Your Safety in Bangkok

Thailand is generally a safe place to visit, and Bangkok is no different

A large percentage of crimes that affect visitors to Bangkok are petty thefts, scams, etc in the form of pickpocketing in busy areas or thefts from hotel rooms. To avoid being a victim, be vigilant at all times and only carry with you what you need. You should deposit all your remaining valuables in your hotel safe.

Your friend the Tourist Police

Most Tourist Police officers speak English and have a lot of experience in dealing with foreigners. If you have fallen victim to a scam or need to contact the police for any reason, you should contact the Tourist Police.

If the matter is outside of their jurisdiction they will at least be able to liaise with the local police for you.

The Tourist Police are a great resource for holiday makers in Bangkok, always on hand to help with advice, directions and any other small questions you may have, as well as to help you deal with any problems you face whilst on vacation in Bangkok.

The Tourist Police can be contacted on 1155
Alternatively, the regular Police Hotline is 191

On the Roads Scooters or Hire cars

Bangkok can be an amazing place to visit in your travels, but can also be a dangerous place. The most dangerous thing that you can possibly do in Bangkok is drive a motorcycle. As a foreigner you are victim of unfamiliar driving techniques that could potentially spell disaster for yourself and those you are traveling with. If you have no choice but to drive the streets alone on your motorcycle, here are a few tips to help ensure your safe trip.

All Directions

If you are from a western country, then you are probably use to a certain kind of order that comes with driving. Unfortunately, in Bangkok, no such order exists when you are on the road.

As you navigate the roads you will be confronted with motorcycles, cars and people coming at you from all directions. In Bangkok you drive on the left side of the road, but that doesn’t stop people from driving full speed on the right side.

Being aware of what is around you is good driving practice wherever you are, but be sure to be extra mindful of your surroundings while driving in Thailand.

Stop Red Light

Well we all know around the world that Red Light on the traffic signal means STOP of course.

In Bangkok many drivers do not heed the signal. When you are waiting at a red light, especially if you are in the very front, be sure to take caution before accelerating once the light turns green.

You will see cars and motorcycles alike continuously run a red light to the point where your green light had almost ran out before you have the chance to go. Just because a traffic light turns red, many people in Bangkok don’t feel a need to stop.

A Few Top Tips

  • Read the road, be aware look around and don’t be in a hurry. Rather be late than in an accident.
  • Try to avoid driving on public holidays or festival periods, the road are that much busier.
  • If you are on a scooter ALWAYS carry your driving license.
  • Make sure you AND your passenger always wear a crash helmet, no matter what, fines are heavy for the driver of a scooter with no helmet
  • Be aware of the traffic around you.

Driving in Bangkok is an experience all by itself. Your first goal when driving in Thailand should always be safety. Ensure your own safety, ensure the safety of your passengers, and ensure the safety of those around you (even when they aren’t).

Be mindful of what’s around you and always expect everyone to do the dumbest thing they can do. You would be surprised how often they actually do it.

Health

Its goes without saying, that looking after yourself is top of you “must do” list when in Bangkok

Travel in Bangkok presents very few problems for visitors and it is best to bear in mind that in Bangkok (as with any tropical climate) abundant life forms not found in temperate regions exist.

These include viruses and bacteria as well as poisonous snakes and fish.

Millions of people from around the world travel to Bangkok’s shores yearly and depart, usually healthier and fitter than when they arrived. A small number, however, do experience problems such as:

  • Injuries from accidents
  • Microbial and viral infections
  • Animal and insect bites
  • Coral cuts and bites from stinging fish

Other things to consider, there are a number of other precautions to bear in mind while visiting Bangkok:

  • Excessive sun exposure causes skin damage. Too much sun exposure causes skin cancer. Avoid burning by wearing a good sunscreen. For people with fair skin, that means a sunscreen with an SPF number of 15 or above. Darker-skinned people and those who tan without burning can safely use lower numbers. If you do get a sunburn, avoid sunbathing until the effects of the sunburn have ceased.
  • Fever in anyone visiting the tropics is a serious matter. If you or anyone near you comes down with a fever, remember, it may not be a brief mild, self-limited illness. Seek medical attention for any persistent or severe fever, especially one associated with persistent diarrhoea, vomiting, or jaundice.

For whatever reason one falls ill, however, whether from one or more of the above or from chronic illnesses or other health problems, unrelated to travel, it’s reassuring to know that First class medical care is available immediately when and where the need arises.

  • Those affected by motion sickness can minimize the effects by gazing at a stable external orientation reference. This means the horizon, if you are on a boat, or straight down the road, if you are in a car. Also, attempt to hold yourself rigidly to the thing that is moving, rather than allowing yourself to be tossed back and forth within it.
  • Pregnant women should remember that most miscarriages occur during the first three months of pregnancy. This is therefore the most dangerous time to travel. Women in the last three months should avoid unnecessary medication, but vaccinations and anti-malarial drugs should still be taken where needed. Remember to stay in the vicinity of a good hospital during the last three months of pregnancy.
  • Women travellers often find that their periods become irregular or cease while traveling. A missed period need not therefore be cause for alarm. A pregnancy check can easily be performed.
  • Finally, aircraft passengers with chronically stuffy sinuses should bring along a decongestant or they may have severe sinus pains during descent.
  • Swollen feet and ankles after a long passage are normal, and need not arouse alarm.

Traveller’s Diarrhoea requires considerable care to avoid. If you do succumb to diarrhoea, its intensity will depend on how much contaminated food or drink you consumed. If you get the runs’ after eating lunch at one place, it’s not a good idea to go back there again for dinner. To minimize your risk.

Eat food served steaming hot and cooked to order rather than food left out on trays or in chafing dishes. Among fruits, choose those that have to be peeled (like oranges) rather than those you consume with the skin intact (like grapes). Bread is usually safe. Favour soft drinks like Coke over fresh squeezed fruit juices or locally produced drinks like nam oy (sugar cane juice). Buffets, a great way to try a variety of local foods–and also one of the best ways to contract diarrhoea.

  • Microorganisms clinging to people’s hands are a major source of contamination. Don’t eat anything that has touched your hands or those of anyone else.
  • Drinks with cube ice or tube ice are normally safe, drinks made with crushed ice or ice chipped from blocks are not.

Should you get a persistent case of diarrhoea, remember to drink lots of fluids as dehydration is a particular problem. If children come down with diarrhoea, it can be very serious and a physician should be contacted to recommend rehydration salts.

A Few Top Tips

  • Make sure you ONLY drink bottled waters, its cheap and everywhere
  • Make sure you have travel insurance, better to have it and not use it, than to need it and not have it.
  • Make sure you have a small medical kit with you, plasters, mosquito spray, antihistamines tablets, and diarrhoea tablets.
  • Slap on plenty of high factor sun screen, and the kids especially.
  • Keep yourself hydrated at all times, drink plenty of bottled water.

When it comes to health care, Bangkok has everything you’re likely to need, and to international standards. There are three local hospitals with English-speaking doctors.

Night Life

Exciting daytime and entertaining nightlife is literally what Bangkok is about.

We all enjoy a day at beach with a wide range of sport activities, and we have fun and never feel enough of them.

But when night falls and moon rises, a different Bangkok emerges with a full swing of lively entertainment filled beer bars, go-go bars, discos, karaoke clubs, nightclubs, Thai girls and lady boys, beautiful shows, and you name it.

Bangkok offers to all a variety of parties and tastes and the best nightlife scene.

Bangkok nightlife becomes one of the main attractions in the island. You head down to Bangkok and stay overnight for a few days or weeks or more, this scene is a must not to be missed, and it is nearly everywhere in Bangkok, especially most tourist areas.

Bangkok is as safe as other locations that has a lively night scene. But you should always remain vigilant, as the beer and drinks flow awareness tends to drop and you can become easy prey for the small but present thieves.

A Few Top Tips

  • Don’t leave your drinks un-attended
  • Don’t except drinks from anyone you don’t know
  • Watch for the drinks scam, example 2 for 1 with the first one priced way high
  • Don’t get in to any arguments with door staff.
  • Don’t take pictures of the lady boys in Patong unless you are prepared to pay
  • Try to have smaller bill with you, its go easy to give a 1000bht when you should have given a 100bht
  • Ladies just never leave your handbag, and if you are in the loo, keep you bag on your lap
  • Don’t carry money in your hip pocket, easy pickings
  • If you fancy a ping pong show, go with a few people and watch the dark alleys, if it does not fill right, do go.
  • Just be as alert as you can.

But Enjoy and Have Fun

Beaches

Thailand has some of the best beaches in the world, but with so many to choose from, they are without doubt stunning.

In the main you will have no problems on the beaches, other than the vendors they to sell you a range of things.

Safety on the beach is about the day time and night time.

During the day just keep an eye on your belongings and certainly when you are enjoying the warm waters of Bangkok, simple things like covering your belongings with a towel. Keep your phone or IPad out of site, buried deep in your beach bag.

Bangkok beaches are notorious for Rip Tides, these can be bad around the When you are caught in a rip tide for the first time, it can be a very scary feeling. Your body is caught up in a force of water that you cannot really see and it is pulling you out to sea at an alarming rate.

The first reaction for anyone to have in this situation is to fight. They swim against the current, trying to be stronger then the ocean. The ocean is always stronger than us and in a situation like this, you will tire yourself out and put yourself at higher risk of drowning

The proper way to get safely out of a rip tide is to not panic. Remember that the rip tide is just a channel of water maybe a few meters wide. Your best course of action is to swim parallel to the shoreline. The current will still be carrying you out to sea, but as you are swimming perpendicular to the current, you will quickly find yourself free of its grasp.

Once you are clear of the rip tide then it is safe to swim back to shore without fear of tiring yourself out against the strength of the ocean.

The best way to get out of a rip tide is to never be caught in one in the first place. Be aware of the flags posted along the beach, they are there for a reason. Red flags mean that there are strong rip tides and it is not recommended that you go out into the water. Yellow flags mean that the water is less dangerous, so use your own discretion as to whether you should go out.

The most dangerous beaches for rip tides are Karon Beach and Nai Harn Beach, but you should take care at any beach that you go to.

Jellyfish, one danger of the oceans along the beaches of Bangkok are jellyfish. For the most part, jellyfish are not very dangerous. They drift within the water with their stingers dangling below them, stinging any fish or people that come into contact with them. Stings from a jellyfish can be very painful, but they are rarely fatal.

If you are stung by a jellyfish, first, get away from the jellyfish so you don’t get stung more. When you are clear of the creature, swim into shore. You will probably be in a lot of pain, but not so much that you will lose the ability to swim. Once on shore, you can neutralize the sting with vinegar, or lacking that, urine will do the job although in a more unpleasant way, but if you are in serious pain, do you really care?

Watch the Coral

If you are swimming anywhere where there is coral go careful, it’s sharp and can leave a nasty gash on your body that takes weeks to heal. And sometimes it can become infected, a quick visit to the pharmacy with sort it.

A romantic stroll along the beach what could better on a night time? if you are venturing out along the sea shore on a night time be careful, it can be a muggers paradise. Advice would be don’t bother unless you in a big crowd.

And single ladies a 100% no, no. There has been plenty of press about muggings on the beaches late at night, so just be careful, go in a group if you can.

Scams

How long have you got? We could write a book about Thailand scams. Let’s cut straight to the chase, the chances are you will not be victim of a scam in Bangkok. But like all very busy hotel locations there will be those that will see you as easy prey.

It’s easy to stay in your hotel and never venture out through fear of being scammed, so we have listed down some of the most popular scams. And yes we could add to this list daily. One thing that we have seen is it’s the “guidable” that get scammed. So listen up and take note.

Jet-ski/Motorcycle Scam

The long-lasting jet-ski scam has received worldwide media attention yet paradoxically on any given day you can still see visitors out on jet-skis at several Bangkok beaches. How it works is this:

The jet-ski is hired out and when it is returned the jet-ski owner will feign astonishment and anger at perceived damage to the bodywork. What he doesn’t let on is that the jet-ski was previously damaged.

Huge amounts of compensatory money are demanded and so the hirer, taken back by the sheer language hurled in his direction, naturally calls the police, not realising that in some cases they are also involved in the scam and will insist that you pay up. Unfair? You bet.

The best solution is simply do not play into this scam and don’t use a jet-ski. A similar scenario unfolds with motorcycles, but sometimes motorcycles, unlike jet-skis, are necessary to get around on, the solution being to photograph the vehicle or Jet ski in detail before hiring it.

Gems Scams

Over the years, the Tourist Authority of Thailand has received more complaints about this scam than any other. Typically, a taxi driver will offer to take you for almost next to nothing to a jewels store where you will be informed that gems here in Thailand can be sold for many times their value in your home country. Of course, the taxi driver receives a fat commission if you fall for it and yes, more often than not the ‘gems’ are fake or at the very least not worth the money you paid for them.

Please bear in mind that most scammers are successful because they play on the greed of their victims. If something is too good to be true then it probably is. If you are not a gems expert we strongly urge you not to take the word of a stranger on how much money you can make if you sell these gems on return to your home country.

Sick Family Member Scam

This one is as old as the surf. Many bargirls on the game in Bangkok are supporting their families in poorer areas of the country and so are financially motivated to earn as much as possible. An unsuspecting and naïve male can sometimes confuse what Thai ladies see as ‘fun’ with love and get smitten with the love virus. When he returns back home he feels obliged to send regular money to his paramour, not remotely suspecting that she may already have several lovelorn men sending her monthly payments ‘to keep her out of the bar’. It’s not unknown for bargirls to have several mobile phones, so as not to get their suitors mixed up!

One of the most effective ways of relieving would-be Romeos of their dosh is to invent an emergency such as ‘the family member is sick and we urgently need money for medicine’.

Tuk Tuks & Taxis

95% of all Tuk & taxi drivers are honest, your best course of action is to always to assume the worst.

Always agree on a price before getting into a Tuk or taxi.

Always carry small bills around as the driver probably won’t have change.

It is also best to never argue or openly confront a driver as news reports show that some drivers have no qualms with resulting to violence as a first option.

If you should have an argument with a driver, it is best to pay whatever fare is asked of you, but note the taxi license number and make a report to the tourist police.

Never get into a Tuk Tuk or Taxi and ask the driver to “take you to the” best steak house, best fish restaurant or the best restaurant in town. They will take you to where they are getting the best kick back.  Our link here Restaurants list the best there is in Bangkok.

A Few Top Tips

  • Always agree the rate BEFORE you take the ride
  • Make sure you take out all your belongings when you leave the Tuk or Taxi
  • Make sure that they understand 100% where you want to go
  • Don’t just get into ANY taxi, check the plate.
  • Make sure you have small bills when paying

Scooters, Bikes and Car Hire

More accidents and deaths happen in Bangkok with foreigners on scooters and motor bikes than any other accident.

With so many things to see and do in Bangkok, renting a bike or a car seems to be one of the best ways to get around freely at low cost. But it comes with some risks and dangers.

Following these basic rules might help avoiding unnecessary trouble.

Car Hire

Best is to rent for a well-known international brand, usually at Bangkok Airport or from your hotel, easy, safe and worry free. Might also be a good idea to get the full insurance to cover all possible costs and you can even rent a GPS for 100 baht to find your way around. You’ll need an international driving license, a credit card and of course a passport. If you chose to rent from a private company, only use recommended companies as scams are not unusual. Prices seem to start at 1,000 baht a day.

Scooter & Bike Hire

You’ll find them everywhere, but none will come with insurance. Expect to pay 150 to 200 baht a day for a Honda Dream or a Honda Click (automatic gear). If you rent it per month, it can go as low as 95 baht a day, but you better practice your bargaining skills!

You will need an international driving license and passport: police controls are quite frequent and even though a fine could be considered small, it’s a frustration and a waste of time (you might get away with a bribe, often works).

Rent only from your hotel or a recommended rental shop and you will also save yourself possible ‘trouble’ (someone might steal your bike). Large rental shops often rent bikes as well.

Remember little or no insurance exists when you hire. In the case of an accident you will be responsible for the damage on both vehicles

Helmets (and sit belts) are compulsory, but you will only see half of the riders using one, the rest just carry one in the front basket for eventual police controls, in which case they’ll pop the helmet onto their heads for two minutes and drop it back in the basket once… ‘safe’.

Back seat passenger is also required to wear a helmet… Bangkok has been very resistant to this law, and when you see four riders on the same bike, that would make a lot of helmets to carry anyway! Just remember, even though riding a bike on a tropical island is a lot more fun with your hair flying in the wind, the helmet is for your safety!

A Few Top Tips

  • Always wear a crash helmet (both of you)
  • Make sure you always carry your driving licence
  • NEVER book a scooter, bike or car and leave your passport (a copy will do)
  • If the hire place insist on you leaving your passport, walk away
  • Pay cash if you can for the hire period rather than them swiping your card.
  • With any hire, take your OWN pictures of the scooter, bike or car before you drive away, as arguments over damage are frequent.
  • If you can acquire insurance do so, but it will be tough to get cover.

Credit Cards & ATMs

Be extremely careful when using credit cards in Bangkok or anywhere for that matter. Fraud is everywhere and credit card is ripe. At the start of your holiday once you are in Bangkok draw out the cash you need at a bank.

Small bills will be better, and try to go into the bank rather than a ATM. If you must use a ATM the ones outside of the bank are best, and try to withdraw during opening hours. If the card is swallowed at least you can ask the bank to retrieve you card if it’s in opening hours.

While is convenient to pay as you go by card it can be a distressing time if your card is copied and used.

A Few Top Tips

  • If you are drawing cash from an ATM the bank ones are better.
  • NEVER lose sight of your card when handing it over to pay for goods.
  • Try to pay by cash whenever possible.
  • Let you bank know before you leave your county where you will be travelling and when so it does not flag up anything suspicious from the banks end.
  • Try to draw out cash when you arrive to last you for your stay in Bangkok
  • Don’t use ATMs in dark alleys, or outside local small shops.
  • Don’t carry you cards with you unless you intend to use them that day, lock them away in the safe.

Single Ladies Travelling Solo

Bangkok is the perfect place for a solo trip. The Thai people and their culture are very accepting and open. Thailand as a solo destination for any female considering it is excellent.

It gives you the opportunity to explore the many Islands on organized tours and the vibrant night life if that is your style. And you will met some wonderful people from around the world. Your safety is the upmost importance and should be given plenty of thought before you set off.

Because there are thousands of scantily-clad bar girls doesn’t mean you should do the same. For all its openness and acceptance, Thailand is still pretty conservative, so wear a bra’ or cover-up appropriately, don’t go topless on the beach, and don’t stray too far from the beach in your bikini.

You know all those western men who think all Thai girls are “up for it”? Lots of Thai men feel the same way about western women.

Thai men can often mis-read signals from the way western women dress. If you’re sexually assaulted, although it’s illegal, the old “she was asking for it” argument will most likely crop up.

A Few Top Tips

  • Always have a “muggers” purse with 200 baht and no credit cards, so if? the unfortunate happens this is the purse you hand over
  • Always carry a whistle with you.
  • Dress with sense, while you may feel great in that slight clad outfit, is it sending out the right signals
  • Try to stay as close to the action as you can, more people, more safety.
  • Try not to walk home late at night.
  • If you see some people heading home in your direction stay behind them, safety in numbers
  • Never accept drinks from people you don’t feel comfortable with
  • Never leave your drink unattended
  • If you are out on the town, watch how much you have to drink, remember you still have to get home
  • Always a good move to keep in touch with family & friends on your movements
  • Make sure your family & friends have your hotel number & room number
  • Leave the night time stroll along the beach
  • Use your instincts, if it does not feel right, then is not
  • Make sure you have the Tourist police number with you 1155

Useful Numbers

The Tourist Police can be contacted on 1155. Alternatively, the regular police hotline is 191

Telephone directory enquiry
Directory Enquiry – Local 1133 Billing Enquiries +66 (0)76 214299
Overseas Operator / Directory Enquiry TAT Call Centre 1672

• Travel
Suvarnabhumi Airport +66 (0)2 132 1888 Air Asia +66 (0)2 515 9999
Departures +66 (0)2 132 9324 #9327 Bangkok Airways +66 (0)76 225033-5
Arrivals +66 (0)2 132 9328 #9329 One2Go 1126
Don Muang Airport Nok Air 1318
Departures +66 (0)2 535 1192 Thai Airways +66 (0)76 360444
Arrivals +66 (0)2 535 1253 China Airlines +66 (0)76 327099, +66 (0)76 327100
Bangkok International Airport +66 (0)76 327230-7 Silk Air +66 (0)76 304018-20
Tourist Information 1672 Bangkok Bus Terminal +66 (0)76 211480

• Hospitals
Urgent Consultation +66 (0)81 893 1295 Patong/Kathu +66 (0)76 344034-5, +66 (0)76 342633-4
Hyperbaric Services +66 (0)76 342518-9, +66 (0)89 871 2335 Bangkok International Hospital +66 (0)76 249400
Bangkok Bangkok Hospital 1719, +66 (0)76 254425 Thalang Hospital +66 (0)76 311033-4
Mission Bangkok +66 (0)76 237220-6 Vachira +66 (0)76 361234, +66 (0)76 211155

• Emergencies
Fire 199 Marine Police +66 (0)76 215438, +66 (0)76 211883
Police 191 Tourist Police 1155, +66 (0)76 214368
Diving Medicine Center 1719 Narenthorn Emergency Services 1669

• Government Offices
Bangkok Customs +66 (0)76 211105 TAT, Bangkok Office +66 (0)76 212213
Harbour Master +66 (0)76 391174 Department of labour +66 (0)76 211995
Immigration Authority +66 (0)76 351108

• Lost Cards
American Express 1-800-528-4800 JCB Card +66 (0)2 256 9151-4
City Bank 02-2324100 Mastercard 001-800-11-887-0663
Diners Club +66 (0)2 383 660 Visa 001-800-11-535-0660
HSBC 1590

• Consular Offices in Bangkok
Australia +66 (0)76 510 111 Italy +66 (0)86 689 6819
Austria +66 (0)76 248 334-6 ext 35 Netherlands +66 (0)76 528 784-5
Finland +66 (0)76 330 530-3 Norway +66 (0)76 237 156
Germany +66 (0)76 610 407 Sweden +66 (0)76 380 000
Great Britain +66 (0)76 318 188 Patong +66 (0)76 340199
Irish +66 (0)76 281 273

• Mobile Phone Call Centres
GSM 1175
True 1331
Dtac 1678