Is Thailand Safe?

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Tanel Teemusk

You might have read about the tragic deaths of two British backpackers who were killed on Koh Tao in 2014. Indeed, four more western tourists, including three Brits, have died on the island during the past two years. Rumours abound concerning alleged improper investigations by police, along with accusations of 'mafia' families controlling the island. We are not in a position to confirm or deny these allegations, but we suggest you consider the fact that 362 Britons have died in Thailand in the last 12 months alone, mainly in road accidents. This is primarily due to inexperienced riders hiring motorbikes, and completely unused to Thai driving conditions. Always drive very cautiously; you NEVER have the right of way, and the other vehicles will cut you down as if you don't exist. It is even worse when the roads are challenging, as is often the case on the islands and in the north. Never drive after a night in the bars. An alarming number of westerners kill themselves on motorbikes when they are drunk. It is better to get a lift back to your resort than end up on a slab. Besides injuries and fatalities from motorbike accidents, a ridiculously common injury is a nasty burn from a motorbike exhaust. If you are a passenger make sure to get off the bike to the left, as the exhaust is on the right. Plus watch your ankles don't touch it while on the move. There is also the bombing in 2015 in Bangkok and the multiple explosions in August 2016. Compared to the numbers above, injuries and fatalities were relatively low. But to get it in perspective, Thailand had 30 million visitors in 2015 and a vast percentage of them had blissful, accident-free and crime-free holidays in the "Land of Smiles". Try not to make waves, don't expose yourself to potentially dangerous situations, and never go out alone late at night, or accept lifts or approaches from total strangers, especially in the small hours. If you use your common sense and remember that you are in a developing country which has a culture that is often at odds with liberal and freewheeling Western culture - respect their culture. They are a laid back nation, but if you push them enough, they may retaliate - often with fury. Never, ever pick an argument with a group of Thai men who are drinking. Essentially, Thailand is a safe place as a visitor if you behave in a similar manner as you would back home. Remember, it is in the best interests of your hosts to ensure that bad publicity is kept to a minimum. Be sure to read our Thailand information sections on everything from customs to drugs.

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