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Last Updated On: 7/10/2013

Thailand has been a wildly popular tourist destination as far back as we can remember.

Indians, Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Russians and other Europeans have much to love about Thailand.

The tempting nightlife, great beaches, spicy cuisine, not to forget the sex change hospitals are all huge draws and folks return with happy stories.

No surprise then that Thailand attracted 19 million foreign tourists in 2011 and an estimated 21 million last year.

The numbers tell it all - Thailand is sizzling hot and tourists are making a beeline for the place.

But all's not well in paradise.

Watch Out in Thailand

Thailand, like any sizzler, can burn you up if you're not careful.

Crimes against foreign tourists appears to be increasing.

A 26-year-old British tourist Stephen Ashton celebrating at a 2013 countdown party on the popular Haad Rin beach in Koh Phangan (in the Gulf of Thailand) was killed when he became the unfortunate victim of a shootout between rival gangs.

Thailand has the highest gun ownership rate in Asia, ahead of even lawless Pakistan.

There are 15.6 guns per 100 people in Thailand.

As the repeated shootings in the U.S. has shown us, where gun ownership is high civilian shootings of innocents tend to be high.

Violent crime is also on the increase in the nation.

Ashton was not the only foreign tourist to lose his life in Thailand last year. The poor Briton was merely the last.

Two Russian women, an Australian travel agent and two Canadian sisters were also killed under unpleasant circumstances in 2012.

Foreign tourists have also been victims of other crimes including assaults by gang members and sexual offenses.

The official Koh Phangan web site has this warning to tourists on its web site:

"Try to WALK AWAY from every potential conflict with locals. You will stand no chance and it's a surefire way to get hospitalized. Also try not to get inappropriately rowdy or swear at the beach bar staff. In April 2007 an Israeli tourist got stabbed to death right on the dance floor in one of the bars on Haad Rin beach - violence is frequent. The locals will not help you in a fight and will in fact gang up on you whether you are right or wrong, and "fellow" travellers will do their best to stay out of it, too. If you find yourself seriously aimed for, LEAVE THE PLACE IMMEDIATELY and don't come back the same night. Thais who lose their temper usually are back to normal the next day. Be friendly and smile - you're on a holiday! Everything is best done with a smile here as this is Thai culture."

Road Safety

Also keep in mind that road accidents in Thailand are frequent and often fatal.

Over just “seven dangerous days” (Dec 27-Jan 2), 365 people died and 3,329 were injured in 3,176 road accidents throughout the nation.

That's beyond horrific and surely the fatalities and injured include foreigners.

Yes, Thailand can be fun but it's also prudent to know the lay of the land before heading there.