BY: Viktor Vincej
With its striking, turquoise waters and picture-perfect climate, it’s no wonder Thailand is among the most popular tourist destinations in all of Southeast Asia.
The good news for would-be travelers is that Thailand is considered safe. The country is considered a Level 1 destination by the U.S. Department of State, which signals that travelers need to practice normal precautions.
That means all tourists should exercise caution and stay aware of potential criminal activity during their visit to the Land of Smiles.
LATEST UPDATES / NEWS from THAILAND:
June 9 – Marijuana businesses in legal limbo a year after legalization in Thailand
On Friday, Thailand celebrated one year since the legalization of marijuana, although the industry still operates illegally for lack of proper regulation. Nonetheless, cannabis businesses are sprouting up all over the country.
On June 9, 2022, marijuana was removed from Thailand’s list of banned substances with the intention of promoting medical cannabis, but this instead served to encourage the trade and recreational use of the drug.
Attempts by the ruling coalition at the time to regulate the industry failed due to a lack of unity in parliament, which was dissolved in March in preparation for elections on May 14.
However, the election results created more uncertainty as opposition parties that were against the current broad liberalization of marijuana won.
Sheltered by this significant loophole, cannabis businesses have begun to flourish in Bangkok and other cities throughout Thailand.
April 13 – Tourist police will crack down on overstaying, and other tourism-related crimes
Thai tourist police have launched a nationwide campaign to combat crimes against tourism such as overstaying and other violations of the law by foreigners in Thailand.
In a Facebook post, the Tourist Police said it would target 10 different types of tourist-related offences, including “overstaying and other crimes affecting all aspects of the tourism business across the country” The list of crimes was kept secret.
In the same release, the Tourist Police gave a message to “tourists and fellow citizens” on how to report incidents and provide pertinent data to the organization.
Stay diligent, especially in crowds
Rather than violent attacks, tourists are more likely to fall victim to any number of non-violent crimes or scams.
Pickpocketing is common in Thailand’s urban centers. Although it can be difficult to do so in congested areas, avoid allowing locals to get close enough to steal from you. Consider using a backpack with security features to stash your wallet and valuables.
Criminals also like to target tourists who are getting money at currency exchanges or ATMs, so be especially diligent when doing so to avoid being robbed.
Scams involving taxis and other modes of transportation, including boats and ferries, typically involve overcharging. There are also incidences of tours charging upfront and then not delivering, so be sure to only book with reputable vendors.
If you decide to take part in the urban nightlife, don’t go alone. Bars are another area where crime is more likely to occur. Strangers may spike your drink and then steal cash and other valuables.
Use extreme caution when visiting local bars and clubs and avoid drawing attention to your wealth by wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
Violent crime doesn’t occur at an alarming rate, but there are instances of robbery, assault, rape and murder. You can lessen your chances of falling victim to a violent crime by avoiding certain areas.
Violent attacks, including bombings, are most likely to occur in Bangkok and Phuket, with terrorists targeting hotels frequented by tourists, as well as places of worship, monuments, schools, shopping malls, public transport, rallies, festivals and the U.S. embassy.
While there have been no significant acts of terrorism since 2019, there are still minor events, particularly in Southern Thailand, which is best avoided.
Urban areas also contain red-light districts, which tend to have a higher rate of crimes involving drugs, alcohol and sex. As with certain provinces, avoid these areas entirely to lower the risk of ending up a crime victim.
To avoid becoming a victim of violent crime, it’s best to steer clear of public gatherings and demonstrations. Monitor the media so you stay aware of any threats or incidences that occur and always report any suspicious-looking packages.
Other Safety Concerns
Crime isn’t the only safety concern for tourists in Thailand.
While the country’s stunning beaches are a huge tourist draw, not all beaches have enough lifeguards nor are the lifeguards always adequately trained. Other dangers include jellyfish and riptides.The beaches at Phuket are known to be particularly risky.
Tourists are also susceptible to food-borne illnesses. While street food in cities like Bangkok may be inviting, you never know how long the food has been sitting out in the open.
Avoid drinking tap water or using ice cubes made with tap water, and opt for bottled water only.
If your respiratory system is at all compromised, be sure to check with your physician before traveling to Bangkok, as the air there is polluted.
While travel to Thailand is generally considered safe, it pays to take precautions and stay aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoiding situations that increase the potential for crime or compromise your safety will help to ensure you enjoy your trip to this popular tourist destination.