Is Thailand Safe?

Visiting Thailand and worried about safety? No worries! Thailand is safe as long as you're smart and follow our advice!

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Thailand has long been the classic backpacker destination. For years now, travelers of all sorts have traveled their way around this mystifying country and it’s honestly not hard to see why: stunning beaches, tropical islands, incredible food, fun cities. It’s a paradise.

But there’s often 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?” – and we don’t blame you.

Don’t worry though! We are going to make sure that you know what’s going on when it comes to staying safe in Thailand. We at The Broke Backpacker have written this safety guide for Thailand to help you push the boat out and to have an amazing time without worrying.

In this guide, we’ll be covering a whole host of topics from whether or not it’s “safe to eat the food in Thailand” to “how safe is it to live in Thailand” 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.

is thailand safe guide

Be like these statues – serene.

 

How Safe is Thailand? (Our take)

Thailand is one of the most visited countries in Southeast Asia. But that doesn’t mean it comes without issues. There’s drug trafficking, there’s terrorism, there’s petty theft and tourist scams (like everywhere), unpredictable protests, and a militant government in power on top of that.

That’s not all – there are diseases like Zika virus, tropical nature to contend with (say hi to the odd snake), and severe weather. God forbid, you could always have an accident on a motorbike – like many people in Thailand. There’s a whole lot of stuff that could go wrong and staying safe in Thailand could be more serious than you thought.

Oh and let’s not forget the danger of too much drink and drugs.

All of that may sound scary but, at the end of the day, most trips to Thailand go swimmingly. By many standards, Thailand is safe. Tourism contributes a HUGE deal to the Thai economy and the government pretty much have your back.

Let’s get into the facts of exactly how safe Thailand is…

 

Is Thailand Safe to Visit? (The facts.)

is thailand safe guide

Killer beach (in a good way).

Thailand is basically the jewel in the crown of Southeast Asian tourism. 6% of its economy is made up of tourism, making it a major contribution to keeping this country going. It is the most visited Southeast Asian country – in 2014 it was the 4th most visited in the whole of Asia – and with those kinds of stats, it has to be pretty safe.

That being said, more tourism brings unique dangers – not exactly “dangers” but things to be wary of. These come in the form of scams: tailoring, tours, gems. Scams are the most reported crimes in Thailand. More tourists = more opportunities for criminals to make money.

Keeping your wits about you and not accepting things from strangers is pretty much a good rule of thumb.

We’re going to dive deeper into that in just a moment. But…

 

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 aka 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.

 

Thailand Travel Insurance

Get insurance! Even if you are only going on a short trip, you should always travel with insurance. Have fun while visiting Thailand, but take it from someone who has racked up thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.

As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be traveling – so be sure to get your backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure! We highly recommend World Nomads.

 

Check out our World Nomads Insurance review.

If you want to shop around a little, then read up on competing companies and what they can offer. There are lots of insurances out there, so don’t feel limited.

 

22 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Thailand

is thailand safe to travel to

Before jumping on that boat…

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.
  5. Don’t buy Buddha images – you’ll need a special license to ‘export’ them.
  6. Have copies of important docs copied – you don’t NEED to carry them around, but in case you lose something it helps.
  7. Watch your back at the Full Moon Parties – ok it’s a time for fun, but getting completely senseless can lead to BAD situations.
  8. Be wary about taking drinks from strangers – many date rapes occur this way, especially on the Thai islands.
  9. Know where you’re going when you get in a taxi – Bangkok taxi drivers are notoriously poor.
  10. 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.
  11. Be aware of air pollution if you’ve got asthma – check air quality in Chiang Mai or Bangkok, mainly in March/April.
  12. Definitely, don’t get involved in protests – don’t even get CLOSE; you could get injured, arrested, deported, or worse.
  13. We’d recommend that you don’t feed monkeys – they may seem cute (to some) but they’re vicious and greedy!
  14. Be aware of riptides, especially in monsoon season – the tropical seas look beautiful, but they can be seriously deadly.
  15. 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).
  16. Watch your bags if you’re on a tuk-tuk or motorbike – people can and do swoop by and snatch ’em right away.
  17. Wear a helmet when you ride a motorbike – a) it’s a legal requirement, and b) it could save your actual life.
  18. 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?
  19. Know your (drink) limits – those buckets are STRONG. So are the other mixer drinks, so be sensible.
  20. 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…
  21. 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.
  22. 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.

 

Keeping your money safe in Thailand

You could be in any country anywhere in the world, but there’s something that’s not unique to any place really – and that’s having your money stolen.

Yep. Being a victim of theft is pretty much No. 1 on the list of common crimes that happen to all travelers. Even though most of the time it’s non-violent, it’s a pain. But there’s one pretty simple solution to this problem: a money belt.

The best way to keep your money safe is with an awesome security belt

There may be quite a selection of different money belts out there on the market, but over here at The Broke Backpacker, we seriously recommend the Active Roots Security Belt.

It’s one of the hardiest and affordable money belts out there. A big plus is that it looks, well, like an actual belt. Subtle!

Having a money belt means that you’ll be protecting your cash from being stolen right out of your pocket (or bag). But the other thing about money belts is simply knowing that you have a lil’ stash o’ cash if you happen to actually lose your main wad or your bank cards. It’s a no-brainer: money belts are 100% sensible.

If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.

If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.

Check for Best Price

 

Is Thailand safe to travel alone?

Solo Travel Thailand

We’ve all been there… Photo credits: Thailand Amigo

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

Thailand, let’s be honest, 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 and your backpack to make the plunge.

But even though it’s well-trodden, that doesn’t make it any less exciting. There’s a treasure trove of things to eat and places to discover for yourself. Even in the backpacker-laden Chiang Mai or the quirky craziness of Khaosan Road, you’ll find amazing stuff.

It may be the backpacking epicenter of Southeast Asia and seemingly safe to travel alone in, but that doesn’t mean that it comes without risks.

Being alone shouldn’t be an overly stressful situation. 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?

Female solo travel Thailand

You go, girl! Photo credits: Vicinito

Thailand may be safe to travel in, overall, but backpacking AND being female comes with its own special warning. Women are often the recipients of “special” attention and are often more appealing targets for would-be criminals. Unfortunate, but true.

Of course, this isn’t a reason to not go anywhere in the world – let alone Thailand. Bad things happen even in your own country. It just feels as though somewhere far from home is naturally going to be more dangerous. It’s ok to feel nervous about going.

Backpacking Thailand as a solo female traveler can be super rewarding! New experiences and perspectives mean it’s going to be an incredible trip.

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 in Thailand, get a 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 anything 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.

 

Don’t lose your money to a pickpocket! There are tons of ways to store valuables and goods while traveling but a travel scarf has to be the least obtrusive and the most classy.

The Active Roots Zipper Scarf is your run-of-the-mill infinity scarf but with a hidden pocket that’s big and sturdy enough for a night’s cash, your phone, a passport and (hell with it) some snacks too!

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?

Family Travel Thailand

Fun for the whole family! Photo credits: G Adventures

Previously a backpacker-only zone for some reason, Thailand is now visited by all kinds of people! The country’s infrastructure and tourism industry have completely boomed in recent years and now, more than ever, everyone is traveling to Thailand. Over 20 million if we’re talking in numbers!

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge with your family and experiencing something incredible together, then don’t worry: Thailand is totally safe to travel for families.

Thailand is a top-recommended place to go with families. There are fears, of course, of your children getting into danger, being kidnapped, the safety and sanitation of accommodation, the food – and will your kids even like the food?

If you’re traveling with infants and you’re worried about illnesses, there are solutions – you can buy things like nappies and baby products from stores in most towns. There’s often a good selection of plain dishes at many restaurants for those picky eaters as well.

If you’re worried about your children being exposed to debaucherous backpacker bars and to Khaosan Road (etc. etc.) then just stay away from areas where it looks like it’s getting messy. There are plenty of child-friendly places in Bangkok and the rest of the country.

We’re here to say that it’s totally fine. In fact, Thai people absolutely love children and you’ll get a lot of good, positive attention. Besides, there are so many amazing destinations to visit with your children.

So if you feel like taking a leap into the (relative) unknown for the adventure of a lifetime, Thailand’s your place. Culture, history, amazing beaches, nature… it’s all here.

 

Is it safe to drive in Thailand?

Driving in Thailand safety

This is a peaceful scene at a Thai intersection. Photo credits: ExpatFinder

Self-driving is a common way of getting around in Thailand. In fact, it’s almost odd if you backpack in Thailand and you don’t end up renting a scooter at some point. But it doesn’t come without its risks. Far from it, actually…

According to the World Health Organisation, Thailand holds the title for the second highest road traffic fatality rate in the world. That’s an estimated average of 66 deaths per day! According to the Bangkok Post, every 22 minutes someone dies on the road in Thailand.

73% of all road deaths in Thailand are whilst riding two-or-three-wheeled vehicles. Yep, that means scooters.

So if you’re thinking of renting your own set of two wheels, be careful. Since it’s such a motorbike friendly country and so dangerous for motorbikes at the same time, we’re giving you a few tips on how to avoid becoming a statistic.

  • 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 drivers 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!

 

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?

Taxi in Thailand safety

Example of an official taxi. Photo credit: livingthai.org

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?

Public transportation in Thailand

Everyone’s favorite mode of transport. Photo credits: TravelBud

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!

Keep everything on you in transit. When moving from place to place, you shouldn’t store travel documents in a bag, even if it’s under your seat or overhead.

A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.

 

Is the food in Thailand safe?

Food in Thailand

Thai delivery. Photo credits: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

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 water in Thailand?

Um, no. You can’t drink the tap water in Thailand. Nope. If you drink it, you’ll run the risk of making yourself pretty ill.

Allegedly Bangkok water is ‘safe’ but we’re not so sure. 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. We like the Active Roots Insulated Bottle because it’s rugged, effective, and damn sexy.

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.

Want to save the world and stay hydrated? Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to the oceans and planet – Be a part of the solution and invest in a filter water bottle.

The GRAYL GEOPRESS water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. We use it on our own adventures to purify often nasty looking water and it does a beautiful job – we have yet to get sick! This is what the whole Broke Backpacker team uses- in mountains, cities, jungles – we love it – it’s a total game changer

 

Is Thailand safe to live?

Thailand beach bungalow

Pictured: your potential future home.

Do you dream of living in the chilled out nature of Thailand? Or in the madness of Bangkok? Or anywhere in the veritable paradise that is Thailand? We don’t blame you.

Increasingly this Southeast Asian country is seeing more than just retiree expatriation – nowadays it’s more common for young professionals to relocate to Thailand. The cheap living, friendly people, general safety of the place and stunning natural landscapes make it a haven for digital nomads, for instance.

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 into – 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. We’re into it!

 

How is healthcare 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.

 

Helpful Thai 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 – Sà-wàt-dee

How are you? – Sà-baai dee m?i?

Pleased to meet you– Yin dee têe dâi róo jàk

Excuse me – K?r tôht

Please – Kor …

Cheers – Chon

Crazy – Ding- dong! (Sounds adorable not offensive.)

Son of a bitch – Ai hee-ah (Now that sounds more effective!)

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

 

Final thoughts on the safety of Thailand

is thailand safe temple

Thailand is seriously one of the coolest countries in the world.

Thailand is seriously the most popular country in Southeast Asia and it’s honestly no wonder. A depth of culture, history, mental street food, very nice people, religion, and stunning tropical islands make it a good fit for just about everyone. If that wasn’t enough, all of this comes with the bonus of being both very affordable and very safe.

Of course, like anywhere in the world, bad things can happen; taxis are frequently rubbish, you could come off badly in a motorbike accident, you could lose control at a Full Moon Party. By being sensible, trusting your gut, and not getting into silly situations, you can avoid stuff like this and stay safe in Thailand.

With our insider guide, you’ll now have a bumper crop of travel tips designed exactly for staying safe while you backpacking the heck out of Thailand. You’ll spend less time worrying about what COULD happen and more time enjoying the shit out of yourself. Travel insurance goes without saying, too!

GET A QUOTE NOW

 

Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going. 


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Visiting Thailand and worried about safety? No worries! Thailand is safe as long as you're smart and follow our advice!

3 Comments

  • Avatar Ginger says:

    Watch your bags if you’re on a tuk-tuk or motorbike – people can and do swoop by and snatch ’em right away.

    ^^This happened to me in Bangkok. The strap of my bag didn’t break, so I went face first into the ground. Lost 2 of my teeth, damaged my lips and had some cuts and scrapes on my face. There was a car driving behind me right after it happened, and luckily they slammed on the brakes and didn’t hit me. I don’t know if I will ever go back to Thailand, and certainly will never go to Bangkok. On the plus side the staff at the hostel and hospital were all very kind to me.

  • Avatar Karen Hardman says:

    Very well written, informative and comprehensive article !! Thailand is an amazing country with amazing people and very safe to travel in. l took a taxi on a 100 mile journey on my own when l was 70, l am now 72, and never once felt unsafe. The people there are also very honest, on a table in the restaurant area of the Luis hospital, a woman left her handbag on the table and me, being from the uk, was worried someone might just walk off with it, l watched out for 15 minutes, then she returned, the bag lying just as she had left it. l honestly doubt that would have happened here.

  • Avatar Ian says:

    Thailand is very safe. If you’re visiting Bangkok or Pattaya at the moment it would be wise to add an N95 mask to your list though.

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