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Avoid far southern Thailand due to safety concerns?

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2008
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 800
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    Greetings,

    My girlfriend and I (we're US Citizens) are planning a trip to SE Asia from Feb. 1 to May 15. Originally we were planning on flying in and out of Bangkok and going from Thailand (south) - Cambodia - Vietnam - Laos - Thailand (north/central).

    After the recent airport closures in Bangkok, we looked into other options (I know BKK is up and running again but I fear protesters may return at some point). The option I've been leaning against is to fly in and out of Saigon.

    The other option is to fly in and out of Singapore and go from there - Malaysia - Thailand (south) - Cambodia - Vietnam - Laos - Thailand (north/central) and then catch a flight from BKK back to Singapore. This would give us the back-up plan of finding another way to Singapore if there are problems at BKK. Also I have never been to Singapore/Malaysia and the idea of travelling all the way up the Malay peninsula is compelling.

    The only thing holding us back from booking this is the US State Deptartment's travel warning telling US citizens to avoid travel to far southern Thailand due to safety concerns.

    What do you guys think? Should we stick to this route and do our best to get through far southern Thailand as quickly as possible, should we try to fly from Singapore or Kaula Lumpur to BKK or possibly Phuket (this would be considerably more costly), or should we avoid Singapore/Malaysia/far southern Thailand altogether and go the Saigon route?

    Has anyone travelled from Malaysia into Thailand by land? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    DL

    #1 Posted: 4/12/2008 - 09:59

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  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    Definitely avoid southern Thailand. There are frequent problems there. Why not fly to Bkk, head north - Isaan - Chiang Mai, then take the international bus to Laos and then to Cambodia and Vietnam?

    #2 Posted: 4/12/2008 - 19:34

  • Tilapia

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    I thought you were going to hit Burma to check out Buddhist sites. No?

    #3 Posted: 4/12/2008 - 20:28

  • DLuek

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    Location Thailand
    Posts: 800
    Total reviews: 14

    Rufus - thanks for the advice. I found tickets from Singapore to Phuket for US$140 round trip on Air Asia. Phuket works better than Bangkok because we had wanted to hit some quiet beaches when we first arrive (thinking about Ko Similan). In May, we would take a cheap one-way flight from Bangkok to Phuket and then onward to Singapore.

    Tilapia - I appreciate the info you provided on Burma in an earlier thread though we have decided not to go there. Very much had I wanted to visit the Buddhist sites and temples. I was even considering doing a 60 page report on Buddhism in Burma for my college degree project.

    But then I began working with Karen refugees who lived in Thailand camps after fleeing their home of Burma and Burmese democracy supporters who also fled. Aung Sahn Suu Kyi has asked tourists not to go, and to my new friends who have spent much of their lives running from the junta, it may seem as though I'm supporting the junta's tourism profits and playing by their rules if I were to visit the country.

    That being said, thanks again for the info (I do hope to use it some day). In case you're wondering, that 60 page project will now either be on the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhism or the Karen struggle - I'll be researching both while in Thailand.

    Peace,

    DL

    #4 Posted: 5/12/2008 - 04:36

  • somtam2000

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    I don't know that I'd avoid far southern Thailand -- especially if you're just transiting through. Sure a week exploring rural Narathiwat probably isn't a hot idea, but a minibus from the border to Hat Yai and onwards, I wouldn't consider to be particularly dangerous.

    #5 Posted: 5/12/2008 - 07:58

  • Jon_Mak_Mak

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    Totally agree with somtam2000. You should be perfectly safe to vist Hat Yai and travell through the south.

    Altho Ive been to Hat Yai and there wasn't loads to do.
    Its handy to fly out from there, to malasia for example.

    #6 Posted: 5/12/2008 - 17:30

  • ChangFai

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    I also would have no qualms about travelling from Malaysia to Hat Yai , and cant remember hearing anybody having problems lately .

    I have friends who work in the offshore oil industry , that stay in Songkhla , and report no problems .

    I dont think I

    #7 Posted: 6/12/2008 - 09:52

  • ChangFai

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    As I was saying .....

    I also would have no qualms about travelling from Malaysia to Hat Yai , and cant remember hearing anybody having problems lately .

    I have friends who work in the offshore oil industry , that stay in Songkhla regularly , and report no problems .

    I dont think I would chance Naratiwat , Yala or Pattani districts , but Hat Yai I dont see the problem .

    Khun Rufus , I find a lot of your posts alarmist .

    #8 Posted: 6/12/2008 - 09:54

  • Jon_Mak_Mak

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    Yeah, Deff not yala or Pattani. They are best avoided I would of thought. Also, there are actually alot of problems with rebels in that area and we dont hear anything of it in the News over here (UK).

    If it weasn't for my wife telling me, and when Ive seen it on Thai news you wouldn't actually know!

    #9 Posted: 7/12/2008 - 04:32

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    Thats ok ChangFai; I actually find a lot of yours reckless.

    #10 Posted: 7/12/2008 - 11:05

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  • toby4571

    Joined Travelfish
    12th January, 2009
    Posts: 2

    I have been asking similar questions about security in the far South.

    Soon to be taking a night train form Penang to Bangkok (Crossing the border at Padang Besar and stoppoing at Hat Yai briefly).

    Foreign Office warnings make it sound like the end of the world but I understand they can over egg things. My girlfriend seems to think I'm worring about nothing. I guess the truth is somewhere beetween.

    As there are clearly mixed responses to the idea of travelling through the South I would be interested to hear any futher views or recent anecdotes about this paticular train journey. - (International Express /Ekspress Antarabangsa Northbound)

    You wisdom will be much appriciated.

    #11 Posted: 15/1/2009 - 00:42

  • Lother

    Joined Travelfish
    12th May, 2006
    Location Earth
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    I took the train in the other direction last summer and I'd say it's as safe as any train ride. I don't think anything bad has ever happened on/to the train. And you only have to get off the train for a few minutes when crossing over from Malaysia anyway.

    #12 Posted: 15/1/2009 - 01:03

  • toby4571

    Joined Travelfish
    12th January, 2009
    Posts: 2

    Thanks Lother,
    We have successfully arrived in northern thailand - the only bad thing to happen to the train was that it was cancelled. We ended up getting a bus to Hat Yai and then another to Bangkok. Felt safe enough the whole way.

    #13 Posted: 23/2/2009 - 12:57

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
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    I would avoid traveling on roads outside of the cities in the four southern provinces. No mini-buses, no motorbikes. These are easy targets and people are killed on the roads frequently there. Since 2004 there have been 3,000 people killed. There is a full blown level one insurgency going on in and around Pattani. If you aren't schooled in violence, avoid it.

    I think you can take the train through. I'm pretty sure the train runs from Bangkok to Kuala Lampur, although I don't know the details.

    In any event, I would never take anyone I care about with me to that region.

    #14 Posted: 9/6/2009 - 12:58

  • siamdave

    Joined Travelfish
    24th March, 2007
    Posts: 1

    I've lived in Hat Yai for almost 15 years, and travelled quite often to Malaysia for one reaons or another. I would say the danger from the insurgency in the southern provinces is pretty minimal for people just passing through on any kind of public transportation during the daylight hours. You're in far more danger anywhere in Thailand from your average driver and their complete disregard for any kind of safety or courtesy whilst behind a whieel.

    #15 Posted: 9/6/2009 - 21:03

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6058
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    "You're in far more danger anywhere in Thailand from your average driver and their complete disregard for any kind of safety or courtesy whilst behind a whieel."

    This is a good point. While I would not disregard the risks of the insurgency, Thai driving is certainly a high risk activity. But the insurgency is still quite dangerous and a juicy white guy and girl would make excellent targets for Islamic extremists should the opportunity present itself.

    #16 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 00:49

  • DShearer86

    Joined Travelfish
    26th March, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 16

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8090599.stm

    Supports what has been said about the 3 most dangerous provinces.

    #17 Posted: 10/6/2009 - 04:46

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