Is Thailand Safe to Travel? (2020 Guide)

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A detailed article answering the question: “Is Thailand safe to travel?”, including lots of safety travel tips for Thailand.

All the best parts of Thailand are constantly advertised. From the gorgeous landscapes and the delicious food to the smiling people and the enticing culture, Thailand seems like a magical travel destination. 

And it is!

Thailand is absolutely incredible, and it deserves a spot on every traveller’s bucket list

That being said, you should always take safety precautions when traveling somewhere new. 

The unknown can be scary, and you always want to be mentally and physically prepared for anything. 

The best way to be prepared for visiting a new country is by doing your research before you go. 

So if you are planning your first trip to Thailand and you’re wondering “Is Thailand dangerous?” or “is Thailand safe for travel?” then this article will tell you everything you need to know. 

Thailand is a very safe country for travel. Even if you are traveling alone in Thailand, you shouldn’t have any problems in the country if you are smart and constantly aware of your surroundings. 

In this article, you’ll learn a bit about what to expect in Thailand, as well as some general safety tips and some advice about solo travel in Thailand. 

What to Expect for Safety in Thailand

Keeping all this knowledge in mind, you should be fully prepared to venture over to Southeast Asia and make the most of your time in beautiful Thailand!

Thai Culture

For people wondering “Is Thailand dangerous?” it is hard to answer that question with a plain “Yes” or “No”.

Every country has good and bad parts, but generally speaking, Thailand is definitely one of the safer countries in the world to travel. 

There are three main values in Thai culture of which travelers should be aware: positivity, respect, and self-control.

If you maintain these values while traveling in Thailand, you’ll blend right in with the locals and have no issues with anyone. 

Positivity

Thailand is a warm and welcoming country, where the people are friendly and the nickname “Land of Smiles” rings true. 

The positive, light-hearted, non-confrontational attitude of Thai people is central to their culture, and they generally act the same way with travelers.

Tourism is a huge source of income for the country, so most Thais happily welcome foreigners and are eager to share their culture with them. 

Respect

One of the most important values in Thai culture is respect. 

It is vital for locals to show respect to one another, including tourists. This means that tourists should always show respect to the locals in return. 

Thais maintain respect for everyone, especially for those of higher significance, like monks, doctors, political figures, the King, and even elders, so travelers should do the same. 

Is Thailand Safe to Travel
Buddhist monks in Thailand deserve the highest level of respect.

Self-Control

Thais also value self-control. They avoid raising conflicts, they avoid lying, yelling, or screaming, and they never make a scene in public. 

If travelers can also control their emotions and remain calm in public situations, they will have no reason to come into conflict with anyone in Thailand. 

READ MORE: Plan your trip to Thailand with our complete list of the best things to do in the country!

Backpacker Culture in Thailand

Because tourism is such a huge part of the Thai economy, there is a huge community of backpackers and travelers in Thailand. 

Backpacker culture is very different than local Thai culture because you’ll be surrounded by lots of different nationalities rather than Thai locals. 

Here are a few aspects of the backpacker culture in Thailand of which travelers should be aware. 

Hostels

Thailand is packed with cheap hostels in which travelers tend to congregate.

Staying in a communal area with lots of other travelers means there are certain precautions you must take to ensure your space is respected and your belongings stay safe. 

Safety Tips for Hostels

  • Always lock your valuables in a locker or at the front desk.
  • Put luggage locks on your backpacks and suitcases.
  • Keep your most valuable belongings on your person (passport, wallet, camera).
  • Make sure a hostel has lots of positive reviews from other travelers before staying there.
  • Don’t open the hostel door for strangers.

Partying

The party scene is a massive part of the backpacker culture in Thailand. 

Especially in touristy cities, there are certain bars or clubs where all the tourists go and it won’t even feel like you’re in Thailand at all. 

You’ll definitely want to let loose and enjoy the nightlife in Thailand, but always keep your wits about you and maintain these precautions. 

Safety Tips for Partying

  • Only bring as much cash as you’ll need for the night.
  • Have a secure wallet or purse that you won’t lose to store your ID and cash in.
  • Go out with a group of people.
  • Make sure your group doesn’t leave without you.
  • Make sure you know your way home.
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Avoid getting overly intoxicated.
  • Never accept drinks from strangers.
Always be smart when drinking and partying in Thailand!
Always be smart when drinking and partying in Thailand!

Landscape of Thailand

When considering if Thailand is safe for travel, don’t forget to consider the natural world and the landscape of the country.

Being safe while traveling means maintaining awareness of the elements as well, so make sure you know what type of environments you’ll be in before traveling to Thailand. 

Cities

Thailand has a few big cities, with Bangkok being the biggest and most famous. 

The cities of Thailand are vibrant and packed with excitement, so follow these safety tips to ensure you stay safe in a big city. 

  • Be aware of the air pollution in Bangkok. If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, consult your doctor before you go to ensure Bangkok will be safe for you.
  • Getting lost makes you feel vulnerable, so always have a map or a navigation APP on your phone in case you get lost in a big city.

Rural Areas

When heading away from the big cities of Thailand, you’ll get to witness the more rural areas of Thailand and immerse yourself in real, authentic culture. 

Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when traveling to rural areas of Thailand, such as the mountains or the countryside. 

  • Animals in rural areas of Thailand may have rabies, so avoid animal contact and get vaccinated before heading out there.
  • Insect-borne diseases, like malaria, are more common in rural areas. Take medications if necessary and always wear insect repellant, especially when hiking or camping. 
  • Always check weather updates before hiking or camping in the wilderness.
  • Stick to marked paths or routes when hiking to avoid getting lost.

READ MORE: Be sure to know these great travel tips for visiting Thailand!

Beaches and Islands

Thailand’s beaches are picture-perfect, and beach-lovers will have a blast island-hopping around the country. 

To make the most of your time in the Thai islands, keep these safety tips in mind. 

  • Always wear sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher. The sun is extremely strong in Thailand, and a bad sunburn can ruin a trip or even make you ill. 
  • Educate yourself about rip currents and how to avoid them in the ocean.
  • Avoid swimming on deserted beaches alone. If there’s no lifeguard, the ocean may not be suitable for swimming. 
  • Be aware of sea creatures like jellyfish and sea urchins, especially when snorkeling in coral reefs. 
Thailand Safety Tips Longtail Boats
You’ll have the most incredible time exploring the Thai islands if you keep your safety in mind!

General Safety Tips in Thailand

To ensure that you feel safe while traveling in Thailand, there are some general safety precautions you should take no matter where you are in the country. 

Avoid protests

Thailand is a pretty peaceful country compared to some of its neighbors, but the occasionally protest or riot can break out. 

On the off-chance that a protest turns violent, it can become an unfortunate situation to be in. 

Just avoid protest areas altogether to avoid unnecessary conflict during your trip.

If a protest breaks out in the area you are in, make plans to leave as soon as possible. 

Be Wary of Scams

Most Thais are friendly and genuine towards tourists, but there are always rare cases of locals trying to take advantage of foreigners. 

Dishonest locals may try to scam tourists, not in a violent or inappropriate way, they just may try to milk a bit more money out of you. 

For example, if a stranger in the street offers you tours, discounts, shopping, or anything else, just say no. 

Most Thais are friendly, but if a random person in the street is overly friendly and a bit pushy while trying to offer you something, they are probably trying to rip you off.

Just trust your gut, say no with confidence, and only book tours with legitimate tourism companies.

Use Street Smarts

As I mentioned earlier, Thailand is a very safe country to visit. Any scary scenarios discussed in this article are usually pretty rare. 

So the most useful safety tip for traveling Thailand is to use general street smarts. 

Sometimes while traveling, it feels like a fun vacation and you don’t use your head as often as you would at home. 

But maintaining good judgment, common sense, and level-headedness while traveling is usually enough to keep you safe abroad. 

Some general travel street smarts include:

  • Avoid walking around alone at night.
  • Know the local emergency phone number.
  • Keep your passport, money, and other valuables securely stored or safely on your person at all times.
  • Make copies of important documents in case you misplace one.
  • Avoid any situation that makes you feel uneasy, uncomfortable or scared.
  • Only book hostels, hotels, or tours that have reputable, positive customer reviews.
  • Don’t share lots of personal information with strangers.

READ MORE: Here’s a great travel packing list for Thailand to get you started!

Travel Safety in Thailand

While on the road in Thailand, always exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. 

This includes taking public transport and driving yourself. Keep these safety tips in mind while traveling through Thailand. 

  • Local traffic in Thailand can be hectic, so always use caution and follow the road rules while driving.
  • If you are driving a motorbike, be extremely careful. You are more vulnerable on a bike, and motorcycle accidents are common. Wear a helmet and don’t speed. 
  • Stay on alert at border crossings between Thailand and its neighboring countries. Thailand is very safe, but the rare violence and conflict that does occur usually happens at border crossings. Just get through as quickly and quietly as you can and don’t linger if there’s any trouble happening. 
  • Stay up-to-date on current news to avoid any problem areas. For example, right now there are travel warnings for the 4 southern provinces of Thailand near the Malaysian border: Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla. These areas are experiencing frequent violence and bombings. If you’re there, consider leaving.
Staying Safe in Thailand Bus
If you use caution and common sense while traveling in Thailand, your trip will be stress-free.

Health Safety

Your health should always be a top priority while traveling. 

In addition to wearing sunscreen, mosquito repellant, and speaking to your doctor before leaving home about any medications or vaccinations, there are a few other health safety tips you should keep in mind in Thailand. 

  • Always maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, and avoid unnecessary contact with others. This helps prevent the spread of germs and may save you from getting sick. 
  • Make sure you listen to your body. If you feel sick or tired, take a rest day and eat healthy foods. It sucks to feel like you’re missing out on fun travel experiences, but you’ll feel better if you just let your body heal. It’s very common for travelers to get over-exhausted by packing in too much excitement, so maintain a healthy balance while traveling.
  • If you do need to visit a medical center, make sure it is a legitimate one. Thailand has lots of reputable health centers, but sometimes there are discounted or volunteer ones in more rural areas that aren’t as trustworthy as the official ones. 
  • Stay updated on any current health crises.
  • Always purchase health insurance before a trip. Even if you think you won’t need it, you never know what will happen abroad and you always want to be covered.

Important Note! Before you book any international trip, we honestly recommend getting travel insurance. You never know when things will go wrong, and medical bills can add up quickly if you get sick or injure yourself overseas.

Our personal recommendation based on our own experience is World Nomads.

Safety Against Crime

For people wondering, “Is Thailand dangerous?”, you’ll be happy to know that the most common crimes in Thailand are just petty crimes like theft and robbery. 

Thailand’s laws are very strict, and they still use the death penalty. This means any major crimes may be punishable by death, so dangerous crime is very rare in Thailand. 

As long as you don’t break any laws in Thailand and don’t make yourself a target for theft, you shouldn’t have any problems. 

Here are a few tips for making sure you stay safe against crime in Thailand. 

  • Avoid theft by making sure your valuables are either locked up safe or securely stored on your person.
  • Carry bags that close securely, and carry them so you can always have a hand or an eye on them.
  • Don’t wear expensive jewellry or flashy accessories that make you look rich because you’ll become a target for pickpockets. Dress to blend in, not to stand out.
  • While travelling on long bus or train journeys don’t separate yourself from your bags. Keep them with you at all times. 
  • If you have a big suitcase that has to be stored on top of a bus, keep a smaller backpack on you with your valuables in it. 
  • Drink spiking is another crime that may occur while partying in Thailand. Never accept a drink from a stranger, and always keep an eye on your own drink. 
  • Avoid using any drugs in Thailand. They are all illegal, including marijuana, and the penalties for using or carrying drugs can be severe.

READ MORE: As you plan your trip, check out a few great Thailand itineraries!

Solo Travel in Thailand

Thailand solo travel is a liberating and exciting experience. 

Traveling solo in Thailand should not be a problem for anyone, as long as you use all the safety tips mentioned so far in this article. 

For solo female travelers, you’ll find that Thailand is a very safe country where women are respected and treated equally to men. The same safety tips apply to men and women.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when traveling alone in Thailand.

  • Stay in hostels if you want to meet people. It is very easy to make friends, especially at party hostels.
  • If you want to party, avoid going out alone. Try to link up with people in your hostel so you have a crew to go out with. 
  • If you’re a solo female traveler, stay in hostels that have female-only dorms if you prefer that. 
  • Register for a smart traveler program where you can update your government on your travels abroad. This ensures the government knows where you are in case something crazy happens. For example, the USA has an online program called STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), and many other countries have similar programs. 
  • Update your friends and family back home on your whereabouts. Just letting them know where you are and where you are headed can help them keep an eye on the news and make sure everything is safe where you are.
Pack comfortable clothes for a trip to Thailand!
Solo travel in Thailand is an eye-opening experience!

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About the author

Gabby Boucher

After four years of working in hospitality, volunteering abroad and travelling for fun, Gabby has developed a knack for budget travel and admiration for different cultures. Her travels have taken her through the cloud forests of Ecuador, into the villages of eastern Europe, across the islands of Thailand, and to the beaches of New South Wales, Australia, where she is currently living with a working holiday visa. She plans to continue her adventures around the world for as long as possible. Follow her on her blog, and on Instagram.

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