Safety in Krabi and Phi Phi

A stark reminder of the potential of tsunamis

Krabi Province is a safe place for extensive travel. The locals are renowned for their friendliness, and most travellers never experience any threat to their safety in Krabi. However, like many popular tourist spots, there are random pickpockets in action, although Krabi has a much lower crime rate than Phuket or Bangkok.

Problems can be avoided by acting sensibly and exercising caution at all times. Nature often poses the biggest risk to visitors to Krabi, while risks of violence or terrorism are low. Here are some key points to help you stay safe:

Beach safety in Krabi: when the monsoon blows in (between May and October), the sea can become very rough and not great for swimming, although Krabi doesn’t have a problem with the rip tides which are so lethal in Phuket. Jet-skis may be absent from Krabi beaches, but mooring boats in Ton Sai Bay are a danger to swimmers.

Capsizing: this long-standing safety issue has never been properly resolved due to lax monitoring of ferry loads. In the busy season ferries can get overloaded, and sometimes in rough seas they can sink. Try to avoid busy periods and always locate the life jackets once on board for your own safety while in Krabi.

Credit card fraud: Thailand is notorious for fraudulent activity. Pay cash when you can and always keep an eye on your card as it is being swiped. Watch out for ‘card readers’, which can be planted over the card slot of ATM machines, and check your bank statements regularly. Also, avoid paying for anything online or accessing online banking in Krabi internet shops.

Diving and marine life: Krabi’s diving industry meets international standards of safety and he nearest hyperbaric chamber is in Patong, Phuket; less than 45 minutes by speedboat from Phi Phi or Krabi. There is little threat of poisoning from marine life as predatory species are minimal.

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Drugs: offences are taken seriously by Thai authorities and penalties are harsh, with the death penalty being the maximum sentence for perceived trafficking. This includes marijuana, which is openly sold on some islands. You can expect at least a 50,000 baht fine (about US$1,600) for possession alone, and may also be deported.

Hustlers and touts: although present, Krabi tends to have fewer touts than other destinations. They pose no threat and usually nothing more than an annoyance.

Jelly fish: have become plentiful recently, but although stings are painful, they are not lethal. Avoid swimming in waters where they are in excess if you are concerned for your safety.

Pick pocketing and theft: is only a minor problem and your possessions are usually safe on the beach or in your handbag in public. Theft from hotel rooms is rarely reported, although backpacker places have a chronic problem, often carried out by other backpackers.

Rape: is rare, and the negative publicity from past incidents has ensured the police have dealt harshly with caught offenders to set an example. Single female travellers can enjoy a decent level of safety in Krabi, but it is important to exercise common sense after dark.

Road safety: is a big problem in Thailand due to reckless driving and poor law enforcement. The road between Krabi and Ao Nang is notorious for accidents. If you rent a motorbike, always wear a crash helmet and drive cautiously. Never drive after consuming alcohol no matter what others may do.

Snakes and spiders: Thailand has its fair share of snakes, but visitors are unlikely to encounter them. Reports of tourist dying from being bitten are unheard of. It is advisable not to go hiking alone, and if you are bitten, try to memorise the snake’s appearance to help with serum identification.

Terrorism: while Bangkok experienced a lengthy period of political turmoil, violence and destruction in 2010, Krabi’s resorts remain safe. Poor police intelligence mean tourist hotspots are a target for a Bali-styled attack; however, Thailand is not perceived as a strong ally to the US or UK. The Deep South has a very serious problem with Muslim insurgency and tourists are highly recommended to avoid Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani provinces completely for their own safety. Political unrest can disrupt transport, so it’s advisable to check local press and media for updates, and have a contingency plan.

Tsunami: it may be difficult to imagine another tsunami striking, yet Krabi remains in a hazardous geological zone. There are now warning and evacuation precautions in place, as well as regular drills. While there is little risk in Ao Nang, Railay and Phi Phi are at severe risk; therefore, it’s essential for travellers to take note of evacuation routes posted on signs.

Violence: is a rarity in Thailand as far as tourists are concerned, since Thais are usually non-confrontational. Avoid getting in a ‘nationalistic’ argument with locals, though, as Thais are very patriotic. There is also an ugly mafia-like underbelly to Thai society, and occasionally naïve foreigners get caught up in it. If you are concerned for your safety, try to walk away from the situation.