I'll be heading to Thailand (mainly the North) in September for a few months, and I'm in the process of doing my research.
A lot of forums warn of theft while on buses, from hostel lockers, and while walking down the streets (slicing your bag with a knife - if you've got it locked up). I'm not planning on bringing anything of much value, other than the backpack itself. And I plan on keeping my money/visa/passport/camera/ipod on me at all times.
Has anyone ever heard of someone being threatened to handover any valuables?
A lot of sites say respecting the culture [clothes (pants), a smile, manners] will keep you out of trouble. Others say being physically fit is enough to keep trouble at bay.
Any tips or reassuring stories?
I've traveled for years in Thailand, taken all modes of transport, and stayed in every type of accommodation. I've spent a great deal of time in big cities, small villages, remote countryside, islands, border areas, and pretty much everywhere else. I lived there for two years. Never once have I had anything stolen. No one I've met over there has had anything stolen. No one I know who has traveled in the Kingdom has had anything stolen. There have been a few times when my sandals have gone missing from my guest house, but each time they were taken mistakenly by another guest and were returned, unharmed, later on.
Like you, I've read on forums about people getting ripped off on, almost exclusively, the so-called VIP tourist buses. These events are few and far between, but for me they represent the majority of thefts that I've read of. With that in mind you might want to avoid those buses. I would recommend avoiding them regardless.
While it is not impossible for someone to slice one's knapsack open while walking down the street, it is extremely unlikely that anything of the sort will happen.
I did meet one poor fellow who got himself into a bad situation due to some very poor judgement and lack of awareness. He was forced to withdraw nearly all of his money from an ATM by knifepoint. He had gotten himself into a serious card game with some serious people and the ending was not good. First, he did this to himself, and second, this can happen anywhere.
Of course respecting culture will keep one out of trouble, as far as that sort of trouble goes. One should respect the culture of any place where one travels, and not just as a way of avoiding problems. This should go without saying.
Being physically fit? Unless you put yourself into a pretty bad situation, no Thai is going to pick a fight with you. In this context, being physically fit is irrelevant.
I think you're going to find that Thailand is a relatively safe and gentle place to travel in. Trouble comes in all shapes and forms, and if you keep your head and don't act like a fool, then the only problems you're likely to run into will be the sort that one can't really prepare for.
As the old saying goes, stay alert don't get hurt.
Stay dry over there!
"There have been a few times when my sandals have gone missing from my guest house, ..."
Had the same thing happen to my Teva's in Flores. I normally would not leave them out, but this one time I forgot. Turns out that the guesthouse owner took them inside for me so that no one else would steal them. I also left a pair of jandals (flipflops) outside in Penida - and found then the next day, chewed up by the owner's puppy! That'll learn me!
Seriously, as long as you use common sense, you shouldn't have any problems.
- only take the valuables that you are prepared to lose (if the worst case eventuates).
- if carrying significant amounts of cash, spread it around your belongings - don't carry it all in one place.
- only carry enough cash in your day-to-day wallet that you will need to use for day day. - don't flash around large wads of cash
- be aware of what's around you when taking cash out of ATMs.
]- don't get obnoxiously drunk (and if you do, don't carry all your valuables),
- be sure to keep your room locked, keep stuff away from windows so arms don't reach in through windows
- don't walk alone late at night in remote, dark places (esp when drunk).
- carry your handbag/carry bag over across your chest, not over your shoulder.
- be smart about where you put stuff in your daypack. Don't put your wallet/iPod/phone in an outside pocket - use the internal pockets, or somewhere near the bottom.
- when at a restaurant, don't leave your daypack/handbag/carry bag on the floor or on a chair next to you.
- ALWAYS padlock your backpack when it's not in your sight. Especially when on public transport, but also when you leave it in your room. Put any valuables that you won't be carrying around inside your pack and lock it up to minimise the temptation of cleaning staff etc. This includes all chargers, adapters, etc that indicate that you have a netbook, camera, etc. The only thing I leave outside my backpack when not in my room is maybe odd bits of clothing and my toiletry bag.
Use the same sensibilities that you would at home. You are probably less at risk that you are at home anyhow.
Not very -
don't become a "shop window" - keep your valuables out of public view as much as possible
Beware of your fellow travellers - they are no more or less reliable than any of the locals.
Don't be over paranoiac.
Use the same common sense you use at home
#5 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
My father in law, who lives in a small village in Yasothon, is always telling me how dangerous it is in the countryside at night. But when I ask him the last time there was a robbery or the like, he has to think back for years... There is a problem with violence in Thailand, and village boys kill each other with alarming regularity (just had another murder down my street - that makes four on my block in the almost four years I've lived here), but that doesn't apply to us. That's boys with an axe to grind against other boys.
#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I have asked this very question before my first trip to SE Asia after reading in a well known guide book that people get gassed on basses...We have never ever had anything stolen. I have once forgotten a camera in a very busy bar and a cleaner found it and gave it back!!! We do separate our cards, cash from passports etc so if one bag is lost we have back up. I always e mailed a copy of my passport to myself before traveling.
I have however come across a few places where a few things were added to the bill "by mistake"...
Speaking of which, last week I was at Mo chit with my wife and daughter, catching the bus back home. I was carrying lots of crap (wife and a kid you know) and I forgot the camera in the taxi. Well the taxi driver saw it, stopped, jumped out, and found us in the terminal. That was a $350 dollar camera. Talk about a decent guy.
#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
PS The one and only time I was the victim of crime was during my first tour of duty in Thailand when a wily ladyboy picked my pocket down on Bangla Road.
Ever since then the first thing I do when I see a katoey circling is to thrust my hands in my pockets and grip those valuables tight. Yes, I know that last sentence is filled with unintentional innuendo.
99.99% of the time you can avoid being a victim of crime in Thailand if you don't behave in a careless/stupid manner in my opinion.
Why do ladyboys get such a bad name?
By the way my one rule in Thailand, and I would seriously advise any guy to follow it is; NEVER get drunk with Thai guys you don't know well or walk into a place as the lone farang when it's full of drunk Thai guys.Put it this way, they get nasty on drink the total opposite to Khmer men who just get silly.
#13 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Oh yeh, and invest in a can of mace for protection if you're worried.
Freely available in KSR
#14 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Much to my regret, I didn't get a chance. He ran, cab still running outside, thrust the camera in my wife's hands, and ran back out without pause - promptly driving off as the police were pressing him to clear the lane. A shame really. A thoroughly decent guy.
#15 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
@Madmac - he was probably from the "good deed is its own reward" school of thought. I've encountered a lot of Thai people who helped me with zero expectation of anything in return. That even includes salespeople I've just shot down, oddly enough.
I don't know why he did it - other than I think he was just a decent guy.
#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Yep - for sure.
#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957