Thailand, with its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine, is a popular travel destination. But before you book your tickets, it’s important to consider the safety and security aspects of traveling to this beautiful country. In this article, we’ll discuss the key safety concerns and provide some valuable tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Thailand.
Safety and Security
Southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla, and Yala
In the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla, and Yala, separatist insurgents occasionally carry out attacks with criminal and political motives. These attacks, which include shootings, bombings, and arson, mainly target military, government, and security buildings and personnel. They have also occurred in public places.
To combat this, martial law and strict security measures are in place in these provinces. The authorities have increased powers allowing them to detain suspects without charge, conduct searches, seize objects or documents, and impose curfews. It’s important to note that traveling in these provinces puts you at risk of becoming a collateral victim of an attack.
Myanmar border areas in the provinces of Mae Hong Son and Tak
When traveling to the Thailand-Myanmar border areas in the provinces of Mae Hong Son and Tak, it’s essential to exercise a high degree of caution. Occasional violence, banditry, and clashes between government forces and drug traffickers have been reported in these regions. Border crossing points may be closed without notice, so it’s crucial to cross at designated border points with the required travel documentation.
Preah Vihear Temple area and surrounding border region
Thailand and Cambodia have an ongoing border dispute in the Preah Vihear temple area, with reports of landmines in the vicinity. If you plan on traveling to any Thai-Cambodian border areas, exercise a high degree of caution.
Political instability in Thailand has created a volatile and unpredictable security environment throughout the country, especially in Bangkok. The military has sweeping powers that may include preventing public gatherings, censoring media, imposing curfews, setting up checkpoints, restricting movement, searching for weapons, and using force in response to violence. These measures could be enforced at any time, and access to media and social media services may be limited.
Like in any tourist destination, petty crimes such as purse snatching, pickpocketing, and theft are common in Thailand. Thieves sometimes use razors to cut open bags and purses unnoticed. To safeguard your belongings, never leave bags unattended, ensure your personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times, and avoid walking in dark or isolated areas.
Theft incidents have also been reported on cross-country buses and vans. It’s advisable to use reputable transportation companies and keep a close eye on your belongings, particularly on long-distance journeys. Be cautious at night in entertainment areas, especially during full moon parties and other popular events, as robberies and assaults, including sexual assaults, can occur. Report all criminal incidents to the local Thai police before leaving the country.
Many travelers, including Canadians, have fallen victim to various scams in Thailand. If you encounter any scams or fraudulent activities, report them to the tourist police immediately.
Credit card and ATM fraud
Credit card and ATM fraud are prevalent in Thailand. To protect yourself, pay attention when others handle your cards, use ATMs in well-lit public areas or inside banks, avoid card readers with irregular features, cover the keypad when entering your PIN, and check your account statements for unauthorized transactions.
When renting vehicles or equipment, be cautious of rental companies that falsely accuse renters of causing damage upon return. They may harass and threaten you and withhold your passport, which is often left as collateral. Read rental contracts carefully to ensure the vehicle is insured to cover damage and theft. Take photos of existing damage before renting as proof.
Some bars, nightclubs, and entertainment venues may attempt to overcharge customers. To avoid disputes, confirm prices before consuming, avoid running a tab, and never leave your credit card with the staff.
When dealing with travel agencies, ensure they are reputable before making any payments.
Investment fraud and gems/jewelry purchases
If you plan on making investments in Thailand or purchasing gems and jewelry, seek legal advice in Canada and Thailand before committing. Investment-related disputes can be time-consuming and expensive to resolve. Be cautious of scams involving gems and jewelry, as guarantees from merchants may not be honored.
Spiked food and drinks
To protect yourself from the risk of sexual assault and robbery, never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from unfamiliar people. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you’ve been drugged.
Sexual assaults against foreign women have occurred in Thailand, particularly during full moon parties and other popular tourist events. If you are a victim of a sexual assault, seek medical attention immediately, report the incident to local authorities and the nearest Canadian office.
While the threat of terrorism is infrequent outside the southern provinces, small-scale bomb attacks have occurred in public places throughout Thailand. Always remain aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Large demonstrations regularly take place in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand. These demonstrations can occasionally turn violent, disrupt traffic and public transportation, and cause the closure of mass transit stations. Maintain a high level of personal security awareness, avoid military installations and areas with concentrations of security personnel, carry identification documents at all times, and stay away from demonstration sites and large gatherings. Follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media for updates on ongoing demonstrations.
Thailand has a high number of accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians. Hazardous road conditions, adverse weather, local disregard for traffic laws, and drunk driving contribute to frequent accidents. Motorcycles are particularly risky, and accidents involving motorcycles are responsible for the majority of road deaths.
When driving or walking, be cautious and attentive. Avoid driving at night on mountain roads, especially during the rainy season (June to October). Use elevated walkways and pedestrian bridges whenever possible, especially in Bangkok. Helmets are mandatory for motorcycle riders, and it’s crucial to ensure your rental motorcycle is properly maintained. Only use licensed taxis and be wary of unlicensed vehicles.
When using taxis, use licensed taxis from official stands, limousine services, or trusted ride-sharing apps. Avoid sharing a taxi with strangers. Passenger boat accidents have occurred due to overloading and poor maintenance, so avoid boarding vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy. Train accidents have also caused injuries and deaths in recent years.
Other safety tips
If you plan on engaging in adventure sports, choose well-established and reputable companies. Ensure your travel insurance covers the activities you choose. Be cautious of chemical pesticide poisoning and seek medical assistance if exposed to chemical pesticides. While air travel in Thailand is generally safe, make sure to research the compliance of domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Information and assistance
For more information on travel safety and assistance, visit the Ekilove website. Remember to stay informed about the latest travel advisories and take appropriate precautions to ensure a safe and memorable trip to Thailand.