fair amount for our beers and said, “call the police.” We pushed past.

It was a little scary as I’m not sure what would have happened if they didn’t let us through!”

How to Avoid it: “Don’t fall into the trap of these Thai scammers on the street. If it sounds too good to be true (or “free”) it probably is! Go to bars and clubs you want to go to and always check prices before you order anything.”

The airport security theft scams

“When we put our items through the X-ray scan, we put a money belt on its own in the tray. They’d hurried us through, and we lost sight of the tray for a few moments. In that time, one (or more) of the airport security staff went into our money belt and took all the big Thai baht bills (but they left the small ones).

We realized what happened while we were waiting for our flight and raised the issue with the security staff. We asked them to review the CCTV videos to find out what happened.

Before we boarded our flight, the security manager acknowledged that one of their staff had taken our money, asked us to fill out forms for the theft, and gave us his contact details.

It was a strange series of communications, but eventually, we received our money back by bank transfer.”

Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott, Uncornered Market

General tips for avoiding scams in Thailand

Be wary of anyone who approaches you to offer a service or goods. If you need something, like a taxi, it’s best to approach them. Be extra cautious when traveling solo, and trust your instincts. If something seems fishy, it probably is! Having internet access on your phone is also helpful. If something doesn’t feel right, take Honig’s advice and Google it: If it’s a scam, it’s likely happened to others and been widely reported.

And this goes without saying, but watch your personal belongings and always lock your passport in the hotel safe. Theft may not always be accompanied by a complicated hustle, but it can still ruin your trip.

What to do if you’re a victim

If you’ve been a victim of a serious scam, contact the tourist police immediately. Staff at your hotel may also be able to help.

Keep the following emergency numbers handy when traveling to Thailand:

Emergency contact numbers

  • Tourist Police: 1155
  • Local Police: 911 or 191 (old number but still redirect to 911)
  • Ambulance: 1554
  • Medical Emergency:  1669
  • Tourist Service Center: 672

Here are more emergency numbers in Thailand in case you need it.

Embassy or Consular Assistance

In case you need the embassy or consular services, you may find the contact in our list of diplomatic mission in Thailand.

List of hospitals in some tourist sites

If you need to consult the doctors, here is the list of good hospitals for tourists/foreigners in some tourist sites in Thailand

Helpful Thailand travel phrases

While many Thais speak English in the touristy areas, once you get off the beaten path, you’ll find almost no one speaks English. Even in popular cities, only basic English is spoken. Knowing Thai travel phrases will not only help you get around Thailand, it’ll also help you connect with the culture!

  • Hello = Sawatdii
  • How are you? = Sabaaidii mai?
  • I’m fine = Sabaaidii
  • I’m not well = Mai sabaii
  • I come from (America) = Pom/Chan maa jaak (ameerigaa)
  • What country are you from? = Kun maa jaak bprateet arai?
  • Thank you = Khop kun
  • Sorry = Khot hort
  • No problem = Mai bpenrai
  • Goodbye = Bai
  • Can you speak English? = Kun pood paasaa anggrit dai mai
  • What is your name? = Kun chuu arai?
  • My name is __ = Pŏm / Chán chuu __.
  • Cheers = Chon
  • Crazy = Ding- dong! (Sounds adorable not offensive.)
  • Pleased to meet you = Yin dee têe dâi róo jàk
  • Ladyboy = Katoey (Very useful to know this in Bangkok!)
  • Where’s the toilet? = Hông náam yòo n?i (crucial if you’re a lover of spicy South East Asian food)
  • Yes = Chai
  • No = Ma Chai
  • Beer = Bia
  • How much = Nee Tao Rai

Check the below Youtube video to learn some basic words and phrases for traveling in Thailand

Government Travel Advice

Frequently asked questions

Q. When is the best time to visit Thailand?

Although the climate varies throughout Thailand, you can visit the country all year round. The best time to travel is during the cool and dry season between mid-October and early April. 
In the south, the climate differs between the eastern and western coasts. The west coast is more favorable during the winter months, when diving and snorkeling will be at its best. 

The weather on the east coast is good for most of the year, with the lowest rainfall in January and February and the highest in November.

Q. When is the cheapest time to visit Thailand?

Logically, you'll find the cheapest flights to Thailand from May until October, which happily covers the school holidays. This does come at a price, however – the southwestern monsoon rolls in from mid-June and sticks around for the whole summer.

According to cheapflights.com.au, the cheapest flights to Thailand are usually found when departing on a Monday. The departure day with the highest cost is usually on a Friday.

Moreover, Thailand flights can be made cheaper if you choose a flight at noon. Booking a flight in the morning will likely mean higher prices.

Simply follow this, sometimes you can have the promotion of 40-50% discount.

Check out the guide to get the best ticket to Thailand

Q. Do you need a visa to visit Thailand?

The answer is Yes! But it is very easy as the country wants to attract more and more tourist to develop the tourism industry.

Here is the detail about Thailand visa policy

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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

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Thailand BLOG ARTICLES

As some of you may have seen in the news, Thailand is gearing up for a ‘soft reopening’ to vaccinated travellers a month from now on July 1.

It is official, sort of. After months of kicking sand around debating if it will really happen, the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) has officially approved the Phuket Sandbox plan, an important step forward. The announcement, made late this afternoon, June, 4th, appears to answer the often-posed question if the sandbox plan would ever happen after the much more intense and deadly third wave of Covid-19 swept through Thailand.
Then, the island will be opening Phuket International Airport to foreign travellers as proposed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The trial will be the first of its kind in the country, and if successful, may be rolled out across other parts of Thailand. The Thailand Authority of Tourism (TAT) has already earmarked Krabi, Pattaya, Bangkok, Buriram, Cha-am, Koh Samui, Phang-nga and Hua Hin as possible destinations to try out the scheme.

Each model will be slightly different, depending on geography, and international visitors will still have to get a visa in advance and fill out some paperwork (see details below). Nevertheless, this will come as promising news to those travellers desperate to visit Thailand!

If the Phuket Sandbox Scheme goes ahead, from June to September 2021, Thailand is expecting to receive up to 129,000 international visitors – will you be one of them? In this article, we’ll attempt to answer all of the questions you might have about the Phuket Sandbox and more!

Disclaimer – Information regarding the Phuket Sandbox Program is changing literally every day and is dependent on the COVID-19 situation across Thailand. While we update this article regularly to the best of our ability, we cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions.

Learn more about our travel guide for Phuket island here

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Also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival or the Kin Jay Festival, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an annual event celebrated primarily by the Chinese community in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia.

Running for nine days, the vegetarian festival in Phuket is considered by many to be the most extreme and bizarre of festivals in Thailand. The Phuket Vegetarian Festival could be Thailand's answer to the Tamil festival of Thaipusam celebrated in neighboring Malaysia. Devotees not only adopt a special diet for the holiday, a select few participants prove their devotion by practicing self-mutilation.

Some of the feats performed include piercing cheeks with swords, walking on nails or hot coals, and climbing ladders made of knife blades! Most participants miraculously heal up without needing stitches or medical care.

WARNING! The content and the images are not recommended for the faint of heart! Consider before continuing.

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Buddhist Lent Day (Thailand Wan Khao Phansa, Laos Boun Khao Phansa) is the start of the three-month period during the rainy season when monks are required to remain in a particular place such as a monastery or temple grounds. Here, they will meditate, pray, study, and teach other young monks. In the past, monks were not even allowed to leave the temple, but today, most monks just refrain from traveling during this period. You will still see them out during the day.

It is said that monks started remaining immobile in a temple during this time because they wanted to avoid killing insects and harming farmland. Apparently, traveling monks were crossing through fields, thus destroying the crops of villagers and farmers. After catching wind of this, Buddha decided that in order to avoid damaging crops, hurting insects, or harming themselves during the rainy season, monks should remain in their temples during these three months.

Tired of reading, listen to our podcast below:

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The Hmong New Year celebration is a cultural tradition that takes place annually in select areas where large Hmong communities exist and in a modified form where smaller communities come together. During the New Year's celebration, Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy Hmong traditional foods, dance, music, bull fights, and other forms of entertainment. Hmong New Year celebrations have Hmong ethnic traditions and culture and may also serve to educate those who have an interest in Hmong tradition. Hmong New Year celebrations frequently occur in November and December (traditionally at the end of the harvest season when all work is done), serving as a Thanksgiving holiday for the Hmong people.

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Thailand never fails to amaze its thousands of visitors with the most vibrant festivals that are sure to delight them by offering glimpses into the heritage and traditions of the country. Each month offers an exciting opportunity to be a part of these festivals. From kids to adults and old-aged people, locals have the time of their lives during these festivities. Considered to be one of the best ways to relish a memorable time in what is already known as an incredible country, these festivals in Thailand are the most popular ones to be a part of.

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Magha Puja (also written as Makha Bucha Day) is the third most important Buddhist festival, celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka and on the full moon day of Tabaung in Myanmar. It celebrates a gathering that was held between the Buddha and 1,250 of his first disciples, which, according to tradition, preceded the custom of periodic recitation of discipline by monks.

On the day, Buddhists celebrate the creation of an ideal and exemplary community, which is why it is sometimes called Saṅgha Day, the Saṅgha referring to the Buddhist community, and for some Buddhist schools this is specifically the monastic community. In Thailand, the Pāli term Māgha-pūraṇamī is also used for the celebration, meaning 'to honor on the full moon of the third lunar month'.

Finally, some authors referred to the day as the Buddhist All Saints Day. 

In pre-modern times, Magha Puja has been celebrated by some Southeast Asian communities. But it became widely popular in the modern period, when it was instituted in Thailand by King Rama IV in the mid-19th century. From Thailand, it spread to other South and Southeast Asian countries. Presently, it is a public holiday in some of these countries.

It is an occasion when Buddhists go to the temple to perform merit-making activities, such as alms giving, meditation and listening to teachings. It has been proposed in Thailand as a more spiritual alternative to the celebration of Valentine's Day.

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Cambodia
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There's a magic about this charming yet confounding kingdom that casts a spell on visitors. In Cambodia, ancient and modern worlds collide to create an authentic adventure.
Myanmar
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It's a new era for this extraordinary and complex land, where the landscape is scattered with gilded pagodas and the traditional ways of Asia endure.
Laos
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Vivid nature, voluptuous landscapes and a vibrant culture collide with a painful past and optimistic future to make Laos an enigmatic experience for the adventurous.
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