Security While Traveling in Thailand

thai travel guide Thailand is probably more secure than your own neighborhood. One of the first questions most first time travelers ask will be, "Is it safe?" That mostly depends on you definition of "safe" and where you go, what time you get there, and what you will be doing there.

But before talking about where, when and what; let's separate personal safety from security of your valuables.

Personal Safety in Thailand

This is where you may be amazed at how safe Thailand really is. Especially when it comes to unprovoked acts of violence. On a month long trip in Thailand, you will probably never see a mugging, carjacking, drive-by shooting, fist fight, armed robbery; or even rude behavior directed at you.

Thais tend to hold in their emotions. The culture requires it. You just don't want to provoke a Thai, especially make him lose face. Even then, the vast majority of Thai people will walk away from confrontations with foreigners. Especially when they realize that the foreigner erred out of ignorance.

You can avoid most of those situations by following a few simple rules.

  • Don't insult .. especially the Monarchy. Thais see H.M. as much a God as a King. Same goes for Buddha images, temples and the Sangha. Ordained monks are highly respected ..
  • Stay calm when involved in any tense situation. Many westerners tend to raise the pitch and loudness of their voices in tense situations. Yelling at a Thai will accomplish nothing. At best, they tend to "shut down". At worst, they tend to get aggressive.
  • Avoid situations where strong emotions are involved. While you may agree with the politics of a situation, onlookers may see you as interfering in domestic affairs.
  • Never get into a fight with a Thai. One saying here is, "If you hit one Thai, you hit every Thai". You may find yourself in a gang fight.
  • Nightlife venues have their own rules .. nightlife do's and don't.

Robbery & Theft in Thailand

Theft in Thailand is fairly common, mostly in the form of pick-pocketing or stealth. Normal precautions will deter most pickpockets. Carry your travel documents out of sight in neck pouches or money belts worn under your clothing.

There seems to be more incidents of "snatch & grab", mostly from motorcycles. Victims are usually pedestrians or sitting at tables near the street.

Leaving valuables your room is a bad idea unless it has a secure electronic safe. Don't leave valuables in hotel safety boxes unless they are dual keyed. The staff has a key and you have absolutely no way to prove what you put in that safety box.

Don't wear expensive jewelry in questionable areas, especially at night. If a thief does confront you with a knife or gun, give him what he wants. In virtually all cases, the thief will run away without inflicting bodily harm.

Traffic Safety in Thailand

Any number of westerners, especially those from "drive on the right" countries, are killed, injured or have close calls while walking the streets or sidewalks of Thailand.

  • Pedestrians do not automatically have the right-of-way
  • Stepping into a traffic lane after having looked "the wrong way" is a prelude for disaster
  • Motorcycles commonly weave their way around traffic
  • Motorcycles commonly drive opposite the flow of traffic or even on sidewalks