Is Thailand Safe to Travel to?
Thailand is a relatively safe place to travel to, but tourists should still be aware of the dangers there, just like they should be aware of the dangers in any other country. For South East Asia, Thailand is probably the safest country next to Singapore. While it is generally safe, there is still some crime and widespread poverty, just like you would find in many other underdeveloped countries. So if you were planning a trip to the Land of Smiles, there's a few precautions you should take while enjoying your time there.
Majority of thai people are friendly and honest people. Thailand has a well-known reputation for welcoming their visitors and being very hospitable. But because of this, many tourists let their guard down and fall victim to scams and robberies. Single men are much more likely to be scammed, because they are more likely to visit seedy areas where scammers thrive, such as Pattaya, Patpong, and Patong. This isn't to say that there aren't scams taking place in rural areas or upscale sections of the cities. Scams can be found in many places in Thailand, but they are more likely to occur in the seedy areas, since there are sometimes seedy people there who know where the single tourists go and take advantage of the situation. A single tourist is easier to scam most of the time because they are alone and have nobody with them to notice a scam taking place. So if you are traveling alone, you should be extra vigilant and always be aware of your surroundings and the people closest to you or talking to you, especially if you visit areas like those I've already mentioned.
Sex tourists and single men are often prone to falling prey to one scam in particular. These men will go to Thailand, looking for love or a one night stand, and the first place they will go to is the seedy places where all the beer bars and go-go's are, and where the female prostitutes work. Many of the women in the bars tell men they meet that they don't want to work in a bar anymore, but they embellish and exaggerate their situation to gain sympathy. The men will give them money, and the girls, after seeing that the man has money, will make those men believe that they are boyfriend and girlfriend now. The man won't be able to stay, and will have to return to his home country. While he makes plans to return or arrangements to bring the girl back with him eventually, he continues to send her money each month so she doesn't have to work in the bar anymore. The woman will tell the man that she is working some type of respectable job, such as in a garden, or in a shopping mall. Meanwhile, she is lying to ten other men and telling them all the same story, as she continues to work in the bar. As she meets more and more men in the bar, she continues to gain more payments each month from various men around the world. It's a clever scam, and thousands of men have probably fallen for it.
Another scam involves some type of drug (such as roofies) being snuck into a man's drink while he is sitting at a bar with his eyes elsewhere. It can also occur in the man's hotel room or home, if he brings a guest back with him. Ladyboys are especially known for pulling this scam, though not all transgender people in Thailand are scammers. Once the man passes out from the drink, the scammer will take his wallet and other valuables that are in his pockets. It can even occur when a man is keeping to himself at a bar. A scammer may place the drug in his drink when he's not looking, and then follow him until the scammer notices the man start to stagger. Once the scammer sees this, they move in for the attack and take advantage of the situation. This particular scam can be common amongst female victims as well, so anybody consuming a drink or food in public should always keep their eyes on what they're putting into their body.
Couples, single women, groups, and business people can also be scammed, so don't think it only happens to single men and sex tourists. One common scam that is very prevalent in Thailand is an investment scam. You may have seen one of these types of scams featured on the Bravo show "Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand", in which a few men were scammed into investing their money into a gold company that didn't exist. Be very careful when doing business in Thailand, and always make sure that the person you are doing business with checks out with the authorities. Also, do your own research, because even though the authorities are generally honest people, you never can be too sure about anybody.
For some reason, accidents seem to be much more common in Thailand than in most developed countries. Boat accidents, bus accidents, train accidents, and motorbike accidents seem to occur every single day. In fact, just the other day I was reading a story about two tourist boats that collided with each other near Koh Phangan. The boats were carrying tourists to and from the infamous Full Moon Party. While some things are out of your control, you should still be careful when the option is available. If you're riding on a bus or in a taxi and you think the driver is not being too careful, you may want to ask to be let off and find a safer mode of travel. It's always better to be safe than sorry, and many of the drivers in Thailand are not licensed to be driving in the first place. Many taxi cabs do not have seat belts, so if you get into a taxi that doesn't, maybe you should do whatever you have to do to get out of that taxi and find one that does. I have seen some crazy taxi drivers in my time, but none like some of the ones you will find in Thailand.
The political tensions that plague Thailand seem to be ruining Thailand's reputation worldwide. When I tell people that I love traveling to Thailand, they give me a look as if I'm crazy, and the conversation usually leads into a discussion about the 2006 coup and the 2010 riots. Many of my friends and family have persuaded me not to go to Thailand because of these incidents, fearing that I may be putting myself in danger. In general, you are unlikely to be affected by these situations if you choose to avoid them. They are usually confined to small sections of Bangkok or other major cities, and generally do not affect tourists. All the same, you should always keep yourself up to date with the current news in Thailand and be aware of any political tensions that may be unfolding while you're there.
Most countries that have poverty and tropical climates have sickness and diseases. They sort of come with the territory, so don't be surprised that Thailand isn't any different. You are unlikely to catch any diseases if you stay in urban areas and avoid unprotected sex with strangers. However, if you decide to go trekking in the jungles or off the beaten path, you may want to make sure you get your immunization shots first. If you do meet a stranger who you instantly fall in love with (or suddenly decide you want a one-night stand with), be extra careful and always protect yourself. HIV rates in Thailand are much higher than in most countries, since Thailand has been dealing with an epidemic for quite some time now thanks to the sex industry. Thailand once saw great success in the 90's in regards to a decline in HIV infections, but awareness of the disease has not been promoted as much in recent years, so the HIV rates have continued to escalate once again.
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