Although Bangkok, Thailand is one of the safest cities in the world, there are every day dangers in the city that could result in injury and spoil your vacation. While vacationing in Bangkok however, if you know what to look for when it comes to things that may hurt you, you can cut your risk of injury down to a very small chance. Be aware of what’s around you as well as cultural differences, which could result in injury, and you’ll have a wonderful vacation without ending up in the hospital.
Avoid Motorbikes Driven on the Sidewalk – One of the first things that used to rattle me when I moved to Bangkok was the number of motorbikes on the sidewalk. With at least 20% of Bangkok either riding their own motorbike or taking motorcycle taxis, you’ll come across a motorbike being driven on the sidewalk every minute or less. To avoid being hit by one as it drives by you, particularly coming from behind, walk on the sidewalk to either one side or the other and not in the middle. That way the motorbike driver has more room to pass you and there’s less likely to be an accident. Getting injured by a motorbike whizzing by is the last thing you want to happen on your vacation.
Look Down When You’re Walking – Bangkok’s sidewalks are some of the worst I’ve ever seen. Anywhere. Full of pot holes, uneven concrete, slippery tiles, bags of cement, food stall chairs and tables and a lot more, there’s so much to trip over it’s amazing any of us makes it to the end of the street still alive. To avoid serious injury from falling down a hole or tripping over a food stall chair, always look down while you’re walking. That way, you’ll see the hazard before you fall over it.
(When I was on my first trip to Bangkok on a tour before I moved here, one of the 80 year-old women on our trip fell over an uneven tile in the sidewalk and broke her ankle. While the rest of the tour group traveled all over Thailand for the next three weeks, she got to spend her vacation in a Bangkok hospital. Don’t let it happen to you).
Look Up When You’re Walking – As if it’s not bad enough you have to look down when walking, you must also look up. Bangkok is full of low-hanging electrical wires, untrimmed tree branches, signs hung too low and loads of other things that could poke you in the eye or even chop your head off. When walking down the street, always look up and down constantly. You’ll see hazards coming towards you from the direction of your feet and above your neck. Thus you’re not likely to need crutches or to have a big gash in your head stitched up.
Don’t Expect Traffic to Stop on Pedestrian Crossings – After seven years of living in Bangkok, I’ve still to figure out why the city painted pedestrian crossings on the roads. Nobody stops for them anywhere, including the police. So, if you try to cross at a pedestrian crossing do not even think about stepping onto the crossing until there’s either no traffic coming for several hundred yards or, by a miracle, all lanes of traffic have stopped.
Look Both Ways When Crossing the Street Even on One Way Streets – Some Thai drivers take absolutely no notice of driving down only the correct side of the street. Often, you’ll see motorbikes, cars, even tuk-tuks heading towards oncoming traffic. This is why you should always look both ways before crossing the street, even on a one-way street. There are far too many idiots who will knock you over because you step out into a roadway you think is completely clear.
By being aware of what are ultimately minor things while on vacation in Bangkok, you’ll avoid injury and have a wonderful vacation in Thailand.
Photo – Sidewalk holes in Bangkok that looked like this for more than six months.