10 April 2009 by Anna Staford
Travel insurance is must have for all countries! Thailand is a very safe country to visit, but it is always wise to take some precautions to ensure you have a trouble free holiday. When travelling to Thailand or any other country tourist is an attractive target for all kinds of cheaters for the obvious reason of being new the environment. Keep the following things in mind in order to secure yourself and people traveling with you.
Make sure your room is locked and bolted at night. Always leave valuables, airline tickets and passports in the hotel safety deposit box. Carry a photocopy of the id page of you passport. The police can demand to see it, but rarely do. If you take a taxi, be clear about where you want to go. In Bangkok taxis have meters, but in provincial areas you will need to bargain the price.
When travelling by train or bus don't leave valuables in you baggage, and be cautious of strangers offering free food or drink. Thai's can be very hospitable, but it also has been known for food and drink to be drugged. When you will find yourself awake your valuables will be gone. If you hire a vehicle read the terms carefully, and make sure you get proper insurance cover, otherwise you may have to pay for any damage or repairs.
Wear reasonable clothing if you ride a motorcycle. A minor spill when wearing shorts can ruin your holiday. The law requires you to wear a crash helmet. The law requires front seat passengers in cars to wear a seat belt. Driving standards in Thailand leave a lot to be desired so take extra care. If you hire a water-scooter or jet ski wear a life jacket and keep away from areas where people are swimming.
You require a Thai driving licence or and International driving permit to ride a motorcycle or drive a car. Your licence from home is not sufficient. When driving without a licence you also invalidate your insurance cover. Keep your travel insurance at hand. If you are involved in a road traffic accident the maximum amount of compensation guaranteed by law is only US$2,000. For anything above it you will have to go to court, possibly waiting for years and still never see a penny. Since 2003 there has been a crack down on drugs, and the penalties for possession and trafficking have been enforced with extreme severity.
Thailand has a special Tourist Police force which was founded to assist the visitors. The officers are multilingual and will help you to deal with theft, accidents and disputes. Especially beware of touts offering special discounts at Jewelry shops. If you take a taxi, be clear about where you want to go. The driver may tell you that the hotel you are looking for is full, or that the shop/restaurant is closed. This is probably a scam. Go and check yourself and then decide where to go as an alternative. If you are approached on the street by someone offering special discounts at shops it's probably a scam - don't go!
Beware of restaurant menus that do not show prices. Outside of the hotels a good meal would be around US$5 per person, excluding drinks. If someone wants to show you photos of a children's orphanage and then solicits donations, it is probably a scam. There are many organisations that do run orphanages and shelters for children, but we recommend that you visit first and check out the place before offering financial help. However, collection boxes at banks, shopping malls and the airport are usually genuine. Boy Scouts may want to show you a notebook containing addresses of overseas visitors and will ask you to write your name as well. They will then want a donation, but it is only another scam.
Do not agree to take packages or letters when you leave the country, for posting overseas. These may contain drugs or other contraband materials and you will be liable when stopped by the police or customs officials.