I’ve lived in Thailand for years and can confidently say it’s one of the safest countries in the world. Spending any time anywhere in Thailand, you’re very unlikely to ever be in any danger but, like anywhere, there are still some things you just should not do. In fact, any one of the following five things could get you seriously injured or killed in and who wants to come back from a vacation dead.
Don’t Pick a Fight With a Thai – I’ve seen this once and heard about it many times, drunk westerners who pick a fight with a Thai in a bar. Thais are the world’s most relaxed people so making one angry is an art form. However, if a Thai is attacked, both physically or verbally, unlike in the west where it may be one-on-one, the Thai guy will get his buddies and all of them will beat the crap out of you. Many Thais too are trained in the martial art of Muay Thai, so the last thing you want to do is fight them. It will, quite possibly, get you killed.
Of course, don’t let this make you think Thais are violent, they’re not. Only when provoked. In fact, most westerners in Thailand say those westerners who got their butts kicked were 100% at fault. When in Thailand, be respectful and polite, follow local customs as much as possible and don’t be a jerk when you’re drunk. That way, you can leave the bar a little worse for wear but still alive to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.
Don’t Do Drugs, Buy Drugs or Sell Drugs – Thailand does have the death penalty for drug dealers. They also have some extremely harsh penalties for those caught doing drugs. While it may seem a good idea to have a quick toke when you’re relaxing on the beach with friends, be aware if the boys in brown (Thai police) catch you, you may very well regret that short high.
Selling drugs in Thailand is a stupid thing to do, as is trying to transport drugs outside Thailand to another country. If caught and if in a large enough supply, Thailand does hand out the death penalty and they do follow through on it. Doing any kind of trade in drugs could very easily get you killed and all for a few dollars. Avoid drugs completely while on vacation or living in Thailand and you’ll have no problems.
Don’t Have Sex Without Condoms – Many western men who come to Thailand have sex with prostitutes. Available all over Thailand for a small fee, a large percentage of Thai prostitutes have HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. If you must have sex with a Thai prostitute, use a condom. All Thai prostitutes are used to using them and won’t balk at being asked too. You may not think it’s as pleasurable but when you’re back home a few years later with HIV/AIDS, you might wish you had. Unprotected sex in Thailand really could get you killed.
Don’t Ride Motorbike Taxis If You’re Not a Local – Thailand has motorcycle taxis everywhere. For just a few baht, you can travel short or long distances, weaving in and out of traffic and thus avoiding the traffic jams. If you’re a tourist and not a local though, I’d recommend avoiding the motorcycle taxis. I travel on them every day but, being a local, I have a bit more of an idea how to sit and what to expect.
Of course, I’m not saying it’s safer, only as a local I know more how to spot possible problems. I also see too many westerners in Thailand who obviously don’t know how to ride a motorcycle taxi (particularly the women trying to sit side-saddle) so, if you don’t know how, don’t. Thailand has thousands of motorcycle deaths every year. You don’t want to be one of them.
Don’t Damage or Steal Religious Icons – While most of us think this is just common sense, Thailand every year has religious icons stolen and religious icons damaged. Whether by accident or by a deliberate act, damaging or stealing a religious icon could get you killed in Thailand. In 2006, a Thai statue of the Hindu god Brahma at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok was badly damaged by a mentally ill Thai man carrying a hammer. Several bystanders, who saw the man do it, dragged him off the statue and beat him to death.
Thais take their religion and their religious icons very seriously (as they should!) so be careful around religious iconography. You may not live to regret it if you don’t.
Thais are extremely accommodating people. They’ll put up with a lot more things from idiots than will many other nationalities. Thailand too is very safe, except for certain acts that could get you killed. On your next trip to Thailand then, make sure you don’t do any of these dumb things and you should live to come back again another year.
Photo – Wikimedia Commons – Chris Brown – Creative Commons