“Is Thailand safe for female travelers?”
“My daughter is traveling to Thailand. Is it safe for a girl to travel to Thailand?”
I have been asked these question several times recently. And as I am currently traveling around Thailand, I thought it might be worth creating an article about traveling to Thailand as a woman.
Thailand is a popular destination for travelers of any age, which includes a large number of young female travelers who choose Thailand for their first backpacking trip. Understandably either these girls themselves or their family and friends wonder about how safe Thailand is.
The short answer is: Thailand is safe. There are just a few things you need to know about traveling to Thailand, especially as a woman.
But, I wanted to base this article on more than just my own experiences traveling around Thailand. So, I asked several experienced female travel bloggers who know Thailand well, to share their experiences and tips for traveling to Thailand as a woman.
And this is the result: a practical list of things to know before traveling to Thailand. And although some tips specifically focus on women traveling to Thailand, the list also includes plenty of general tips, useful for anyone planning a trip to this beautiful country.
9 Things to Know About Traveling to Thailand as a Woman
1. Are Hostels Safe in Thailand?
Yes, hostels in Thailand are safe. And especially for solo travelers they are a great option because it’s a good way to make friends and find travel partners. That last part actually really helps to make traveling safer: when you stay in hostels you will often meet other people to travel with. And there is definitely safety in numbers, so this way you will be traveling alone less often and are therefore generally safer.
Hostels are also a great place to find travel information: whether it’s through fellow backpackers or through the hostel staff. Hostels are a very open environment which makes it very easy to pick people’s brain about where to go next and which places to avoid.
But, of course, I do understand the concerns you might have about hostels: you share a bedroom with strangers! And, for female travelers, you might even, if you so choose, be sharing a room with men/boys.
Hostels are mainly used by younger travelers and especially in a country like Thailand there are countless hostels that can be classified as ‘party hostels’. That means that yes, you might find drunk people in your room, people getting a little bit too intimate in the bed next to you or, in my case once, someone throwing up all over the room. And although these things are incredibly annoying, they don’t make your shared hostel room unsafe. I don’t know what it is but there kinda is this unwritten rule that you respect your roommates.
Hostels, although often basic and sometimes less hygienic than you might like, are a great place for solo travelers and hostels in Thailand are definitely a suitable option for solo female travelers and a great way to make friends!
Tip: if you plan to stay in hostels in Thailand (or anywhere in the world), bring a padlock. Hostels often have lockers you can use to keep your belongings safe but they hardly ever provide padlocks for free. So bring your own to avoid having to pay the hostel’s elevated price to buy one from them.
2. Only Book Your First Couple of Nights of Accommodation
By Claire from BackpackingBella.com
“If you are a woman traveling to Thailand for the first time, you will want to be sure that you are comfortable with your accommodation.
For this reason, I would recommend not booking any more than the first couple of nights.
This may go against your instincts, especially if you are the type of person who likes to plan everything! But in my experience, it has worked well.
On my first solo trip to Thailand, I went to the island of Koh Chang. I had booked a basic backpacker hut online, in the popular area of Lonely Beach. But, as I discovered, it was a bit too basic! Plus, there was a noisy building site right next door. Because I had only booked two nights there, I simply scouted the area for somewhere I preferred. Soon, I was sunning myself by the pool of a more upscale (but still inexpensive) resort that was a whole lot better!
Another time, a guest house in Thailand was almost empty, so I moved to another resort that was bustling with solo travelers like me.
It’s not always easy to tell before you arrive if the place you’re staying at will suit you. So keep your options open.
Do keep in mind that some guest houses require a minimum number of nights’ stay. And if you are coming over at a particularly busy period like New Year, it’s better to book everything in advance. But otherwise, just book a couple of nights and stay flexible.”
I really agree with this! Because this was my first trip to Thailand and I had no idea what to expect I booked most of my accommodation in advance. I wish I hadn’t. I would have had much more flexibility as to which places to visit and how long to stay. And yes, outside of major holidays it is very easy to find a good place to stay just a few days in advance or even on the same day.
3. Tourist Scams to Look Out For
By Kelly from GirlWithThePassport.com
“There’s no denying it, Thailand is a magical country that is rich in both natural and cultural beauty.
And while I loved my time in Thailand, I would advise any female traveler traveling to Thailand for the first time to take certain precautions to ensure that they get the most out of their trip to this magnificent country. For any female traveler out there, safety is always a primary concern and of the utmost importance, especially when traveling alone.
For me, one of the biggest problems in Thailand were the plethora of tourist scams that were ready to separate tourists from their money. Two of the many tourist scams that stick out in my mind were the tuk-tuk drivers refusing to give you your change back, and the “helpful” locals informing you that major Bangkok temples were closed for a holiday that didn’t actually exist.
Therefore, I advise anyone traveling to Thailand to always give their cab or tuk-tuk driver exact change whenever possible. During my visit to Thailand, whenever I gave a driver more than what I owed them, they would refuse to give me my change back. It felt like a rich foreigner tax of some sort and it drove me nuts. Yes, I got indignant and would scream and yell, but at the end of the day, there really wasn’t much I could do about it.
Another Tourist Scam
Another common scam that I encountered was locals who pretend to be helpful and inform you that a major temple is closed for a public holiday, even though it really isn’t. This happened to me multiple times and not only was it a waste of time, but I was charged an inflated price for admission to a temple that was mediocre at best.
Therefore, if anyone says this to you, just say thank you and insist on visiting the temple for yourself. This way, you can see for yourself if the temple is really closed or if locals are just trying to scam you out of your money.
And while these are not the only tourist scams that you will encounter in Thailand, these are two of the most common ones that I not so fondly remember. That’s why I suggest that you keep your guard up and always remain somewhat skeptical of what helpful locals are telling you. Also, whenever possible, carry exact change or small bills with you. This way, if someone does refuse to give you your change back, you won’t lose that much money and won’t be quite so upset.
And while of course not everyone will try and scam you, it’s always good to be prepared just in case.”
4. Is Public Transport in Thailand Safe for Women?
What about taking this train? 😉
By Sapna from MySimpleSojourn.com
What you need to know about taking public transport in Thailand
“I traveled to Thailand twice and when I visited last time, I used Thailand’s public transport extensively.
I used the Airport rail link from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to get to my hostel in Bangkok. It was easy, safe and it cost me 10 times less than a taxi. The airport line operates from 6.00 AM until midnight and is very safe, even when I traveled around 11.00 PM to get back from Bangkok to the airport.
Skytrain (BTS) and the underground rail system (MRT) are my first choice when it comes to traveling in Bangkok. These trains connect all the major attractions in Bangkok, they are cheap and I never felt unsafe.
My second choice are taxis. Compared to tuk-tuks they are faster and because they are metered you are less likely to overpay. And, with their air conditioning, taxis offer respite from the hot and humid weather.
Many of the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers in Thailand are not fluent in English or have difficulty understanding where you want to go. The best way is to just show them the written address.
The Chao Phraya Express Boat service is another economical way to travel in Bangkok. The boats connect most temples.
I personally won’t recommend tuk-tuks because they are not much cheaper than taxis and they will often try to overcharge tourists as they don’t use meters usually. I am not a fan of buses for local transport because I struggled to read and understand the stops.
To travel from one part of Thailand to another, trains are an economic choice and connect almost every part of the country. You can buy first class, second class or third class train tickets and some trains offer separate ‘ladies only’ carriages. For longer journeys, the overnight sleeper trains with airconditioning are a great option.
I traveled by train both during the day and at night, taking the sleeper train, and found them both a safe choice.
The bus network is also good for traveling between cities, although buses often cost a bit more than trains.
While in Thailand, I used public transport in different parts of the country and at different times of the day. Sometimes language can be an issue but I always felt safe and think it’s a great way to travel around Thailand.”
During my trip to Thailand Rome2rio.com and 12go.asia were my go-to options to figure out how to get from one place to the next. And I often just emailed or called my ho(s)tel to ask how to best get to them.
Flights are often very cheap and save you a lot of time, so it’s worth comparing your options.
Also, to get around cities I would highly recommend using the Grab app when available. Grab is Thailand’s version of Uber and just like with Uber you get to see the final price before you get into the taxi and can pay via the app. Grab isn’t available (yet) everywhere in Thailand but I suggest downloading the app and using it in all cities and larger towns when you need a taxi.
5. Be Prepared to Cover Up
By Cazzy Magennis from DreamBigTravelFarBlog.com
“As is the case in most parts of Asia, it is generally wise to cover up most of your body when out and about sightseeing.
There are a few reasons for this. Such as, whenever you visit religious monuments, you will need to ensure that things like your shoulders and knees are covered so as not to offend anyone.
Thailand receives so many visitors each year that most locals are used to and well aware of female travelers wanting to wear more revealing clothes, mainly because of the tropical climate. This goes especially for the beach areas. But as a general rule, it is more respectful to cover up again whenever you leave the beach and walk back through town to your hotel or hostel.
From a more personal perspective, I generally advise covering up to avoid any unwanted staring (both from men and women). Thailand isn’t as bad as other parts of Asia, but if you have a different skin color, particularly white, then you are likely to garner a lot of unwanted attention. At least, for me it’s unwanted!”
6. Visiting Temples in Thailand as a Woman
By Flo from YogaWineTravel.com
“Thailand is a land of thousands of temples, and almost all of them are open to not just devotees, but also to tourists.
However, first-time visitors to Thailand need to understand the importance of adhering to the code of conduct at temples and being respectful. Most temples will have signage to let visitors know that there is a dress code if you wish to enter the grounds – female travelers should make sure that their knees and shoulders are covered, and although some temples will have shawls available for rental it’s best to bring your own. In order to enter prayer halls you may be asked to remove your shoes at the door.
In addition to strict dress codes you should keep your voice down and absolutely do not touch, climb on, step on or mock the statues of Buddha within a temple.
Turn your flash off and avoid taking photos of people in prayer – it is an intimate moment and they are not there for your photo opportunity.
Some temples will also have “monk chat” corners where you can interact with Buddhist monks and ask them about their lives and their faith. This is a fantastic opportunity to get a glimpse into the religion and the monks who devote themselves to the path. However, be mindful of the fact that Buddhist monks in Thailand are not permitted to come into any physical contact with women. Also, women are not allowed to enter particular temples so pay attention to the signage.”
7. Visiting the Walking Streets as a Woman
By Madhurima Chakraborty from OrangeWayfarer.com
“No first trip to Thailand is complete without a visit to the (in)famous walking streets, often earning the title as “Sin City” destinations of the East!
Be it in the capital city of Bangkok or in the beach side bachelors’ dens of Pattaya and Phuket, a walking street in Thailand is a pretty hyped up destination.
‘What are these walking streets in Thailand?’ I asked as I stepped outside of my hotel in Bangkok on my first international trip.
Walking streets have been featured in several Hollywood and Bollywood movies and gathered quite some fame.
Even though prostitution is illegal in Thailand, the walking streets are major attractions of the subtle undercurrent of adult entertainment tourism. From nudity and skimpily dressed dancers in bars to ladyboys and extravagant shows, all brought together on these walking streets that are packed with bars and curious tourists. And yes, this is also where you can find numerous massage parlors or bars where “happy ending” seekers queue up.
Going here was a bit of a shock for me since I am Indian and raised in an extremely conservative society. Stepping inside a world where the sex trade is rampant was beyond my fancy! However, seeing these walking streets in Thailand for yourself is definitely a unique experience.
Walking streets are open until late but the prime time is from 8 pm onward. You do not really have to worry about what you are wearing as you won’t be approached indecently. I have visited at least 6 walking streets in Thailand and never faced any kind of harassment.
If you are willing to visit any show, which many women do simply out of curiosity, you can bargain for a good price.
If you want to visit a massage parlor but value your privacy, it’s better to go for a private cabin. Couple massages is a thing in these parlors too and can be a relaxing experience, despite the unusual area.
The bars here serve what sounds like cheap beer but they will often put more ice than beer in your glass and shots are often watered down.
You will probably see a lot of ladyboys and women standing by the side of the road, willing to trade their night for a few bucks. Paying for a girlfriend for a few days, to stay by the beach is popular among many solo travelers in Thailand.”
Walking streets are a unique experience and you may choose to go there or not, but just know that yes, as a woman traveling to Thailand you can explore these areas without feeling unsafe.
I went to the walking street in Phuket. And even though I do not come from a conservative society (The Netherlands is famous for its red light districts after all!), I still found it quite an intense experience and as I am typing this the morning after I visited that walking street I find myself lost for words… As a woman, I just couldn’t stop thinking about how these women must be feeling. What is it like to have to hang around these men all night, maybe dance around a pole for a while or get naked on stage… and then spend the night with one who is willing to pay… I’ve read too many books about this to pretend not to know what scars this lifestyle (often) leaves. For me it was one crazy night out, for them, this is their life…
8. Where to Stay and Where Not to Stay in Thailand
By Katie from CreativeTravelguide.com
“Certain areas of Thailand and Bangkok are much safer and more comfortable than others.
Although beautiful and fun, Thailand is often a destination for groups of people looking for uncensored fun, which can cause some issues in certain areas of Thailand, especially for solo female travelers.
Staying in the city center will be safer than staying in the suburbs.
Asoke, On Nut, Siam and Chit Lom districts are all safe, comfortable and convenient locations to stay in whilst you are in the city. Firstly, you can opt for a private room in a decent hotel because the hotels are cheaper than those nearer the river (our favorite is the X2 Vibe Hotel in On Nut). Secondly, all these districts have the BTS line nearby; meaning you can get around the city safely without having to always rely on the overpriced taxi scams and not-so-safe tuk tuks.
The Islands and beaches:
One of the reasons I first visited Thailand was to be able to explore Thailand’s beautiful islands and beaches.
If you aren’t into lively night scenes but want a more relaxing experience, go to Khao Lak, Kamala or Koh Chang. If you want a party scene, check out Patong in Phuket, Ko Phangan, Koh Samui or the Phi Phi islands. These places are good fun, but stay in the busier areas – streets further away from the center or beach are often unlit late at night.
Personally, we like Karon or Kata beach, both in Phuket, for a good mixture of tranquility and good nightlife.”
Thailand is a very diverse country and where to stay really depends on what type of trip you are looking for. I really enjoyed Chiang Mai and Krabi (especially Railay beach) and was not a big fan of overly touristy Phuket (even though I stayed in the south, away from the main tourist hotspots). But, just know that as long as you use common sense Thailand is safe and as a woman you can choose to travel to any of the places recommended in any guidebook.
9. Street Food in Thailand
By Laura from TheTravellingStomach.com
“Thai street food is renowned throughout the world for both its deliciousness and how cheap it is – it is almost a rite of passage for gap year backpackers to spend time living off it.
To a first timer it can, however, be somewhat intimidating when faced with purple rice, a whole fish on a stick or a fried cockroach! But be brave in getting sucked in and you will be rewarded with an array of yummy meals. And, what’s more, when you’ll be charged only around 40-60 baht ($1.50-2.00), what’s to lose!
When eating street food in Thailand, aim for the stalls with a queue of locals where you can be sure the food is of top quality.
When you get your food you’ll normally see no chopsticks or knives in sight, only a fork and spoon – use the fork to scoop up the food, and pass it onto the spoon to eat with. I would also advise bringing your own tissues with you to wipe your fingers on after you’ve licked them clean.”
I would add to this that going for stalls with a queue is also a better bet from a health perspective. Food poisoning definitely is a thing that happens to travelers in Thailand. Go for freshly prepared food, not food that has clearly been lying there for a while. Check if there are no flies on the food and try to find out if the vendors work hygienically (are their hands clean? Is the cutlery and other tools they use clean, do they use clean water, etc).
Enjoy all the delicious food Thailand has to offer but if you don’t trust it, skip it and eat somewhere else!
Some Final Things to Know About Traveling to Thailand
I hope the tips above have helped paint a picture of what you should know about traveling to Thailand as a woman. But to this I want to add a few final, general tips for traveling to Thailand. Simply to help you stay safe and make the most of your trip.
5 Practical Tips for Traveling to Thailand
1. Buy a SIM Card
Unless you have a great international phone plan I would recommend buying a local SIM card. It doesn’t cost much and it makes traveling around the country and staying in touch with new found friends in Thailand a lot easier.
If you arrive by plane you can simply buy a SIM card at the airport. Alternatively, you can find phone stores in any of the larger shopping malls or you can even buy a SIM card at the many 7-Eleven stores you see everywhere. Keep in mind however that staff at 7-Elevens often speak very limited English. Buying a SIM card at the airport is the easiest option.
Note: do make sure you have an unlocked phone!
2. Use Sunscreen and Mosquito Repellant
I know, it may sound extremely obvious but it’s also very easy to forget.
The sun is strong in Thailand and the beaches are beautiful. Even on cloudier days or on days you are exploring a city instead of going to the beach you can still easily get sunburn. Reapply sunscreen regularly!
And then there are those mosquitos… I was unfortunate enough to end up in an Indonesian hospital a few years ago because of Dengue fever. And I can tell you, that was much worse than I expected! But I guess that’s what it took for me to learn. I naively thought you only really had to worry about mosquitos from sunset onwards. But no, mosquitos that spread dengue also bite during the day. So please, buy the best quality mosquito repellant you can find (I like Sawyer or anything with a high percentage of DEET) and use it all the time!
Ideally, you also want to cover as much skin as you can to avoid getting bitten but in a tropical country like Thailand that is a challenge…
3. Drink Bottled Water
Avoid drinking tap water in Thailand.
It depends a bit on where you travel to in Thailand but in general, it’s best to stick to bottled water.
If you order drinks in bars and restaurants you don’t have to worry too much about the ice as this will normally be bought and therefore made with clean, filtered water. Of course, do always check the general hygiene in any place where you order food or drinks. If it isn’t clean, don’t eat or drink there.
4. Divide Your Money
Even though the Thai are very friendly and Thailand is relatively safe, there is no guarantee you won’t get robbed. I therefore always make sure I have some money hidden somewhere outside of my wallet. If they do steal my wallet at least I will have some money to get back to my ho(s)tel or wherever I need to go.
If you have more than one bank card or credit card I would also recommend putting those in different places so that they won’t both get stolen at the same time.
And lastly, carrying a copy of your passport is also a good idea. If you are unlucky enough to have your passport stolen then at least you have some form of ID left.
5. Renting a Motorbike or Car in Thailand
In most countries in Asia, the thought of driving through their crazy traffic makes me very nervous. But, in Thailand it’s actually a good way to explore the area.
Although taxis aren’t overly expensive, it does add up if you want to explore several places every day.
Outside of major cities I would happily drive a car. It’s a good option to get around your local area, or even to drive from one destination within Thailand to the next. Especially if you travel with more than one person or have to take your luggage, renting a car is a great option.
Renting a motorbike is the cheapest option. We rented a motorbike in Phuket which definitely was the best way to explore this island, as parking is limited, so is public transport outside of the touristy areas, and taxis here are relatively expensive.
In general, renting a motorbike seems to be the preferred option in Thailand. It’s a great way to get around islands and they are also popular among tourists in Chiang Mai and most other places on the mainland.
Personally, I would just avoid driving anything in Bangkok, just because traffic there can get quite congested and chaotic.
Note: although they call them motorbikes, the bikes you will rent tend to be the small 125cc scooters.
Tip: Officially you need an international driver’s license to drive a car or motorbike in Thailand. Many tourists drive around without it, and so did we because we didn’t know. But, you can definitely get fined. Therefore next time I will make sure to get an international driver’s license, just to not have to worry!
Yes, traveling, anywhere in the world, carries some risk. But no matter whether you are reading this because you are planning a trip to Thailand yourself or because your daughter, sister or girlfriend is traveling to Thailand, don’t let these tips worry you!
Thailand is a great travel destination with welcoming people, delicious food and incredible places to visit. Don’t worry about traveling to Thailand as a woman. I have found that Thailand is actually one of the easiest countries to travel around in. And the people are just so incredibly friendly and helpful!
Traveling, and even more so traveling alone, teaches you so much about life and about the world. It shows you how other people live, what different cultures are like and how beautiful our planet is.
So no matter what age you are and whether you are male or female, stay safe when you travel, but definitely do travel and explore the world!
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- A Liveaboard Dive Trip to the Similan Islands, Thailand
I want to thank all the great female travel bloggers who helped me create this list of things to know about traveling to Thailand as a woman. Do check out their blogs for more articles about Thailand and other destinations!
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