Is Thailand Safe for Backpackers?
I’ve been to Thailand many times and one of the questions that I get asked very often is if it’s safe to backpack in Thailand?
Thailand is a true heaven for backpackers and one of the top reasons is because the country offers complete safety for travelers as a whole.
In fact, Thailand has been rated as the least dangerous Southeast Asian country for travelers.
There are large crowds of visitors flocking the country every year coming from various parts of the world and as long as you observe standard precautions for travel safety, you will never have anything to worry about when backpacking in Thailand.
But when we’re talking about safety when backpacking in Thailand there are many different areas that might you might have questions about their safety.
So here I go more into detail about the most common ones
Water and Food Hygiene
Thailand is a very modern country with very good hygiene in cafes and restaurants especially as compared with other third world countries in Southeast Asia.
It is also safe to indulge in street foods that are usually the safest kind of food you can eat because these are cooked and prepared fresh on a daily basis.
You might want to avoid drinking out of the tap during your stay in Thailand.
But, you can safely drink filtered water available on tables in local restaurants all over the country. Ice is usually but not always made from filtered water and this is often safe to add to your drinks.
To be sure that you will have safe water you can drink any time and to avoid plastic use during your trip, it is a wise idea to have a filtered water bottle with you when you go backpacking.
As far as crime rates are concerned, Thailand is a very safe travel destination for backpackers.
Rates of theft, mugging, and other violent crimes are relatively low as compared to the US and Europe, for instance.
Most of the locals of the country just leave behind their keys in the motorbike when shopping at the markets.
It is also generally safe to walk around the towns and cities after dark even for the solo female backpackers.
Sadly, Thailand isn’t safe from scams.
Just say no if there are people who will offer you something while on the streets.
As much as possible, you might want to try avoiding Bangkok’s Tuk-tuk drivers. They are going to take you around to low-quality shops because they receive a kickback as they overcharge you for your ride.
Also, don’t listen if they tell you that a temple is closed. If you wish to buy something, you can just your hotel or other travelers about the best places to go for shopping.
Buses, especially tourist buses are very modern and well-maintained. In general, drivers also drive carefully and are well-rested.
Traveling by train is also modern and safe with a very low number of accidents taking place. The trains take time since they normally stop very often but they are comfortable and very cheap so, they might be a great option when going from a to b.
Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs are available in Thailand and there is plenty of this in the countryside, particularly marijuana. People might offer it to you but make sure you say no.
Drugs are considered illegal in Thailand!
There are instances when dealers will sell drugs to you, have you reported to the police that will come to arrest you.
To avoid jail time, you might need to pay a large amount of bribe. Don’t do drugs so you can avoid this kind of unfortunate situation.
Buckets are a famous kind of drink among backpackers in Thailand. These are colored buckets containing cheap alcohol, a mixer, and an energy drink.
Take extra care when you drink because there is no way for you to tell what liquor is added to them, not to mention that these are also easy to spike.
Cheap energy drinks and cheap alcohol are never a good mix.
If there is one place where you can become a victim of scams or even worse it’s in the red light areas.
If you ever find yourself in one of these areas then I advise you to activate the eyes in the back of your head because there’s not a lot of good things that come from dark places where there is money exchanging hands and to top it off, alcohol and maybe even drugs. Stay away is my tip!
The King and the Royal family
If there is one thing that Thai people love then it’s their King and the Royal family.
DO NOT EVER talk bad about the king or anyone from the royal family, not even as an innocent joke.
They will not laugh and if you’re really unlucky they might even fight you because of it and it can result in you ending up in jail.
My tip is to never even mention the king or the Royal family, just to make sure you don’t end up getting in trouble.
I would like to start off by saying that all people that are going backpacking in Thailand need travel insurance, period!
If you ever get involved in an accident or you get sick and you wish to be treated in a Western-style modern hospital, expect to have extremely high hospital bills.
Medical expenses could go as high as thousands and during a time of need, the last thing you want is to worry about money so you can focus on getting better instead.
Travel insurance can also come in handy for stolen and lost items, travel cancellations, and travel scams that are not within your control. For instance, this is a must if your flight gets canceled because of bad weather.
Diseases, Sickness, and Medicines
There are several recommended vaccines for backpackers in Thailand aside from the standard shots you got when you were still a baby.
The most important vaccines include the following:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Even though malaria is found in all regions of Thailand, primarily in the forested rural areas and the eastern border, there is an extremely low chance for you to contract it.
However, it wouldn’t cause you any harm to take anti-malaria tablets when backpacking in the country, specifically, if you will visit during the rainy months of June to October when Thailand’s climate is the wettest, with mosquitoes most present anywhere you go.
In case taking medications isn’t something you like; you might want to keep yourself protected at night with a strong and effective bug spray and wearing long sleeves.
Most medicines you need can be easily found and bought at pharmacies found all over the cities and towns of the country.
What to Do During Emergencies
If you ever find yourself in any form of emergency while backpacking in Thailand, such as a serious illness, injury, or arrests and you need help, you might want to call your country’s local embassy.
They will be able to help you with passport and legal concerns, direct you to the nearest police station or hospital or even assist you in getting home if needed.
Thailand is relatively safe for backpackers. It is very rare for you to hear about things going wrong in the country. And if you ever do, this is usually the result of people doing something that they shouldn’t do in the first place.
But it doesn’t mean that Thailand is free from dangers. There are plenty of tricks and scams that are played on tourists.
By using your common sense and staying alert at all times, you can look forward to a fun and safe backpacking in Thailand.