Keep safe and be sensible in Thailand

The kingdom is a top destination for backpackers and holidaymakers in search of pleasure. Just make sure you're not blind to its down side

On the road

Riding a motorcycle/scooter in Thailand can be dangerous. Visitors who hire motorcycles should take the same safety precautions as they would do in the UK. The Thai law requiring that safety helmets must be worn is widely ignored and is a contributing factor in many tourist deaths. (UK Foreign Office)

Consumption of alcohol, amphetamines and other stimulants by commercial drivers is common. In February 1999, there were two serious bus crashes involving foreign passengers on overnight bus trips; one of these crashes resulted in fatalities. Motorists may wish to obtain accident insurance that covers medical and liability costs. The more affluent driver, even if not at fault, is frequently compelled to cover the expenses of the other party in an accident. (US State Department)

Local customs

Respect Thai customs. Buddha images are sacred and should be treated as such, even by foreigners. (UK)

It is inappropriate to make negative comments about the King or other members of the Royal Family. Thais hold the King in the highest regard, and it is a serious crime to make critical or defamatory comments about him. This particular crime is punishable by a prison sentence of three to 15 years. Purposefully tearing or destroying Thai bank notes, which carry an image of the King, may be considered such an offence. (US)

Eating and drinking

Be wary of accepting food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged. Visitors should be especially vigilant if visiting the red-light districts of Bangkok and Pattaya. (UK)


Many tourists fall victim to gem scams, in which a friendly stranger offers to show the tourist an exceptional place to buy gems. (US)

The usual practice is for a tout to approach tourists in the street and suggest that buying jewellery in Thailand and selling it at a profit on returning home can make money. This is not true. Once the bait is accepted the tourist is taken to a shop(s) and sold jewellery with the promise to send it by post to their home country. When the jewellery is valued it is found to be worth only a fraction of the amount paid. (UK)

On the beach

Take particular care when swimming off the coast of Phuket. Strong riptides have resulted in a number of drownings. (UK)


Pirates, bandits, and drug traffickers operate in the border areas. In February 2000, two Australians camping near the Burma border in Ang Kang Park, in the Fang District, were attacked by robbers. One of the campers was shot and killed. (US)

There are occasional incidents of violence on Thailand's northern border with Laos.

We believe that Thailand is one of a number of countries where there is an increased threat to British interests from global terrorism. Visitors should exercise caution when travelling in the far south of Thailand. (UK)

Sex and drugs

Remember the real risk of Aids/HIV. Condoms made by recognised multi national companies are widely available locally from pharmacies. Do not have sexual relations with anyone under the age of 18 years. Thailand recognises such acts as rape.

Visitors should not become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of even very small quantities can lead to imprisonment ­ 50 years without remission is not unusual ­ or, in serious cases, the death penalty. (UK)

The penalty in Thailand for possession of marijuana is five years imprisonment and a fine [of around £800]. At best if you are caught with marijuana you will be deported at your own expense (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments