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Travelers are usually overwhelmed by the chaos that is the Thai road network, with its 'toughest driver wins' right-of-way system, the consistent threat of being sideswiped by a Tuk Tuk, and incessant honking. Follow these tips to stay safe.
Riding in Tuk Tuk is a fun way to travel around Thailand – but they‘re best for short trips. Anything longer than 30 minutes can become uncomfortable.
It‘s essential to bargain your fare before you board and write down the agreed fare. If your fare results in a dispute, tuk-tuk drivers can become aggressive, and sometimes violent, especially in resorts like Patong.
Set your destination, and make sure your driver takes you there. If you have a feeling that you are being steered down the wrong path, say “yoot tee nee“ (Stop here).
Tuk Tuk drivers like to zip through the traffic which can seem unnerving especially a tuk-tuk offers little to no accident protection, which can seem like a bumpy and somewhat dangerous ride. Keep your hands, arms, and feet inside the vehicle at all times.
Hold on to bags and purses tightly, passing motorcycle thieves will grab it and speed off.
If it's about getting somewhere rather than the experience of riding in a tuk-tuk, you'll be better off in a taxi. Just make sure you know the ins and outs of taking a taxi in Thailand. While it's not so bad in Bangkok, in Phuket the taxi and Tuk Tuk mafia are ready to pull a fast one on you.
Thailand, unfortunately, has one of the worst road fatality rates in the world. During the day, the roads are crazy and at night, they can be deadly.
There are no laws compelling truck drivers to have rest breaks, drug use is common, as is drink driving. Vehicles can be sub-standard, maintenance rates are low and the road conditions can be terrible.
It seems that not a week goes by without a news report of a tour bus crash.
If you must take an overnight bus, choose a reputable company with a good safety record. Plus you don't want to scrimp on comfort either.
In the past couple of years, there‘ve been a number of derailments, especially on the Bangkok to Chiang Mai line and old, poorly maintained tracks are blamed. There‘s been some work on improving the infrastructure, but if you have to be there on time - get a plane.
Rail services are notoriously late. Delays of three or four hours are not uncommon, but who‘s in a hurry anyway. Some passengers use this as an excuse to get roaring drunk.
It‘s doubtful if any overnight/sleeper train anywhere in the world is 100% secure while you snooze. So take padlocks, bike chains and cable ties - lock your bag to something sturdy and keep your passport and cash tucked away on your person.
Yes! Either a license you obtained in Thailand or you need to be licensed to ride a motorbike in your home country.
For a full explanation of licensing, and what happens if you don't have one, check our guide to motorbike riding in Thailand.
Traveling by boat is how most people get from the Thailand mainland to outer islands off the coast or even travel along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok to dodge the road traffic. Whether it's a longtail, speedboat or ferry, traveling on a boat can be a pleasant way to see Thailand, but it can also be dangerous. Like their road safety record, Thailand also has a poor maritime safety record. What you may be used to back home in terms of enforcement and regulation isn't always the case in Thailand with travelers often caught out in bad situations. But you can take preventative measures to ensure your boat ride is as safe as possible.
In 2018, 47 Chinese nationals perished off the coast of Phuket after the boat they were traveling on sank in poor weather conditions during monsoon season. Monsoon season is one of the worst times to travel by boat due to inclement weather and dangerous ocean conditions. Authorities will often close off national parks and islands for safety reasons.
If you are planning to travel by boat here are some things to consider before hopping on:
Government travel advisories highlight tensions and the danger of banditry on the following border points:
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Should you ride a motorbike in Thailand? What are the risks? Find out all the essential information before you rent two wheels.
Nomad Ronan offers his tips on Thai culture, how to save money, how to stay safe, useful Thai phrases to learn, and the best time of year to go to Thailand.
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