Safety in Thailand - Safety Tips When Travelling in Thailand

When travelling to a foreign destination, it is always necessary to be prepared for any unforeseeable event, which might add a bitter taste to your overall experience. Since countries and people, are highly variable in nature, predicting or forecasting how your trip would go is very difficult. No matter how safe the country is, a good traveller is one who knows the dirty corners as well as the beautiful open seas of the place they are travelling to. Often times, the cultures, traditions and other beliefs may daunt an individual, and may as well make them feel alienated or threatened. That is why any person travelling to a foreign country needs to know what to do, and what not to do to ensure their safety, as well as what is acceptable and what is not.

So, here's a little brief on the safety in Thailand:

Is Thailand Safe?

Thailand
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If we look at it from an overall perspective, we can say Thailand is more or less as safe as most developed countries, particularly in the west. Ranked the 91st safest country in the world, one may have doubts regarding what they’re getting themselves into, and they will be right to have those doubts.

Tips regarding safety in Thailand

1. Always be on alert while travelling around in Thailand, though violent tourist crimes are rare, we still recommend being cautious. Especially in the cities of Phuket, Pattaya and Bangkok, where crimes are the highest.
2. When at parties, beware of drink or food spiking, which means, the addition of addictive substances into your food or drinks.
3. Always try to stick with your travelling friends or comrades.
4. Beware of the sexual harassment practices which are quite prevalent in particular places in Thailand, especially the “Full Moon Party” on the island of Phangan, which also happens to be a very famous tourist attraction.
5. Always stay connected with your family members regarding your location and whereabouts, so they can be of help in anything goes down south.
6. Acts of pick-pocketing, bag snatching, credit card frauds are quite common, so be cautious of those as well.
7. Terrorism is another major factor one must keep in mind, since the far south regions of the country have been frequently made a target to small bombings and such, places like Yala, Pattani and Songkhla should be avoided if possible.
If one keeps these few things in mind and is cautious in general, the country will fare quite well and you can have a good time, relaxing on the beaches or climbing mountains, with the serenity of nature all around.

Health Standards in Thailand

Food in Thailand
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As beautiful as this country might be, also has quite the run in's with the food safety in Thailand. Even though the World Health Organisation stated that Thailand has had “a long and successful history of health development”, there are problems that still persist.
  1. Infectious Diseases: The major infectious diseases in Thailand include bacterial Diarrhea, hepatitis, dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, rabies and leptospirosis. So if you get a chance, get some shots before travelling.
  2. Water and Sanitation: This won’t be a problem, because over 99% of the population has access to improved water sources and sanitation facilities. The public toilets are sufficing in their performance as well.
  3. Food Safety: When it comes to food safety, scares in Thailand are quite common since there is a lot of microbial contamination of street foods left out to face the pollution and dust of the city. Thailand also grows its vegetables and fruits, in particular, mango, using fertilisers which are banned by the European Union for being 100 times more dangerous than the accepted level. So always make sure you eat at a hygienic place with appropriate certification.
  4. Pollution: We have to face facts that Thailand is one of the most polluted countries in the world. People often go to work wearing air masks and the government had to launch anti-pollution drones in Bangkok as a measure to control pollution. Chiang Mai is one of the least polluted cities. So keep this aspect in mind as well when you choose which part of Thailand you wish to go. 
Pollution in Bangkok
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Drinking and Smoking Laws

The Thai government is quite stringent when it comes to these two aspects. The minimum drinking age is 20, and since establishments get raided quite often, bar owners make sure that this limit is enforced. Also, drinking is illegal in temples, pharmacies, public offices, petrol stations, educational institutes and public parks.
If found illegally consuming alcohol, imprisonment of 6 months and/or a fine of THB 10,000 is applicable.

As far as smoking goes, it is strictly banned in 24 beaches of the country including Phuket and Pattaya. Smoking is also prohibited in zoos, exercise spaces, amusement parks, outdoor spaces for sports and children’s playgrounds. Electric cigarettes are also banned since 2014. The fine for smoking is THB 100,000, a year in prison, or both. 

Drug laws in Thailand

This point cannot be emphasised upon enough, as the punishment for carrying any sort of drugs or consuming some for the matter of fact, will result in a death penalty. So stay safe, and do not affiliate with drugs when in Thailand.

Littering in Thailand

Littering has been banned from the 24 popular beaches of Thailand and is punishable with a fine of THB 100,000 or a year in jail. Littering the sidewalks can also result in a fine of THB 2,000.

Littering ban
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Safety from Crimes

Though Thailand is quite safe, there are still a lot of crimes happening with tourists all the times. Crimes like bag snatching, illegal drug selling, prostitution, credit card frauds and other internet frauds.

To stay safe from these crimes, always beware of what’s happening around you, do not get into fights in bars, since most of the drug trafficking and prostitution scandals have headquarters there. Also, when walking on the street, take necessary precautions such as keeping your bag in your front rather than your back, keeping valuables in the hotel room itself and knowing the local authority helpline numbers. The tourist police number is 1155.

Emergency Services

Ambulance
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In case of emergencies related to safety, be it medical or fire, the helpline is readily available for tourists and citizens alike.
The following are the helpline numbers:
  1. Tourist Police: 1155
  2. Ambulance and Rescue: 1554
  3. Fire: 199
  4. Medical Emergency Call: 1669
  5. Crime: 1195
  6. National Disaster Warning Centre: 1860

Travelling

Thailand will provide you with various different kinds of travelling methods, varying in sizes, colour, shapes and whatnot. All of them are safe and most of them, affordable and accessible. But to prevent any negative run-ins with transport safety in Thailand, here are the means of transport in Thailand and their details.

1. Tuk Tuk: These are three-wheeled vehicles which are the indigenous vehicle transport of Thailand. Though on an expensive side, these are safe to travel in and will be worth your money. The tuk-tuk drivers may rip you off some extra money if you are not careful enough.

Tuk Tuk
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2. Taxi: Taxis have become an important means of transport in Thailand since the adoption of the metre system, under which the base price is THB 35 and after that THB 2 for 2km and from there on, THB 2 for 1 km each. These are widely popular and highly safe.

Taxi
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3. Motorcycle Taxi: If you wish to go somewhere quickly and cheaply, but without your bulky luggage, this is the way to go about it. One can't be so sure about the safety though, two-wheelers aren’t particularly reliable that way.

Motorcycle Taxi
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4. Songthaew: This is a pickup truck with two rows of seats at the back. Doesn’t sound very safe, but it is quite alright. If you are willing to wait for 10 to 15 minutes for your ride to start, it is a cheap and reliable way to travel.

Songthaew
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5. Bus: This is like old time rock and roll, can never go bad. Buses are widely relied upon for travel, there are few hassles and the fares are cheap as well. Also, Bangkok has the biggest bus network in Thailand.

Bus in Thailand
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6. Bangkok BTS Skytrain: The moderately priced overhead train service is a good option if you wish to travel to all the major tourist spots in Bangkok without any hassle and safely.

BTS Skytrain
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7. Bangkok MRT Subway: This is Bangkok’s first ever underground railway line, and provides access to the areas which are left out by the Skytrain. It is again moderately priced and is very safe for you to travel in. Both the BTS and MRT are in service from 6 AM to midnight from Monday to Friday.

MRT Blue Line
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8. Train: The train network in Thailand is highly expansive and runs through the entire country. It is a comfortable travelling option and it still one of the safest and cheapest ways to travel across Thailand. It can get you across from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in THB 800.

Thai Trains
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Tips for Women's Safety in Thailand

While the safety in Thailand for women is overall very good, one can never be careful enough when travelling to foreign lands.

1. Do not compromise with here you stay, even if it means paying a little extra. Get a place with proper accommodations and facilities.
2. Make sure you dress appropriately, even though it is quite a tourist destinations, Thailand in its roots, is still conservative. So don’t go skinny dipping or cross any lines of decency.
3. The streets of Thailand are usually well lit and crowded with people all the time, but still, there exist areas which are quite shady. Bad things can happen, so stay away from such places.
4. Feminism hasn’t quite settled down properly in Thailand, so harassment may be something you experience on your trip. Thai people are usually shy and respectful of women, but if you find one in a million who is not, there is no point in getting into an argument with them, just move ahead. Since most of these people believe that non-Thai women just “want it”, it is better to ignore such nuisances.
5. Women are not allowed to touch the monks in Thailand, so if you have any offerings to make, set it on the ground or let a man give it to him.

The police are quite vigilant and will favour the visitor, so if you face any inconvenience from anybody, directly go to a place station or call on one of the emergency numbers mentioned above.

Child Safety in Thailand

Though Thailand is highly child-friendly, travelling with them on a long term basis might prove to be a problem, due to the inconvenience of travelling with a toddler. Apart from that, feeding babies the appropriate food will not be a problem, there are a lot of pharmacies which will give you medicine for your child without any prescription and the hospital services in general, are quite good. Also, disposable nappies and other baby products are also easily available in Thailand.

What about LGTBQ Travellers

Bangkok Gay Festival
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Thailand is a Buddhist society, so they are quite “tolerant” of LGBT practices. But the tolerance doesn’t turn in to acceptance, sadly. The country is gay-friendly but to a limit.

The urban areas have a tolerance for the LGBT community, and also have many gay-friendly hotels, nightclubs and resorts. The LGBT people should have no trouble opening up about their preferences in such urban areas.

But when you move out of these areas, it is better to keep your sexuality a bit discreet so as to avoid unwanted attention. 

Additional Tips to Keep in Mind About Safety in Thailand:

  1. Keep in mind the Lese Majeste. It is a law which makes it illegal to defame, insult, threaten or defile any image of the Thai royal family or their currency, the Thai baht (THB).
  2. If you overstay your visa duration, you will be detained at the immigration centre, charged an overstay fine and sent back to your country.
  3. There are no casinos in Thailand, and any kind of gambling is illegal, so beware.
  4. Carry your ID at all time. Do not leave your passport as security with some rental company, never do that.
  5. It is illegal to go out in public without wearing underwear in Thailand. So well, umm, keep that in mind too.
  6. Under Thai law, you can be arrested if you are driving a car without wearing a shirt.
  7. Though temporary medical plans are provided, it is better and highly recommended to purchase the comprehensive travel medical insurance. 
Thailand, as a country is full of blissful experiences, but just like other popular destinations, there are ups and downs to the overall experience. If you are just careful and cautious enough about the safety in Thailand, keep track of how things are going, and have a restraint on how much fun you are having, Thailand will be a trip of your lifetime.

This post was published by Shivang Uniyal

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