General Travel Advisory Thailand

This is a personal travel advice based on personal opinion and personal experience while living & traveling in Thailand for more as 20 years. 

The golden rule of traveling safe : Act wisely as you would do in your home country!

 Disclaimer : All information is created in good faith and is an expression of fair comment. 

Latest update at 21 April 2021 !!!!

1. Safety

The most important thing when you are going on holiday is your safety. In general Thailand is just as safe or unsafe as any country in Western Europe. But there are a few differences.

1.1 The 4 most southern province of Thailand

We are talking about the provinces Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla. The general travel advice by many countries is : Only essential travel. Well holidays are not essential travel, so should you not go to any of the 4 southern provinces? And if I would not know more about that area I would fully agree and say "do not go".

One could say that there is a kind of civil war going on there, maybe to compare it with the old days of IRA in Ierland. And make no mistake since 2004 more as 6.000 people have died in this kind of civil war or terrorisme actions. But does that warrant such a strict travel advice for 4 provinces nowadays in 2018? Is it really so dangerous? In my personal opinion "No".

The conflict is very much local and mostly does not interfere with tourists. Most parts of the provinces are not dangerous at all. But there are some area's that I would indeed not travel without checking the current situation. But I have not been there for a long time. So my advice is based on the experience of reliable friends of mine traveling there or living there.

My personal advice : Travel all over south Thailand, but in the 4 most southern provinces check carefully in what area's you are going to travel and check the current status. For more information about traveling in southern Thailand read Exploring the Deep South of Thailand.

1.2. Traffic in Thailand

Lets be honest, traffic in Thailand is dangerous. Thailand is very high on the list of traffic deaths worldwide. Accidents happen here due to lack of good law enforcement, due to lack of traffic education, due to bad roads and people having faith in their karma. Speeding and drunk driving are the major reason for accidents in Thailand.

My personal advice : Enjoy traveling in Thailand but be very careful when on the road 
  • Do not drive / ride in the dark or with bad weather like rain or storm. 
  • Do not use bus or mini-van transport at night for long distances.
As I am a motorbike rider and did ride more as 90.000km in Thailand I would like to add the following :
  • Thailand is not a good country to learn to ride a scooter or motorbike. Be aware that a scooter is also a motorbike by law.
  • Always wear a helmet, preferable a good helmet. Buy otherwise buy one at Big-C or Tesco-Lotus. 
  • Do not ride & drink alchohol.
  • Always wear protective cloths (adjusted to circumstances).
  • Be aware that ALL people and animals use the road. Like dogs, chickens, tuk-tuk, bicycles, people walking, people who are half blind or deaf, trucks without brakes and drunk people
  • Thai roads are not always in good condition.
  • The road is not a race track.
  • When renting a scooter / motorbike it is probably not fully insured.
  • If you do not have a motorbike driver license your travel insurance probably does not pay your medical bills when you have a accident.
My personal advice : Only rent a scooter or motorbike if you have riding experience and a motorbike driving license.

    1.3. Transport
    • Domestic flights with domestic airlines are safe.
    • Trains are safe, but be aware of people trying to steal your luggage.
    • Busses are relatively safe, although personally I am against traveling over night by bus or traveling long distances (like more as 400 km).
    • Mini-van's are not really safe. Use them only for short distances (shorter as 50 km).
    • Boats can be safe but also unsafe. Check the weather, check the safety on the boat, check the number of people on the boat. If you not feel comfortabel do not use the boat.
    • Song-theauws are perfect for short distances but should not be used on the highway.
    My personal advice : For very short distances travel by motorbike taxi, samlor, song-theauw. A bit longer distances travel by mini-van or bus. But for longer distances travel by airplane or train.

    1.4. Natural disasters

    Thailand is not know for natural disasters like earthquakes, volcano eruptions, typhoons or hurricanes. But during the raining season from June to November heavy storms during the monsoon can cause disruption and damage including flooding and landslides. As a matter a fact in some places there will be flooding every year.

    My personal advice : Do not travel or go hiking in mountains during or soon after rain. 

    1.5. Crime

    Crime is in Thailand more or less as in any other country, although lack of law enforcement may encourage some people to commit a crime a bit more as in other countries. Also be aware that especially Thai male can be very easy upset and that people carrying a gun is not uncommon in the nightlife scene.

    My personal advice : Use common sense and also do not automatically trust fellow travellers. 

    Border areas are generally safe, although remote areas along the Thai -Myanmar / Lao / Cambodian border are famous for still being used by drugs traffickers and sporadic armed conflicts between Thai police / army and drugs traffickers do occur. And along the Thai-Cambodian border landmines are still found.

    My personal advice : Do not travel in remote border areas especially in Northern Thailand, especially not alone.

    2. Health

    As of COVID19 see Department of Disease Control Thailand and my postings about Corona in Thailand.

    2.1. Dengue and Malaria

    Thailand is not as Western Europe, Dengue and Malaria are still present in some parts of Thailand. For both are no medicine / vaccines that protect you 100%. As a matter a fact some malaria prophylaxis may be harmful to your health.

    My personal advice : Do not bother the medicines but bother about taking care that you have as less as possible chance of getting infected (like bitten by mosquitos). Don't walk around half naked.

    2.2. Other common diseases

    For other diseases common sense is the best protection. Some healthcare authorities might advice vaccinations for going to Thailand, some of this vaccinations are indeed useful but not only for traveling in Thailand. But for some of this vaccinations it is highly doubtful if they really work. Personally since living here now for almost 20 years I have never had any vaccination but I had some so called life-time vaccinations before moving to Thailand.

    My personal advice : Drink water from sealed bottles and eat in proper restaurants. Eat food that is cooked.

    2.3. The haze season in North Thailand

    During March & April there is smoke haze in North Thailand due to burning of farm fields & garbage. Known area's are Chiang Mai, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Nan. But make no mistake also the air in Bangkok or some places in North-East Thailand can be unhealthy for sensitive people. Check the air quality at World Air Quality Index.  

    My personal advice : During March & April do not travel in North Thailand!

    2.4. Medical emergencies 

    In case of medical emergencies there are good private hospitals almost everywhere, although upcountry significantly less. Not cheap for Thai standards but very good. But I assume you have of course a travel insurance. Because a private hospital wants to be sure you can pay your bill and they want to know that before they help you.

    My personal advice : In case of medical emergency have yourself transported to the nearest private hospital.

    3. The Law

    The law in Thailand is in general like in Western Europe, but there are again a few things you might not think of
    • Use of any kind of drugs is against the law and you could be jailed for it for many many years in a very unpleasant jail in Thailand. My personal advice : Do not do any kind of drugs in Thailand.
    • Insulting the monarchy of Thailand, any person or anything related to that is against the law and you can be jailed for 15 years for that. Make no mistake there are both Thai and foreigners in jail for breaking this law. My personal advice : Do not do / say anything that could be seen as insulting the monarchy. This also includes on internet, Facebook or any other computer media. Do not engage in any discussion with Thai people about this.
    • Importing, using or selling/buying of E-sigarets is against the law. My personal advice : Do not use / buy it in Thailand.
    • Thailand is since 2014 ruled by a military government that has banned political gatherings and placed restrictions on the media, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Security forces have additional powers, including the right to control movement, search for weapons or arrest people. Individuals, including foreigners, may be detained for publicly criticizing the current government or the monarchy. My personal advice : Do not engage in any discussion with anyone that could put you in danger of breaking the law.
    • Those small scooters are actually motorbikes, you will need a motorbike driver-license for it. If you do not have a motorbike driver-license and have a accident your travel insurance might not cover the costs. My personal advice : Get a motorbike driver license or do not ride a motorbike.
    • For the use of drones you need a license from the Thai government. And at many places you are not allowed to fly your drone.
    • Prostitution is against the law.
    • Being naked in public is against the law, that includes topless sunbathing.
    • For drinking alchohol you have to be minimal 18 years old.
    • On some religious or national holidays it is against the law to consume alchohol in public.
    That all said also be aware of the lack of law enforcement. So yes you will probably see people using or offering drugs and the chance that police will ask for your driver license is very small. And you will see people flying a drone almost everywhere. You will see things that look like prostitution and you will see people topless sunbathing. But that still does not mean it is legal, that still means you can be arrested or fines for it.

    4. Common sense

    This sound stupid but many problems are actually very easy to prevent. Use your brain! Do not leave your brain in your home country. Thailand is not a kind of disneyland. For me personally that means :
    • Do not use any kind of drugs
    • Do not drink excessive alchohol 
    • Be in control of your behaviour
    • Do not offend other people
    • Respect the law
    • Although traveling alone can be great, but in some situations / places it is better not to be alone. So avoid that, unfortunately this must be said especially for females (because some males can not control themselves).

    Disclaimer : All information is created in good faith and is an expression of fair comment.


    One night in Bangkok and the world is your oyster

    The journey of Traveling 2 Thailand did begin with One Night in Bangkok in 1985 and since 2009 it became a personal non-commercial travel blog as inspiration for traveling & motorbike riding in Thailand. Made just for the sheer love of traveling and sharing experience about traveling in South-East Asia. To travel beyond the beaten track & highlights. Enjoy!