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Balconies at the Patong resort where the Aussies plunged to the ground

Phuket Balcony Plunge Highlights Pitfalls and Pratfalls of Thailand Tourism

Saturday, October 4, 2014
PHUKET: Balcony collapses are just one factor for tourists to be wary of in Thailand - as three Aussies proved when they tumbled to the ground from a Phuket resort this week.

While the Aussies are believed to have recovered, It's unclear whether they tipped over the balcony railing or whether the railings collapsed under their weight.

Phuket police and the resort's management were reluctant to elaborate when contacted by Phuketwan this week. Total transparency remains lacking in tourist safety.

While it's the view of Phuketwan that the vast majority of tourists visiting Phuket go home after an enjoyable experience, visitors should not expect everything on Phuket to be designed with their safety and security in mind.

What's secure enough for people going about their normal business might not be secure enough, for example, for three large, playful foreigners.

Phuketwan believes Phuket and Thailand are safe places to visit, provided holidaymakers do not assume that every precaution has been taken to protect them.

Developing countries are great but having 7-Elevens on every corner does not mean the place is just like home.

The advice to Australians travelling to Thailand remains: ''exercise a high degree of caution.''

In a summary on here's the official view:

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Thailand due to the possibility of civil unrest and the threat of terrorist attack, including in Bangkok and Phuket. The security situation remains volatile.

You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and where possible monitor the local media, including social media, for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Since the military coup there have been a number of anti-coup demonstrations in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand, including in areas frequented by tourists. The military has arrested some participants for failing to comply with orders to cease protest activity.

These confrontations are potentially volatile. Australians should stay well clear of all demonstrations, political events, rallies, processions and large-scale public gatherings as they may turn violent. For further information on possible disruptions see under Safety and Security.

Be aware of the risks of hiring jet skis and motorcycles. Australian travellers continue to report harassment and threats of violence by jet ski operators on beaches across Thailand, and particularly in Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

You may be detained and arrested by police following jet ski and motorcycle accidents until compensation, often in thousands of dollars, can be negotiated between parties. Check your insurance cover if you intend to ride a motorcycle in Thailand when you are not licensed to ride one in Australia.

Tourists may be exposed to scams and more serious criminal activity in Thailand. Be aware that food and drink spiking occurs in Thailand, including around popular backpacker destinations such as Khao San Road in Bangkok the night-time entertainment zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, and during the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan.

Travellers planning to attend Full Moon parties at Koh Phangan or other locations should carefully consider personal safety issues and take appropriate precautions.

See our Partying Overseas page for advice on the risks you may face when attending Full Moon parties and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. The possession of even small quantities of ''soft drugs'' for recreational purposes can result in lengthy jail sentences.

We strongly advise you not to travel at this time to the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla or overland to and from the Malaysian border through these provinces due to high levels of ongoing violence in these areas, including terrorist attacks and bombings that result in deaths and injuries on an almost daily basis.

Reporting indicates that extremists may be planning to target westerners in the southern border provinces.


Sexual assault, food and drink spiking, assault and robbery against foreigners occurs in Thailand, including around popular backpacker and tourist destinations such as Khao San Road in Bangkok, the night-time entertainment zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, and during Full Moon and other parties on Koh Phangan.

See our Sexual Assault Overseas page for further information on how to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault and the assistance available to victims.

The Full Moon and other parties at Koh Phangan and in other locations regularly result in reports of sexual assaults, deaths, arrests, robbery, injuries and lost travel documents.

Travellers should avoid local and homemade cocktails which may be made with narcotic or poisonous substances. In addition to the health risks of ingesting unknown substances, these drinks can render consumers vulnerable to criminals.

Australians planning to celebrate '''Schoolies''' in Thailand should be aware that in the past Australians have had serious accidents and injuries as a result of consumption of alcohol and drugs, and have been arrested for theft and/or possession of narcotics. You should behave in a responsible and culturally sensitive manner.

The costs for medical services can be very expensive and penalties for breaking the law in Thailand can be severe. These penalties also apply to minors, who are subject to Thai juvenile judicial processes, including detention in a juvenile or adult prison.

Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Petty crime, such as theft from hotel rooms, pickpocketing and bag snatching by thieves on motorcycles, is common. Money and passports have been stolen from rooms (particularly in cheaper hotels and hostels) and from bags on public transport. Items have been removed from luggage stored below buses and travellers have reported being drugged and robbed during bus and train journeys.

Beware of pickpockets in crowded markets and shopping streets. When visiting these areas leave credit and other cards and licences that are not required locked in a hotel safe or be extra vigilant when carrying these items.

Tourists have also been robbed after the bags they were carrying were snatched by thieves on motorcycles or were sliced open by razor blades.

Beware of motorcycles approaching from behind as you walk on the footpath and hold bags and backpacks in front of you or in ways that make them difficult to be snatched.

You should be aware that some foreigners, including an Australian tourist, have been killed in these incidents. You can reduce the opportunity for such opportunistic theft by limiting the carriage of easily grabbed bags in public places.

Australian travellers continue to report harassment and threats of violence by jet-ski operators on tourist beaches, particularly in Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

Many travellers have reported that, after returning hired jet-skis, they have been confronted by gangs claiming that the tourist damaged the jet-ski. There have been reported instances of such gangs threatening violence, including at knifepoint, if a large sum of money in compensation for the alleged damage is not paid.

Australians hiring jet-skis should check the jet-ski for damage, including underneath, before riding and take photographs of the jet-ski that may be helpful in the resolution of disputes.

Operators may request your passport as a deposit or guarantee before hiring jet skis or motorbikes. If there is a dispute about damage to a rented jet-ski or motorbike, rental operators may try to keep your passport until they receive compensation.

Passports are valuable documents that should be appropriately protected. Australians should not provide passports as deposits or guarantees under any circumstances.

Credit card and ATM fraud, including the use of 'skimming' machines which can store card data, can occur in Thailand. You should monitor your transaction statements and take care not to expose your PIN to others, particularly when using ATMs.

Many travellers fall victim to scams after accepting offers from people recommending or offering various goods or services, particularly when shopping for jewellery and gems.The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) can provide official advice on purchasing jewellery and gems.

Travellers have also lost large sums of money through bogus investment, property rental and time share schemes, card game scams and other fraudulent activity.

There have been complaints from Australians who have lost large sums of money from property purchases and in time share schemes in Phuket.

Australians should be particularly careful and thoroughly research any company offering properties for sale or time share arrangements before entering into an agreement.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport.

If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


thats a fairly comprehensive list

Posted by Michael on October 4, 2014 17:18

Editor Comment:

I am surprised that the dangers associated with using somebody else's toothbrush are not mentioned. The reason why people avoid government warnings is because they can't relate to them. Try explaining that to any bureaucrat.


Great extract.

Thank to a thorough briefing on my first visit to Thailand in 1997 on a charter flight with a group, that among other included vivid and comprehensive explanation that jet-ski in general have pre-existing defects or poorly maintained , that our travel insurance policies in most cases don't cover these costs, that jet-ski operators routinely comes forward with claims of broken jet-ski and they're master of this "trade", strong advice was to refrain from hiring jet-ski (or any other water-sport facilities) under any circumstances.
I happily followed this advice and never ever hired a jet-ski, parasailing , banana boat in Thailand, however did it numerous times in Europe, UAE or France overseas territories.

Although it was first and last time when I went to Thailand as a part of organized tour, I think it is useful to go this way for the 1st visit, as in most cases you will get some briefing and understanding of the country's specifics , that otherwise you can easily miss as very few reads governments warnings and easily get into preventable troubles.

Posted by Sue on October 4, 2014 18:54


This is a great article - but in this age of reactive myopic entitlement- few tourists are proactive - it seems they don't care until someone close to them suffers fatality.

So the message wisely goes out even here - but 'bulletproof' minds and ears are largely shut - reserved almost exclusively for peer noise, drama and 'fun.'

Posted by farang888 on October 4, 2014 22:06


With shorter people come shorter balconies - but western tourists are generally longer, hence the issue, especially with copious amounts of alcohol as an extenuating circumstance.


stating the obvious

Posted by farang888 on October 5, 2014 04:24


It is a frightening list indeed.

The list of travel warnings for South Africa and Brazil probably looks not much different.

Posted by Georg The Viking on October 5, 2014 11:32


@ Georg The Viking. South Africans carry guns. In SA victims who fight or shoot back, live longer.

Posted by Duncan B on October 5, 2014 14:06

Monday June 24, 2024
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