A light display in Patong, Thailand.
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Travelling safely in Thailand

Airra Beatrice

Contributing writer

Emergency number

For medical emergencies, dial 1669 for an ambulance.

Thailand is undeniably a popular and safe tourist destination, drawing millions of visitors from around the world every year. However, like in any other country, there are safety precautions that visitors should be aware of to have a safe and relaxing trip. This involves being aware of potential criminal activity, health risks, natural disasters, and local laws and customs.

While Thailand may have some serious criminal activities, tourists are typically not directly affected by illicit trades and trafficking. Instead, the primary safety concerns for travelers in Thailand revolve around petty crimes like theft and some minor scams.

Theft and scams in Thailand

Thailand is considered one of the safest countries for tourists; however, petty theft and scams can occur in crowded tourist areas. To stay safe, always be cautious with your belongings, avoid displaying expensive items, and stay aware of your surroundings. 

Also, be aware of the unique scams in Thailand, such as the taxi and "tuk-tuk" scams, where they overcharge tourists, especially in popular tourist areas. To avoid these scams, it's best to agree on the fare before starting the journey or insist on using the taxi's official meter instead of accepting a fixed rate. For the tuk-tuk scam, use tuk-tuks for short trips only to avoid being taken to shady souvenir shops. 

If you exercise safety precautions and are mindful of your surroundings, there is nothing to worry about while traveling in Thailand.

Drink spiking in Thailand

Drink spiking is a concerning issue worldwide, including in Thailand. It involves adding drugs or substances to someone's drink without their knowledge or consent, often leading to crimes like robbery or sexual assault. With Thailand's vibrant nightlife, such as those found in Phuket's pubs and clubs, tourists need to be particularly cautious about this crime. 

To stay safe, never leave your drink unattended, get drinks from trusted sources, open containers yourself, trust your instincts, travel with friends, be aware of spiking symptoms, and inform staff or security if needed. Stay vigilant, protect yourself and others, and enjoy your time in Thailand with peace of mind.

Natural disasters 

Thailand is prone to natural disasters like flooding, landslides, drought, earthquakes, tsunamis, heat waves, forest fires, and epidemics. Thailand is also exposed to technological hazards such as chemical accidents.

Cyclones in Thailand can bring strong winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surges, especially in the southern coastal areas from May to November. During the monsoon seasons, flooding, flash floods, and landslides can occur.

And while not as seismically active, earthquakes can still happen in Thailand due to its tectonic plate location.

When traveling to Thailand, remember to monitor weather forecasts, plan accordingly, avoid flood-prone areas, and heed local authorities' guidance for safety. Staying informed and prepared is key while visiting Thailand.

Keeping safe in the outdoors

While exploring the great outdoors in Thailand, it's essential to remember safety precautions. If you're planning a hiking adventure, you'll find well-marked trails, but it's always smart to plan your route, have a backup plan, and let someone know your schedule and location.

Now, when you hit the beaches, watch out for water activities. Stick with reputable water sports operators on the islands to avoid being scammed, and only swim in areas where lifeguards are on duty, as some spots can have strong currents, especially during the monsoon season.

Heat and hydration

When traveling in Thailand, it's necessary to prioritize heat and hydration, given its tropical climate. The hot and humid weather can lead to heat-related illnesses if not managed properly.

Drink lots of water throughout the day, wear suitable clothes, seek shade during peak hours, use sun protection, take regular breaks while doing outdoor activities, and choose lighter meals to keep safe and hydrated.

Consider taking electrolyte supplements if engaging in strenuous activities, and be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. If any symptoms arise, make sure to quickly seek medical assistance.

Health risks in Thailand

While Thailand's tropical climate is undoubtedly one of the reasons people come here, it also brings the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever and malaria.

These diseases can be prevalent in certain regions, especially during the rainy season, when mosquito populations surge. It's advisable to use mosquito repellent, wear protective clothing, and stay in accommodations with proper screens or air conditioning.

Healthcare and insurance

Healthcare and insurance are important considerations when traveling to Thailand. In case of any medical emergency, dial 1669 for an ambulance. It's important to maintain contact with your insurance or medical company throughout your trip. 

Note that Thailand and the UK do not have reciprocal healthcare agreements, so it's crucial to purchase comprehensive travel and medical insurance before entering the country.

Remember that all hospitals in Thailand may require upfront payment or proof of insurance before providing medical treatment. Ensuring you have appropriate insurance coverage will give you peace of mind and protection during your travels.

Food and water Safety

When visiting Thailand, it's essential to prioritize food and water safety. Though there are various viruses and illnesses that travelers should be aware of, the most common way to become ill in Thailand is by consuming unsanitary food or drinks.

While Thai cuisine is renowned for its delicious flavors, exercise caution when consuming food from street vendors. Ensure that the food is freshly cooked and served hot to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. Pay attention to hygiene practices and opt for reputable establishments.

Drinking tap water in Thailand is not recommended, as it may not be safe for consumption. Even filtered tap water may not be entirely free from contaminants.

To stay safe, opt for bottled water or water from trusted sources, and also avoid ice in drinks to reduce the chances of ingesting contaminated water.

Respecting local culture

Respecting local culture is essential when visiting Thailand. The country's deep-rooted traditions are highly cherished, making it crucial to follow particular norms.

When visiting religious sites, make sure to dress modestly, remove your shoes in some areas, and show respect to Buddhist monks. Politeness, avoiding public displays of affection, and respecting royal symbols are also essential.

Show reverence towards Buddha images, learn basic Thai phrases, and bargain respectfully in markets. Lastly, handle money with care, as it features images of the Thai king and must not be stepped on. 

LGBTIQ+ travelers

Thailand is known for its relatively progressive and open-minded attitude towards LGBTIQ+ travelers. The country is generally accepting of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, and the LGBTIQ+ community is visible and active in many parts of Thailand.

LGBTQ+ travelers can often find welcoming spaces, gay-friendly establishments, and inclusive events, particularly in major cities and popular tourist destinations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.

However, it's important to be aware that cultural norms can vary in different regions of Thailand. While larger cities and tourist destinations are generally open and accepting, some rural areas or conservative communities may not be as accustomed to public displays of affection among same-sex couples.

In these areas, it's advisable for LGBTQ+ travelers to exercise discretion and be mindful of local customs to avoid any potential discomfort or misunderstandings.

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Airra Beatrice

Author - Airra Beatrice

Airra is a Filipino Gen Z, travel content writer driven by wanderlust. She started writing about her journeys for extra income, but stumbled upon an undiscovered passion for writing along the way.

She has travelled all over her cherished homeland, the Philippines, and was intrigued by Thailand, where she totally fell head over heels for mango sticky rice! She inspires others to explore the world's wonders and embrace the beauty of life's journey.

Last Updated 24 September 2023

Long boats on the beach at Maya Bay in Thailand


Thailand is a land of flavours, cultures, and landscapes. However, there's more to Thailand than just postcard-perfect sights