Is Thailand Safe to Visit?
As a longtime resident of Thailand I have a certain insight into whether or not Thailand is safe for visitors or those wishing to stay longer term.
There are usually multiple instances of unsafe activities going on in the country at any chosen time. I will review the major areas where foreigners need to take extra precautions to stay safe during their stay.
Bangkok, the Capital of Thailand, is ground zero for political movements. The country has not seen stability politically in a very long time. Some would say it was never stable in modern times. Currently there are red shirt groups and yellow shirt groups that are in opposition. The military sometimes gets involved and stages military coups – and there is always fighting – sometimes lethal as groups confront each other, and attempt to change the power structure that exists. This is a constant struggle and matters little who happens to be in power at the moment, there is always unrest in Bangkok.
The problems are compounded when police and military are called on to preserve order in the streets… sometimes the hand is heavy and they end up killing protestors. This does not help the situation and it can escalate from there.
As a visitor to Thailand you would not want to be spending your vacation or any time at all in Bangkok when there are bombs going off and military and/or police in the streets to control the demonstrations. It is just a very bad idea. It is not safe and you will not have a good time. If all you are coming to Thailand for is to spend time in Bangkok, choose a time when there is peace in the country or at least a small risk of violence letting loose.
Another area that is often times not safe – and currently it is not, is the deep south. Muslim separatists in the southern Thailand provinces have waged a violent campaign against both Thai Buddhist and Thai Muslim believers that have not joined their radical organization. There have been approximately 3,000 deaths in the south over the past few years, though no foreigners are known to have been killed yet. Thailand tourism officials do not recommend that foreigners visit these southernmost provinces and you would be wise to limit your travels to the other provinces.
Natural disasters like the devastating tsunami of 2004 have the potential to re-occur any time, though the chances are apparently not high that a similar even will recur in Thailand anytime soon.
Pattaya, Patong Beach, Patpong, and other tourist filled areas can be bad news at night. There are robberies and assaults that occur nightly, but if you are not one of the ones bar-fining girls or ladyboys for a night of fun in your room you will probably be OK. There are a number of things you should know about Thai culture – which goes well beyond this article. In my last paragraph of this article I will give you another resource that will help you immensely.
Is Pattaya safe? Sometimes. Is Patong Beach safe? More often than Pattaya, yes. Is Patpong safe? Not so safe in general, no I would not consider it safe.
Your mileage may vary during your trip if you plan on availing yourself of the adult carnival of fun in Thailand. You may well find yourself beat up and in the hospital or you might have a perfectly safe time, despite indulging in outrageous nighttime activities. It is hard for me to give a blanket statement about whether Thailand is safe for all people because all people are different.
The last time anyone ventured a guess there were approximately 100,000 foreigners living in Thailand as long-term expats here for more than vacation. During a typical year when there is not much political fighting in Bangkok there are over 12 million foreign tourists per year enjoying the country. Very few of them have a problem with their physical safety while they are here. Most of them take some precautions. Many of them are frequent visitors.
Visiting or staying in Thailand can be dangerous or it can be relatively safe and enjoyable. Probably the biggest factor in the equation is you. If you are the type that looks for trouble or does not try hard to avoid trouble you might find it in Thailand. If you do not have any experience in the country you will probably be doing yourself a substantial favor by researching more about Thai culture and the experiences of foreigners in the country.
If you’re considering a trip to Thailand and are concerned about safety during your stay, there is an informational article I just published at my main Thailand-focused site, www.ThaiPulse.com/blog/ that will supplement the information you learned here. The name of this Thailand informational article is, “Is Thailand Safe for the 2009-2010 Tourist Season?”
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