How Safe is it to Visit Thailand

How Safe is it to Visit Thailand

Air FranceThe recent tragedy resulting in the death of all 228 passengers on board the Air France Airbus A330 which plunged into the Atlantic en route from Rio De Janeiro to Paris, brought the number of airline passenger fatalities for the first six months of this year to 499, the highest first six month figure since 2002 (see UK Independant for full story). Unless things improve, this decade will be the first such period since the Second World War to have seen no improvement in aviation safety recorded.

Don’t worry, you will make it to Bangkok, aviation statistics prove beyond doubt that you will not be going down in the drink. Your return flight may prove to be more of a problem if recent events at Suvarnabhumi International Airport are anything to go by.

Recent publicity has highlighted an alleged scam that is in operation in the duty free shopping area at the airport. Tourists have been arrested for shoplifting and taken to local police cells where they are persuaded to pay an intermediary volunteer interpreter large sums of cash in return for bail. A British couple recently paid over £8000 in bribes and bail fees to secure their release, and it has since been judged they have no case to answer, but as yet, no money has been returned to them.

Those two stories got me round to thinking how safe is it to visit Thailand, and a quick Google search using those keywords led me to the country’s own tourist information site.

The official website Tourism in Thailand stated that using tap water to brush your teeth is considered to be safe although people with sensitive stomachs may occasionally experience some problems…. I was looking more for getting hit with a baseball bat and having your wallet stolen. I needed to research a bit deeper, and my own personal memory bank was a good place to start.

The biggest danger to you if you’re visiting Thailand is probably yourself. Drunken, loutish and abusive behaviour will almost certainly bring you trouble, but stick a pin in a world map and with those attributes you’ll find trouble anywhere just as easy. Naivety, and a basic superior air of arrogance, and ‘know it all’ attitude, are also the perfect tools for a ‘raining bedlam’ type holiday in the Land of Smiles.

The yellow shirt airport siege and more recent red shirt unrest in Bangkok and Pattaya have probably convinced many people that Thailand is not a safe country to visit, but I believe they couldn’t be more wrong. But where do we start in trying to convince those who think otherwise.

Thai monkBuddhism is many things, but on a personal goal it’s all about developing your own self qualities to become a kinder and wiser person who is void of desire and aware of the suffering desire can bring. Hardly the make up of a European football hoodlum or Western egotistical sex tourist. Buddhism is Thailand.

In my ten years of travelling to Thailand I have suffered many of the great Western illnesses whilst in the country. Arrogance, stupidity, frustration and greed have all beset me, but not once has a Thai’s cure been anger or surface hate, mainly bewilderment at the state I was in. I am fortunate that violence is mainly immune to my system and in a parody of a lover or a fighter, I’m more the virgin who has had sand kicked in his face on the beaches of England not Phuket. Buddhism is against violence, not just towards others but also to oneself. Violence is not going to happen to you in Thailand unless you tick the box.

In any recession hit country, and the world is now embroiled in exactly that, crime will increase. When times are hard and people can’t earn enough money, some will acquire it by whatever means. Basic instincts and streetwise sense should tell you to avoid walking in unlit areas and darkened alleys, so unpack a little common sense when you arrive at your hotel.

The homicide rate in Thailand may be higher than many of its western counterparts but it’s lower than regions like Africa, South America, Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East. The general rule of thumb that steadies the gun, is that Thais murder Thais, not foreigners.

Non violent street crimes are a different matter and although Thailand has a lower crime rate than most western countries, gold jewellery, handbags, mobile phones, passports and cameras are targets for snatchers prowling the streets of busy tourist areas. Keep everything hidden when possible and always stay alert. Crime against tourists in Thailand does occur on a daily basis, but with millions of sun seekers visiting the country every year the chances of it happening to you are very slim, probably a lot less than in your own country.

You may be wondering why I have included the above photograph of a Thai monk in a post that relates to crime. The photograph to me represents what Thailand is all about, a laid back race, which, for most of its people, is a simple daily life revolving around living off the land or the pickings a city can offer a hard worker. Thailand is a safe place to visit, but like anywhere in the world things can turn bad, but simple common sense can prevent you from bringing any ill luck upon yourself.


Photograph    Air France      by  complexify
Photograph     Thai monk     by Jeama


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

6 Responses

  1. expatudon08 says:

    it’s a crazy world what ever your views and who knows what’s round the corner i feel safe on a plane
    much safer infact than taking my life in my hands going on the road to work on a motorbike that’s for sure
    Thailand has its problems but the amount of expats that now call Thailand home i guess they have learned to live with them

  2. I have had to help deal with a poor lad who died in what looked like a motorbike crash on Koh Samui. His dad had no way to communicate with the hospital and asked my wife to translate over the phone when he arrived in Thailand to begin the process of bringing his body home…. Pretty harrowing stuff, but fits with your description, he was early 20s and probably drunk whilst on the bike, although I don’t know the exact details. The only case of violence I have heard of Thai on Farang was from a friend who was up to no good trying to get his hands on illegal substances whilst in Southern Thailand. A gang ran him over with a moped and nicked his wallet whilst he was rolling around on the floor! Not nice, but as you say, it happens all over the world, and especially in hot spot areas where drink and drugs are the order of the day.
    .-= Ben Shingleton´s last blog ..Picking and preparing ‘Gra-ton’ fruit =-.

  3. Malcolm says:

    Martyn,I have a small amount of fear every time I get on a plane to go anywhere, but as the old saying goes “when its your time.”I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about dying , it takes all the energy and effort and brain power I can muster up just living everyday and enjoying life as much as humanly possible .I’m glad I get to do that here in the LOS , even with all it’s problems and crime and all the stuff that can happen to one if not using good common since, as you say in your post,its a great place to live, Thailand is no different than any other place , and I will SLEEP GOOD TONITE and pray to be safe . Malcolm

  4. Talen says:

    The flights I take from America go over the top of the world and back down to Thailand. It never fails mid flight I look out the window and see nothing but snow covered mountains…I always wonder at that point what would be worse, crashing and dying or crashing and surviving.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Pattaya International Tattoo Festival 2009 =-.

  5. Mike says:

    Martyn being a big fan of air crash investigation on Nat Geo I must admit to a bit of a fascination with airliner crashes. On a personal note I figure if your numbers up then there isn’t much you can do about it.

    Crime in Thailand is fairly high, judged by viewing Thai TV. However I guess a lot of it is fraud/cheating although the murder rate Thai/Thai is high. MTF tells me that car crime is also high (theft of).

    The only thing that really stops me sleeping well here is the heat and I don’t mean the sort you get from the BIB.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Thai Superstition-Shaving Babies Head =-.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    John I know what you mean by the motorbike. A chap who gives me a lift to work in his car recently decided to go on his motorbike and kindly offered me a lift. I have been on motorbike taxi’s in Pattaya many times but I somehow viewed this offer as much more dangerous and declined it with thanks.

    Ben – Harrowing stuff indeed and very kind of you and Sutiya to help. The only trouble I’ve seen in Thailand has been in Pattaya and it’s been falang on falang handbags at dawn kind of things.

    Malcolm worrying about things doesn’t help in the slightest but when it is time to go I hope I’m not sat on a aeroplane. Sure Thailand has its crime but I have always felt pretty safe and common sense has played a large role in that. I have been a few places I shouldn’t have been when drunk in he past but I still didn’t encounter any problems and even three sheets to the wind I always keep my guard.

    Talen I would choose the latter every time. When I’m way up there the crash thoughts do enter my head from time to time but a beer or two nullifies them in double quick time.

    Mike just a glance at the front page of the Thai dailies would put most tourists off leaving their rooms but that’s just newspapers giving their daily feed to those that adore it. I do worry at times about our rented car when I’m in Thailand and MTF’s revelation will add to my worries next time.

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