Unfortunately another tragic accident occurred on Koh Tao in January 2018 with a British traveller was found death in a hotel pool. There are a lot of rumors going around but no one really knows what happened. Fact is that they found another dead body, one of the many tourist deaths in Thailand per year. Koh Tao was already struggling with a very bad reputation after the Koh Tao murders in September 2014 when a British couple was killed and left behind on Sairee Beach, the most popular area to stay in Koh Tao.
As the love for Koh Tao and Thailand is real, you might think I am biased writing this blog. But don't worry I am not here to promote Koh Tao or island hopping in Thailand, I want to give you information about the safety issues in Thailand. I will tell you how I feel and have felt while living in Koh Tao. Consider the fact that I might not be the best benchmark as I am a sporty and fit 1.86 meter tall Dutch guy and I obviously have no idea how a small blonde girl would feel. But this is my opinion on the safety issues on Koh Tao island.
I have traveled to Thailand almost 20 times and in April 2019 I was back the last time to add some cool activities to my list of the best things to do in Koh Tao. I also added Koh Chang and the Golden Triangle to my ultimate Thailand itinerary.
Lately I posted a picture on a Facebook Page with the caption that Koh Tao was a peaceful paradise, which obviously started a big discussion, that lead to this blog about how safe it is to travel to Koh Tao.
On the 29th of August 2019 the Thai supreme court upheld the death sentence for the two Burmese men who allegedly are guilty for the Koh Tao Murders which happened on my birthday September 15th in 2014. Very sad but just a couple hours before we were celebrating my birthday just a couple hundred meters away from were two British tourists were brutally murdered. In this blog I will discuss if Koh Tao is safe for tourists, I won't discuss who is responsible for the murders.
Is Thailand safe for tourists?
First off let me tell you that if you think Thailand is dangerous for tourists, you are wrong! It mostly always comes down to your own behaviour and therefore I wrote a Thailand travel guide, with everything you need to know. Don't let your Thailand holiday be ruined by your own stupid mistakes! Be a responsible tourist in the first place.
Secret Thailand travel tip: did you know that flying from either Phuket or Krabi towards Chiang Mai is 50% cheaper than the other way around. These and more tips for a Thai domestic flight search in my latest Thailand travel blog, click on the link!
Is Koh Tao Safe?
Although they say that the last casualty (guy found dead in a hotel pool) was a tragic accident, the odds are against Koh Tao. Hacker group Anonymous hacked the Thai police stating that they wanted justice for the Koh Tao murders in September 2014. Horrible stories from an island that is well known for its laid-back vibe! Unfortunately there is a dark side of Koh Tao and some people call it the Wild Wild West Island. Rumours go that a couple very influential families, kind of like Koh Tao Maffia style, rule the island. May be it is the truth, may be it is a myth.
But please don’t get scared! I have lived on the island for more than 7 months in total and traveled there many times on top of that. I have never seen anyone running around with a gun on the island or heard stories that they knock on your door for a share of your business. Maffia or not, as a tourist you are not willing to get in touch with any of these things, right? But trust me if you travel to Koh Tao you don’t get involved with daily politics on the island! Im sure about it. So how safe is Koh Taoi? That depends mostly on how you behave yourself.
Note: in all my 7 years traveling around the world I have never ran into a weird situation. It could mean I have been lucky, but please travelers: USE COMMON SENSE and be aware of some risks!
Get around Thailand safely
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Koh Tao murders
I don’t know anything about what happened in September 2014 and I won’t discuss it either, but it was my second time I stayed long term on the island and it was the second time there had been a fatal accident. I will never forget the day I turned 30 and I cheered with friends until early morning 02.00 am on Sairee Beach. A couple hours later a British couple got brutally murdered and left behind only two hundred meters away from where I had been drinking beers and having fun with my friends. The Koh Tao murders had a big impact on the island, it left a deep impression! Creepy…
How safe is Koh Tao?
So how safe is Koh Tao? Should I really travel to Koh Tao? Are there reasons to be worried? No, honestly I don’t think so! I have now visited Koh Tao over 10 times and I have never had any problem at all! The vast majority of endless tourists that will visit Koh Taio will never have any issues or whatsoever. If Koh Tao is part of your Thailand itinerary there are a couple things you have to keep in mind.
Asking yourself the question is it safe to travel to Thailand, start with yourself. Like during all your travels around the world the golden rule is: use common sense and when you feel something is not right then get away from the situation!
There is a big chance you will fall in love with this little paradise. The island is small and gifted with loads of hidden gems, amazing viewpoints, and completely deserted bays. There is a lot to discover and a lot of cool things to do in Koh Tao. Scuba diving is the main tourist drag and when the scuba lessons are over the partying starts. With such incredible sunsets on the main party beach, the party starts early. Loads of beach bars to choose from and happy hours to get you started. Of course tourists get drunk and alcohol makes you do crazy things. But remember you are still in Thailand!
Koh Tao Island Guide: 3 tips that make it safe to travel
1. Respect the people and the culture
Respect the Thai people and never get into a fight with them. You are the tourist, you are visiting their country so you should adapt to their standards and not the other way around! Don’t argue with them for too long, don’t feel too cool to say sorry and walk away from the scene. You never know who you are up to, don’t let an issue ruin your holiday. These Thai people might seem like little boys to you but they could be ferocious fighters, be careful! Besides that, islands are like small communities and they all know each other. It will always be you against the island. Think twice before getting yourself into trouble!
2. Stay away from drugs
Stay away from drugs! That sounds like an obvious thing, but on islands where the atmosphere is so extremely chilled it is a very tempting thing to do. Island life is all about flip-flops, bathing suit and simple t-shirts, life is at low pace and many tourists smoke weed. Yes, I have been there and yes I have done it multiple times as well. Though from what I know things are changing! Don’t forget that Thailand is ruled by the Military regime. The rise in tourist deaths in Thailand brought more police to the islands and stories of being caught with marijuana are getting more common. Apparently they give you a 50,000 THB ($1,400) fine and take your passport awaiting your trial. I don’t know if that is law in Thailand but islands have their own law sometimes.
3. be responsible and use common sense
Use common sense and stay out of trouble in the first place! Yes go partying, get drunk, play beerpong, drink buckets, get shitfaced but always make sure you are able to get home properly. Simple things your parents would tell you too: don’t walk along the beach on your own at night. There is a big change nothing will ever happen, but a wasted tourist is an easy victim. Research a little where to stay in Koh Tao as the main party beach can be too far away too walk if you book a place in the wrong bay. Always take a taxi at night, don’t jump on the back of someone’s motorbike. Drinking and driving is totally accepted and a daily reality! Taxi drivers will rip you off as well, but at least this only hurts your wallet!
Island hopping Thailand
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Koh Tao Island Guide
Koh Tao is an amazing place to enjoy your holiday and you all should be totally fine if you don’t do anything stupid! Almost everyone that leaves the island is not yet ready to leave and sails away with mixed feelings: happy to have experienced this little paradise, but sad they have to go already!
Need any advice on where to stay in Koh Tao then let me help you book a place on the right side of the island. Adventurous and want to hike to the best viewpoints? Or want to know the best hidden bays or a secret sunrise spot? Click here to read about the best things to do in Koh Tao. About to rent a motorbike? Let me tell you where you can book one with insurance, so you wont get scammed.
I have traveled around the islands extensively and would love to help you plan your trip to Thailand. Take a look at my suggested Thailand island hopping tours or check out which islands to go in Thailand for your purpose of travel or read here all the things I miss about Thailand.
If you would like to be prepared for your trip to Thailand then have a look at my guide telling you everything you need to know when you travel to Thailand: visas, safety issues, scams, the culture, things to do and things NOT to do, the best national parks, about the street food, the travel adapter you need, the vaccinations and many more things. Click on the picture to read all about it.
Still in doubt whether to travel to Philippines or Thailand? Let me help you as in my article Travel to Thailand or Philippines I compare my two favorites!
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