Video #13 | November 30, 2017
In this video I’m going to try and answer a couple of questions that I have been asked many times over the years; ‘Is Bangkok safe?‘ and ‘Is Bangkok safe to travel alone?‘
The video is broken into the following sections.
– Some general thoughts on what I have both learned, and experienced, over the past 18 years.
– Advice on safety in Bangkok.
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Alrighty then! Welcome to the thirteenth video of Bangkok Unmasked! The YouTube channel that helps you get the most out of your visit to Bangkok city! If you’re new here, please consider subscribing! In this video I’m going to try and answer a couple of questions that I have been asked many times over the years; ‘Is Bangkok safe?’ and ‘Is Bangkok safe to travel alone?’
Let’s get started!
So is Bangkok safe in 2017…? The short answer is that, generally speaking, Bangkok is a pretty safe place for those wishing to conduct business or take part in tourism. For what it’s worth, I feel safer in Bangkok, especially late at night, than I do in London.
What follows are some general thoughts on what I have both learned, and experienced, over the past 18 years in Bangkok.
Most criminal activity is generally ‘non-confrontational’ street crimes, and crimes of opportunity, including; purse snatching [especially drive-by snatchings from motorcycles], pick-pocketing, petty theft, jewelry schemes, and tourism fraud.
Many foreigners have had passports, wallets, and other valuables stolen in Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market, on Khao San Road, and at other crowded areas. Pickpockets and thieves typically cut into purses or bags with a razor, and remove items surreptitiously.
It’s extremely common for foreigners to be robbed of their valuables, especially money, credit cards and jewelry, after soliciting the services of commercial sex workers. If you take a girl, or boy, back to your hotel, it’s sensible to put everything of value in the in-room safe! Most decent hotels have these.
Credit card fraud and identity theft occur regularly in Bangkok. There have been a number of well-publicized cases over the past few years where international criminal organizations based in Malaysia, Ukraine, and Russia have installed sophisticated ‘skimming devices’ to steal card holder information from Bangkok-ATMs. This information was then used to withdraw money from victim accounts.
Violent crimes like; murder, rape, assault against foreigners are relatively rare. Those that do occur typically happen at night, usually when victims have been drinking. There have been a number of reports where scopolamine, also known as ‘Devil’s Breath’, or other ‘date rape’ drugs have been used to spike foreigner’s drinks, and then they have [usually] been robbed. In some rare cases they have also been raped.
Road safety should absolutely be the biggest concern regarding safety in Bangkok. Accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles are extremely common. Serious car accidents occur frequently, sometimes resulting in fatalities. Motorcycles tend to weave in/out of traffic, and the skill and proficiency of most Thai drivers is poor. Some spectacularly so. As a result, motorcycle-related deaths in Bangkok are a daily occurrence. The accident rate is particularly high during long holidays when alcohol use and traffic are heavier than normal. During the annual Songkran [Thai New Year] holiday in April, the problem is further exacerbated by people throwing water at passing vehicles as part of the traditional celebration.
As a pedestrian, I would strongly advise all Bangkok visitors to use elevated walkways/pedestrian bridges whenever possible, especially in metropolitan Bangkok. You must also look carefully in both directions before crossing streets, even when using a marked crosswalk. Trust me, motorcycles especially, often drive the wrong way down busy streets, so it’s easy to get run-down by them if you don’t look both ways before crossing!
For what it’s worth, Bangkok Unmasked would strongly advise you not to use motorcycle taxis and tuk-tuks in Bangkok. Both are inherently unsafe! Tuk-tuks might look safer, but I have lost count of the number of times that I have seen tuk-tuks lying on their side after the driver took a corner at speed!
Regarding taxis, do not hesitate to ask to be let out of a taxi if the driver is acting suspiciously or driving erratically. Raising one’s voice and using aggressive body language could be seen as a threat to the driver. Police will seldom intervene in incidents involving taxi drivers.
It goes without saying, but don’t get involved in domestic political confrontations. This is not a topic that Bangkok Unmasked will get into, but suffice to say during the street protests of 2010 the Thai army used live ammunition on protesters, and one Italian jornalist, Fabio Polenghi, and one Japanese cameraman, Hiroyuki Muramoto, were killed.
Another obvious point of safety, don’t use or sell drugs! Thailand strictly enforces drug laws and penalties for the possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs. Thailand’s enforcement efforts include the death penalty for drug smuggling. Convicted offenders can expect long prison sentences under harsh conditions and often heavy fines.
Thai police frequently raid Bangkok discos, bars, or nightclubs looking for underage patrons and drug users. During the raids, they typically check the IDs of all customers and sometimes make each person provide a urine sample to be checked for narcotics. Foreigners are not immune from these checks, and anyone whose urine tests positive for illicit drugs will be arrested and charged accordingly.
If you want to get an idea of exactly how foreigners come to grief in Bangkok/Thailand, check out; farang-deaths.com. This website is a non-commercial project dedicated to documenting all cases of death of foreign nationals in Thailand. You’ll see that road traffic accidents comprise the majority of deaths. Suicides are also relatively common, and my guess is that for older gentlemen, alcohol and Viagra used in conjunction with ladies of negotiable affection play a major part in deaths of the 50+ age group.
Anyway…That’s it for this video. I hope that it will help answer the two questions; ‘Is Bangkok safe?’ and ‘Is Bangkok safe to travel alone’? Expect a new video shortly. It should be posted in about a week, or so.
For all you techies out there, this video was shot on a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, and edited using HitFilm Express.
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Thank you very much for watching. I’ll see you next week. Goodbye.