Thailand is a popular destination for backpackers, honeymooners, and nature lovers.
But as with most places around the world, Thailand has its imperfections.
If you’re planning a trip to Thailand for the first time, there are some things to consider that could impact your trip.
What do some people dislike about Thailand?
Thailand isn’t for everyone, and there are some disadvantages that you should consider before visiting. Petty crime, pollution, and human and animal welfare issues are prominent issues within the country.
However, those aren’t the only reasons.
Here are a few more factors that could be contributing to Thailand’s bad reputation.
If you’re traveling to big cities like Bangkok or Chang Mai, you might notice a thick sheet of smog covering the sky.
Thailand has a big pollution problem, which can have detrimental impacts on the environment and your health.
Some of the smog is caused by overpopulation.
For example, a quarter of all emissions produced in Bangkok come from private automobile use.
However, one of the biggest pollution contributors is agricultural burning.
Thailand farmers burn their crops from February to April, which is known as the “smoky season.” Agricultural burning creates black carbon, which has severe impacts on pollution.
Unfortunately, the government does not fund other sustainable methods, which means farms must burn their crop instead of harvesting them mechanically.
Beach and water pollution
Water pollution is a major issue in Thailand.
Due to poor sanitary management and over-tourism, the country is the world’s 6th biggest contributor to ocean waste.
Over 77% of Thailand’s coral reefs have been damaged by water pollution.
The most notable beach is Maya Bay, made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, “the Beach.” In January 2022, Maya Bay reopened for tourism after a four-year shutdown due to the destruction of over 50% of the bay’s coral.
Although some measures are being taken in crowded tourist destinations, much of Thailand’s natural beauty is slowly falling victim to water pollution.
The infamous Koh Phangan Full Moon party is said to leave roughly 12 tons of garbage on the beach after each event, much of which gets carried away into the ocean.
But that’s nothing compared to the 51,000 tons that end up in the waters around Thailand each year.
If you’re worried about getting bitten by mosquitos, Thailand might not be the best place to go.
These buzzy creatures are around all year long, although they are at their worst during the June to October rainy season.
While you can’t avoid them altogether, you can lessen your chances of getting bit.
Mosquitos come out to feed in the early morning and early evening, so it’s best to stay inside during this time.
You can also use bug spray and wear light-colored clothing that covers your ankles, wrist, and neck.
If you’re staying in a hotel or resort, keep the windows and doors shut.
Those sleeping in more rustic accommodation can use a mosquito net to prevent bites during the night.
Keep in mind that Dengue fever and malaria are present in Thailand, although it’s mostly carried by mosquitos in more rural areas.
Although your chances of coming down with something is small, it’s not impossible.
But by taking the above precautions, you can hopefully avoid any serious illness.
In many urban areas of Thailand, it’s a free-for-all when it comes to driving.
The streets are teeming with motorbikes, cars, and trucks (especially during rush around from 5 pm to 7 pm), and traffic jams are expected.
The chaotic roads can be very scary for both passengers and bystanders on the sidewalk.
Not only do many drivers not pay attention to road signs, many of them also don’t pay attention to pedestrians! Therefore, you must stay alert whenever you’re crossing the street.
Pedestrians don’t necessarily have the right of way, and one wrong step could land you in the hospital.
Many of the city’s traffic problems stem from the lack of infrastructure.
Compared to other big cities around the world, Bangkok has the lowest road-to-area ratio.
In addition, the city’s layout forces the roads to be narrow, which causes an increase in the amount of road congestion.
Of course, not all cities or villages have traffic problems.
The further you go outside the major urban areas, the less likely you’ll see traffic jams or accidents.
For some travelers, the hot weather is perfect for snorkeling or lounging on the beach.
However, Thailand can also be unbearably humid, which doesn’t make touring the city or sightseeing very pleasant.
The best time to visit Thailand is from November to February when the humidity is low.
Monsoon season is from July to October, and during this time, humidity can be as high as 90%.
It can be very sticky and muggy.
It’s also important to remember that many of the country’s biggest attractions like temples, markets, and beaches are outdoors and won’t have air conditioning.
If you’re visiting Thailand when it’s hot and humid, it’s recommended to do most of your sightseeing early in the morning or later in the evening.
When the sun is at its strongest in the afternoon, head back to your hotel or resort or to an air-conditioned hotel or shopping mall for a break.
Scams and Petty Crime
Generally speaking, Thailand is a very safe country for tourists.
But as with most popular tourist destinations, petty crime can be an issue.
For the most part, you can protect yourself by leaving valuables at home or in your hotel.
You should also be aware of your surroundings (especially in big cities or tourist attractions) to fend off any prying pickpocketers.
Scams can also be a big problem.
If you’re taking a tuk-tuk or taxi, make sure to use a reliable service and confirm the price beforehand.
Some drivers will “forget” to turn on the meter or take you a round-about way of reaching your destination.
Another scam to keep an eye out for is the fake baht scam.
Since many tourists are unfamiliar with the look and feel of the local currency, some vendors may give you fake money in hopes you won’t notice.
This can happen at a shop, taking a taxi, or even exchanging money at a currency exchange booth.
English is not widely spoken in Thailand.
Although people in the hospitality industry may know English, the majority of Thai people do not.
About ¼ of the population has learned English to some degree, although the level at which it’s used is relatively low.
So despite learning it in school, many Thai people can only say a few words or phrases.
This can make it very difficult for tourists who want to travel to rural destinations.
People working in tou
While most locals are happy to communicate with hand gestures, it can be challenging to order in a restaurant, ask for directions, or go shopping if you’re somewhere off the beaten path.
If you’re planning on spending time in Thailand, it’s important to learn a few words in Thai.
This can help you connect with the culture and communicate with locals.
It’s also a good idea to bring a dictionary or translator app.
The Thai government takes a strong stand against animal abuse and even signed the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act in 2014.
But despite this, animal exploitation continues to be an ongoing problem throughout the country.
Animal fighting is still legal (even under the welfare act), which means cockfighting, cricket fighting, and fish fighting is still common.
Thailand also has a large problem with strays – there are nearly 1 million stray dogs and cats roaming the streets.
Elephant abuse is also a prominent issue.
There are currently over 2,500 elephants that have been captured, tortured, and sent to zoos and tourists parks around the country.
Even some elephant sanctuaries have been criticized for exploiting their animals for money and amusement.
If you’re looking to score a good deal on a knock-off purse or watch, then you better be prepared to bargain for it.
Haggling is expected with markets and street vendors. And while many people enjoy bargaining for a lower price, others may find it stressful.
Bargaining can be a fun game – if you know how to play.
If you don’t haggle at all, you might get ripped off.
On the other hand, if you offer too low of a price, you might offend the shop vendor.
It’s a delicate balance that can be confusing if you’ve never shopped in a Thai market before.
As a rule of thumb, you should pay around 50% to 75% of the original asking price.
You can start by offering half the amount and then bargain from there.
If the vendor isn’t willing to budge, you can employ the “walk away” tactic.
If they’re eager to make the deal, they’ll usually come after you and make you another offer.
Full Moon Parties
Thailand is famous for hosting one of the wildest parties in the world.
Every month, the sleeping island of Koh Phangan transforms into a boisterous festival full of cheap booze, hardcore drugs, and drunk tourists (30,000 of them, to be exact).
Crime rates are extremely high during this time – on the beach and in town.
Because of the high number of drunk tourists, theft, fighting, and illegal drug deals are far too common.
In 2012, a British tourist was even shot and killed while attending a full moon party.
In addition, the aftermath of plastic bottles, glass, and garbage strewn around the beach is incomprehensible.
Much of it gets pulled into the ocean, polluting the water and damaging marine life.
Sadly, the partygoers are rarely the ones who clean up, leaving the locals to pick up after the crowds have gone.
Although prostitution is illegal in Thailand, it is still openly practiced.
Cities including Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya are known for their red-light districts, attracting sex tourists from around the world.
Unfortunately, there are a handful of problems that arise from Thailand’s bustling sex tourism industry.
Roughly 40% of sex workers are believed to be underage.
While some children are trafficked into the business, others are forced to do so out of poverty.
Adults are also coerced into working in the industry.
It is estimated that there are over 600,000 trafficking victims currently living in the country.
While many of these victims are Thai citizens, migrants from Burma, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, and India are also forced to work in the sex tourism industry.
Are people in Thailand friendly?
Generally speaking, people in Thailand are extremely friendly.
While traveling through “the Land of Smiles,” you can expect that most people will treat you with respect and courtesy.
But as with any place around the world, Thailand can also have its fair share of bad characters.
Although thieves and scammers are around, they don’t represent the warm, good-hearted nature of most Thai locals.
What are the dangers of Thailand?
Thailand is considered a relatively safe country for tourists.
However, incidents can happen at any time (this is true no matter where you are in the world).
Petty theft and scam are likely to be your biggest threats while traveling.
You’ll also want to pay attention while crossing the road, as pedestrians do not have the right of way.
What are the safest places in Thailand to visit?
Krabi, Hua Hin, and Koh Samui are some of the safest places for tourists to visit.
According to the Thai government, the south of Thailand should largely be avoided, especially in the regions of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla.
These provinces have an increased risk of crime and violence.
Part of traveling is knowing about the positives and negatives of a country.
Now that you know a few things people dislike about Thailand, you can make a better-informed decision if you want to visit.