Bangkok, Thailand

Safety & Health


Given its size, Bangkok is surprisingly safe and tourists are unlikely to encounter violent crimes like muggings and robberies. One of the biggest dangers are motorbike on the pavements at high speeds, going through red lights, undertaking buses as they drop passengers and driving too fast especially through stationary traffic. If you are going to hire a bike, make sure you have insurance - you may be the world's best biker but you'll meet many of the world's worst drivers in Thailand.

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Khao San Road by Quince Blits

Bangkok does have more than its fair share of scams and many individuals in the tourist business do not hesitate to overcharge unwary visitors. As a rule of thumb, it is wise to decline offers made by someone who appears too friendly to tourists. 
Locals generally do not approach foreigners unless for a reason.

  • Tuk-tuk drivers offering all-day tours for very low fares will often end you at several gem shops, souvenir stores or tailors. The "gems" are often worthless stones or glass and the suits of poor quality - tuk-tuk drivers get a commission if you purchase. In general, never ask a taxi driver for recommendations, some will take you to a place where they get a commission for an overpriced merchandise or service.
  • Be skeptical when an English-speaking Thai at a popular tourist spot approaches you, telling that your intended destination is currently closed or offering discounted admissions. Temples are almost always free (exceptions include Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho) and open just about every day of the year. Be wary if they suggest a tuk-tuk ride to some alternate sights.
  • Most dishonest taxi drivers are the ones waiting in the tourist areas. Walk away from the tourist area and hail a moving taxi along the main road. This is no guarantee of honesty but improves your chances of getting an honest taxi driver. Insist on the meter for taxis and agree on a price in advance for tuk-tuks. The Thai phrase to ask a driver to use the meter is "mee-toe, khap" if you're male and "mee-tOE, kha" if you're female.
  • Beware of private companies offering "VIP buses" on direct trips from Bangkok to other cities. These "VIP trips" may end up changing three or four uncomfortable minibuses and the trip taking 17-18 instead of 10-11 hours. Instead, book the public BKS buses from the main bus terminals.
  • The scam industry in Bangkok is large enough to support farangs (foreigners). Therefore, beware and resist Westerners approaching you with sad stories such how his or her luggage was stolen and needs money to get home.

Bangkok traffic police by Da

Political Unrest
In 2008, yellow-shirted People's Alliance for Democracy closed both Bangkok's airports for a week with several people killed in the violence. After the election of the new prime minister, things returned to normal but remained unstable. In 2010, red-shirted protesters from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship occupied parts of downtown Bangkok. These protests turned violent when the army tried to take back areas seized by the protesters. Follow the independent press for the latest political developments and stay away from demonstrations.

Food and Water
Outside the major tourist hotels and resorts, stay away from raw leafy vegetables, egg-based dressings like mayonnaise, unpackaged ice cream and minced meat as Thailand's hot and humid weather tend to make food go bad faster. In short, stick to boiled, baked, fried or peeled foods that have been recently prepared.

Tap water in Bangkok is said to be safe when it comes out the plant but unfortunately the plumbing along the way may not. Therefore, avoid drinking water directly from the pipes even in the hotels. Any water served to you in good restaurants will at least be boiled but better to order bottled water instead, which are available everywhere at low prices.

Take care with ice, which may be made with tap water of questionable potability and cleanliness. Some residents claim that ice with round holes is made by commercial ice makers who purify their water. Others state that it is wise not to rely on the claim. Generally, ice served by the hotels and restaurants are safe for consumption

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