A southeastern Asian country, Thailand – officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand, has coasts on the Andaman Sea and on the Gulf of Thailand. Its neighboring countries are Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, and Myanmar.
As you may already know, Thailand is quite famous for its food, which comes in a large variety of dishes, some of which are quite weird, so to say, but that represent one of the main reasons why tourists choose this country.
Besides the extravagant dishes, Thailand offers its visitors a tropical climate, amazing beaches, and wonderful mountains – in short, it is a country that has everything a traveler wants to find on foreign land.
And since we’re talking about the things you can find in Thailand, here they are – thick and green jungle, ready for you to explore and discover, pure blue waters that are also warm enough for you to relax in, and exotic food that makes Thailand one of the really unique experiences one can get throughout the world.
When it comes to climate, it is largely tropical – this means that you will be greeted by a hot and humid country for the entire year, with temperatures around 28 and 35 degrees Celsius. Only the mountains in the north of Thailand can offer you cooler temperatures.
Still, the country comes with three seasons that are more or less specific to various regions of the country. Thus, we have the cool season, that starts in November and ends in February. In the southern part of the country you won’t notice that much of a change – however, in the mountains in the north, you can experience temperatures as low as 5 degrees Celsius.
The hot seasons starts in March and ends in June – during this time, the temperatures can get as high as 40 degrees Celsius, making it just perfect for the beach. However, as soon as July starts and until October, the rainy season sets in, making room for the occasional tropical monsoons. It doesn’t rain all the time, but when it does flooding is common.
Before answering the is Thailand safe to visit question, we’ll talk about its main five regions, each of them sheltering different beautiful things that this country has to offer.
Northern Thailand is home to hill tribes and the Golden Triangle, while Isaan is the great northeast region – this is where you can discover the countryside of Thailand, experience its food, and visit the Khmer ruins.
Central Thailand is where you can find the country’s capital, Bangkok, its lowlands and most of historic Thailand. On the other hand, Eastern Thailand is home to a variety of beaches and islands that are not that far away from the capital city.
Finally, Southern Thailand is the place you want to be in if you want to discover lush rainforests, plenty of islands, a lengthy coastline, and some of Thailand’s most famous beach spots.
Now, that we’ve got some things out of the way, it’s time we talked about how safe is Thailand for tourists, taking into account every aspect of this matter – security, terrorism, crime levels, and such.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Thailand
Overall Risks in Thailand: MEDIUM to HIGH
As we can see on this map, the only region that authorities advise against all but essential travel is the southern part of Thailand that borders Malaysia – the cities of Yala, Narathiwat, and Pattani.
The risk levels have been labeled as medium to high mainly because of the ongoing terrorist threat of the country – because there is a large number of tourists that visit the country every year, roughly one million British tourists every single year, the authorities’ concern regarding terrorist attacks is justified.
Moreover, due to the fact that Thailand’s economy is mostly based on tourism, the locals show high standards of hospitality when it comes to foreigners – therefore, the only real major threat that lies within Thailand is the one related to terrorism and terrorist attacks.
However, this doesn’t mean that violent and petty crime does not exist here – there have been attacks, suicide attacks, and an increasing number of scam reports throughout the country. In the following paragraphs of our Thailand safety guide, we’ll discuss each and every one of these aspects so that we all have a clear idea about the country’s safety.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Thailand: MEDIUM to HIGH
When it comes to petty crime, the levels are quite high – there have been more than a few reports of thieves on motorbikes that have snatched bags and what not from tourists, especially on busy streets or in public transport.
However, due to some local customs – or, better said, customs of the authorities – the highest risk that comes with pickpocketing and theft comes from the police itself. Basically, there have been reports of tourists that have been robbed, reported to the police, which has, in turn, reported the situation to the media – as they may give detailed press briefings in some cases.
The real issue here is that, in some cases, the victims have been identified and then prosecuted by the police, claiming that they have damaged the reputation of Thailand. This makes it unclear whether you should report a robbery or not.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Thailand?
So, in order to keep yourself safe in Thailand, you should mainly avoid getting robbed – by doing so, you also avoid any possible prosecution from the authorities. Our Thailand safety guide recommends you that you always pay attention to your surroundings, especially if you find yourself in a crowded place.
Moreover, you should keep valuable items, such as technology, gadgets, and identification documents, out of sight and in a safe place, especially if you are traveling via public transport. There have been numerous reports of thieves stealing items from sleeping passengers.
You should also be extremely careful in areas such as Koh Samui and Krabi, as unprovoked attacks have been reported here – these areas are also frequented by tourists, so it is likely that you will end up visiting them. If so, we advise you to be really cautious and keep an eye out for anything that might seem suspicious.
Also, make sure that you don’t unintentionally steal something – in Thailand, stalls and shops have demarcation lines between them and taking an item outside of its area may be considered as theft. That’s why you should get accustomed to the country’s customs and practices before you actually visit it.
Scam Risk in Thailand: HIGH
Scams come with a higher frequency than pickpocketing and theft in Thailand. First of all, you should pay attention to who you are handing your passport.
Most third parties, such as jet ski or motorcycle rental businesses owners demand for your passport as a guarantee – naturally, when you try to retrieve your passport, they will claim that the jet ski/ motorcycle that you rented is damaged and that you have to pay for their fixing before being able to get back your passport.
Moreover, there have been reports of credit card fraud – one of our Thailand safety travel tips is to never lose sight of your credit card and to always protect your PIN, as well. There have also been reports of ATM skimming in the country – which is why it is recommended that you always withdraw money from within a bank and don’t rely on ATMs.
Furthermore, if you are here to engage in gem trading, you must really know your gems – there have been reports of fake or low-value gems being sold for inflated prices when, in fact, they were worth little to nothing.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Thailand?
In order to avoid being scammed in Thailand, our Thailand safety guide recommends you to be extremely cautious around strangers. Then, you should only hand your passport to the authorities, after they successfully identify themselves.
Also, as mentioned before, you should avoid using ATMs – instead, rely on the personnel inside the bank when withdrawing money.
Kidnapping Risk in Thailand: MEDIUM to HIGH
Even though most security-related websites don’t have statistics or reports about kidnapping, there is a case that’s become quite famous in the international media – on the 6th of May, 2018, a woman was kidnapped just after she landed on the Bangkok airport.
Reportedly, multiple Chinese nationals, a Thai woman and other Thai nationals, and even an immigration cop that was working inside the airport helped organize and carry out the kidnapping – eventually, they asked for a ransom of 348,000 pounds.
The woman was moved to rented rooms and hotels all over Thailand – her husband, who was supposed to pay the ransom, was not able to come up with the entire sum and eventually contacted the authorities.
In the end, after traveling through the country, the kidnappers released the woman, on a roadside of the Bang Na district, on the 19th of May.
Therefore, even there are no other significant reports of such incidents, we cannot entirely rule out the risk of kidnapping.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Thailand?
Most places in Thailand are pretty busy – this includes airports, markets, parks, points of interest and official buildings – which is why it is quite easy for kidnappers to approach and literally just snatch you away.
As you can see in the video here, two people simply grabbed the woman and drove her all the way through the airport and then in a van. Of course, you might wonder why she didn’t react in any way – naturally, it’s because her life was at risk.
In such situations, it is recommended that you keep calm and don’t play the hero card – don’t try to fight off the attackers. In the best case, you could try to flee, especially if you are in a crowded area or inside an airport, with authorities at every corner.
Still, one of the main Thailand safety travel tips for you to take into account when it comes into consideration is to remain extremely calm and do what you are told. In the majority of the cases, the kidnappers intend to ask for a ransom – if the ransom is not paid, they will eventually let their prisoners go away, as further violent crimes are not punished lightly in Thailand.
Terrorism Risk in Thailand: MEDIUM to HIGH
When it comes to terrorism, the latest terrorist attack that took place in Thailand happened on the 22nd of January 2018, in the far south of the country, Yala province. The mentioned province is mainly Muslim, and reports tell of an insurgency run by ethnic Malay Muslims that have been fighting for their autonomy.
The attack targeted a pork stall and was carried out using a motorcycle that had a bomb attached on it – 22 people were injured and 3 killed. Moreover, there have been several attacks carried out in the past – a pipe bomb exploded at a hospital in Bangkok in May 2017, and 13 attacks were carried across the country on the evening of 19th of April 2017, resulting in many injured people and two deaths.
At the moment, reports tell of daily bombings in the southern part of Thailand, especially in the area of the border with Malaysia – this is the region the authorities advise against all travel.
- How to avoid terrorism in Thailand?
First of all, you should avoid the aforementioned area – the southern part of Thailand -, as incidents seem to occur here daily. Moreover, you should also stay away from heavily crowded areas and points of interest – such as official buildings, places of prayer, and areas that are extremely populated by tourists.
If you notice any suspicious behavior, it is better to just flee the area and report to the authorities – terrorists may take civilians/ tourists as hostages. In such cases, it is recommended that you just run away instead of sticking around to see how and if the situation escalates.
Due to the country’s history of terrorism, we advise you to be extremely cautious when exploring the streets of Thailand, as attacks might happen in the places you expect them the least.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Thailand: HIGH
If you’re asking if is Thailand safe for solo women travelers, then our next advice should really get you up on your toes – namely, we recommend that you do not visit the country alone. It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man, you should definitely not be all alone while visiting Thailand.
First of all, we have to take into account the at least seven mysterious deaths of tourists that have occurred in the Koh Tao area of the country – and also the fact that the victims’ families are accusing the local authorities of a cover-up.
All of the previously mentioned information should make you think twice before boarding a plane bound to Thailand all alone. Moreover, even two travelers are not enough when it comes to keeping themselves safe.
In September 2014, a couple was bludgeoned to death on Sairee Beach – the woman was first raped, and the man died due to the blows to his head. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you visit Thailand with a group – be it of friends or of other tourists.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Thailand?
Clearly, we do not recommend you traveling alone throughout Thailand – you should book a tour with a reputed travel agency so that you are accompanied by a tour/ guide and by other tourists. This will make is less likely for you to be approached by strangers.
Moreover, refrain from walking alone – be it day or night, you should not start exploring the area you are in all alone. If you want to ensure your safety, make sure that you are in populated areas and that you are not alone.
Furthermore, you should look for information on the area/ city you are about to visit and plan your itinerary accordingly – in short, visit only the areas with a low rate of crime/ violence and don’t go out of your way just because one of the places you want to see is in a bad reputed area.
Rape Risk in Thailand: HIGH
When it comes to violent sexual attacks, the situation seems to get worse. First of all, there have been reports of such incidents in the Koh Samui archipelago and in the Krabi province.
These attacks are reported to usually occur at night, during the monthly Full Moon parties – which you should try to avoid. Moreover, there have been quite a few reports of drink spiking, with both male and female victims.
Thus, it is recommended that you have only the drink you bought yourself and which you kept an eye on for the entire night – unattended drink may, and probably will, get spiked if there’s no one to look for them.
Moreover, there’s yet another case that seems to make the Thai authorities close to useless when it comes to such situations. In the month of June 2018, a British woman has been reportedly drugged, stripped, robbed, and then raped on the Sairee Beach of Koh Tao.
What’s important here is that the authorities are doing exactly the opposite of helping the victim – namely, the woman faces a ban from Thailand. Why? Well, because a police chief stated that he only wants quality tourists on his island – tourists that do not rely on false claims in order to get their hands on their insurance.
The woman claimed that the police refused to investigate her case and that no action was taken after she reported the crime – as we mentioned earlier in the article, if a tourist makes the country look bad in the media, they will probably be prosecuted or denied help from the authorities.
- How to avoid getting raped in Thailand?
Given the country’s situation – quite high levels of crime and the refusal of authorities to do their job in some cases -, it’s up to you to take care of yourself, literally.
As expected, our Thailand safety travel trips recommend you to either stay away from bars or parties or to be extremely careful when it comes to your drink – moreover, make sure that you don’t accept any drinks or food from strangers.
Also, make sure that you are accompanied if you decide to travel during the night or to have some fun in a bar/ club – as you have seen, kidnappings and violent sexual attacks seem to be a rather common occurrence in Thailand.
Due to the authorities’ position, it is best that you don’t report any attempt of a violent attack or crime as they may be wrongfully interpreted – however, if something does really happen, you should report it, either to the authorities or try to contact your country’s embassy so that you get instructed as to what you should do next.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Thailand: HIGH
If you plan on traveling to Thailand with children, the size of your group doesn’t matter – you should either reconsider your travel location or leave the children at home.
First, they can easily get lost, mainly because of the crowds – remember that the motorcycle thieves usually drive through crowds and choose their victims on the spot. If you are not paying attention to your surroundings, your children might get hit by thieves or even by locals that are not careful enough.
Moreover, there’s also the chance that they might get kidnapped – as you probably know, a tourist is usually seen as a rich person and thieves or organized crime might try to get money out of him/ her, using any means possible.
Thus, we do not recommend traveling through Thailand with your children – even if you keep a close eye on them, there’s the chance that both you and the children get attacked.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
If you still plan on bringing your children with you and explore Thailand together, you must be prepared to keep them under surveillance at all times – looking for your children here can be quite the mess, given the fact that most cities are highly populated, by both tourists and locals.
Clearly, you should stick only to populated areas and avoid remote areas – stay close to your hotel or resort, and visit only the places that require an entry fee, as it is less likely for thieves to be inside those areas.
Natural Disaster Risk: MEDIUM to HIGH
When it comes to natural disasters, the ones with the highest frequency are landslides (57.1%), storm (25.7%), and drought (8.6%). There’s also a chance of flood and earthquakes.
The rainy season, which is the main cause of landslides, storms, and foods, runs from the months of May to October – the last two months of this period represent the height of the dangerous monsoon season.
The monsoons can cause flooding, landslides, and disruption of certain services – such as road travel and such. Therefore, it is recommended that you check the weather report before you leave your accommodation – also, checking an online disaster report can give you insight related to other things, such as possible earthquakes or any disruption of services.
Transportation Risks in Thailand: MEDIUM
According to various reports, the road conditions in Thailand are quite good – but with good conditions comes and increased risk of accidents and such. The World Health Organization has rated Thailand as the deadliest country in terms of fatalities on motorcycles.
There are also a few reports of overnight coach travel accidents. But, most accidents involve motorcycles – and you should be very careful when driving one. Moreover, in case you drive a motorcycle without a valid license, you might risk your travel insurance being invalidated if you cause an accident or injury, to yourself or someone else.
Also, be aware of the fact that most motorcycles and scooters that you find for hire on the beach cannot be used on public roads.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Thailand: HIGH
As you might have noticed so far, tourists are far from safe when visiting a night-club, pub, or bar – Thailand is well known for the incidents involving spiked drinks and sexual violence in such facilities.
There are so many cases of spiked drinks and drugged tourists that you should avoid buying a drink at all – after all, you can have fun just by dancing, while keeping yourself hydrated with the help of a bottled water you brought from home.
In any case, if you buy any drinks or bring water from your accommodation, you should keep them under surveillance at all times – and if you think that something is wrong with them, head straight home or to the nearest medical facility.
Moreover, strangers might approach you and some even harass you – naturally, their only purpose is to spike your drink/ drug you and eventually take advantage of you.
In short, it is recommended that you stay away from pubs, bars, and especially night-clubs.
Health Risks in Thailand
In terms of health and medical facilities, Thailand comes with a lot of excellent private hospitals – but these are quite expensive, obviously. When it comes to public clinics and hospitals, they are generally good but some don’t meet the UK standards.
Moreover, most medical facilities require a guarantee of payment before treating you – in this respect, you have to make sure that you have funds available and proper health insurance, as well.
It is also not recommended to buy medicine sold on the street – it is usually either stolen or counterfeit/ not genuine.
List of Vaccines You Need in Thailand
Most health authorities have classified this country with a risk of Zika virus transmission and Dengue fever – you should take the required precaution measures in order to avoid any diseases or incidents.
Moreover, keep in mind that most of Thailand’s cities, such as Chiang Mai and Bangkok, come with high levels of air pollution and smoke haze – these may aggravate asthma, bronchial, or sinus conditions.
It is recommended that you visit your doctor and check the Thailand health advice with at least 8 weeks before traveling to this country. Below you can find a list of vaccines that are required before entering Thailand.
- Routine Vaccines
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Yellow Fever
Even though we have provided you with this list, it is better if you get properly informed before visiting the country – as mentioned, visit your doctor and check the health advice for this country before deciding to explore Thailand.
Most Dangerous Areas in Thailand
- Koh Tao
Concluding Remarks: Is Thailand Safe to Visit?
Now, it’s time to give our final word to whether if is Thailand safe to visit or not – obviously, given the information present in this article, we recommend you visit this country only if you properly prepare yourself.
It’s true, Thailand shelters plenty of the world’s beauties, such as scenery, local dishes, and many more – but it also comes with a high level of risk, from all points of view.
Clearly, it is a country that’s worth exploring and discovering – but it is also a country that demands you to be on your toes at all times. As always – remember that with increased care and basic safety measures comes a happy holiday!