Safety in Thailand – Crime Issues
Thailand Security issues on this page cover many essential elements for your safety and security in Thailand including some statistical facts on various levels of crime in Thailand as well as some general Thailand travel advice information.
Throughout my various travels around the globe, I found no significant difference in one’s safe travel in South East Asia providing you take a few necessary precautions. As a westerner, we tend to live most of our lives in one or other comfort zone permitting us a relatively happy and safe environment in our immediate surroundings.
When we decide for the first time to undertake the “risky” business to venture further than our nearest supermarket and take a plunge into the unknown, all hell seems to break loose and perhaps a little paranoia may set in. Well, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case here in Thailand. Thailand is safer than a lot of other countries around the world, including where I live in South Africa.
I travelled to Thailand with my niece the day after the Royal Thai Army staged a coup d’état on Tuesday 19 September 2006 against the then prime minister, who later fled the country, and is now in exile.
My friends were concerned for my safety, only I seemed more concerned for their safety back home. I tend to view travel in a completely different light. Perhaps the uncertainty is all in the mind.
Just to be sure, though, frequent travellers including myself should always be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary wherever we may travel. We should always be awake, aware and alert in order to be able to relax and enjoy a fun filled holiday at any destination of our choice without any of the fear factors.
Nevertheless, violent crimes against foreigners in Thailand are almost unheard of although there have been a couple of remote cases in the past, but please do no alarm yourself unnecessary as criminal activities can happen anywhere.
In all of my travels around Thailand, I have never encountered any sort of crime, but then again, I try not to attract crime either. Petty crimes and theft such as pick-pocketing, jewellery and bag snatching will always be common no matter where you go.
I personally think there are misbehavioral patterns in some humans of mostly poorer countries where you’ll find this happening more often than not. In countries such as Thailand and India, there will always be elements of theft, but without the potential threat of death. The same cannot be said for certain parts of Africa including South Africa.
Elements of crime will almost certainly be everywhere you go in these circumstances. The more you travel, the more you will realise this. You just need to be on guard as well as vigilant at all times wherever you may journey.
Watch your wallet, handbag and purse when walking in crowded streets, tourist sites, markets and other public places. There are many signs warning tourists to be aware of pick-pockets such as at the crowded Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok and other such attractions around the country for that matter.
Should you encounter a problem, try to locate the Tourist Police who are more likely to speak and understand English far better than any of the other local police would. You will find Tourist Police in all the major cities, though not necessarily in the smaller towns. You could also contact your nearest consulate or embassy regarding any crime orientation, should the occasion present itself.
One other concern for your security in the cities of Thailand and that is to never go out to remote or dark areas that you deem unfamiliar, especially at night. My girlfriend and her friend mistakenly took me to one such area at night whilst out looking for nightclubs in Bangkok. I told her that this particular area didn’t feel safe, and quickly got back into the waiting taxi and promptly left the area.
Scams are everywhere. I’ve seen them in Europe, I’ve seen them in Africa and I’ve seen them in Asia and Thailand is no exception. I nearly got caught in one myself, as this was a new one to me. Let me explain so that you too can avoid a similar situation as to the one I almost had. Of course, I cannot tell you what might have happened because a good friend of mine intervened and saved the day.
A well spoken Muslim couple approached me on the streets of Bangkok and inquired as to the whereabouts of the T-Shirt that I had been wearing that day. Not only were they polite and exceptionally well-spoken, they were also very well dressed. They began a conversation by asking me where I had purchased this particular T-Shirt.
Being the friendly guy I am, as well as my keen interest in meeting and talking to other like minded travellers, including the locals, I stopped and we chatted. Not a good idea as I subsequently found out.
All the while, I let them know where I had bought my T-Shirt which incidentally, was from the MBK Shopping Centre not far from where we were chatting at the time. After giving directions, the couple offered to take me out for lunch.
Fortunately for me, I declined as I was busy at the time. However, I did make arrangements to meet the following day. Not only did I give them my mobile number, but I also told them which hotel I was staying at. Bad career move…
They seemed like a very nice couple. Who wouldn’t want to trust them, after all, they did invite me for lunch? How stupid of me! You see I got caught off guard for a moment without realising what might have transpired. Anyway, I will not know for sure now.
As it happens, I have a good Thai friend, who informed me about these incidents and warned me of an impending scam. I did not return the calls, and there were many, from the couple, the following day.
All I’m saying is that you cannot be too careful these days. Apparently, this is a common occurrence, especially in the big cities. This incident was something new to me, but now I’m more informed and so are you.
I was told by my Thai friend, Patrick that I should not be afraid of offending the friendly locals as the average Thai do not approach foreigners in such a way. Nevertheless, I shall continue to update you on any Thailand Security scam encounters, should I come across anymore. Hopefully, you and I will not fall for these scams again
Foreign Beach Touts
Touts are not limited to the locals either. In Pattaya and Phuket, you may come across foreign backpackers who have run out of money, trying to excite you with all kinds of free gifts. You end up filling out all sorts of questionnaire forms that ultimately lead you to some kind of time-share that you may not be interested in any way. After all, you are on holiday! Another waste of time and energy. Unless you’re looking for a timeshare opportunity, simply ignore and walk away.
The worst for me are the so tailor touts. Again, you will find them in the cities and at all the seaside resorts on every street corner and then some. They appear everywhere at all times of the day and night. You may even encounter them on to way to your favourite beach spot during the middle of the day. It is hot and you are on holiday, so who in their right mind wants to buy a suit at this time of the day.
Tailor touts are pests and they always insist on shaking your hand as you walk past. Again, after you’ve encountered several on the same street, it’s hard sometimes not to be rude to them. These touts get abused all day long, which they simply ignore until they get a catch.
Again, avoid the handshaking stuff, try to be as polite as you can while mumbling to yourself and then simply walk on by. Sometimes you may even feel the urge to run away. Let’s face it, if you want to buy a suit or shirt you can go to one of the tailor shops when you are ready at night when it is a little cooler.
For general Thailand security, check the Tuk-Tuk drivers who love to rip customers off. If you’ve been to Thailand before then you might be aware that a ride in a Tuk-Tuk always seems to cost more than an air-conditioned taxi. Why is this so! Simple… Not so easy for metered taxi drivers to pull the wool over your eyes. Tuk-Tuks don’t have meters.
You could easily be persuaded to part with up to four or five times the going rate for a ride of the same distance you would have taken in a taxi. Tuk-Tuks have no air-conditioning and some of the drivers can be quite menacing at times, but hey, Tuk-Tuks can be fun and will probably get you to your destination in half the time a taxi could.
Tuk-Tuks also weave in and out of traffic the Thai way so don’t be too alarmed. The upside is that they get you to places faster over short distances so what the heck, go on and live a little!
Lastly one other aspect concerning Thailand Security for which I haven’t encountered personally but only heard about. The story goes like this…. Strangers approach you on buses and trains offering you fruits, sweets or soft drinks. These items could be drugged. Again just be careful and vigilant and remember what your mother taught you. Never accept candy from a stranger.