Nothing beats an adventure like backpacking through Southeast Asia. Full of vibrant culture, cheap hostels, and mouthwatering foods, Bangkok, Thailand, is the ideal starting point for your travels.
In fact, 11.15 million travelers visited Bangkok, Thailand's capital city, in 2022!
While Bangkok is one of the top destinations for first-time backpackers, the most common question you’ll hear is “Is Bangkok safe? How safe is Bangkok? Can I walk in Bangkok at night?” And about a thousand more variations of that…
Are you having the same questions about the dangers of Bangkok? Well, you’re in sheer luck!
I will answer every question you might have about Bangkok’s safety and top it off with the latest Bangkok travel tips.
Is Bangkok Dangerous?
Bangkok is not dangerous, contrary to what many movies and medias portray it to be.
The city is a victim of petty crimes and tourist scams, including pickpocketing and fake service people. But these crimes occur very late at night in crowded tourist spots, making it easier to avoid.
Bangkok is also sometimes considered unsafe because of natural disasters or protests that may become violent.
Thailand is a tropical country, which means it’s no stranger to unpredictable weather. I’ve always made it a habit to check for weather predictions while planning my trips. That way, you’re unlikely to get caught in a Thai flood or tsunami.
Bangkok’s traffic is also notorious for being chaotic and ultimately dangerous. Accidents are common in busy streets, especially if you’re on a scooter. So as long as you’re taking a taxi or public transport, you’re doing a good job at keeping yourself more safe!
Speaking of safe, let’s answer the burning question in the room...
Is Bangkok Safe?
In short, yes!
Whether you’re planning to spend blurry nights in Bangkok’s nightlife or honeymoon in Thailand, Bangkok is one of the safest cities in the country. That said, there’s always the exceptional factor of something bad happening.
Bangkok used to have a higher crime rate a few years ago, but the city has a lower crime index now.
Because tourism brings millions of dollars to Bangkok, the local government is doing everything it can to protect tourists. The regulations are strict around tourist attractions to keep travelers safe.
And like any other city in the world, there are always tiny nuances like thieves and scammers who want your money! Police has cracked down on this in recent years, but this issue plagues most if not all tourist destinations as its a good but unethical way to make money.
As long as you’re street-smart and self-aware, Bangkok is as safe as it gets.
Is Bangkok Safe to Travel to in 2023?
I get it—safety standards can change over time. So, finding out whether Bangkok is safe currently, is crucial before you start planning your trip.
Yes, Bangkok is super safe to travel to in 2023, and the local people are friendly to interact with. Even after COVID-19, people are still wearing masks out of respect to one another when they feel slightly under the weather.
Plus, every tourist destination in the city is open to all! It's a great city with very minimal violent crime, and I can confidently say I feel super safe walking around at night alone.
Thailand relies heavily on tourism as a major source of revenue, so don't be afraid to try dishes from street vendors as well!
Over the years, Bangkok is also noticing a great increase in tourism interest. And with local authorities working round the clock, tourists can enjoy a hassle-free and safe experience!
Is Bangkok Safe for Solo Travelers?
Bangkok is very safe for first-time travelers or solo travelers.
The city is many backpackers' first-ever big trip abroad, and safety is one of the main factors why they do. You'll likely make many friends throughout your trip, some that may last a lifetime.
I traveled to the country as a solo traveler a year ago, and the entire experience was nothing short of magical. Of course, I felt scared before landing because I only knew a few Thai phrases and not a single person.
But once I got there, it was a blast! I ended up staying in a social hostel and making friends with other solo travelers. It's also super convenient to transit via skytrain (BTS) and metro (MRT).
The only caution I'd put out is to be careful around red-light districts, which I'll point out later in the article. I'd also avoid drugs as much as possible. While Thailand legalized Marijuana recently, I'd still avoid it if your home country bans it.
That way, we went out to every place at any time together and kept each other safer than we’d be on our own!
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers in Bangkok
- Never leave your belongings with anyone you meet during your travels.
- Don’t show off your money in public areas.
- Always watch your drinks and carry a drink cover scrunchie to protect your glasses.
- Order your taxi from Grab instead of hailing one from the street.
- Don’t get drunk around strangers or in public spaces where you’re vulnerable.
Is Bangkok Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
Thailand's capital is safe for female travelers who are exploring alone. The city welcomes all races and genders, making it a great place to start your backpacking journey.
But, like any other city, you’ll have to keep an eye out for trouble. The crime rate in Bangkok is low, but things like harassment, rape, and kidnapping happen occasionally.
In my own experience, catcalling was one of the more significant problems to deal with as a solo female tourist. The best way to deal with it is to not walk past large groups of Thai youngsters unless you’re traveling with a group!
Is It Safe to Walk at Night in Bangkok?
Bangkok’s beauty is unmatched at night. Buildings and streets come alive with neon lights. Street food aroma follows you wherever you go, and the clubs are just starting for the night!
And yes, Bangkok is safe to walk around at night! Many people will explore Bangkok after the sun sets, especially tourists.
When I went to Thailand, Bangkok was brightly lit, and I felt safe all around. The best part was that I wasn’t just surrounded by Thai people. I was more around tourists exploring the same paths, so I never felt alone for a second!
While you might be tempted to explore hidden corners and narrow streets, you might be in trouble. So use common sense when you’re walking through the city at night!
Are Taxis Safe in Bangkok?
This is another common question in terms of safety that gets asked.
Truth be told, I always heard about taxis being unsafe in Bangkok, and I was wary the first time a taxi pulled up for me. But then I discovered they’re mostly safe, convenient, and cheaper than other modes of transportation!
Emphasis on “mostly.“
Taxis often take advantage of foriegners by driving in circles to run up the meter. They'll also sometimes claim it's broken and charge you an absurd amount. This is why I'll recommend you downloading the Grab app, so you know how much you're paying for in advanced.
I ended up paying 3 times my actual fare—more than once. But this guide will ensure you don’t need to run into the same problems I did!
In general though, the best way to stay away from scammy Taxis is to always ask "Meter?" If they nod or say okay, you can get on. Make sure they actually turn it on, you should be able to see it clearly. If they attempt to name out a price, they're almost always overcharging you.
Never accept a taxi without a meter, it's not legal for them to do so, and it's always to scam foreigners.
What Should You Avoid in Bangkok?
There are a few things to avoid in Bangkok. Here are 5 things you should steer clear of in Bangkok because it might land you in troubling waters!
Avoid Discussing Certain Topics
Thailand is a great place with a diverse group of communities and an authentically rich culture and tradition.
In fact, they've come a really long way to becoming one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world.
Unfortunately, while they're a constitutional monarchy and not entirely democratic, there are certain things you should not talk about, period.
Do not talk negatively about the Thai royal family and the Thai government, especially the King. Thailand has strict Lèse-Majesté law that constitutes defamation of any kind on the Thai royalty as a criminal offense.
Also, if you're watching a movie or a show, don't be surprised if the Thai royal anthem starts playing. In Thailand, you're required to stand for the Thai royal anthem.
Tailors or Gem Shops
Unfortunately, Bangkok has many stores that pose as "authentic" but are often questionable, especially when looking at the prices.
There may be some legit tailor and gem shops, but they're often mixed up with shopkeepers that are scammers. But just between you and me, it’s not worth it at all.
Many shops are known for taking your money and never producing the ordered items. It's best to just stay clear. Or if you have a local friend, get their recommendations.
I'd also check their Google or Yelp reviews before approaching them. Usually the really good ones local visit have tons of reviews on Google.
Keep in mind this isn't true for all tailors and gem shops, most of them are amazing. This is just prevelant in my personal experience.
Local tip: If you venture into one of Bangkok's known places or malls for these shops, double-check the market prices of the items you purchase before giving them your money! It might seem cheap because of the currency, but don't be fooled.
A Taxi That's Already Parked
In tourist hotspots, you'll often see parked taxi drivers waiting to take you to your next destination. These look good, but they usually charge you 2 or 3 times the average rate.
Remember how that happened to me?
Here’s what you do to not let it happen to you. You flag a taxi on the move instead of those that are sitting idle on the street.
Or, don’t flag taxis at all! Use an Uber-like apps like Grab to get an upfront and honest rate. Apps like these became one of my best friends throughout my traveling adventures in Thailand.
Local tip: If you doubt getting in a taxi, ask if it's "metered." All legit taxis should be metered, and any that give you prices upfront are usually there to scam you.
Local tip #2: Follow the taxi route on Google Maps or equivalent route tracking apps. If the taxi goes off course or circles the neighborhood, they're trying to run the meter up.
Any "Tourism Authority of Thailand" (TAT) shop
TAT shops can be found all over Bangkok, claiming to sell authentic tickets to attractions.
However, the Tourism Authority of Thailand doesn't have any retail shops in Bangkok, so you can bet on them being fake!
Buy your tickets online from a reputable vendor or from the attraction itself.
Tuk Tuk Scams
When I say Tuk Tuks are the biggest scammers in Bangkok, I wouldn’t be wrong. These detailed vehicles are outside airports, hotels, and the hottest tourist spots.
There are many ways Tuk Tuk drivers can scam you, such as:
- They’ll overcharge your fare when you reach your destination and get in a screaming contest if you refuse,
- They’ll drive you to local businesses instead of taking you to the place you need to be. These businesses are paying the drivers a commission to bring in tourists, but you end up with a lighter wallet.
- They’ll tell you your destination is closed, and they know a better place, driving you to another place that gives them commissions!
What you’ll do is agree on the fare before getting in the tuk-tuk. If they tell you the place you’re going to is closed, and they can find you a better place, walk away.
Picture this: you’re on the way to the Grand Palace when someone strikes up a conversation and asks thoughtful questions about your trip. You tell them you’re headed to the Grand Palace and that’s where they tell you it’s closed for some reason.
Then they pull out a map and redirect you to another “unmissable” destination. Before you know it, they’ve flagged down a tuk-tuk for you, and you’re headed there.
And the nightmare doesn’t end yet. The tuk-tuk driver charges a lot, and the destination you’re at will also extort a lot of money in the name of the entrance fee!
Ideally, you should remain polite and decline such offers. If they try to hurl you in a taxi to take you there, be firm and walk away.
While violent crime and armed robberies are rare in Thailand, petty theft is pretty common in places with large crowds.
Areas like the Chatuchak Weekend Market, Yaowarat (Chinatown), and other markets are frequent places where bag snatching and pickpocketing happen.
Also be on the lookout of common scams when you're in areas of high foot traffic.
Staying in Bangkok
During my travels, I found out there were many safe areas in Bangkok and there were some places to avoid in Bangkok too. And this blog would be incomplete if I didn’t tell you some of them!
Bad Areas to Avoid in Bangkok
Despite being properly lit at night and being safe overall, some neighborhoods in Bangkok are simply bad news. It’s full of shady characters who are one move away from taking something from you or putting you in danger.
I did some deep research into these bad areas of Bangkok and I found 5 notorious ones:
- Patpong – a dishonest place where you’re either getting threatened or conned.
- Khlong Toey – slum area of drug dealers and drug users looking to extort and harm you.
- Soi Cowboy – a red-light street full of sleazy characters and dishonest prices.
- Nana Plaza – strictly for adults and the sex business.
Most of these areas are still very safe to visit, but factors like sex tourism and frequent bag snatching have made these areas notorious for bad activities. I'd still recommend you visit them if you're interested, just make sure you're cautious and alert when you're there.
Safest Neighborhoods in Bangkok
Apart from the 4 locations mentioned above, every neighborhood is safe for travelers. But if you’re extra-cautious, theses are some of the safest places in Bangkok:
- Khao San Road,
- Asoke & Nana,
- Phloen Chit & Chit Lom,
- Lower Sukhumvit,
- Khlong San
- Suvarnabhumi Airport & Lat Krabang.
Always check out reviews on these places as well as your choice of accommodation before flying into the country!
Safety Tips During Your Visit to Bangkok
Choose the Right Neighborhood
By staying in the popular tourist areas, you have a good chance of meeting fellow travelers and staying in safer areas. Siam, Khao San Road, and Sukhumvit are a few great areas to stay in.
Opting for a hostel with 24/7 security in a touristy area increases your safety. It also gives you a better overall experience of Bangkok.
Invest in a Money Bag
When backpacking, you're constantly moving to explore new fantastic areas of a city. Having your belongings safe in secure bags is essential!
A money bag for your personal belongings in your hostel is a great way to add that extra layer of security. Also, investing in a money belt for when you're exploring Bangkok is a great idea to keep your belongings safe.
Use Hotel Safes or Lockers
Many hostels and hotels have security lockers that you can use to store your passport, important documents, and cash. They’re usually free of charge or come at a small fee. But a security locker offers safety and peace of mind within your hostel.
I'd even recommend you to use hotel safes if you're staying in a hotel or resort. It's better to be safe than sorry, pun not intended.
Other than that, most accommodations have security guards and cameras around the property, so it's still relatively safe for break-ins or home invasions.
Remember to bring a lock for your security locker with you on your travels. You usually need to purchase these at the hostel, which can be expensive!
Don't Give Your Passport as Security
Hiring a scooter or motorbike? Don't ever give your passport as a security deposit. It's widespread in Southeast Asia for companies to ask you to hand over your passport when renting or using something in a tourist area.
This can be dangerous because if something goes wrong, they can refuse to give your passport back!
Learn a Few Words in Thai
When backpacking, you meet many fantastic locals who are kind, generous, and generally happy to see you. This is especially true in Thailand! Knowing a few basic words in Thai is very helpful in many situations.
Try and learn these before you head off on your travels:
- Kawp Koon (kop-koon) / Thank You
- Chai / Mai Chai (chai / my–chai) — Yes / No
- Kor Tot (kor-tot) / Excuse Me
- Mai Khao Jai (my–cow-jai) / I Don't Understand
- Lah Gorn (la-gon) / Goodbye
Other Safety Considerations in Thailand
I mentioned this before, but since Thailand is a tropical getaway, visitors need to be on alert for possible natural disasters. Depending on when your trip to Thailand is, you may need to be more wary.
I would recommend going in the dry season, which runs from November to April. This season offers more comfortable weather, particularly for beachgoers.
If your trip is in the rainy season, running from May to October, you can expect daily heavy rains, particularly in the afternoons and evenings. This can lead to localized floods, especially in low-lying areas.
Unfortunately, you'll also hear of the rare monsoon, earthquake, or tsunami as well.
Here are tips on how to avoid the dangers of Thailand extreme weather occurrences:
- Stay informed by following local weather reports and heed warnings from local authorities.
- Consider travel insurance that covers weather-related disruptions.
- Pack appropriately for the season you'll be traveling in, and consider carrying a compact umbrella or raincoat during the rainy season.
- Familiarize yourself with local emergency procedures and keep emergency numbers handy.
Dengue fever is a viral infection transmitted by Aedes mosquitos, commonly found in urban areas like Bangkok. Symptoms include sudden high fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, and a rash.
To minimize the risk, it's advisable to use mosquito repellent containing DEET, wear long sleeves, and stay in accommodations with window and door screens.
To take precautions against other possible health concerns, consult a healthcare provider before traveling to Bangkok. Talk to them to ensure you have the appropriate vaccinations, such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid, and malaria prophylaxis if needed.
Bangkok can experience high levels of air pollution. If you are prone to respiratory issues, particularly asthma or other underlying health conditions, you should check local air quality reports.
I know we're past COVID, but I'd suggest wearing a mask on particularly smoggy days.
Drinking Tap Water
It's generally recommended for travelers to avoid drinking tap water in Thailand. And I followed this advice when I stayed in Thailand.
The water quality can vary greatly depending on the region and even within cities, and the local tap water may contain bacteria and other contaminants that could cause stomach problems for those who are not accustomed to it.
Bottled water is widely available and is typically inexpensive, making it a safer choice for many travelers.
If you are in a situation where you must consume tap water, I would recommend boiling it first or using a reputable water purification method, such as a water purifier or purification tablets. This will reduce the risk of illness.
And if you have a susceptible stomach, I'd avoid ice in your drinks unless you know it's been made with purified water. Also, be cautious with salads and fruits that may have been washed with tap water.
I wouldn't avoid red-light districts, in fact, I'd recommend if you're of legal age to check it out!
While prostitution is generally illegal, sex tourism have deep rooted history in Thailand, hence why you'll find plenty of these around Bangkok, especially in these red-light districts.
My advice is to admire from afar, but if you're going to partake, ensure you have protection and make sure consensual parties are all of legal age! Human trafficking have significantly reduced over the decades but still remains a threat to the Thai government and its people.
Beyond Bangkok: Explore All of Thailand!
There's a huge reason why Bangkok is one of the biggest hubs for digital nomads across the world.
It's a safe destination filled with rich culture, history, and tradition. Thailand is also known for their entertainment, such as premium movie theatres, traditional Thai dances, and the famous Tiffany's Show.
It's also a great place for travels to other popular Thai destinations like Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua-Hin, Phuket, and more!
Events, such as the Full Moon Party, is also one of the most 🔥 and crazy parties I've been to. If you're into these events, I highly encourage you to check them out!
Safety and Beyond!
Now that you know how to be safe when visiting Bangkok, you can kick the stress and start planning. Save this safety guide and begin crafting the ultimate travel experience with Pilot today!