British holidaymakers who are due to travel to Thailand may have noted an update to the country’s Foreign Office advice page.
“Violent sexual assaults and unprovoked attacks have been reported in tourist destinations across Thailand,” reads the FCDO update under the safety and security section.
This update may appear alarming to some travellers, such as those planning a first time visit to the country or a solo trip. However, travel experts and tour operators offer reassurance and context.
Here is what you should know about the latest changes to advice on travel to Thailand.
What is the Foreign Office advice?
There is no warning against travel to Thailand, but the FCDO recommends reading its advice before travelling.
The full update on the risk of attacks in the country reads: “Serious crimes take place throughout Thailand, and sometimes British nationals are affected. Violent sexual assaults and unprovoked attacks have been reported in tourist destinations across Thailand.
“These are particularly common during full moon parties and other similar events and late at night near bars. Drink spiking and drug assisted sexual assault have been reported in tourist destinations around Thailand, with both male and female victims.
“Be careful about taking drinks from strangers or leaving your drinks unattended. Crimes involving guns take place in Thailand, and foreign nationals have sometimes been victims of gun crime.”
What do experts say about the update?
Tour operators and travel agents offer some context to the FCDO update on crime in Thailand.
Ashley Quint, director at travel agency TimeTravel World, says: “As the world has reopened following the pandemic, old problems like the recent advice in Thailand have reappeared – however, it’s still relatively rare”.
He adds: “If possible, I would always suggest being with a trusted, known person, or preferably a group – especially at large events like a full moon party or festivals.”
For those set to join a group tour, G Adventures, which runs at least 51 trips that feature Thailand, has advice.
Julie FitzGerald, general manager for Asia at G Adventures, said: “Thailand is, as a whole, a very peaceful country but, as with all destinations, travellers still need to be mindful of the best safety practices when travelling.
“One of the benefits of travelling in a group, like with G Adventures, is the added security that goes with this.”
A tour leader can offer advice on areas to avoid, for instance. Ms FitzGerald also suggests sticking to bottles when drinking alcohol, rather than the “buckets” that are sold in many bars in the Thailand, to reduce the risk of spiking.
Gap year travel
Thailand is a popular destination among backpackers, people on a gap year and solo travellers.
Becca Moulton, a senior travel adviser at Gap360, a specialist in gap year travel and travel for people aged 18-30, said: “Like travel anywhere, or even nights out in the UK, we always recommend travellers take sensible precautions and think about safety, especially when out having a fun evening at bars and clubs, and especially at big, crowded events like a full moon party.”
“Keep an eye on your drinks, be cautious of strangers you meet, consider apps or features on your phone like Find My Friend, and keep track of how much alcohol you have consumed. If you are uncomfortable or don’t feel safe, seek help immediately”.
Are there any unexpected rules in Thailand?
The Foreign Office points out that posting images on social media of people drinking alcohol or wearing inappropriate clothing “can result in fines and/or imprisonment both for the person who uploaded the images and the people in them.”
What type of travel insurance do I need?
This will depend on many factors, including your health and age. As a general rule, you should have sufficient medical cover and cover for any other eventualities, such as loss of luggage or valuables.
Travellers should check that their insurance policy covers them for any adventure activities in which they plan to take part, such as wild swimming, diving, kayaking or white-water rafting.
A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers said: “Travel insurance can provide vital protection and peace of mind when holidaying abroad, especially against any costs involved with needing emergency medical treatment.
“Some policies will also cover legal fees, but they may vary so be sure you buy the policy that most suits your needs, not just based on price. When buying insurance, it is also important to answer all questions fully and honestly to ensure you have the right cover in place.”