Thailand With Kids: Keeping your family safe
Thailand is a popular tourist destination known for its rich history and numerous tourist attractions. Millions experience the Land of Smiles every year, but some parents wonder whether the country is safe for family travel.
Thailand is a wonderful place to visit, and generally safe for travelers, even those who bring children. There are many safe, family-friendly areas of the country to visit, like Chang Mai and Koh Samui. However, just like every other country, there are places to avoid, particularly in the southern provinces.
If you want to know more about traveling with family to Thailand and steps you can take to stay safe, then keep on reading!
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Thailand Is Generally Safe For Families
Thailand is known as one of the safest countries to visit in Southeast Asia, and this is one of the main reasons that the country is so popular amongst tourists. Among other reasons like delicious food, fantastic weather, gorgeous beaches and sites, as well as locals who really do seem to love kids.
No entire country is 100% safe for family travel, as there are potential dangers everywhere. Even in the United States, and Canada, there are areas that wouldn’t be considered safe for children and not advisable to visit as adults. The same thing applies to Thailand.
Some believe that just because Thailand is not as developed economically as North America, it is unsafe. This is just not the case.
One thing to keep in mind, things like public transportation, food and infrastructure may have different standards than what you are used to in Europe or North America. This doesn’t mean travelling in Thailand isn’t safe, it just means that it is important to do your research and make informed decisions.
Is it safe to travel to Thailand during COVID?
COVID & Safety Updates as of June 24, 2021
We recommend checking out your country’s travel advisories for the most up to date information on travelling to Thailand (USA Advisories, Canada Advisories and UK Advisories). Requirements and measures change can change regularly and rapidly.
- Canada: It is recommended that all non-essential travel be avoided at this time due to COVID.
- United States: Issued Level 3 advisory: Reconsider Travel
- UK: Check the international travel recommendations that apply to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Entry Requirements to Thailand
As of June 24, 2021 entry to Thailand continues to limited, and you must apply for a special Certificate of Entry in addition to your visa. Tourists may apply.
You will also be required to present a negative RT-PCR method/PCR method done within 72 hours before depature. These must be in English.
Quarantine for 14 days on arrival is mandatory in one of their designated facilities, as well as proof of a health insurance policy with medical expense coverage of at least $100,000 USD. Coverage must be for a period of at least 3 months from date of departure, and cover your entire stay.
Starting July 1, 2021 it is anticipated that vaccinated tourists and their children from low and medium-risk countries may fly directly into Phuket and not quarantine as long as certain requirements are met:
- Hold a Certificate of Entry – apply prior to travel
- Stay in an approved accommodation in Phuket for 14 days
- Proof of vaccine
- RT-PCR test must be taken before arrival
- Have COVID-19 Insurance
- Must stay 14 days in Phuket before travelling to the rest of Thailand
- If staying less than 14 days, you must fly out of Phuket ot an international destination
Unvaccinated children may travel with their vaccinated parents. If they are ages 6 to 18 they must take a Rapid Antigen Test on arrival.
Risk of Physical Harm in Thailand
I definitely take fewer risks now travelling with my family then I did as a solo traveller. As a parent one of my greatest concerns is ensuring no one is going to try to physically harm our family while on vacation.
You’ll be relieved to know that, in tourist areas, violent attacks and other major crimes against tourists are rare.
While civil unrest and violence are known to happen in some areas of Thailand, specifically the southern provinces that border Malaysia, the risk is minimized when you stay in touristy areas, and avoid those areas.
This is not the place to travel off the beaten path, or take part in a demonstration.
Health Risks in Thailand
Also, it’s important to consider health risks when determining the overall safety of an area.
Thailand is considered a low-risk area for Malaria and other diseases. Still, you shouldn’t ignore the risk of Malaria when you’re in Thailand. Keep the bug spray handy and cover up in areas that have an increased risk, especially in the rainy season June to October.
Visit your local travel health professional to discuss what vaccines and precautions might be right for your family before you go.
In addition to being up on your regular vaccinations, additional ones may be recommended. These may include Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, Typhoid, Cholera, Japanese Encephalitis, and Yellow Fever, depending on your situation, and the length of time, and places your family plans on travelling to. Check out the WHO, or the PHAC recommendations for more info.
Pro Tip: Talk to your local travel health professionals well in advance of your trip (minimum 6 weeks), as some vaccines, precautionary measures require multiple doses, and time to be effective.
Food Safety in Thailand
Another factor you should consider is food safety. The food in Thailand is known as a delicacy, as most of it is made with fresh local ingredients. This is one of the things we are most looking forward to.
When you travel to Thailand with your family, you can feel safe when enjoying some of the country’s best food, including street vendors, as long as you watch them make it and avoid eating food that is left out. Choose vendors that locals are lining up to eat at, and avoid raw or undercooked dishes.
If you use common sense and take reasonable precautions, you will reduce the risk of your family getting sick in Thailand. Some food and dishes you may want avoid:
- Koi Pla – a salad popular in Northeast Thailand made with raw fish, lime and herbs
- Larb leuat neua – a popular bar dish made with raw ground beef, uncooked blood, mint, onion, most often served with rice.
- Uncooked leafy greens, or other uncooked, unpeeled veggies – You never know if they’ve been washed in safe water
Can You Drink Tap Water in Thailand?
It is recommended that you never drink tap water in Thailand. Instead drink bottled water and even brush your teeth with it. Ice is generally considered safe, as it is usually comes from factories that use purified water to make their ice. However use your judgement. If in doubt use these common sense rules “Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it.”
Pro Tip: If your family is looking to avoid using single use plastic, many hotels, and even some restaurants have purified water filling stations.
Or better yet bring your own Water Filter Bottles to ensure your family has safe drinking water wherever they go.
Police Services in Thailand
The police in Thailand have been criticized for being unreliable in the past, and official corruption can be an issue. This may be a red flag for many who are considering paying Thailand a visit.
Generally speaking it is always best not to engage in activities considered illegal, avoid confrontations with locals, stick to more touristy areas, and be polite and respectful towards the police.
There are different types of police in Thailand, including:
- Civil police: The civil police are tasked with protecting and serving Thai locals and tourists.
- Tourist police: Tourist police are English-speaking locals and expatriates who help with translation when altercations take place.
The emergency number for the Tourist Police across Thailand is 1155.
Scams To Avoid in Thailand
While most visitors to Thailand have a care-free fabulous holiday, there are a few scams to watch out for:
- The Jet Ski or Scooter Rental Scam – The owner of the vehicle will claim you damaged it and ask you to pay an exorbitant amount of money or they will call the police. Take pictures before you leave the rental place in front of the person renting it to you.
- Taxi / Tuk Tuk Scam – The driver may claim the meter is broken, and try to charge you extra, or the meter may be running up your costs faster than expected. Make sure you know the average cost of a trip before you get in.
- The attraction you want to visit is closed – A friendly local will approach you, saying the attraction you want to visit is closed. They will then invite you to another place (shop or attraction) where you may be pressured to buy items or pay an inflated admission price. Check with your hotel first or visit the main entrance to confirm that the attraction is indeed open or not.
Thailand With Kids: Travelling with Babies and Toddlers
While Thailand is generally a wonderful, safe place to travel with babies and toddlers, there are a few things to be aware of.
Car Seats in Thailand
Taxis, Tuk Tuks and buses are often not compatible with car seats. You may want to consider renting a car if your family plans on moving around alot. One caution, road safety isn’t wonderful in Thailand, and accidents are common. You’ll need to pay close attention while driving, especially in larger cities.
Thailand With Kids: Mosquitos
Dengue fever is a concern during the rainy months, and there is no vaccine, so prevention lies in avoiding mosquito bites, which can be difficult.
Bringing baby friendly mosquito repellent and mosquito nets for the whole family to sleep under, as well as avoiding travelling during the rainy season can reduce your risks. A travel cot enclosed in mesh, is another great option for the wee ones.
Baby And Toddler Supplies in Thailand
Baby and toddler supplies such as diapers and formula are usually easy to find. Most 7Elevens carry diapers and pharmacies are well stocked. However, it’s always a good idea to pack your favourite beach essentials if you have specific preferences.
If your littles are eating food, there are some great, non spicy options to have them try:
- Rice in general is a yummy kid-friendly staple in Thailand
- Sticky Rice & grilled chicken or ginger chicken
- Grilled fish ( be careful there’s no bones) & fried rice or noodles
- Pad Siew – fried noodles, with cooked veggies and meat
- Omlette & rice
- Thom Ka Cocounut soup – it can be spice and chili free
- Peeled fruit
As most hotels cater to tourists, you will also be able to find more western dishes as well.
Safest Areas in Thailand For Families
With all that being said, if you’re going to visit Thailand, it is wise to visit a city that is known to be safe. This way, you can vacation in peace with your family.
Thailand For Families: Chiang Mai
Tourists love to take their families to Chiang Mai. It’s a large city known for its modest, small-town atmosphere. The area is known to be one of the safest areas in Thailand because of its low crime rates and good police coverage.
There are tons of things to do in Chang Mai with your family, like visiting the Chiang Mai Night Safari, ziplining in Ban Mae Kampong or visiting a night market.
If you’re a family of animal lovers, you will enjoy visiting the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in the city. These are just a few of the activities that you can indulge in when you visit Chiang Mai.
However, it’s important to take the following steps to ensure your safety:
- Air pollution: Chiang Mai is known for its not-so-great air-quality in the springtime. You can minimize your exposure to air pollution if you avoid planning your trip in February or March.
- Thieves: While crime is relatively low in Chang Mai, you will need to watch out for thieves in crowded areas. If you keep an eye on your belongings and wear your items in a backpack in front of you, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Thailand For Families: Koh Samui
Koh Samui is a wonderful island in Thailand that is known for being safe and is popular for family holidays. The area has attained an upscale status because, in addition to the safe area, it’s kept clean, and tourists can stay in many comfortable accommodations.
Koh Samui is a family destination through and through! You can take your family to Ang Thong National Marine Park, where you can explore a variety of natural wonders, or gaze at the Big Buddha Shrine on the northern coast of the city.
If you’re looking for more of an adventure, you can go to Koh Tao, also known as turtle island, for a family scuba diving or snorkelling adventure you’ll never forget!
To have a problem-free trip, know the following:
- Be careful when driving: Most injuries in Thailand are a result of traffic accidents. Traffic can get a bit dense in the area, and traffic rules are not always enforced. So, if you plan to drive, make sure that you are extremely focused and keep an eye out for reckless drivers.
- Watch out for tropical bugs: Large bugs and mosquitos try to take up residence in tourists’ lodging. So it is advised to keep your doors and windows closed to keep them out. Don’t forget bug spray!
Thailand For Families: Phang Nga
This picturesque province is another one of the safest areas for families to vacation in Thailand. The city is very small and attracts many tourists every year.
If you decide to vacation here, there are many activities that you can do with a family. You and your children can visit Koh Panyi, a floating village of fishermen, and learn about how they live. See one of the oldest, most diverse rainforests in the world, Khao Sok National Park.
You could also visit one of the many caves in the province, Ruesi Sawan and Luk Suea Cave, for a photo-op you’ll always remember.
Thailand For Families: Phuket
Phuket is known as an ideal location for family beach vacation. Between its gorgeous beaches, wide variety of cultural and sightseeing attractions there is something for everyone.
Try Karon and Kata beaches or the quieter Laem Ka beach. If you are a James Bond fan, visit the infamous Phang Nga Bay / James Bond Island immortalized in one of his movies. See the rock formations, or visit a sea cave by canoe.
The Bang Pae waterfall, and Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre tour are also sure to keep the kids entertained for the day.
Areas to Avoid in Thailand
There are some areas in Thailand that you should avoid if you’re traveling with family, and they are listed below.
These areas are experiencing civil unrest and are not safe destinations for a vacation at this time.
Protect Your Family When Traveling to Thailand
Even if you visit an area thought to be safe, it’s important to remember that there still are risks to be aware of. Take the following steps to keep yourself and your family safe.
- Don’t lose track of your things: Keep your belongings within arm’s reach, and wear a theft safe backpack.
- Don’t give your passport away – Bike / Car Rentals may ask to keep your passport. Don’t do this. Walk away and find another rental place.
- Keep back up copies of documents – Keep a copy handy either printed or online, in case the originals get lost or stolen.
- Connect with an expat you trust: If you have the chance to talk to someone who lives in the area, keep their contact information handy- they may be able to help you out in a pinch.
- Be conservative in public: If you hold your money out where everyone can see it, you can become a target. Consider wearing a money belt money belt.
- Be alert: Human trafficking is a problem virtually everywhere, so keep an eye on your children no matter how safe you believe you are.
- Stay together: As the old saying goes, “there is safety in numbers.” Being with someone else that you trust will increase your safety odds.
Now you know that Thailand can be safe for a family vacation depending on what area you visit, and you know some helpful tips to stay safe. We hope that this article will be used as a helpful guide for planning your next great adventure!
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