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While there are places that are deemed as tourist-friendly destinations, there are also places which are flagged as high-risk. Fortunately, Thailand, one of my favorite countries in the world, is one that is friendly to tourists, local and foreign alike.
So, YES! Thailand is generally a safe place to travel to, especially if you exercise the proper precautions as you do in any other place you travel to. Hence, here are some general safety precautions for your next trip to Thailand:
Accommodation in Thailand
When you first check into your room, it is best to do a little safety inspection and check whether the locks in your room are working or how far you are from an emergency exit. Check whether there is a safe in your room because this is the best place for you to leave your valuables. For backpackers who share dorm rooms with other travelers, a safety deposit box is usually available at the reception. Bodega Hostels, along with other hostels in Thailand, are catering to backpackers, because backpackers make up about half of the total tourist population in Thailand. What makes hostels so attractive for backpackers is the fact that they are much cheaper than hotels or guesthouses. Much like common guesthouses, hostels offer the same amenities, with the addition of a common room or community lounge which makes it easy to meet other travelers, and some host in-house night parties. If you plan to stay in hostels during your trip, but you are not into parties, make sure to stay in a hostel that is not known as a party hostel. If you’re not sure – reading reviews helps.
Beaches and Swimming
The beaches in Thailand are generally safe, but it is not really recommended for tourists to explore certain deserted beach areas. Apart from this, look out for signage that indicate areas of rip current or undertow, wherein swimming is generally not advised, and can even be prohibited. Additionally, keep in mind that lifeguards are usually not present on Thailand’s beaches, especially Thailand’s lesser visited beaches.
More often than not, you will be frequenting taxis or tuk-tuks in Thailand. The taxis are generally a safe mode of transportation, operating 24/7. However, do your research beforehand to be aware of the amount of which the meter should start. If in any case the driver asks for a fixed price instead of using the taxi meter, it is best to step out and get on board on the next taxi available. This is to ensure that you are not scammed of your taxi fare. While Thai people are generally friendly, it is not common to engage in a conversation with the driver, but to just politely and clearly indicate your destination.
Riding a tuk-tuk on the other hand, is a must-do experience for tourists, even only once. Nevertheless, the tuk-tuk is not really recommended to be your primary form of transportation as a tourist. This is because the fare is not standard. More often than not, tuk-tuk drivers charge a hefty sum for tourists and will even offer other activities such as sightseeing tours and the like. I wrote in detail about one of the most common scams in Bangkok, the tuk-tuk scam, and other common tourist scams.
Carrying cash around
This should go without saying, but make sure you always pay attention to your valuables like your cash, wallet, camera and phone. Pickpockets are not rampant in Thailand, but they do exist, which is why it is important to take the normal precautions with your valuables. Do not flash your cash and be discreet when paying for something you purchased. Carry a small amount of money that you can easily access in your pocket and leave the rest of your money in a more secure place such as hidden pocket in your bag or in a money belt. You should always only have as much money on you as you are planning to spend – leave the rest in the safe back at your hostel / hotel. It is also recommended to limit wearing flashy jewelry because more often than not, thieves are more attracted to just snatch this from you, especially in busy areas.
In case something does go wrong, it is absolutely crucial to have travel insurance. This does not only go for Thailand – you shouldn’t leave on any trip without purchasing travel insurance. Make sure to invest in a good policy that covers not only medical emergencies but also lost or stolen valuables, and if you are planning on doing any adventure sports such as diving, ziplining or ATVing, check if these activities are covered by the policy you select. It is also important to know that if you’re planning on renting a scooter, which is something most travelers in Thailand do, you are only covered by your insurance if you have a valid motorbike license – even though no rental place in Thailand will ask you for it.