I am planning a trip to South East Asia by myself where I plan to stay mainly in Thailand, Vietnam and Bali. Everytime I mention this to my friends and family they tell me it's quite dangerous there right now. Is that true? Is there a website for travellers where I can see the places not to travel at the current time?
#1 sp00ks has been a member since 4/8/2014. Posts: 4
No offence, but have you done ANY research?
No, it's not dangerous (certainly, no more dangerous than your home country is). Your family and friends, although undoubtedly well meaning, don't have a clue what they're talking about.
Various government's foreign offices do have websites that give travel advice (FCO here in the UK, for instance) however you MUST remember that they err on the side of over-cautious, so read it with a grain of salt. In fact, I'd recommend you read the advice for a country you know well, just to remind yourself how over-cautious they are (for example, if you're American, read the FCO page on the USA).
If the FCO says "avoid travel" then I'd avoid travel (mostly because my travel insurance wouldn't cover me in an area the FCO has recommended I avoid), but remember the fact that they list every risk (road accidents, occasional muggings, etc) and those things can happen at home as well, so don't let it freak you out. The other thing to remember is that they can be politically motivated. When the Thai military declared martial law earlier this year, the USA recommended Americans avoid non-essential travel to Thailand - this was unlikely to be because it was particularly dangerous to tourists (it wasn't) but more likely to send a political objection to the Thai authorities. So read their advice with your thinking hat on.
Enjoy your trip.
I totally support everything written by antonia, above. SEA is one of the safest areas to travel. I've spent many, many months there, mostly on my own, and have never once felt threatened or concerned.
The people that tend to warn you about travelling to SEA are usually people who haven't actually travelled there. Instead, they read things in the media which generally sensationalises everything. Ask them what first hand experience they have had before dishing out advise.
I have travelled to fairly remote places in Indonesia, for example - places which are considered 'High' or 'Extreme' risk on the government travel advisory sites. The warnings are bollocks. I couldn't have felt safer. Having said that, I did check with my travel insurance to check out my coverage there. I was advised that if I was the victim of some terrorist activity, then my insurance wouldn't cover me. But if I fell sick, lost my camera or whatever, then I would still be covered. The thing is - insurance policies usually have a blanket exclusion for terrorist activity anyhow.
In all reality, if this is your first trip, you will be keeping to the mainstream tourist routes, and in those places, the tourist dollar is worth far too much for them to risk. The locals will look after you. They might try to rip a few Thai baht off you, maybe try to grab your bag (worst case - it's never happened to me)- but you will be safe. Just follow the normal precautions that you hopefully take at home: don't get smashed unless you have a sober friend looking after you, and don't walk alone dark alleys late at night (smashed or not). When walking around on busy city streets, carry your bag across your chest, away from the streetside.
If in doubt, have a search around this TF forum (and any others) - and you will see that there are very few reported incidents. Believe me, if people have had a hard time, they'd report it here.
Go ahead, book your tickets. Ignore the advice of those without experience and enjoy yourself!
Thanks for the advice. Yes I have traveled alone to different areas in Europe but only for short periods of time. I guess friends and family are just worried this time around because (1) I will be gone to Southeast Asia for a long period of time and, (2) of all the politically stuff that's been happening and being shown in the media which obviously would cause concern.
I will definitely do more research before I go on my trip (won't be leaving until November).
#5 sp00ks has been a member since 4/8/2014. Posts: 4
Bigger threats to your safety are road travel in certain areas (Vietnam comes to mind), food poisoning, being scammed etc rather than physical violence, which is what I assume you are referring to.
#6 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Captain Bob - that was excellent.
OK Spooks, chill man. Come on over. I live here. It's completely safe.
#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Despite all this advice, you should still exercise the normal precautions you would anywhere else.
You are not at any greater risk in SEA but that is no excuse to abandon all caution.
#8 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Nice one, Captain!!! Great stuff!!!
sp00ks, before I first left for Thailand in '92 my Mom was convinced that the place was nothing but a brothel and opium den thanks to the Canadian and US media. Very little news came from that part of the world except for stories about massacres (Black May in Bangkok), prostitution and AIDS. She was very worried, but in reality she was just concerned about her son being so far and out of touch from her. Only postcards, letters, and the odd $60 collect phone call back then. She knew we'd be out of contact for long stretches of time.
Communication might be light years ahead, and a fraction of the cost now compared to then, but parents are still the same. They want to see their kids grow, but that doesn't make it easier to see them take off for a long time into the great somewhat unknown. It's a double-edged sword. It's natural for them to be worried. Just stay in touch. It could make a world of difference for them. They might even send you money when you run out!!!
@Tilapia - you've nailed it. It's my mom that is mainly concerned and encourage me not to go because...well like you said...she doesn't want anything to happen to me and wants to see me grow and being away for 4 - 5 months scares her. But since we have better communication means now such as Skype, we can continue to communicate back and forth.
It will be fine.
Thanks for everyone that provided advice on this thread!
#10 sp00ks has been a member since 4/8/2014. Posts: 4
You're going to have a blast, and you'll be a better person for it. And Mom and Dad will be the proud folks of a world traveler. Probably not many of those in the family, though I'm just guessing. Nothing wrong with being a black sheep.
Tilapia - don't worry, at least some friends and family will be only too happy to spread rumors he's coming out here to chase underage girls. He's coming by himself remmember. I moved here with my family and I still hear that crap through the grapevine.
Spook have a great time. If you get out to Mukdahan way, look me up.
#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957