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Is Thailand Safe?

Is thailand safeI know a lot of you ask the question ‘Is Thailand dangerous?’. The answer is speculative, at best. Danger exists everywhere, yet in comparison to most, Thailand is actually a relatively safe country, and since last year, has moved up for places on the Global Peace Index. However, there are dangers that differ from other countries.

For example, Thai cities are considered pretty safe for women to walk about alone at night, probably more so than most built-up towns in developed countries. Violence is mostly used to settle business issues and personal conflicts, and random attacks on strangers are exceptional. As in any other location, along with mass tourism come the offenders. Yet these criminal occurrences have been carried out by just as many tourists as local Thais.

Any other ordinary precaution that you take elsewhere, must also be brought here. See Staying Safe in Thailand for other information.

Travelling Solo?
Thai Waters
Other Marine Stingers
Land Animals
Tuk Tuks
Katoeys (Ladyboys)

Travelling Solo?

Travelling soloIt’s fine if you’re travelling by yourself, if you’re single, if you’re with your best friend and it doesn’t matter if you’re backpacking and staying in hostels or hotels. Thailand is overall a safe country to travel alone in. As with just about anywhere else in the world, it is usually better to travel with others, but use your common sense and trust your intuition, and join the tens of thousands of people who do it alone every year.

Thais are extremely helpful, and if you ever find yourself in a spot of trouble, ask a local for help. If they don’t speak your language, they’re the ones who will find someone who will! It will be rare that anyone will mention that they did not spend at least part of their trip in the company of others…whoever they may be.

It’s hard to stay alone for very long when the nature of the Thais is so extroverted. There is no shortage of internet cafes throughout the country, so drop a line about your whereabouts every once in a while…post some photos, send some postcards…whatever will make anyone wish they were exactly where you are! Back to the Top

Thai Waters


When you walk into restaurants, and there’s a seafood display that includes sharks…indulge in them, because his is about as close to a shark as you’ll get in Thailand. People over here feast on sharks, and the large amounts of fishing has led to the decline of the population of these creatures. Due to this, they do not venture close to shore, and and have submitted to residing at the bottom of the ocean. It is, in fact, a rather triumphant occasion nowadays when a diver comes across a large shark!

whale shark



Most Thai waters are, (you’ll be happy to hear), largely free of stinging jellyfish and other marine stingers. Small jellyfish can cause itchy irritations; however, the one to really be on the lookout for is the Box Jellyfish (there are a few types). These jellyfish have appeared around Koh Samui and the islands within and around the Gulf of Thailand. The Andaman Sea has also had it’s share of box jellyfish problems. But there is no need to steer clear of the water. It is not an epidemic, and the probability of being stung by one is small. It pays to be aware, and beaches have now started installing vinegar stations for those who are unfortunate enough to be stung.

Box jellyfish Thailand

Other Marine Stingers


Snails, which are normally found in deeper waters, are mostly a danger to divers, who cannot help but be tempted to touch these colourful creatures! If a swimmer comes across one, it will most likely have been washed ashore, and if they are alive, the ‘DO NOT TOUCH’ warning light should spark up. The consequence of not heeding this advice is a strong venom injected into your skin that causes extreme pain and can be deadly.

Textile cone snail thailand



Rockfish are the masters of disguise, and are barely noticeable to the naked eye. However, this camouflaged creature contains one of the most dangerous venoms found in any waters. The venom spreads quickly and instigates terrible pain and swelling. The two most recommended treatments include the application of heat (hot water no lower than 45 degrees Celcius) and antivenom. Vinegar has also been said to lessen the pain.

Rock Fish Thailand

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Land Animals


Various species of snakes are found throughout Thailand, with some being harmless and others posing a threat to life. You can even spot a few snakes in downtown Bangkok, swimming in canals and rivers. There are endless situations that can bring you face to face with a snake, and the most dangerous are the Chain Vipers, several types of Krait, various Cobras, Coral Snakes and Pit Vipers, which can all inject you with potentially lethal venom. When walking in the undergrowth or if trekking in the jungle, wear jeans and sturdy boots.

DO NOT sleep on the ground, and stay away from cavities in rocks. To be extra safe, assume there are snakes in all holes, and assume that those which seem dead, are alive. Seek medical attention immediately if bitten and, if possible, take the snake (after killing it) with you so that doctors can identify the species! Do not panic, they’re easily survivable and treatments are available everywhere.

cobra Thailand



Known, in Thai, as ‘Tdakab’, these fascinating creepy-crawlies will cause a nasty sting if you hold or attempt to touch them. They aren’t fatal, but it is definitely a life-changing experience, because you’ll never forget it after having to bear the pain for days. They vary in size, but are easily identifiable. Beware of leaving clothes and shoes lying around, and be sure to check them before putting them on!

Thais take them very seriously, pretty much on the same level as snakes, so keep an eye out when you’re in…well, everywhere.



They love seeking out shadowy spots…in clothes, shoes, under logs…underwear (yes, many have found a lovely surprise waiting for them when putting these on). Most varieties are relatively harmless to humans, despite their fear-instilling look. They cause a sting at par with that of a bee, but if you’re stung, treat it immediately nonetheless to prevent infection and reduce swelling.

They’re mostly nocturnal, easy to recognise, and black or brown in colour. If you’re a fan of these creatures, then hunt for them at night…preferably with a UV light…as their bodies fluoresce and make spotting them effortless.

Black Scorpion Thailand


Spiders, insects and other creepy-crawlies!

Thailand has plenty of these leggy animals, so for those who hate these little animals will either have to grin through it, or perhaps pick another destination. You will, however, be pleased to know that there are no known deadly spiders that you need to worry your little heads about. You may bump into a jumping spider, and perhaps a few cobwebs, but these are harmless.

But, leave your hotel windows wide open at night, and you’ll be a witness to creatures you’ve never seen before.  If it’s hot, and you have no choice but to invite these guests into your room and welcome them with open windows, there’s a good chance you’ll see a few strange and colourful creations. They aren’t dangerous, they’re just insects…enough said.

thai dangerous spider



Yep…these can actually be highly aggressive, especially when it comes to snatching things like your handbags or jewellery, and they most certainly will attempt to take them. There may be a small, but very real risk of rabies if you’re bitten, so be sure to get it checked out.

monkey Thailand


Soi Dogs (Street Dogs)

You will undoubtedly see these everywhere in Thailand. There are over 120,000 stray dogs in Bangkok alone, and although reports on attacks of people are rare, few have been vaccinated against canine diseases. If they are protecting their young, or are infected, they can pose quite a danger. In the nineties, 200 dogs were euthanised each day, and due to the uproar from the public against this practice in 1998, the city now adopts a pro-life dog policy. Don’t be tempted to feed man’s best friend, as Thai law prohibits the feeding of soi dogs in public places.

bangkok soi dog

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How bad are Thailand’s mosquitoes? More of a concern in the northern rural areas, many popular tourist traps are actually malaria free (like Koh Samui). There is no specific season in which these pests can be avoided, every day is party day for them! Their affinity for Thailand’s temperature and humidity makes this a home of choice, with fresh food (tourists) every day.
They thrive in still water and airless environments, but with adequate protection, you’ll still be able to enjoy snapping photos and drinking the evening away. Adults should not find mosquito nets a necessity, however, if you’re backpacking and plan to sleep in basic accommodation or out in nature, you may wish you have one. If Thais need it, you need it.

You should also carry some mozzy spray with you, and if you’re bitten, dab on some hydrocortisone cream to reduce the itching and swelling (mozzy bites tend to go red rather than itch). It cannot be stressed enough as to how hard it is to find this cream there, despite the fact that the pharmacies are generally excellent. The locals will normally use Tiger Balm, and although it soothes the itchiness, it does little for the redness.

aedes-aegypti mosquito

Malaria and Dengue Fever

You may be rather happy to hear that malaria resides on the mountainous regions of Thailand, more specifically the far North or along the borders of Thailand. Dengue fever, on the other hand, is present throughout Thailand (expected throughout the tropical world), so you’d benefit to do your research and take the necessary precautions.

There are about 100 million cases of Dengue Fever worldwide, and is delivered by the bite of what is known as the aedes aegypti mosquito, a tiny species that thrives  in the early mornings and evenings of the day. They’re tough to see, but they make a distinct high-pitched buzzing sound. Only mozzies that have bitten an infected person carries the disease. Some of the symptoms include a high fever, headaches and joint and muscle pain.

There is, unfortunately, not much that any doctor or hospital can do to kill or stop the virus in an infected patient and only the treatment of the symptoms can be effected. The rarer, but more severe, dengue haemorrhagic fever is life-threatening and requires immediate hospitalisation. Most people have little choice other than to sweat it out for about four to five days (in hospital or at home). If you happen to bump into any foreign expatriate who’s been living close to Phuket, for example, for the last five or more years, you’d be lucky to find someone who hasn’t already suffered the virus…but happily now have no on-going effects.

Malaria and Dengue Symptoms Back to the Top


Over recent years, crime in Thailand has become persistent, growing, complex, internationalized and an under-recognised problem. Thailand’s crimes are widespread in urban areas, but the crime rate is actually relatively low, and random crimes against random strangers is rare. Most crimes committed are related to business situations or personal disputes, and most is political bribery or corruption. Some petty theft criminals will specifically target tourists for their lack of experience within the country, who therefore make easy targets.

It is the norm for these criminals to befriend foreigners and attempt to scam them in some way or another. The most common white collar scams are the boiler room scam (a stock trading scam), the gem scam, tailor scam and fake travel agents.  In Phuket, for example, scams tend to involve jewellery. Take the usual precautions, as you would elsewhere in the world. It’s hard to advise anyone not to talk to strangers, because there, everyone is.

Just use your common sense and although Thailand is cheap, do not fall prey to the dirt cheap scams they try to reel you into.

Thai-Police Back to the Top

Tuk Tuks

Check out the article ‘The Definitive Collection of Bangkok’s Best Tuk Tuks!’. There’s quite a bit of information on Tuk Tuks in general, and heed the advice, it’s quite accurate. In Phuket, for example, Tuk Tuk drivers  can charge up to ten times the price of a Bangkok taxi! When no other means of transport is available, tourists are forced to pay, especially if you find yourself caught at quite a far distance, and when no other means of transport is available. The Thai government has recognised these arising issues, but are still to clamp down and implement a means of dealing with these exorbitant prices. If you’re venturing out and plan on getting around quite a bit, perhaps renting a car or a motorbike for those places a little further away may be a better solution.

tuk tuk scam Back to the Top


Ladyboys (or katoeys  in Thai) feature in every day life throughout Thailand. The Buddhist culture promotes open-mindedness, and the religion is extremely tolerant of gay people, transvestites and transsexuals. This phenomenon is not restricted to urban places, and you’ll be coming across them even in the middle of rural towns and villages.

Tourist traps like Pattaya and Bangkok attract throngs of these unique ‘women’. They are, however, notorious for posing a threat to foreigners, especially to single men stumbling home during the early hours of the morning, looking for fun. Often enough, the foreigners are too drunk to realise that the woman in front of him may not actually be a woman at all, and this has led to a number of reports of violence. Be warned, however, the katoeys always have a nearby gang, and they very rarely lose a fight. 

katoey - Ladyboys

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Article Name
Is Thailand Safe? -
Samantha ilbassa
Travelling to Thailand? Afraid of mosquitoes? Malaria?...Look here for more information about animals, crime and ladyboys in Thailand.

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