How to enjoy your holiday and travel safely in Thailand
Thailand is a safe country to visit. Every year it welcomes over one million UK and Irish visitors and the vast majority enjoy a wonderful, trouble-free holiday. Some 69% of visitors to Thailand are repeat tourists who enjoy coming back each year.
Thai people are famous for their hospitality; Thailand is lovingly referred to as the Land of Smiles. Anyone who visits Thailand is sure to receive a warm welcome and a smile. Many tourists are overwhelmed at just how kind and helpful the Thai people really are.
But don’t just take our word for it – why not check out our Facebook page Thailand Fan Club: UK & Ireland, where fans of Thailand regularly share their travel tips and photos.
We want everyone who travels to Thailand to have an amazing time in this amazing country and so we’ve put together some advice that we hope you’ll find useful when planning your trip. You can’t prevent all accidents but it’s good to be aware of potential dangers that might exist.
We highly recommend you obtain travel insurance before you go on holiday. From lost luggage, dropping your phone in the sea, losing your favourite pair of designer sunglasses, and theft, to cover for personal injury accidents and specific sporting activities – it is essential to have insurance to ensure you are covered for all possibilities. Without insurance, if any of the above should occur, it can be troublesome to sort out and very expensive. Try one of the price comparison websites to find the best value deal that suits your travel needs.
Protecting your documents
It’s a good idea before you depart on your trip, to make two copies of all your valuable documents including your passport, tickets, visas and travellers’ cheques. You can leave one copy with a friend or relative at home, and keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original.
General safety and security
The same safety and security rules and advice are recommend for Thailand as for travelling anywhere in the world.
For some fast facts about Thailand you can check out the About Thailand section of the Thailand Tourism UK website here.
Alternatively, you can contact our UK office directly. We’re happy to help answer any questions and we can send information, brochures and maps to help visitors plan their stay. Call the Information Team on 0207 925 2511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Between 9am-12pm and 1-5pm Monday – Friday.
Useful contact numbers when in Thailand
TAT Tourist Information Centre: call 1672 from Thailand (08.00 – 20.00 7 days a week providing travel information and advice. English spoken)
Or visit the TAT Contact Centre website for full details of where all TAT Information Centres are located in Bangkok, to log-on to Live Chat with TAT local staff or download the mobile applications to help you on your travels.
There is also 24 hour advice and assistance at the TAT Information Desks located at Suvarnabhumi International airport Bangkok (arrivals hall, 2nd floor, situated by gate 3 and 10). Call 021 340040-1 from Thailand (+66 (0) from the UK).
Tourist Police: call 1155 (over 500 tourist police stationed nationwide, multilingual, to assist tourists)
Tourist Protection Courts: On 5th September 2013 the Ministry of Tourism opened Thailand’s first dedicated Tourist Protection Section at Pattaya Provincial Court. This department has been developed to help tourists who need the assistance of the law whilst on holiday and are therefore restricted by time. It aims to clear tourist matters much more quickly. Pattaya is the pilot phase, and if successful, will be rolled out to other major resorts such as Bangkok and Phuket.
Travellers can also refer to the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice website for the latest situation / information in Thailand here.
Full moon parties – Koh Pha-ngan
Koh Pha-ngan is becoming increasingly popular with families thanks to the island’s good choice of accommodation, quiet and safe beaches. If tourists wish to visit the island when it is less busy they should avoid the full moon party dates. For travellers who do want to party they should exercise the same common sense and take the same safety precautions in Thailand as they would at home or anywhere else in the world when going out in the evening.
Full moon parties can attract over 50,000 party-goers so always try to make arrangements for accommodation and travel to and from Koh Pha-ngan. Check out Stray Travel – Asia’s guided hop-on-hop-off flexible travel network – Full Moon Beach Adventure package. From just $305 (single & twin share options) their package includes return transport from Bangkok to Koh Phangnan, accommodation, a discover scuba lesson, full day tour and taxi to the beach party. Great value for money and perfect for peace of mind.
It is safer to stay overnight on the island than to travel back to Samui in the dark by longtail or speedboat. Alternatively, wait until it is light in the morning to make your onward journey. Wear shoes at all times and do not swim after dark in the sea. It is much better to enjoy the beach and swimming the following day when you can admire the beautiful scenery!
Here is a helpful and informative blog post from travel blogger, Nomadic Matt, which tells you everything you need to know about how to party the smart way.
Most people are in Thailand to have fun, enjoy themselves and make new friends but you should always bear in mind these simple safety tips:
- Keep your valuables in a zipped pocket or bag.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash on you, take enough to have an enjoyable night and get home safely.
- Go out in pairs and/or groups and at large events/parties have a meeting spot in case you get separated.
- On the rare occasion that trouble occurs (such as an argument or fight), move away from the situation, do not get involved.
- If you personally find yourself in a situation it is important to keep calm, do not become confrontational, call the Tourist Police for assistance 1155 (local number).
- By all means have fun (you’re on holiday!) but know your limit as being drunk can cause you to become less aware of your surroundings.
- Do not accept drinks from strangers or leave your own drink unattended.
- Do not take drugs or carry drugs on you, this is a serious and punishable offence in Thailand.
- Take an official taxi home. Do not ride scooters, particularly on the smaller islands where many of the roads are still basic tracks.
Many tourists travel to Thailand, particularly Phuket, for surfing holidays. But it must be remembered that Phuket has dangerous rip currents, or rip tides, especially during the off-peak monsoon season between May and October.
Obviously, rip tides are often what surfers are looking for – but these currents can be highly dangerous for swimmers. The beaches at Phuket have lifeguards and red warning flags are put out when these conditions arise. If the red flags are flying – then don’t go into the water.
Visitors must take notice of these these warnings and listen to the lifeguards’ advice. Problems generally arise because tourists ignore or underestimate these warnings. It’s a good idea to check ahead of your holiday what the likely sea conditions will be and what advice your hotel or the local lifeguards are providing.
Inexperienced swimmers will often panic if they are caught in a rip current and will try to swim against the current but this is exhausting. People quickly get into trouble and need rescuing.
One of the best tips on dealing with this situation is to try not to panic. Surfers use rips to take them out to deep water where they sit on their boards and wait for a good wave. So, if you’re caught in a rip, then don’t struggle, save your energy. Either let it carry you out to calmer water beyond the breaking waves, where you can tread water and await rescue, or swim parallel to the shore until you escape the rip (rip currents are usually fairly narrow).
There are some good basic tips about rip currents here.
Jet ski hire
Jet skis can be dangerous and expensive – especially if you damage them whilst on hire. They are also pretty bad for the environment.
If you want to have some fun on or in the water, there are other alternatives – including kayaking, snorkelling, kite boarding, or a longtail boat trip.
Again, these can be dangerous but if you must hire one, then make sure you have proper insurance cover.
Thailand drives on the same side as the UK (left) but roads are steep, busy with traffic and on smaller islands roads are more like dirt tracks so are tricky to negotiate, especially after heavy rain showers.
Alternatives such as taxis, tuk-tuks and local excursions are generally good value for money and are certainly safer. Plus, you get a guide to tell you lots more about the sights! There are plenty of TAT licensed travel agents in all major destinations who can help suggest and book tours.
With taxis, make sure you use official taxi ranks at airports, shopping malls etc. Then, check that the driver has the meter on – it’s illegal in Thailand not to have it on. If they want to barter, be sure you feel the fare is fair (ask fellow travellers or your hotel concierge etc. for average prices per distance if it helps).
With tuk-tuks, always negotiate your price with the driver before the journey begins.
People sometimes take night buses on long journeys (e.g. from Bangkok to Chiang Mai). However, we would suggest that travel by day is better and safer. You can admire the scenery, it’s part of the fun of the journey, and you will meet people onboard too.
If you want to save time on your journey and travel overnight we recommend taking the train which is much more comfortable. Once on board you can relax, enjoy dinner and a few drinks before heading to bed – which is made up for you by train staff! It’s a great value and fun way to travel across Thailand.
Whether you travel by train or bus we always recommend keeping your valuables, cash and passport on you. Do not leave such belongings in unattended bags and suitcases that you have stored in luggage racks or the hold.
Stray Travels flexible passes allow you the freedom to travel around Thailand at your leisure but with the comfort of guided journeys be it by van, train, tuk-tuk or ferry!
Jewellery / precious stones
There are two ways you might find yourself in a jewellery shop in Thailand. Firstly, because you have chosen to buy some jewellery hoping it will be cheaper than in your home country or you are victim to a scam such as tuk-tuk drivers telling you that temples/attractions are closed, and who offer to take you elsewhere – via a friend’s jewellery shop. Temples are rarely closed so politely decline their offer and carry on to the attraction to see for yourself. If you find yourself ushered into a jewellery shop we recommend smiling graciously, thank them for their advice, politely decline and leave.
If you are genuinely looking to buy jewellery or precious stones from Thailand we found some good advice on how to shop for them on TripAdvisor here.
We hope you find this blog useful and informative in planning your trip to Thailand.