People keep telling me that it's fine as long as I am cautious, but I am worried because I like to travel off of the beaten path, to remote wilderness, to jungles and other unreachable and non-touristy places. Is it safe to take tuk-tuks alone as a woman to a nature reserve? Is it safe to hire guides to take me to jungles alone? Or should I really try to pull some other travelers along with me to stay safe?
I am planning my trip to Thailand and perhaps Vietnam or Malaysia, and I am actually getting very anxious about it.
I'm a male but will try to help. Of those three countries I only know about Thailand, but if you're smart and careful you'll be fine - actually the non-touristy places you want to go generally seem to be safer (for solo men, solo women, groups, basically anybody) than tourist places, since people who want to scam tourists naturally center around tourist places. People might find it strange that you're single since people here tend to marry and have families a bit earlier than most westerners, and women don't seem to travel alone too much (it's still a largely patriarchial society here) but in everywhere off-the-beaten-track I've been in Thailand people have been very helpful and considerate, and I generally feel safe even leaving my suitcase in bus station seating areas while using the toilet since people watch your belongings for you. I've even done this by experiment - left my luggage in a bus station while walking off to get some food - and neighboring people literally keep their eyes glued on the luggage as if protecting their own property. Naturally I wouldn't do this in a typical station in Bangkok or CM or down south (where I haven't ventured yet), but in areas that don't see a lot of tourists and we're therefore a bit out of the ordinary, they'll go out of their way to watch out for you, in my experience.
The only time I've been slightly done wrong is being slightly overcharged by tuk-tuk's, but at the worst it has amounted to maybe 30-60 baht over a reasonable price.
To be honest, the most dangerous creatures I've encountered here are other westerners and the occasional attack of soi dogs while walking late at night (I always keep a bag while walking late at night). In one Isaan village I stayed in, locals even warned me not to walk at night due to the risk of being attacked by pii or ghosts. Also in several less-visited places in N and NE Thailand, local policemen have gone out of their way to introduce themselves to me in a way that suggested they wanted me to feel welcome.
As far as going to the jungle alone with a guide, bring your concerns up with the agency before going. If they're a good agency they should be able to handle your concerns and go out of their way to ensure your safety.
Another thing - everywhere I've been in Thailand has been well-traveled many times before, by various Asian civilizations living here as well as the occasional westerner passing through (also you'll find westerners married to locals in many of even the more remote spots). The jungles seem to be well-trekked by monks or forest farmers, and word-of-mouth passes quickly around the more remote areas. I hear Nan province is pretty nice and out of the way (in the north of Thailand, east of Chiang Mai) so may check that out.
So in short, talk to the locals when possible, mention what you're doing, show respect, keep your head on your shoulders, and you'll be fine. Have a good trip.
#2 squarethecircle has been a member since 19/10/2011. Posts: 133
yeah I second squarethecircle. in smaller towns of SEA i feel safer and more peaceful. once you are out of tourist areas, the people you will meet are mostly people who are busy working for a living, scamming or harming tourists are not their top priority.
In Siem Reap, there was once I went for a dinner across the river from my hotel. after the meal it was pitch-dark and the street deserted. my hotel was about a km away. with no sign of any tuk tuk, i walked. not a minute went by before a motobike stopped beside me and started talking to me in Khmer. I didn't know a word, but understood he meant hey it's not safe here, jump on i'll fetch you. so i ended up on his moto and he took me back across the river to the market area. In Pitsanulok one evening i was walking and lost my way, holding my map in hand, i approach a housewife who was resting outside after her dinner. she can't say a word of english, but she wasted no time to even try to work out the directions, she just asked her hubby out and got him to fetch me to the train station that's where i wanted to go. i won't suggest you trying this as a lone lady, for i'm a guy. i was very touched by this and other similar incidents/encounters with the locals. however, there's always added precautions needed for women than men. just be smart, most common sense at your hometown would mostly be applicable here as well.
taking any public transport is generally safe, just make sure all your valuables are on or near your body. taking a tuk-tuk alone in any town areas should be no problem, but as a lone lady traveller, taking tuk-tuk for further out-of-town tours or for a day trip - it might be better to ask your guesthouse/hotel to charter one for you, and make sure they know who is the driver (and make the driver knows that he is known too), your target location and your scheduled time to come back. for added safety, buy a local sim card and store your guesthouse's phone number in your cell phone. If you like trekking, go for a reputable company.
I think you should find partner to travel around this area
Thailand is not safe 100 Percent , you must find one
#7 Jester1991 has been a member since 5/10/2015. Posts: 2
"...off of the beaten path, to remote wilderness, to jungles and other unreachable and non-touristy places. Is it safe to take tuk-tuks alone as a woman to a nature reserve? Is it safe to hire guides to take me to jungles alone?"
No. Nowhere in the world. Sure, nine times out of ten, you'll have no problem. Most people are decent. But meet the one who isn't...
I felt much safer in Laos than Vietnam when travelling alone - it may be somewhere to consider. In Vietnam I was locked in a hotel at one point, pretty much held to ransom as they had my passport and were keen to separate me from my money before unlocking the door and handing over my passport. In Vietnam I was also locked in a taxi and driven around a lake that was not between my starting point and destination, it cost me a $10 ransom to have the door unlocked which was pretty scary in the darkness of the early morning. I'd have pretty much paid anything to get out, I felt I got off lightly at $10. Having said all of that I still feel comfortable travelling alone as a female in Asia, I just make smarter choices now! Not that I was being reckless previously, I just upped my vigilance.
#9 Yesterday has been a member since 9/8/2015. Posts: 33
I've never had any problems travelling alone in China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines or Myanmar. Sumatra is the only place I have been that I really wouldn't advise for a woman alone: non-stop harassment. I was wearing trousers, a long-sleeved shirt buttoned up to the neck with a vest underneath (very cool!), sunglasses, my hair tied back and a hat but I was almost broken by it. Relentless. Before that experience, I used to roll my eyes at "women travelling alone" questions as I thought it was just a matter of using your common sense...
Who held your passport in the hotel and what did they want?
#11 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412
Hey Gogo, the staff at the hotel/owner didn't want to return my passport when I was checking out. I had been trying to leave the hotel from about 7.30-8am but the doors were locked i.e. roller door on front of hotel. It was also pitch black in the lobby. I just wanted to go get breakfast. I called out repeatedly but no one came. When I was back in my room I heard someone downstairs and went to go for brekky, but all was still locked. It was the cleaning lady. I mimed please let me out, but she indicated it was locked and pointed to the clock to indicate 9am.
I seriously didn't like this locked in business so packed my bag to leave and went back downstairs at 9am. I had paid when I checked in for one night. When I asked at reception to have my passport back as I was checking out the staff/owner from the day before said no, I needed to pay her, then I could have my passport back. I rummaged through my things looking for the receipt. Couldn't find it. Told her she knew I paid already, it was only yesterday. She said no; pay then passport. I went back upstairs, went through the bin. Luckily found the receipt. Went back down stairs, and we had a very tense moment, where I showed but did no want to hand over the receipt without getting my passport first. Then I grabbed it, dropped the receipt and got out of there very quickly.
This had nothing to do with a misunderstanding re the customary leaving of the passport so hotel can register their guests with the government or police or whatever they do. The hotel was in Hanoi, I don't recall the name.
Aside from the taxi incident described above, I had no other problems in Vietnam on that trip. Most recent trip this year had similar attempted taxi scam, but I pretended to phone the taxi company and managed to be released.
#12 Yesterday has been a member since 9/8/2015. Posts: 33
hey, i do not leave my passport with anyone, i'm happy to wait at reception while they take a photocopy or i provide my own photocopy, its too important to be left with anyone. as for safe countries, the worst i've seen for female travellers would be pakistan and bangladesh, most of sea is ok...
I never leave a passport with anyone be they hotel or bike shop. If a photocopy isnt enough I take my business elsewhere.
#14 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412
Photocopy is definitely the sensible option!
#15 Yesterday has been a member since 9/8/2015. Posts: 33