Is Thailand a Safe Country to Visit and Live in?
If you’ve ever considered visiting or moving to Thailand, one concern that probably enters the back of your mind is personal safety.
After reading numerous articles online, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a safe place, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Let’s go see the data as presented by the various sources I tapped for insight into the safety of the country.
Is Thailand a safe Country to Travel and live in?
Some Blogs and people online have lived in Thailand for up to 10 years or more at some time in their life, either for work or other related reasons.
Obviously they would not have done so if it was not safe. Even if comparing it to western countries like the US or other countries in the West.
From what I can gather is that people are laid back and at peace, because serious crime either does not exist or is extremely rare in Thailand.
The major stress factor in Thailand is their traffic!
Crime Stats: Thailand vs The World
Safety in Thailand
Violent crime has serious traumatic effects and isn’t something you want to experience and I’m sure you’ve run across someone who has had a bad experience.
Knowing this, I’m sure you want to make sure you’re choosing a place to stay that’s as safe as possible for you and your loved ones.
Thailand isn’t particularly dangerous.
International homicide rates show that your chances of getting murdered are pretty low, no matter where you go.
Nevertheless, it’s the best way to benchmark violent crime, because murder leaves behind something tangible to base calculations upon, “bodies!”
How the calculations are measured, are the number of bodies per 100 thousand people at any given time.
Crime stats are calculated over months and then averaged out for a year.
Asia ranks as the safest continent, with a murder rate 2.9 per year according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). (Source: Wikipedia)
Thailand ranks at #114, with a figure of 3.51 (2015).
By comparison the US was at #94 with 4.88 (2015). Canada (1.68), Finland (1.60), and France (1.58), Sweden (1.15), Australia (.98), the UK (.92), Germany (.85).
Even though Thailand’s figures are higher than most European countries, it’s still safer than some southern Countries, take for example Brazil (26.74) South Africa (35.90), Colombia (26.50), Trinidad & Tobago (30.88).
There are countries with 60+ homicides. So, Thailand in my eyes, is perfectly safe. Comparing it to some other countries, Thailand is like a Zen Garden!
It’s no secret. Less exposure to sunshine, leads to increased depression and suicide.
Seems like the lack of Vitamin D has a large role to play in our wellness and mental stability.
With that being said, in Finland, where they have some of the longest nights, and limited sun most of the year, has the highest suicide rates of 21.4 for men and 14.2 for women.
Thailand is has much more sunny weather!
The suicide rate in Thailand is 12.7, which is almost on par with the US (12.6), France (12.3), and New Zealand (12.3).
So that means that the suicide rate is pretty average.
A male living in Finland is 6 x more likely to take his own life than be murdered in Thailand.(Source: Wikipedia)
There are places where it’s unsafe for women to travel alone. Europe, some African Countries and in certain countries the cultures dictate that women are inferior to men.
This makes life horrible for women in open spaces, public transport, and anywhere where there are large groups of people in public spaces.
Thailand is not one of these places. Thailand is much safer than Europe and all the other countries combined.
Statistics show that for rape, Thailand is far safer than many western countries.
Some cultures dictate that women to do report such crimes, but that is not the case in Thailand.
When statisticians calculate rape statistics, they work on the number of reports per million people, by month, then average them by Year.
Thailand ranks at #52 with 70 (2010). Sweden was #6 with 636 (2010). (Source: NationMaster)
15 western countries are more dangerous for women than Thailand. Australia (289), Belgium (275), United States (274), New Zealand (258), Iceland (245), Norway (192), France (156), Finland (152), Luxembourg (117), Ireland (107), Austria (104), Germany (94), Netherlands (92), Italy (77), and Denmark (72).
Vehicle theft is a pain for people who have cars. When statistics are gathered, they are measured by the number of incidents per 100,000 people.
Data is calculated per month and averaged over 12 months for the annual calculation.
UNODC statistics show Thailand having a rate of 28.8 (2010).
Most European countries had much higher rates of vehicle theft: Germany (85.2), Switzerland (101.6), Netherlands (119.2), Finland (163.0), France (278.7), Sweden (304.1), US was (227.1).
Compared to Thailand, the US figure is nearly eight times higher than Thailand. So, I would say Thailand is safer for your car too – (Source: Wikipedia)
Low Theft Rates
Theft is defined as the removal of private property without the use of force or threat of violence.
Pick-pocketing and general theft cases are measured as the number of reported incidents per 100,000 people.
The rate of reported theft in Thailand was 57.93 (2015). Japan, by comparison, which is considered a very safe Asian country, had 356.20 (2014).
Other countries include: United States (1773.40), Canada (1402.65), Finland (1770.96), Sweden (3815.46), France (1906.93), and Germany (1657.23). (Source: UNODC)
Most people living in Thailand experience the lack of theft in Thailand every day.
In many other countries you’d be crazy to leave anything unattended for a split second. But in Thailand it happens all the time.
When you’re at a coffee shop, you would probably never think about leaving your laptop on a table while you disappear for 5-10 minutes.
Thai students often leave their laptops, bags or anything else they have with them on a table for much longer, sometimes hours, so that they don’t lose their table in busy restaurants, while they go out to eat or meet friends.
Wherever you go, you’ll find bikes with helmets perched on top of the mirrors. From the experience of others, they have hardly ever lost a helmet.
Except for the one time in 10 years: probably because the bike was parked outside the busy Chiang Mai Airport for a week, while the driver went on a camping excursion.
It’s customary to remove shoes before entering temples, and there has never been anyone that had their shoes stolen.
Robbery – What’s that?
Robbery can be defined as the removal of public or personal property with the use of force or threat of force.
Mugging and bag-snatching fall into this category. To get the statistics, statisticians calculate the number of reported incidents per 100,000 people.
Thailand has a low robbery rate of only 2.21.
By comparison, the US has a rate of 101.74. So, you’re 50 times more likely to be mugged in the US than in Thailand.
Let’s have look at a few more: Colombia 210.14, Finland (28.16), and Sweden at 86.52. (Source: UNODC)
From most of the reported experiences, people felt totally safe walking round any major Thai cities any time of day or night.
They never felt in danger of being mugged, but couldn’t say the same for any of the cities in the US.
If you want to measure the health and safety of a country, when you’re deciding to go live there, then a good measure that takes these two statistics into consideration is the Life Expectancy of the Country’s population.
Looking at life expectancy gives you a holistic overview of the well-being of the population.
Genetics, diet and lifestyle play a huge role in the longevity of a nation.
Just trying to land in a country where they have a longer life expectancy doesn’t mean it’s a cure for your current situation. You will need to adapt and evolve into the same lifestyle to see any benefit for yourself.
W.H.O ranks Japan at #1 with a life expectancy of 83.7 years. #3 is Singapore at 83.1 years.
European countries rank above 80 years: Finland 81.1, US 79.3.
Thailand’s life expectancy is 74.9 years. Laos, Thailand’s neighbor has a lower figure at 65.7, despite similar genetics.
Improved health and quality of life in Thailand has a positive impact on longevity. (Source: Wikipedia)
Driving in Thailand is bad for your health!
In 2013 the World Health Organization stated that Thailand had the 2nd deadliest rods with 36.2 road fatalities per 100,000 people.
To put this into perspective – the world average of 17.4.
European countries have the safest roads. Fatality rates are: Sweden (2.8), UK (2.9), Switzerland (3.3), Germany (4.3), and Finland (4.8).
India, with horrendous roads, comes in under the world average at 16.6. (Source: Wikipedia)
The problem in Thailand is that people just ignore the basic rules of the road. This means that the majority of accidents could be completely avoided if people paid attention to a few basic road rules.
But, alas, most do not. Here’s some “fun stuff” you’ll see on a daily basis in Thailand:
- Skipping red lights
- Driving up one-way streets
- Driving against traffic
- Prohibited U-turns
- No signaling
- Cutting lanes
- Straddling lanes
- Pulling out from a side streets undeterred
- Passing around blind curves
That’s just the basics, then there are a few more abrasive actions that add fuel to the fire:
- Motorcyclists without helmets
- Drivers on their phones
- Overloaded motorbikes (passengers without helmets)
Another pain is the fact that tourists come to these large cities and are totally disoriented.
When people are disoriented and don’t know what they’re doing or where exactly they’re going, you’re going to see some very erratic driving.
Most of the time, the people that cause the biggest headaches are the ones who do not know how to, nor have experience to drive the motorcycles they just rented.
You’ll see them doing all the things we’ve just listed above, and then some.
The main thing you should take into consideration when going to visit another country, is that things work differently. Make sure you’re familiar with how things work there before you get on the flight.
Pedestrians often become hazards. Tourists are often looking the wrong way when crossing the street. Traffic in their home country may move on the opposite side of the road.
They choose to walk in the middle of the road rather than the sidewalk, just because they’re not used to it, I suppose.
A motorcycle or scooter as the easiest way to get around Thailand.
Just a word of caution – don’t try riding your scooter in Bangkok.
You can reduce your chances of an accident by following basic road safety:
- Don’t speed or rush
- Always check your mirrors
- Never assume a green light is safe
- Watch the actions of other drivers
- Be prepared for surprises
You’ll be gob-smacked by the irresponsible driving you’ll see in Thailand. However, you can avoid problems by driving defensively and not speeding.
When someone is being an ass, avoid them.
When a stop light turns green, always check the intersection is safe to cross before pulling off.
Beware when passing side streets and driveways. There’s always the chance of a vehicle pulling into the road without stopping or looking.
Always, always, always wear a helmet.
Danger in Thailand
Every country has bad areas where people shouldn’t wander around.
In Thailand, the 3 most southern regions are a no go area:
These areas have been affected by terrorist activity and most of the people in these regions are of Malaysian descent on the Border with Malaysia.
Violent attacks and bombings have taken place in these regions, often with the police, religious authorities or the schooling system being targeted.
There is a small island in the Gulf of Thailand called Koh Tao.
It’s been said to have been the scene of mysterious deaths and disappearances.
No solid evidence or news has been released to the public, but a quick search on Google may allow you to dig a bit deeper. (Most of the stories and reports you’ll discover are based upon theory and speculation though).
We’ve already mentioned tourists and how erratic their behavior can be in a foreign location. Their sheer stupidity could save even more lives if they stuck to a few basic safety rules.
They get drunk, then go ride their scooters at high speeds on roads they’re unfamiliar with. This can lead to fatalities or serious road rash.
In Chiang Mai you can do a lot of creative and fun outdoor activities.
The problem is people do stupid things and the stupidest thing you can do when you’re going to do any type of outdoor activity is get drunk.
Cliff-diving spots have seen several drownings, parasailing, bungee jumping, and zip-line fatalities all highlighting the danger of associating alcohol with outdoor activities.
If you love swimming in the ocean, then Thailand will be your paradise. With lots and lots of pristine beaches to choose from.
Drowning however is a reality, but is also totally avoidable.
The vast number of drownings occur when people ignore the red “no swimming” flags. These red flags are put there to warn against rip currents and unsafe conditions.
So if you’re at the beach and the red flags are up, stay away.
Apart from traffic accidents and risky behavior, Thailand is a very safe place to live.
Theft, robberies, mugging and attacks are rare.
Most of the dangerous situations foreigners experience are self-imposed.
Thailand is a place of freedom and safety. People wouldn’t live there or give up everything to go live there for years on end, if it wasn’t the case.