Ornate palaces, gold-plated temples, and scrumptious street food make Bangkok a must-see on the typical Southeast Asia itinerary. But being the careful traveler you are, you’re clearly wondering—is Bangkok safe?
Bangkok is a very safe city in Thailand as long as you practice common sense. Scams and pickpocketing are the most common safety-related issues tourists encounter. In both cases, they rarely present physical dangers.
I spent two weeks in Bangkok as a solo female traveler. I’ll share statistics and my takeaways here to help you prepare for your trip.
First Things First: A Disclaimer
I spent two weeks in Bangkok and had an excellent experience safety-wise.
But the information I share here, with the exception of statistics from linked sources, is my personal opinion based on my encounters.
Everyone has unique experiences that shape their perception of any given destination.
So, take what you want from this article and leave the rest. And above all, never let your guard down just because I or anyone else tells you that a destination is safe.
Trusting your gut and following basic safety practices are vital to improving your security in any destination.
Safety in Bangkok: What the U.S. Department of State Says
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) labels Thailand as a Level 1, with a few exceptions. That’s the best rating possible, as it means you only need to exercise normal precautions when traveling to Bangkok.
Due to civil unrest, the DOS discourages travel to the following provinces in Thailand:
They currently rate these four provinces as a Level 3. To give you context for the DOS’ safety categories, check out this chart:
|1||Exercise normal precautions|
|2||Exercise increased caution|
|4||Do not travel|
Luckily, the province of Bangkok follows suit with most of Thailand with its Level 1 ranking.
So, as long as you keep your belongings close when walking around crowded areas and don’t make poor decisions like walking down dark streets inebriated, you can expect to have a safe and fun time in Bangkok.
Safety in Bangkok: What the Statistics Say
The U.S. government gives its stamp of approval to tourists wanting to visit Thailand. But is Bangkok safe from other people’s perspectives?
According to Numbeo, an online resource that ranks a city’s safety based on statistics and opinions from visitors, Bangkok is quite safe.
Numbeo states that Bangkok’s overall crime levels are moderate, with the majority of its crime classifications ranking as low. Examples of Bangkok crime categories that Numebo ranks as low include worries about:
- Stolen cars
Thailand is also a notoriously welcoming country. People report little need to worry about things such as physical attacks because of the color of their skin, the religion they practice, or their sexual orientation.
With so many positive safety aspects to Bangkok, you might be wondering—why does it rank as moderate instead of low for overall safety?
Much of this concerns corruption and bribery, which I’ll touch on in the scams section of this post. Problems with drugs and property crimes also skew Bangkok’s safety numbers to a moderate instead of a low ranking.
Visiting Bangkok as a Solo Female Traveler
As a solo female traveler, I felt very safe exploring Bangkok alone. I found the Thai to be welcoming and friendly, and I never once experienced a catcall or an uncomfortable situation when interacting with men.
Such feelings of safety were a theme during my Southeast Asia travels.
That said, solo female travelers shouldn’t let their guard down. Pickpockets are relatively common in Bangkok, particularly in crowded tourist areas.
I also advise solo travelers to choose accommodation within a safe area of Bangkok.
Safest Districts in Bangkok
Here’s the good news: Bangkok has areas that are rough around the edges, but unlike certain parts of the world—my home country of the U.S. included—it’s uncommon for Bangkok to have neighborhoods so dangerous that staying in them comes with high safety risks.
Nevertheless, certain districts are extra safe, thanks to a high police presence.
Some of the safest districts in Bangkok include:
This isn’t a complete list. So, if you find accommodation that isn’t here and it has good online reviews, you’re likely good to go with staying there.
Districts to Avoid in Bangkok
I vacillated on how to name this section, for labeling it “the most dangerous districts in Bangkok” would be unnecessarily doom and gloom. Even the word “avoid” seems extreme; if you visit the districts below during the daytime or are smart about visiting them at night, they’re not overly dangerous.
Nevertheless, the following areas in Bangkok are a bit rough around the edges and downright sleazy in some sections. They include:
- Patpong district
- Nana district
- Soi Cowboy
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these areas share something in common—they’re red-light districts.
So, sex tourism abounds within them, as do drugs. Naturally, you’ll have a higher chance of running into unsavory characters in these areas, especially at night.
Although Bangkok’s several red-light areas and adult entertainment malls like Nana Plaza may make one think that prostitution is legal in Thailand, that’s not so.
Please be a responsible tourist by not partaking in sex tourism.
Is Bangkok Safe at Night?
Bangkok is safe at night as long as you’re smart about it.
Is it safe to wander around a street drunk at 3:00 am?
No, it most definitely isn’t.
But as long as you use the caution you would when exploring anywhere else in the world at night, you’ll likely be just fine in Bangkok.
The side streets of red-light districts are an exception. I encourage you to be very careful in those areas, as drug dealers and other people with questionable intentions can lurk.
As a solo female traveler, I felt very safe wandering around well-lit and well-populated areas of Bangkok at night. I also took the Skytrain and metro at night and felt completely safe.
Common Scams in Bangkok
Bangkok is loaded with scams and fraud. Luckily, the scams are rarely physically dangerous to visitors; instead, you’ll walk away with a lighter wallet.
Numbeo lists Bangkok as “very high” under the category of problems with corruption and bribery, which is the highest ranking.
Some common scams in Bangkok include:
- Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers overcharging
- Gem scam, promising fake jewelry is high quality
- Saying an attraction is closed to get you to go elsewhere
These are just a few examples of the elaborate stories some locals will make up to rob tourists to their faces.
But here’s the thing—you have a good amount of control over whether you get scammed in Bangkok.
Instead of hailing a taxi off the street, use the Grab app, which tells you a fair price upfront. Instead of believing the words of strangers on the street, investigate whether what they tell you is true.
Is Bangkok Safe for Families?
Bangkok is very safe for families. It’s an excellent city to bring your kids so that they can learn about a different culture and religion.
My only recommendation?
Be careful about how you talk about the Thai Royal family in front of your kids.
The Thai have a low tolerance for poking fun at or talking negatively about the royal family. Since the darndest things can come out of kids’ mouths, it’s best not to say anything bad in front of them that they could regurgitate to Thai strangers.
Is There a Drug Problem in Bangkok?
There’s a drug problem in Bangkok. And as with so many destinations, tourists are a large driver of it.
Let’s start with this—marijuana is legal in Thailand. There’s no shortage of shops around Bangkok where you can purchase it.
So, when I refer to drugs, cannabis doesn’t count.
If you’re not into nightlife, it’s unlikely you’ll notice drug dealers or users in Bangkok. However, a trip down the backpacker and hostel-packed area of Khao San Road or Bangkok’s red light districts reveals a different story.
If you’re confronted with someone wanting to sell you drugs, say no and walk away.
Thailand’s drug possession laws are harsh. Small amounts of drugs will land you hefty fines or jail time. If the police catch you with Class A drugs (heroin, LSD, cocaine, etc.), you could get the death penalty.
Are Protests Common in Bangkok?
Protests were common in Bangkok, most recently in 2020 and 2021, when locals wanted their political system reformed, including the monarchy.
However, due to the government cracking down on protesters by imprisoning activists and creating fear among locals, it’s currently uncommon to encounter large protests in Bangkok.
Should you encounter a protest, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
Terrorism in Bangkok
There’s a low threat of terrorism in Bangkok, especially compared to southern Thailand. Thailand’s southern provinces have had ongoing issues with insurgencies.
That said, Bangkok hasn’t completely escaped the wrath of terrorism stemming from southern Thailand. Small-scale bombings in Bangkok occurred in 2019, and the Deep South insurgency was to blame.
As a result, it’s common to pass through metal detectors in Bangkok when going into large malls, boarding long-distance trains, and entering certain buildings.
Transportation Safety in Bangkok
Is Bangkok safe from a transportation standpoint?
Very much so.
Although traffic is beastly in Bangkok, I was impressed by how well drivers respect stop lights and pedestrian crosswalks. Below are more details on safety when getting around Bangkok.
Is it safe to take a Grab in Bangkok?
Taking a Grab in Bangkok is very safe. Grab is the Uber of Southeast Asia, and you can hire a car or scooter.
Grab scooters are only available for solo travelers, and helmets are mandatory. However, riding on the back of a scooter is undeniably more dangerous than riding in a Grab car.
Is it safe to take a street taxi in Bangkok?
Taking a street taxi in Bangkok is very safe because it’s rare for taxi drivers to physically harm their customers.
However, you should check to ensure that your taxi driver will turn the meter on before you get into the vehicle. It’s common for taxi drivers to try to negotiate a price upfront with tourists, which is often higher than what the taxi meter would charge.
Of course, it’s also possible that a taxi driver using the meter will take a longer route, increasing the price of your trip.
For this reason, I recommend booking a taxi ride with Grab whenever possible.
Is it safe to take the metro in Bangkok?
Taking the metro and above-ground BTS Skytrain in Bangkok is very safe.
I used these public transport methods almost exclusively during my time in Bangkok day and night, always feeling safe.
That said, public transportation can get crowded in Bangkok, so keep your belongings close to prevent pickpocketing.
Is it safe to drive in Bangkok?
Driving in Bangkok is as safe as you make it. Personally, I would never want to drive in Bangkok because of all the traffic. But I found that locals follow traffic rules relatively better than, say, what I experienced in Vietnam.
If you choose to drive in Bangkok, you must have an international driver’s license.
Is it safe to take a bus in Bangkok?
Taking a bus in Bangkok is very safe as long as you keep an eye on your valuables.
However, given the amount of traffic, I recommend going by metro or BTS whenever possible to save time.
Are Tuk-Tuks Safe in Bangkok?
Tuk-tuks aren’t as safe as riding in a car in Bangkok, given that you’re more exposed if you get in an accident.
You also have to worry about tuk-tuk drivers overcharging you or taking you to touristy places to buy souvenirs where they receive a kickback.
Nevertheless, riding in a tuk-tuk is a classic Thai experience, so it’s a great fit for those with an adventurous spirit.
Is Bangkok Safe for Independent Touring?
Bangkok is a very safe city for independent touring. Thanks to the ease of public transportation and the ability to call a taxi using the Grab app, you’ll be able to hit up Bangkok’s tourist attractions without needing a guided tour.
That’s great news for solo travelers, as it’s often a more budget-friendly choice for them than taking a tour.
Air Quality in Bangkok
The air quality in Bangkok is horrendous. If you have pre-existing respiratory issues and are concerned about Bangkok’s air pollution, I recommend speaking with your doctor.
You can check IQAir for the current and projected air quality status in Bangkok.
At the time of this writing, Bangkok’s PM2.5 concentration is 8.7 times the value that the WHO annual air quality guideline recommends.
Some things you can do to reduce the amount of air contamination you breathe are to wear a mask outdoors, avoid exercising outdoors, keep your windows closed, and use an air purifier inside.
Earthquake Safety in Bangkok
Is Bangkok safe from earthquakes?
No, but earthquakes don’t pose a significant risk.
Earthquake hazards are low for Bangkok and Thailand as a whole. Although small earthquakes can happen, it’s uncommon for an earthquake to strike that’s larger than a magnitude 6.0.
Monsoon Season in Bangkok
The monsoon season (aka rainy season) in Bangkok runs from July to October. Flooding is common, given that not all of the city is well designed to manage water runoff.
Adding fuel to the fire is global warming, as studies show that Bangkok’s flooding issues will likely worsen in the future because of it.
Should you travel to Bangkok during the rainy season, be mindful that flash floods can happen, and follow what locals do or don’t do.
Is the Food Safe in Bangkok?
The food is safe in Bangkok as long as you make smart choices.
Although the thought of eating street food in Bangkok may give people stomach aches, the reality is that there’s little need for the average person to shy away from it.
It’s best to choose a food stall with a line, for not only is that an indication of delicious food, but it also means the food likely hasn’t been sitting out long.
Similarly, it’s best to choose food from street vendors who cook the food in front of you, particularly if you’re buying something with meat or seafood.
I never got sick eating street food in Bangkok. And I ate a lot of it.
But it’s always best to pack medicine to settle your stomach, just in case something you eat doesn’t sit right.
Is the Tap Water Safe to Drink in Bangkok?
The tap water isn’t safe to drink in Bangkok. Locals don’t even drink their water.
You’ll have access to water bottles of all sizes in supermarkets, convenience stores (7-Elevens abound in Thailand), and at street vendor stalls.
Many restaurants offer free safe drinking water for their customers.
Since the locals don’t even drink their water, I never worried about drinking any water or water-based drink I ordered at the restaurants in Bangkok.
Is Bangkok Foreigner Friendly?
Bangkok is extremely foreigner-friendly. The Thais are welcoming to all, including those who come from different cultural and religious backgrounds.
People from around the world come to Bangkok to live and work. So, it’s a multicultural city, and you might not stand out as much as a foreigner as you had pictured.
How Dangerous Is Bangkok?
Bangkok isn’t very dangerous from a physical safety standpoint. However, in staying true to the most deadly “animal” in the world, mosquitos in Bangkok can transmit Dengue Fever.
For this reason, it’s important to use mosquito repellent and protect yourself with a mosquito net when you sleep, should you be staying at an accommodation that isn’t well sealed.
How To Stay Safe in Bangkok
Below are some basic safety tips for Bangkok. As you’ll see, there’s nothing unique about them—it’s wise to practice these tips regardless of where you travel.
- Take a taxi at night
- Don’t walk around showcasing expensive electronics
- Only take out money from ATMs inside a bank
- Never carry around all your credit cards and cash
- Use a money belt
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry
- Ask locals for advice
- Don’t leave an unopened drink unattended
- If you’re going to get inebriated, do so with a trustworthy sober companion
Finally, trust your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
The Bottom Line: Is Bangkok Safe for Tourists?
Bangkok is an extremely safe city for tourists. As long as you take measures to prevent pickpocketing and avoid red-light areas in the evenings, you can expect to have a safe and fun experience.
Do you have questions about safety in Bangkok? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help.
I’d also love to hear from you after your trip. How was your experience in Bangkok? Is there anything you’d add or change to what I shared?