Thailand is one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world. The Land of Smiles is loved by solo travelers and honeymooners alike and in 2017 it welcomed more than 30 million tourists. Its breathtaking nature, tolerant people and world renowned gastronomy make Thailand an extremely popular place for a holiday.
Moreover, many retired Westerners and digital nomads decided to call this south-east Asian country “home” because of the cheap cost of living at nearly Western standards. Businesses thrive and the expat community is vibrant, adding to the cosmopolitan atmosphere you can experience in cities like Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
Overall, Thailand can be considered a very safe place, much safer than many other countries in the area. Women traveling alone usually feel at ease in Thailand and generally families with children have nothing to worry about. However, like anywhere else in the world, there are places best to be avoided or at least where you should exercise some caution when visiting. Here are five of these not so safe places.
Deep South – Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat Provinces (also known as the three Southern Border Provinces)
You should really avoid these three provinces during your trip to Thailand as bomb and terror attacks are common here. Historically, this region belonged to Malaysia until it was conquered by the Kingdom of Siam (nowadays Thailand) in 1785 and it has been governed by Thailand ever since.
An insurgency movement led by different secessionist groups started not long after World Word II and it has become increasingly violent since 2001.
Violence occurs almost daily in the region, usually involving drive by shootings and small bombings. You shouldn’t be here unless you absolutely have to, not like you can pack your full gear in a hunting backpack and consider yourself ready for anything. There is serious unrest in this area and Thailand has a plethora of amazing places that are safe to visit so why take the chance?
Khlong Toei in Bangkok
The City of Angels is a truly amazing place that developed incredibly quickly and it’s generally quite safe. There are the usual bag snatchers and scammers that prey on innocent tourists, but Bangkok is considered a safe place even at night.
Khlong Toei, however, is the epitome of the word “slum” and, even though you can find slums neighboring skyscrapers everywhere in Bangkok, Khlong Toei is renowned for its extreme poverty. Although not particularly dangerous during the day, it isn’t a place where a solo female tourist should venture. Locals are somehow used to seeing tourists as the slum isn’t far from downtown, but the crime and drug abuse are off the chart in the neighborhood.
Also known as “Turtle Island”, this is an amazing place, perfect for scuba diving. However, the island has been getting a lot of negative feedback lately due to a series of events involving violence against foreigners.
The case of the British couple murdered there some years back made the headlines and the conviction of two Burmese migrants didn’t help as it raised even more questions in international media.
Koh Tao still is a haven for backpackers and the island isn’t necessarily dangerous, although the gloomy nickname “Death Island” doesn’t make it as appealing as it used to be, and all that in spite of the stunning nature it’s blessed with.
Although it’s not considered dangerous per se, Aranyaprathet is simply too much of a hassle. Meaning too much of a scam.
This small border town has been used for years by foreigners living in Thailand for visa runs which roughly means crossing the border to Cambodia and then quickly crossing the border back to Thailand. Thus a whole industry was born.
Unfortunately, this city is difficult to avoid if you plan on going to Cambodia by bus as it’s the most popular tourist route for travel between Bangkok and Siem Reap.
Roughly 2 hours away from Bangkok lies the city of Pattaya which evolved from the small fishing village it used to be in the ‘60s to the infamous Sin City of Thailand. Although North Pattaya still is a good place to go for a day trip at the beach, the rest of the city isn’t very family friendly.
If you do go to Pattaya, watch out for the well-known jet-ski scam and pretend you don’t see the trash on the beach.