Keeping Valuables Safe While Traveling in Thailand

Usually this doesn’t happen on such a large scale, but there was a story today in the Bangkok Post about a bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok that stopped and 7 bags were taken. The bus staff disappeared and tourists were left sleeping in the middle of nowhere.

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If I’m on a train, bus, van, or ferry boat to Ko Samui, Ko Tao or wherever I’m going I have one small backpack that contains everything of value. Computer, phones, translator, external hard drives, USB drives, Camera, batteries, chargers, ID, almost everything. I don’t let that bag go.

If I’m on the boat sleeping on the floor as in the night Surat to Ko Samui ferry I wrap the straps of the bag through my arms and sleep with my head on it as a pillow. If I’m on the train I wrap my bag in a sheet and then wedge it behind my pillow tightly as I sleep. If I have another bag I have climbing snaps that I use to snap to the handles of the bag and then to the underside of the metal cage of the baggage holder. In the train there is a wire mesh – easy to clip onto. I make the clips very hard to reach from the isle – one would have to go through a lot of trouble – or knife the handle to get the bag.

At times I have put a string on my bag to my wrist so that if someone tries to take the bag – they’ll take me too.

If I plan on falling asleep in a bus I make sure my backpack is under my legs and wedged in tightly so if someone tries to pull it out – I’ll feel it. I don’t have a wallet – haven’t for 4 years. I keep my cash and ATM cards usually in my front pocket and the pocket is deep.

When I walk around Thailand I never have more than 5,000 baht on me at any one time (anymore). I’ve known 2 backpackers that had their shirts pulled over their heads near Khao San road because the Thais knew they had a money belt around their waist. I’ve had a friend lose his wallet on the bus as he slept. Another lost a bag while she was on the ferry.

I don’t leave my helmet unlocked. I’ve lost 5 helmets in Thailand so far, some of them WERE locked under the seat. I don’t know why – but, Thais love white helmets.

I don’t wear any jewelry.

In the last 3 years I’ve not used a wall safe at a hotel. The one time I did I walked in to find 2 thieves in my room. There’s a lengthy story about this that I’ll not tell here but, will be in the bio someday as it’s definitely worth telling the whole story. On that occasion I lost way over 100,000 baht and luckily that’s all I lost. No, the money wasn’t in the hotel safe, but some camera equipment was and they took some of that too.

I don’t sleep with the windows open as I know too many foreigners (teachers mostly) that left windows open and woke up to missing cell phones, purses, and cash. Even when there are bars on the window. Apparently a stick with a hook is pretty effective at grabbing things through the window.

I can’t think of anything else right now – anyone have any other ideas?

How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting Thailand Survival Guide 101.

Thai Black Book.

For a current state of the country – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information site- >

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.