Ask anyone who has traveled extensively to and around Thailand, and you’ll often hear the same thing: Thailand is one of the safest countries they have traveled in. Still, even the safest country has areas that you might wish to avoid, particularly if you are traveling with your family. It is wise to know which destinations are appropriate for you.
For example, many tourists avoid the far southern reaches of Thailand because of conflicts with different religious groups. Political clashes in Bangkok leave people worried (but don’t affect how much of the rest of the country functions). However, Thailand is a very large country, and even taking Bangkok and the far south off the list if you are uncomfortable with them leaves you with plenty of wonderful destinations.
1. CHIANG MAI
Though a large and bustling city, Chiang Mai is a safe destination. It’s a big city with a small-town feel. It’s a great base for exploring northern Thailand, excellent for families and groups who like a bit of adventure. There are many family-friendly activities to do in Chiang Mai.
If you are wanting to experience the urban life of Thailand but want to avoid concerns for your safety in Bangkok, Chiang Mai to the north is an excellent alternative.
2. HUA HIN
Located southwest of Bangkok, Hua Hin has almost magically escaped the pressing crowds of tourists. Though this beach resort is popular with Thais (and with good reason — it’s beautiful!), you won’t experience the congestion you might find in other similar cities.
That means that you also won’t experience the safety issues you might at a popular tourist destination. You can expect beautiful beaches and even excursions to Monkey Mountain to feed the monkeys. Whether or not Hua Hin is your final destination or just a stop on your way south, it is a safe place to visit.
There are no cars here, so you can expect an entirely different experience that you might have at other popular tourist destinations. This is the place to go if you’re all about beaches, kayaking, snorkeling, rock climbing, and laying back and soaking up sun. Railay Beach is a popular stop for tourists.
November to April is the best time to visit this mysterious collection of jutting cliffs and secluded beaches. The weather during the rest of the year won’t make for a safe dip in the ocean.
4. KOH SAMUI
This wonderful island is increasingly popular with families. You won’t experience the crowding of Bangkok or larger cities, nor will you have to “rough it.” With an airport, ferry service, and plenty of modern accommodations, this island is a sure bet. It is a pleasant medium, somewhere between the busy popularity of Phuket, but not as isolated as Railay.
Samui is an upscale destination, safe, clean and comfortable. It makes a wonderful place for family vacations, boasting of lots of activities for everyone.
5. CHIANG RAI
This northern-most city, nearly surrounded by mountains, has an even more laid-back and quaint feel that Chiang Mai. You will not be finding nightclubs, bars, and other adult distractions here like you would in other Thai cities.
Instead, this is a place to stroll, observe, think, and enjoy. With fantastic markets, religious sites, and delicious food markets, Chiang Rai is its own unique Thai experience.
This city is located north west of Bangkok, and is most famous for being the location where the film “The Bridge Over The River Kwai” was filmed. Besides those historical attractions, it is also a region known for spectacular outdoor attractions and natural beauty.
Fishing, canoeing, bird-watching, golfing, star-gazing, trekking, this is the place to go to view and enjoy the best of Thailand’s flora and fauna. It has it all, including waterfalls, caves, and jungles. It’s a safe destination, and a wonderful experience for families who are looking to satisfy their curiosity.
7. PHANG NGA
Located north of the very popular destination of Phuket, Phang Nga province is known for great diving and its amazing bay. This natural wonder has sunken caves, islets, and rock formations jutting straight out of the water. Ever heard of James Bond Island? You can find this famous location in Phang Nga bay. The national parks also provide sanctuary for birds and other creatures, some who are considered endangered.
Though not a large city, this quaint town attracts hundreds of tourists, most specifically the eco-tourist and adventurer. Getting to Phang Nga isn’t easy, however. You’ll need to come in by bus or car, as there is no airport.
8. KUALA LUMPUR
While this world-famous city isn’t located in Thailand (it’s in Malaysia), many tourists will be flying in or out of the city as they make their way to Thailand.
Both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore became popular travel hubs into Thailand during the airport closures in 2008, and while things are back to normal in Thailand, they still remain common routes. Both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are safe cities, due to stringent laws, and are spoken highly of by expats and tourists.
While unrest in Bangkok flares once in a while, the rest of the country of Thailand continues on. Using these other cities as transportation hubs helps ensure that your trip won’t be affected. There’s no reason you can’t make it to your final Thai destination, no matter what is happening in Bangkok.
TAKE YOUR OWN SAFETY SERIOUSLY
Now that you know where to go, consider a few extra safety tips.
- Add the Thai Tourist Police number to your cell phone. Understand how the taxi system works and what you should expect. Be careful in how you choose transportation; road injuries and deaths are not uncommon in Thailand and you must be careful. Be aware of proper dress and behavior both during the day and at night clubs.
- Thailand, with its exotic culture and climate, has a tendency to cause tourists to behave in ways they never would back home. Loud, obnoxious, and illegal (especially drug use) behavior will get you into trouble every time. And, avoid sites where political rallies or conflicts are occurring.
- The safest place for you to be is the one where you are aware of your surroundings and are behaving in a “defensive” way, i.e. conscious of what could happen to you and your valuables. Most destinations, whether crowded with tourists who want to party or not, are wonderful places to visit as long as you use these common sense rules wherever you are.
Thailand is a very safe nation, but you always have the responsibility for yourself as you enjoy its beaches, jungles, and cities safely.