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Is Thailand a Dangerous Country to Visit?

Whenever a tourist in Thailand has a rare violent encounter, online travel forums like Reddit usually blow the news out of proportion, while spreading unfounded warnings that Thailand is a dangerous place to visit — when the reality is entirely the opposite.

The readers of DestinAsia recently ranked Bangkok the best city to visit in the Asia-Pacific region (2024), and safety plays a key part in such a distinction. To evaluate just how safe Thailand is for tourists and expats it helps to look at statistics and do a comparison.

If we compare the homicide rates of Thailand with the United States, we find that Thailand’s countrywide rate of 2.4 per 100,000 people is less than half the rate of America’s. And that Bangkok’s rate of 4.4 per 100,000 is a small fraction of what it is in big U.S. cities like St. Louis and Baltimore, where the average is closer to 60 per 100,000.

If we look at violent crime in Thailand, the rate is about 41 per 100,000 people, where in the United States it is a whopping 380.7 per 100,000 (according to FBI statistics). Meanwhile, incidents of rape are 10 per 100,000 in Thailand versus 38 per 100,000 in the U.S.

Thailand is even a safer place to visit than this statistical comparison suggests — as most of these violent crimes exclusively involve Thai people, not tourists to Thailand or expats. A report by the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports has shown that less than 0.1% of approximately 40 million tourists to Thailand report any form of crime, and most of these incidents are non-violent in nature.

The crime that tourists to Thailand most often report are petty thefts like bag snatching and pick pocketing, and taxi scams — and even these crimes are less prevalent than they are in big European cities like Barcelona, Rome, and Paris, or in U.S. cities like Miami, New York, and Los Angeles.

It also is important to note that most violent encounters in Thailand involve alcohol in some way, with tourists getting drunk and insulting a Thai person in a bar, restaurant, or street — usually in travel destinations like Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, or Koh Samui. It is exceedingly rare to ever see such incidents among tourists who know how to handle their booze or who travel to upcountry destinations like Sakon Nakhon, Chachoengsao, Nan, Loei, etc.

So, Thailand is not dangerous for tourists. It is unquestionably a safe country to visit, to work as an expat, or to make your retirement home. Having lived here for over 20 years, I have (knock on wood) never experienced any crime nor ever been close to dealing with a violent situation — despite having in my younger days spent many a night out well after midnight.


Safest Places to Visit in Thailand
Northeastern provinces like Sakon Nakhon are among the safest places to visit in Thailand, with near zero reported crimes against foreign tourists.

Travel Safety Precautions for Thailand

If you take the following safety precautions, you can reduce the already small risk of an unfortunate incident while traveling in Thailand.

Be Aware of Scams: Familiarize yourself with common tourist scams such as fake gem sales, damaged jet-skis, and rigged taxi meters. Always verify information from official sources and use reputable service providers​

Respect Local Customs: Understanding and respecting Thai customs and traditions can help avoid misunderstandings and dangerous situations. Thai culture highly values politeness and respect; avoid confrontational behavior and maintain a calm demeanor in interactions. If drinking alcohol makes you aggressive, be extra careful.

Stay Alert in Crowded Places: Petty theft, including pickpocketing, is common in crowded areas such as markets, public transport, and tourist hotspots. Keep your bags zipped and close to your body, and be wary of distractions that might be set up by thieves.

Use Reputable Transport: When using taxis or tuk-tuks, ensure they are licensed and negotiate the fare beforehand if the vehicle doesn’t have a meter. Never use an unmarked taxi​.

Stay in Well-Lit Areas at Night: Avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar or poorly lit areas. Stick to busy, well-lit streets and try to travel in groups whenever possible. Women, especially, should never walk beaches or deserted streets alone at night.

Avoid Thai-Only Karaoke Bars: Unless you are an old-hand in Thailand, someone who can speak sufficient Thai and knows how to handle interactions with drunk Thai men, you should avoid going to karaoke bars, especially after 10pm.

Lastly, there is a lot of misleading information online regarding how dangerous the roads are in Thailand. It actually is much less dangerous than you have likely been lead to believe. Read my article, “Is it Safe to Drive in Thailand?” for an analysis of the statistics.

To avoid a dangerous situation while riding a motorcycle in Thailand, read my post: “Safety Tips for Driving a Thai Motorbike“.

David Alan