Is Thailand as deadly for millennials to travel in as we have been told?

Thailand attracts millions of visitors every year with its tropical beaches and bright blue seas, most recently it has been one of the main destinations for millennials to visit whilst on gap years and adventures.

However, there is a darker side to this beautiful country that causes thousands of deaths to young backpackers each year…or so we have been told.

There have been multiple recorded British National deaths in Thailand. Amongst foreigners to die, British nationals are the highest ranking, there have been 101 Brits out of 625 tourist deaths in Thailand from 2009 to 2018.

But Thailand seems to be getting an increase in coverage of tourist dying from mainstream news coverage such as The Sun, The Independent and many more, than other countries with similar if not higher numbers of tourists dying.

Some areas of Thailand such as Koh Tao, located in the province of Surat Thani, get more media coverage than other areas being branded ‘Death Island’ by some media organisations. But it isn’t actually one of the most dangerous places in Thailand for tourists to go to.

The province with the highest tourist death rate in Thailand is Phuket with 181 compared to Koh Tao’s province Surat Thani with just 65 deaths. So why is it getting more attention when it is clearly not the ‘most dangerous’ place to be?

Map 1

Using a website called Farang Deaths which tracks every foreign death of an EU citizen in Thailand, I worked out that only 24%of the foreign deaths on the island from 2009 to present were ages 1-30.

Only ¼ of the deaths are of millennials so this shows that millennials shouldn’t be scaremongered by the press into thinking that they are the ones being targeted in Thailand. The graph below shows the gaping difference between tourist millennials and all tourists deaths.

Map 2

Only 11.2%of those deaths of millennials were murders or unknown, many self-caused in road accidents or falling. Out of the 153 deaths of millennials from 2009 only 19 were murders or unknown.

Map 3

Other tourist destinations such as Cambodia do not suffer the same problem with negative media coverage, but you actually have a higher chance of dying there than in Thailand.

After looking at Thailand’s tourist arrivals per year and comparing it to Cambodia’s using the number of tourists that had died, I discovered that in Thailand in 2017 there was a 1 in 91,300 chance of dying whereas in Cambodia in 2017 there was a 1 in 66,400 chance of dying.


Considering how much higher the chance of dying is in Cambodia it is still a very known problem that some of the deaths are not documented or reported on. According to a report from United States Departments Bureau of diplomatic security that “Even when victims are successful in identifying the correct office, police routinely charged a filing fee, resulting in many crimes going unreported and official crime statistics being artificially low.”

We are being told the numbers of how many people are dying without taking into account how many people are visiting Thailand. Tourist numbers have risen to 35.6million in 2017 compared to Cambodia’s 5.31 million.

It seems like more people die in Thailand but only as more tourists visit per year so the number is higher, but the chances are much lower than you first assume.

Other common gap year or travelling destinations such as India had 245 tourist deaths in Goa alone from 2005-2017 and other destinations such as Australia have 300 plus deaths every year at an increasing rate up to 2015 with 361 deaths.

If you want to be extra safe then below is a map of the numbers of deaths in the provinces in Thailand so you can travel wherever you feel most comfortable.

Map 4

So, don’t let what you see in mainstream media stop you from travelling to places like these, just do your research and keep safe everywhere.


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