Thailand is an enjoyable destination offering a diverse range of experiences and attractions. From the depths of the coral reefs in the south to the mountain peaks in the north – and the temples spread throughout the country – one can explore and thoroughly enjoy the Land of Smiles. Taking on Thailand solo is a tremendously rewarding experience, but the prospect of navigating the unknown alone can unleash some anxiety.
For female travellers, Thailand is a hugely popular destination as they are widely treated with respect in this friendly Buddhist-majority nation. However, like any travel destination, it is essential to be prepared and informed to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. There is still a range of safety issues female tourists must consider, from scams to bag snatching and drink spiking.
Here are some tips and considerations for single women travelling to Thailand:
- Staying Safe – Thailand is generally a safe country for travellers. With a deeply engrained Buddhist culture and accepting social philosophy, crime rates are meagre in Thailand. Culprits, behind the minimal crime that is reported by tourists, are generally found to be other tourists. Injuries are more often than not self-inflicted – and avoidable. But it is essential to exercise common-sense precautions. One should avoid poorly lit areas at night and be cautious of the belongings, especially in crowded places. The use of reputable transportation options and ride-sharing apps or registered taxis should be considered
While crime rates are relatively low, one should be aware of scams, especially in tourist-heavy areas.
A few General Safety Tips that one can follow are –
- Reconsidering motorbike renting – Shops in Thailand rent motorbikes to almost anyone, holding the person’s passport as collateral, but even a scratch can cost heavily. If one gets injured, insurance companies would not cover the medical bills of an unlicensed driver. Thus it is better to avoid. If one must rent a scooter, she should only rent from a business that is reliably recommended.
- Quality matters – One should opt for quality whenever she can afford it. The cheapest is not always the best when it comes to activities such as scuba diving, rock climbing, or abseiling – or any of Thailand’s other awesome offerings. A few extra baht may buy one a higher-quality adventure, better equipment, professional instructors and even insurance.
- Drink spiking is a significant risk – The party scene in Thailand is full-on — be it the chic clubs of Bangkok and earthy jungle raves in Pai to endless boho beach parties. Tourists have been targeted by drink spiking in Thailand, as widely documented by the country’s media. In some cases, the criminal’s aim was sexual assault, in others it was robbery.
Female solo travellers are more at risk as they are viewed as vulnerable. So, if you are heading out alone to a bar in Thailand, try to quickly find some new friends to hang with. Drinks should be watched as they are poured. They should never be left unattended to avoid the risk of spiking.
Also, in the case of drinks, a far bigger threat than drink spiking is becoming ill from tap water. As a rule in Southeast Asia, one should never drink water served in a glass unless the person is sure to have seen it poured from a sealed bottle of mineral water.
- Vaccinations must be done before travel – While street food is a nationwide delicacy, it is still a good idea to get a hepatitis B vaccine to combat food-borne bacteria. One should consult a doctor regarding other travel vaccines. Unless one is heading into the depths of the jungle, she would be otherwise at minimal risk.
- Use free mineral water -One can save money and avoid plastic waste by taking advantage of the free, filtered drinking water available in most restaurants and hotels. This water is sourced from licensed distributors that also supply the restaurants and bars with filtered ice.
- Stay connected – On arrival at the airport, one can look out for kiosks with cell providers offering tourist SIM cards, with data plans active for anywhere from a few days to a month. AIS, TrueMove H and DTAC offer the most consistent coverage countrywide.
- Stay vigilant about pickpocketing and bag snatching – Violent robberies of tourists are rare in Thailand. One needs to be most mindful of pickpocketing and bag snatching. The latter is a bigger threat to female travellers, who are more likely to be carrying a bag slung over one shoulder (such as a handbag), which is much easier to steal than a backpack.
Bag snatchers in Thailand typically operate on scooters. If a woman is walking by the road’s edge, particularly in a quiet area, these criminals ride up close, grab their bag and speed away. This is far less common in busy areas, where the criminal’s chance of being caught is far greater. The easiest tactic to protect is to carry the bag on whichever shoulder faces away from the street. This way the snatcher will not be able to reach the bag while still sitting on their bike.
Pickpocketing is most abundant in crowded areas, particularly tourist hotspots like downtown Bangkok and Chiang Mai, or nightlife areas in Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya. To combat this, one can wear pants or shorts with zipped pockets. Women can also guard against pickpockets by holding their handbags in front of them. A critically important point to remember is to not carry the passport outside the hotel, as this is the most difficult-to-replace item.
- Safety measures to be taken in taxis – In recent years, Thai media reported multiple cases of women being abducted and assaulted by taxi drivers. Though is not a widespread problem in Thailand, there are several ways for female travellers to protect themselves when using taxis. It is highly recommended to use a taxi app such as Grab, which is the dominant company in Thailand. It is convenient, cheap and safe. One can book a ride in advance, the fare is fixed, and the driver’s details are recorded on the app, which makes them unlikely to commit a crime as they know that they would be identified.
At times using Grab is not possible. For example, at many Thai airports, the company has largely been muscled out by traditional taxi companies. When in a regular taxi that one hails on the street, or catches at an airport, one can use the phone to take a photo of the driver’s ID, which will be on the left side of the dashboard. This simple act will not only give a record of their details, but it also will make the driver wary. It should be noted that the vast majority of Thai taxi drivers are honest, amiable people who pose no threat. Still, it is better to be safe than sorry.
- General travel tips –
- Travelling Between Destinations – Train is a quick, easy and cheap way to get around. The train is a quick, easy and cheap way to get around. One can easily get a train ticket booked through a booking agent. With a seemingly infinite number of train lines, bus routes and boat schedules, one can save time and money. With the help of a Luxury concierge, planning everything would be even easier and one can let go of the brainstorming needed for the same.
- Areas to Avoid – The deep south of Thailand, along the Malaysian border, is the only area regarded as unsafe. The region has experienced separatist violence since 2004 and at present, there is still a military presence there to keep the peace. The highway route that crosses the border is removed from the conflict though. Thus hundreds of tourists across the border daily travel to Malaysia.
One should avoid “ping-pong” or live sex shows, wherever they are in Thailand. Not only are they officially illegal in Thailand, but there is a pretty murky line between what could be a consenting performer and straight-up sexual slavery or human trafficking.
- Meet Other Travellers – With so many travellers choosing Thailand as their travel destination, it is easy to either link up with others. In such case, one should do the following:
- One can stay in a hostel which is sometimes even nicer than local hotels. Those not opting for the same can book a private or semi-private room while still reaping all the social benefits of hostel life.
- A yoga retreat, a scuba diving course or something similar activity that suits one’s interest can be a good option. Spending several days learning a new skill with others forges a unique bond that can outlast the trip.
- One can choose to volunteer as there are plenty of ways to give back to the community in Thailand, though many may require longer commitments.
- Befriend the Locals – While travelling, one should always show respect to the Thai culture. It is important to avoid these common cultural mistakes:
- As a deeply Buddhist country, it is considered wholly inappropriate to walk around the streets in swimwear. Thus one should keep the bikini or swim trunks for the beach. Thailand is a conservative country in many respects, especially outside of major cities. It is a good idea to dress modestly, covering the shoulders and knees when visiting temples or more rural areas to show respect for local customs.
- In beach destinations or larger cities like Bangkok, you can wear more relaxed clothing, but still, be mindful of local norms.
- While Thais are generally not offended by an accidental cultural faux pas, putting the feet up on anything or pointing the feet at another person is still considered offensive.
- Elephants are considered sacred to Thai culture and elephant-riding schemes shorten their lifespan considerably. Thus one should not try to ride elephants. Instead, a visit to some reputable sanctuaries is appreciable.
- Travelling more sustainably while minimising the use of plastic at every step is recommended.
- Learning a few Thai words or simple phrases will get one far with the locals.
- Be wary of other tourists – As a foreigner in a country, it is natural to gravitate toward other Westerners. Thailand has a high number of shady tourists and ex-pats, males in particular. Thailand has long been stereotyped as a hedonistic travel destination, which is why it attracts dodgy types. One should stay aware and vigilant, especially in nightlife areas.
- Staying safe against scams – Thailand is not brimming with scammers. But there is enough around that one needs to be cautious.
- Accommodation: Choosing well-reviewed and reputable accommodations can provide an added layer of security.
- Solo Travel Groups: Joining group tours or activities can be an excellent way to meet other travellers and make friends while staying safe. Several companies offer tours specifically designed for solo travellers, including women.
- Solo Adventures: Thailand offers numerous opportunities for solo adventures, such as trekking, island hopping, and exploring cultural sites. Always let someone know the plans and expected return time while heading into remote areas.
- Local Advice: One should not hesitate to ask locals or fellow travellers for advice or recommendations. They can provide valuable insights and tips on places to visit and things to do.
- Trust Your Instincts: If a situation doesn’t feel right, one should trust the gut feeling and seek help if necessary.
Thailand can be a fantastic destination for single women, offering a mix of vibrant cities, beautiful beaches, rich cultural experiences, and friendly locals. Experiences can vary greatly depending on the specific locations one visits in Thailand. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and other popular tourist destinations have different vibes and safety considerations. It is always a good idea to research and plan to make the most of the trip and stay safe while enjoying the beauty and culture of Thailand. The Best Luxury Concierge can guide you with overall travel (Hotels, Villas, Jets, Experiences) needs. One should just remember to stay informed, be respectful of local customs, and take common-sense precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.