What should you be worried when traveling in Thailand? Venomous snakes or violent robbers? None of those. The dangers in Thailand are much more mundane.
Thailand’s Biggest Danger: Watch Out for That Traffic!
The most dangerous thing in Thailand is the traffic. For example, in 2013 there were over 6,000 traffic accident fatalities in Thailand. A particularly dangerous means of transportation is the scooter/motorbike. If you rent a scooter – and many travelers often do – always use a helmet for both driver and pillion rider even if you see other people not doing so. Renting a car is a much safer option.
Buses are cheap and a convenient way to travel around, but they also have a lot of accidents since the drivers are often both careless and over-worked.
The safest way to move from destination to other is the plane. Train comes the second.
Do Boats Sink in Thailand?
Boats are often the only way to get into the smaller islands, and considering their popularity accidents are surprisingly rare. But accidents do happen every year.
In general, accidents happen when boats are poorly maintained and overloaded with people. Thus, if a longtail-boat or speedboat looks rundown, skip that ride and take the next one.
The same goes for boats used for diving excursions, the best way to ensure your safety is to choose one of the reputable diving schools: they are usually as well the ones with the best boats. The cheapest diveshop is very seldom the best.
Too Much Sun Is Not Fun (even in Thailand)
The tropical sun is unforgiving. Use a strong sunscreen and avoid direct sunshine during the hottest hours of the day from 10 am to 2 pm. Do as the locals and use a shirt while swimming in the midday.
Don’t Fight Robbers in Thailand
Robberies are rare, but they do occur. If you are being robbed give up your camera and valuables without a fight. Resistance turns easily to violence. Your travel insurance will replace you stolen goods but not your life.
The Silent War in Southern Thailand
Muslim separatists have been waging terrorist attacks in the southernmost Thailand since 2004. The Thai army has responded with violence. In ten years more than 4,500 people have died.
The violence is confined to the provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat in the Thai border with Malaysia. A handful of the bomb attacks has also taken place in Hat Yai, Southern Thailand’s biggest city and a busy airport hub.
The violence has never spread to the tourist areas. As long as you avoid Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat you have nothing to worry about.
Protect Yourself Against Mosquitoes…
No need to worry about malaria; it is found only in Thailand’s remote border areas. More prevalent is dengue fever, which is found across the country, also in the cities. Dengue causes a high fever and can be fatal in rare cases.
There is no vaccination or medication against dengue fever; the only prevention is to protect oneself against mosquito bites. Protect yourself with insect repellent during the sunset times or wear long sleeves and long trousers when the mosquitoes are most active.
Don’t panic after few mosquito bites, though, since travelers’ risk of catching the fever is relatively small.
…And Stray Dogs
If you are bitten by a stray dog or a monkey, seek immediate medical treatment against rabies. Time is of crucial importance to get the anti-rabies vaccination before the onset of the disease. Untreated rabies is fatal.
Are There Dangerous Snakes in Thailand?
As a tropical country Thailand is home to a variety of insects and poisonous snakes. They are the least of your worries. Travelers get bitten very rarely.
Be cautious, though, when walking across dense vegetation since cobras are common even in populated areas. Use caution also in golf courses.
If you see a snake, retrace your steps calmly – fast movements scare the snakes, which may respond by attacking.