The FCO released a report last week revealing that the number of Brits arrested abroad had fallen 10% in the past 12 months. This is good news for all concerned; except perhaps the makers of trashy TV programmes that thrive on tales of troubled tourists. But one thing about the report did strike me as interesting; the fact that Brits are most likely to be hospitalised while on holiday in Thailand.
I always feel that Thailand is somewhat misunderstood, as far as western visitors are concerned. On one side you have enchanting images of golden temples, wild jungles and pristine beaches, but turn this picture over and you reveal a seedy underbelly of neon lights, street hawkers and go-go bars. As such it attracts a somewhat mixed bag of tourist types. But it is dangerous? Most certainly not.
The recent Sky TV series, ‘Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand’ did the country few favours. Portraying booze-fuelled lads causing trouble on the ‘Costa del Phuket’ was at best misleading, and at worst irresponsible – especially for a country desperately trying to regain consumer confidence following a period of political unrest.
The majority of injuries to tourists in Thailand in fact, come from motorcycle accidents. Many roads in Thailand’s southern beach areas are incredibly hilly, with hairpin bends and steep gradients. Young tourists – usually backpackers – hire motorbikes despite often having never ridden one at home, and rarely wear helmets. After a few Singha beers the journey back to the guesthouse can be wobbly to say the least.
Other than this, Thailand is just about as safe a country as you could imagine. Walk down a dark backstreet in Bangkok late at night, and you’re more likely to be invited to sit down for a glass of whisky than be mugged. Big trouble in tourist Thailand? Only on television.