My view, after 15 years in Thailand (I got here in my late 20's) is that its interesting place but that visitors tend to take their safety for granted, which is a mistake.
If you have money in Thailand, you can commit any crime, including murder and you will not go to jail.... some recent examples....
- Moo Ham who had a small accident with a bus and got out. The people at the bus stop berated him, he hit the bus driver with a rock and then he got into his car and drove it at the people at the bus stop, seven injured, one dead. He got a suspended jail sentence. His father gained notoriety in the press later as he said something to the effect "they were poor anyway, they don't matter" in an interview.http://nationmultimedia.com/national/Moo-Ham-gets-suspended-jail-term-30201337.html
- 16 year old girl, driving illegally ran into a van which went off the road, killing 9 of them. The pic in the link below is her posting on facebook accident, telling them what happened and that she'd be late. At that time, there were people lying in the road dying. Despite driving underage, neither she not the people who gave her the car have or will spend a single day in jail.http://www.asiaone.com/Motoring/News/Story/A1Story20101231-255738.html
- A speeding 19 year old motorist in a Porsche hit a Lao girl and cut her in half. He ended up paying the girls mother a paltry sum and the case quietly went away.http://www.asiaone.com/Motoring/News/Story/A1Story20110328-270422.htmlhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AosA-lCn8VA
- the Heir to one of the original partners in Red Bull went clubbing, got drunk and took a loaf of coke, then got in his Ferarri and hit a cop. He was recorded driving @ 170kph down Sukhumvit Rd. He didn't stop to see if the cop was OK and some reports said he dragged the cop some distance. He went home but police followed a trail of leaking fluid to his (extremely rich) fathers house. Initially, they wouldn't let the police in. The first cop in got suspended because his first priority was to start negotiating to arrest someone else for the case. The case keeps getting delayed in the courts and eventually it'll just fade away...http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/310651/hit-and-run-police-officer-dragged-to-deathhttp://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/356038/red-bull-heir-hit-run-case-delayed-again
Of course, these are all driving cases. I could bring up the one about the Thai Senator that accidentally killed his wife with an Uzi...http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/14/world/asia/thai-politician-shooting
Guess what - he got off scott free.
I won't go on but the upshot is that Thailand can be very dangerous. There is no functioning police force here. The courts are corrupt.
Now when there is no law enforcement to speak of, think of all the other things that enforcement does in any functioning country.
Keeps food safe? Stops people polluting the rivers? Ensures vehicles are safe to be in the roads? Yes - Thailand has none of that. Fish full of Mercury in Prachinburi - yup... Anti pollution activists regularly disappearing - yup.
Well - you get the point.
I'm not totally against the place. There's some great things about it. I just won't stay here when my son hits 17 for various reasons but the main one being his safety as he starts to grow up and have a social life.