Thailand is a safe nation in which to travel. Physical attacks and other crimes against the person are far less likely than in many other developed nations. The old adage of what’s common sense to one person isn’t to another, can be cleared up with some simple advice.
Staying on point with your safety when your in your home city is normal, so leaving your country to venture to Thailand is no different. Being aware of your surrounding, the proximity of people to you and where are you are some simple things to think about. Walking down a unlit Soi at 2am in the morning isn’t something you would necessarily do in your home country so why change the rules in Thailand.
What I am going to cover here is some basics for your own personal safety and the safety of your belongings.
Accommodation: Never leave valuables in the room. Yes some rooms have a safe, but if you read my article on hotel safes you may think twice about how effective they are. It is technically law in Thailand to always carry your passport on you, but in saying this there may be times you need to leave it behind. Try using the main hotel safe, that way the hotel is responsible for your passport, not you. Always try and grab a business card for the hotel, or take a screen shot with your phone of your booking. This makes catching a TukTuk or Taxi back to your hotel that much easier when your driver doesn’t speak English.
Taxis: Bangkok Taxis are a safe form of transport, and do operate 24hrs a day. Bear in mind though unlike western taxi services where you can phone and book, Thai taxis do not accommodate this process. This isn’t normally an issue do to the shear amount of taxis on the road making it very easy to find one when you need it in the capital.
Always insist on using the meter in a taxi or you could well end up paying way to much for your trip. Some taxi drivers will tell you their meter is broken and that you can pay a flat fare.
This is normally bullshit and a way for them to pressure you into paying more. If they refuse to use the meter, simply get another taxi. Also try to avoid taking a taxi that’s parked in front of a hotel or tourist attraction, these guys will normally be the ones that want to take you to your destination for a flat fare. Simply walk into the street and look for a take with the light on.
When leaving your taxi, always check before opening your door as motorcycle taxis can appear out of nowhere and you could ruin the day of another tourist pretty quickly.
Tuk-Tuk: Your in Thailand, so you will probably want to take a Tuk-Tuk at least once to savor the experience. A Tuk-Tuk is normally cheaper than a Taxi but they do not use meters. You negotiate a price before leaving. Note the word negotiate!!
Motorcycle Taxi: These can be a great alternative for a quick jaunt up a Soi or around the corner. Taxi operators typically wear a bright vest showing what area they are permitted to operate within. Again they are not metered, simply negotiate the price and hold on for dear life. A motorcycle taxi can be the best alternative for time when you are dealing with peakhour traffic.
Be careful with your knees and feet when riding a motorcycle taxi. Nothing worse than a taxi operator riding to closely between cars and smashing you knee on a car door. It will hurt! Having a secure bag is also a must.
Clubs and pubs: Just like a western country, never leave your drink unattended, even with that nice person you just met that you seem to be getting along great with. If you need to go to the toilet, plan ahead and go when you drink is finished.
Drink spiking does happen, and finding yourself waking the next morning in a gutter with no passport, cash or credit cards isn’t something you want to experience. While Thailand is the Land of Smiles, you really should be cautious of anyone who approaches you out of the blue, irrespective of their nationality. You could potentially end up being the victim of a scam.
Drugs: Never accept drugs from anyone in Thailand. Entrapment exists, and possession of drugs in Thailand includes being under the influence of drugs. Police in Thailand have the power to order urinalysis (urine analysis) drug screening, the results of which can be used as evidence against you in any future criminal prosecution and form the basis for your arrest for possession.
There have been reports of corrupt Thai Police using tourists caught with drugs in any quantity as a means to extort large sums of money in exchange for releasing them without arrest or criminal charge.
Photocopies and cloud storage: I highly recommend making photocopies of your passport, visa cards and other identification, and suggest going one step further and uploading to a cloud such as Google or Dropbox. Imagine losing everything but your mobile phone, you can easily access everything on the cloud to help get new documents.
Renting cars, scooters and motorcycles: I would never suggest surrendering your passport in order to rent anything. Aside from the fact it is against the law to not carry your passport, a lot of rental companies will try and insist on your surrendering your passport to them for the rental period. This is particularly popular in tourist areas like Pattaya and Phuket. Do not do it, offer a photocopy, and if they are unwilling to accept that, go somewhere else.
AUSTRALIA: Call the Embassy on 02 344 6300 and select option 1 to be transferred to the 24 hour Consular Emergency Center in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, Australia.