Thailand: a travel destination with rich cultures, friendly people, amazing cuisine, and awe-inspiring surroundings. This country has something for everyone. Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is also one of the main hubs in and out of Southeast Asia. It is well connected by air to several major cities in the region.
TravelSafe worked with Your Local Cousin to bring you another great guide. Here it is, as told by a local, your safety guide while in Thailand.
Scams,must ‘not-dos,’ and Travel Safety in Thailand
Just like with any other place, Thailand too has its dark side. Although Thailand is known as an easy destination to visit, especially when visiting Asia for the first time, it is also famous for scams and illegal activities.
If you do end up being the victim of a scam or a crime in Thailand the best thing you can do is to contact the local tourist police as soon as possible. Then, notify your travel insurance company and send them the appropriate documentation.
Here are the scams you should watch out for when in Thailand.
Tuk-Tuk Ride Scam
Rarely has anyone visited Bangkok without bumping into one of these scams. Often times, you'll here someone say “10 baht tuk-tuk ride” or “the temple is closed today guys." These drivers will talk you into their tuk-tuk (like an auto rickshaw) and drive you around the city, dropping you off at tailor and gem shops.
They will then get stamps from these shops for free gasoline. The good-willed tourists are often pressured to buy products they otherwise would never have bought. In the worst cases, tourists are also robbed of their wallets and phones while in these shops.
It is easy to spot these scams, and with a little common sense, you can avoid them completely.
The best way to avoid being in this situation is to use only taxis that have a working meter, or use the Sky Train in Bangkok. If you do choose to use a tuk-tuk, make sure that you agree on the price before-hand. There will never be a ride under 40 Thai Baht (less than 1 US dollar). Sometimes it will end up more expensive than a taxi, but it is a unique experience a lot of tourists want to try!
Counterfeit Retail Items
Another thing to be aware of is buying fake or knock off items like clothes, shoes, watches, and phones. These knock off shops are often located inside big shopping malls. Salesman and women will try to convince you that what they are selling is real.
Clearly you will know that the products are fake because the prices will be extremely cheap. If you are on a budget and are looking for cheaper items, then your best bet would be the outlet malls or seasonal sales from the official brand stores in Thailand.
Consuming and Carrying Drugs
Drugs are illegal in Thailand, as they are in most other places. What people often don’t know is that drug-related offenses get harsher punishments than other crimes. In most drug-related cases, the punishment will be jail time. However, there have been instances where drug-related crimes resulted in the death penalty.
Drugs are easily found in tourist destinations such as Koh Phangan (a major party island) and other places across the country. The law is the same everywhere and the risk of getting caught is very high for tourists. It is definitely a risk not worth taking and you should avoid locals or fellow travelers who try to sell drugs to you at all costs, no matter how small the quantity.
Mind the Crazy Traffic
Driving in Thailand is very challenging and a bit dangerous for tourists. Due to the immense volume of traffic, along with the poorly maintained and confusing roads, many accidents occur. Also, many tourists rent cheap scooters and other two wheelers to explore their destination, only to end up in accidents. Many times, they are not used to the “Thai style” of driving or are in-experienced with left-hand side driving rules.
Get a Local Number
You should get a local number for phone calls if you're staying here for a long period of time. The calling and data plans are much much cheaper than they are in the US. You can get one from the airport when you arrive. This way you are always in touch with your friends and family, and can call for emergency if needed.
Cover Your Back With Travel Insurance
I cannot emphasize how important it is to have valid travel insurance to cover yourself financially and medically when in Thailand. Having to visit the local or an international hospital can get very expensive if you do not have a good travel insurance policy.
The public hospitals can get very crowded, the waiting times are long, and most offer services in very basic English – if even at all. With a good travel insurance plan, you can skip the public hospital and go straight to an international hospital. Your insurance company will be in direct contact with them about treatment and billing, so you won't have to worry about admittance. If you need to visit any of the local or international hospitals in Thailand you can check this (http://www.thaimedicalvacation.com/definitive-guide-to-hospitals-in-thailand/) list of all hospital in the country.
Told By A Local: End Note for Thailand
Thailand in general is a safe destination, maybe the safest in Southeast Asia for tourists. Thailand is also not any more dangerous for women traveling alone than it is for men, you just need to be cautious and alert at all times. Thai people are very respectful and see people who travel alone very courageous.
The Thai people are often happy to help you with any questions you might have as they admire you for leaving your home country to explore theirs. And most importantly, when in Thailand, remember to smile. Even if you are in a tricky situation, it will show the locals that although you might not share a common language, you do appreciate their help. A smile will get everything sorted a million times smoother!
About the Author:
Mari is originally from Finland but has been living in Thailand since 2010 studying International Tourism Management and currently lives in Phuket. She has also been traveling across most of Southeast Asia since 2010. To get advice on your trip to Thailand, visit Mari's local profile here.