Generally speaking, Thailand is a very safe country for travellers to visit, and women should feel safe and comfortable exploring, even after dark. Thai people are warm and welcoming to visitors and tend to adopt an attitude of non-violence, despite a few cases that have been latched onto by the media and blown out of proportion. Thai people take pride in their appearance and standards of hygiene generally measure up to those in Western countries in major tourist areas such as Sukhumvit and Silom.
Female travellers will probably find that they feel safer in Bangkok than in their home countries, and violent crime is rare here. However, it is important not to become complacent and women should always exercise common sense. It is best to avoid walking alone on quiet streets after dark and keep a close eye on your belongings. It is also a good idea to refuse offers of drinks from strangers.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the easy-going Thai attitude, though, as although most Thai people are very honest, there are also those who are willing to take advantage of tourists who indulge in binge drinking and exceed their limit.
Having fair skin is desirable in Thailand, and although many people may comment on this, it is meant as a compliment. Staring is not seen as rude in Thailand and although foreign women may attract a lot of stares when out in public, Thai men rarely approach women they don’t know and cases of sexual harassment are rare.
Travelling by taxi is generally safe, even at night. However, in recent years there have been a handful of high-profile incidences where drivers have raped and/or killed late-night female customers. When travelling alone by taxi it is best to check that the driver agrees to use the meter before climbing inside the taxi. Take note of the driver’s license number, which is usually displayed either on the sun visor or on the dashboard. If the driver behaves peculiarly in any way, get out of the taxi immediately.
Women’s Health in Bangkok
Chemists like Boots carry the full range of feminine hygiene products, including tampons. However, the minimarts located at petrol stations usually only stock sanitary pads. Condoms are no longer only the domain of men and can be found easily at branches of 7-11 and Family Mart.
Surprisingly, many types of medication that require a doctor’s prescription in Western countries are available over the counter in Thailand. PMT sufferers can usually find refills of their regular medicine at the chemist and will be able to obtain it without having to visit a doctor first. However, should a symptom arise that needs checking by a doctor, Bangkok has a number of excellent, international-standard hospitals for you to choose from.
Most doctors hold office hours in hospitals rather than clinics, and although going to the hospital may sound a little alarming, many of the hospitals here offer world-class facilities and services. Bangkok Hospital, Bumrungrad, Samitivej, BNH, and Phayathai hospitals all feature services that are offered by discreet, Western-trained physicians. The treatment here is often better than you would find back home, at a fraction of the cost.
One free-standing clinic that is highly recommended for its service, low cost and discretion is the Population and Community Development Association Clinic (PDA), located next to the Cabbages & Condoms restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 12. The unlikely neighbours are both run by the association, which was founded by Khun Meechai, a doctor and progressive Bangkok Senator, whose tireless efforts encouraging condom use to fight AIDS led to his name becoming the slang word for condom.
This is page 2 of 3. See Page 3: Shopping for Women in Bangkok