Thailand beach murders: The sinister streak lurking beneath seeming paradise

Killing of pair on Koh Tao takes to 13 the number of British visitors to Thailand murdered in the past five years

Koh Tao is smaller and more remote than its larger neighbours, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan
Koh Tao is smaller and more remote than its larger neighbours, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan

In the 1930s and 40s, Koh Tao in southern Thailand served as a penal colony for political prisoners. In a lifetime, the island in the south of the Gulf of Thailand has been transformed, and has come to be seen as a reasonable approximation to paradise by the thousands of Western backpackers who converge on it each year. But as the grisly murder of two young British travellers has shown, it still has a sinister streak.

Koh Tao is smaller and more remote than its larger neighbours, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Many backpackers see the island as the most alluring of the trio. You can learn to dive or laze on the beach all day, then watch the tropical sun set over the Gulf. You could plant yourself at the Lotus Bar (where, according to Lonely Planet, “The drinks are so large there should be a lifeguard on duty”), or at Dirty Nelly’s, where Guinness and Strongbow are available and happy-hour lasts from 5-8pm.

As the night goes on, life steps up a gear on the Koh Tao Pub Crawl: a tourist proposition that has its own website. For the equivalent of £7.50, you get free drinks, a beach party and the T-shirt to prove you were there - with further evidence in the form of photos posted on Facebook of what Lonely Planet calls a “pumpin’ bar scene that rages on until dawn”.

This intoxicating cocktail of indulgence was horrifically spiked on Sunday night. Two young British backpackers were found murdered after a beach party.

Thailand is a beautiful, welcoming nation that has remained understandably popular with Brits through decades of political upheavals. But it has a serious problem with the apparent ability of gangs to flout the law and the inability of the police to protect tourists.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in