Using illicit drugs in Thailand is an extremely ill-advised choice. Yet, every year, numerous individuals fall into a deceptive sense of security in places like Koh Phangan and make the misguided decision to purchase illegal substances. It’s crucial to understand that Thailand has some of the world’s strictest drug laws and harsh prison conditions. Possessing a foreign passport won’t exempt you from severe consequences; you could face lengthy imprisonment or be coerced into paying a substantial “fine” ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 to resolve the situation.
Here’s how this scam typically unfolds: Someone may approach you, particularly in areas where drug use seems prevalent, and offer drugs for sale. If you decide to make a purchase, shortly after the transaction, a seemingly coincidental encounter with a police officer occurs, who requests to search you. Naturally, the drugs are discovered, and they are promptly returned to the seller’s accomplice (ensuring the dealer gets both your money and their drugs back). Subsequently, they will impress upon you the dire consequences of your actions. This marks the commencement of a shakedown, with the aim of extracting as much money from you as possible. The longer this ordeal persists, the more individuals become involved, and the “bill” escalates. If you’re caught with something and offered the opportunity to pay a fine, it’s advisable to do so promptly; otherwise, your predicament could deteriorate rapidly.
The best way to steer clear of such situations is to abstain from using or purchasing illegal drugs in Thailand entirely. Additionally, it’s essential to be aware that having these substances in your bloodstream or urine is also illegal in Thailand, and the legal repercussions are the same whether you possess drugs in your pocket or in your system. To safeguard yourself, exercise prudence by avoiding drugs and distancing yourself from individuals known to use them. It’s worth noting that innocent bystanders can also be ensnared and charged, as this helps bolster police conviction statistics.
*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
- High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
- Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by tourists
- Places of worship
- Shopping malls and markets
- Public transportation systems (including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights)
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Periodic acts of violence in Thailand remain a concern. In August 2019, several small explosions and related arson events occurred in various locations throughout Bangkok resulting in no deaths but some injuries and minor property damage. Several small-scale bombings occurred near some tourist locations in the far Southern provinces in August 2016 and December 2018. In August 2015, an explosion near the Erawan Shrine in downtown Bangkok killed at least 20 people and injured more than 100. The U.S. Department of State assesses there is a continued risk of terrorism in Southeast Asia, including in Thailand.
If a protest or demonstration is expected to pass near the U.S. Embassy or Consulate facilities, Embassy and Consulate entrances and functions may be restricted. The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok’s website, Facebook, and Twitter sites and the U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai’s website, Facebook, and Twitter sites post information about local events that may affect Embassy functions. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security and safety messages.
Far Southern Thailand: Periodic violence directed mostly at Thai government interests by a domestic insurgency continues to affect security in the southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla. U.S. citizens are at risk of death or injury due to the possibility of indiscriminate attacks in public places. Martial law is in force in this region.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these provinces. Travel to this region by U.S government employees must be reviewed and approved in advance. For more information on terrorist threats against U.S. citizens worldwide and steps to take as a result of these threats, please see the Worldwide Caution.
- Crimes of opportunity, such as pick-pocketing, bag-snatching, and burglary, occur in Thailand.
- Violent crimes against foreigners are relatively rare. However, murders, rapes, and assaults against foreigners do occur.
- Sexually motivated violence, committed by either Thai citizens or foreigners, is most likely to occur after time spent at bars, clubs, and parties, on beaches, or in remote/isolated areas. The Thai police response will differ from an investigation in the United States; investigating officials have publicly discredited people who have reported being the victim of crimes . In addition to making a report at the police jurisdiction in which the crime occurred, we advise contacting the Embassy and engaging a local attorney if you are a victim of an assault.
- When traveling alone, exercise caution, stay near other travelers, and ensure friends or family know how to contact you.
- Taxi and “tuk-tuk” drivers may attempt to charge excessive fares or refuse passengers. You should either request the driver use the meter or agree on the fare beforehand.
- At the airport use only public transportation from the airport’s official pick-up area, cars from the limousine counters, or a car from your hotel.
- Rental scams do occur in Thailand. Many rental motorbike, jet ski, and car companies will hold your passport until you pay for real or fictitious damages. We advise against using your passport as collateral.
- Exorbitant bar tab scams occur in Thailand. Some bars and entertainment venues will charge exorbitant prices for drinks or unadvertised cover charges and threaten violence if you don’t pay.
- Other scams involving gems, city tours, entertainment venues, and credit cards are common, especially in tourist areas.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Thailand. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
- Romance/Online dating
- Money transfers
- Grandparent/Relative targeting
- Free Trip/Luggage
- Work permits/job offers
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of crime are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. Report crimes to the local police by calling 191 or the Tourist Police at 1155 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +66 (0) 2-205-4049 or Consulate at +(66) (53) 107-777. Remember that only local officials have the authority to investigate and to prosecute a crime.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. Report crimes to the local police by calling 191 or the Tourist Police at 1155 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +66 (0) 2-205-4049 or Consulate at +(66) (53) 107-777. Remember that only local officials have the authority to investigate and to prosecute a crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passport
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.