While Thailand is a relatively safe country, women travelers from western countries are often stereotyped, and the social freedoms you may be used to at home could be taboo in Thailand.
Choose Safe Accommodation
One of the simplest ways to keep yourself safe while staying in Thailand is by choosing appropriate accommodation. if you’re traveling on a tight budget, the $5 a night dormitory room might be tempting, but paying a bit extra for a room which has a lock on the door, 24hr reception, clean facilities and linen, can mean the difference between getting your valuables pinched, and being bitten by bed bugs, and getting a comfortable, undisturbed night’s sleep. Many hostels in Thailand have female-only dorms.
Drive-by Bag-Snatching in Thailand
Violent crimes against foreigners; including murder and mugging, are rare, but petty crime is common.
Alarmingly, ride-by bag-snatching is increasingly common. A motorbike zooms by very close, the passenger on the back grabs your bag from your shoulder, and you‘ve lost everything. Slipping one arm through the bag loop and the other over your head is not much of a deterrent, and could result in injury. The thief will drag you and the bag, until the handle breaks, or they’ll slash the handle with a blade. Either way, the risk of getting hurt is high.
But there are a few simple precautions you can take to protect yourself and your valuables.
- Walk as far as far away as you can from the roadside, keeping your bag on the side of your body away from the traffic.
- Only take what you need for the day and keep your valuables in a safe at the hotel.
- Keep your phone out of sight, not in the bag.
- Don’t get your camera out until you want to use it.
- Remember, if there’s nothing of value in your bag, it’ll be easy to let the thieves have it and avoid confrontation or injury.
Street Safety at Night
Thailand’s unlit alleys, dark streets and back lanes are as sketchy as the ones in your hometown – except here you don‘t necessarily know the bad areas. Don‘t walk alone on a beach at night, and that includes Sunrise Beach where the Full Moon Party is held on Koh Phangan.
What to Wear in Thailand
Just because there are thousands of scantily-clad bar girls, doesn’t mean you should dress the same. For all its openness and acceptance, Thailand is still pretty conservative. So cover up appropriately – men and women. Women shouldn’t go topless on the beach, and don’t stray too far from the beach in your bikini. It’s handy to always carry a loose-fitting dress in your beach bag, just in case you want to duck off to the markets.
When entering temples and royal buildings, always make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. That means no singlets for guys or gals. Keep a sarong in your bag should you need a quick wardrobe change, and don’t forget to remove your shoes and socks when entering a temple.
Do Women Get Harassed in Thailand?
Thai society is hierarchical, and feminism hasn’t cemented itself in society.. yet.
You know those western men who think all Thai girls are “up for it“? Some Thai men have the same mistaken belief about western women.
Thai men can often misread signals from the way western women dress. If you’re sexually assaulted, although it’s illegal, the old “she was asking for it” argument is bound to surface.
However, it’s highly unlikely you will be wolf whistled or sexually harassed while out and about on the street. Being Buddhists, Thai people are generally shy and respectful of women.
But, if you do get harassed while traveling alone, ignore the comments and carry on walking. Walk confidently and always remain calm. Getting into an argument with a local who is rude to you will never end well.
Did You Know Women Shouldn’t Touch Monks?
Don’t touch or give anything directly to a monk; instead, set it on the ground in front of them or give it to a man to hand over.
Also, don’t sit next to monks on public transport, and look out for monk-only areas in waiting rooms. Women are not welcome in some temples, so always check the signs.
If you pass a monk on the street, let him pass by you first.
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