Theft on Overnight Buses

Theft on Overnight Buses

The overnight buses between Chiang Mai, Khao San Road in Bangkok, and the Thai islands are famous for petty theft. Both myself and several travel mates have been “victims” over the years.

The reasons that the long-haul buses between these destinations are so cheap is that the drivers’ assistants literally crawl into the baggage hold on the bus and sift through bags as you are moving down the road.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that you can do to prevent this age-old scam. Even though popular guidebooks and websites all acknowledge the thefts, no one can seem to do anything about it.

The thefts are usually petty, and result in small items stolen which you may not notice missing for days after you leave the bus. Over many trips, I have lost expensive razor blade cartridges, a survival knife, and a rain jacket!

Here are some tips for avoiding theft on overnight buses:

Keep your money, camera, and everything valuable with you on the bus.

Pack laundry and less valuable stuff on the top of your big bag — assuming that it will not lock.

Write down the company name and bus number so that you can report any missing items. Most travelers never report small thefts, so they have continued for years.

The buses booked to and from Khao San Road are the most susceptible to these petty thefts; be vigilant.

Depending on the type of bus, getting your bag on first may be an advantage as it is buried deeper in the luggage hold.

Use your rain cover on your backpack. Anything to make access more difficult may cause them to skip over your bag for the next one.

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