Is Bangkok safe for travelers? YES and NO, and before I explain my answer I need to tell you a couple of things.
First of all, we LOVE Bangkok, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect city. It took me a while to like its mess, to understand a bit of the city’s dynamic, and go beyond Bangkok’s famous tourist attractions.
Second, we traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, so many times that I lost count. In fact, I’m writing this article from Bangkok, where Rob and I are going to spend our Christmas and New Years holidays (for the third time).
Also, we lived here for quite a while. We spent 3 months in Bangkok in 2015, then 6 months in 2017, 5 months in 2018, and back in 2022.
I’m not a Bangkokian, but I’m pretty sure I can share with you some solid Bangkok safety advice that can help you make the most of your trip to Bangkok. Whether it’s your first time traveling to Thailand or your 5th visit to BKK.
Is it your first time in Bangkok?
Then you should read our guide to where to stay and what to do on your first trip to Bangkok. It will answer some common questions, help you plan your trip, and have an awesome time.
Traveling as a couple? Your Bangkok romantic guide is here!
Is Bangkok safe to travel to?
Bangkok is a vibrant huge city that is always busy. It’s a safe destination in Southeast Asia and one of the favorite cities among expats who decide to live in this part of the world.
It’s Thailand’s capital and largest city, one of the most popular destinations in the world. It is estimated that the city received around 20 million tourists in 2019.
This proves the city’s popularity among international travelers and how many incredible things you can do and see in Bangkok. Think of fascinating temples, rich history and culture, delightful food, Instagrammable spots, a vibrant art scene, incredible nightlife, and lovely people.
Despite its size and busyness, Bangkok is safe for tourists. Of course, some areas may be more crowded or touristy, and it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and take common sense precautions, such as not flashing valuable items or walking alone in isolated areas at night.
Another aspect that you need to take into consideration is that not all areas and streets in Bangkok look as organized and clean as you would expect. This can give you a sense of unsafety, but trust me, Bangkok is not a dangerous city for tourists.
There is one more aspect of Bangkok that might bother travelers, the sex industry. This is a reality not only in Bangkok but in many other cities in Thailand, and we gonna talk about it later on.
So, how safe Bangkok is?
Overall, Bangkok is safe. A welcoming and friendly city that offers a wide range of attractions and experiences to enjoy.
Everything you need to know about safety in Bangkok, scams, what to avoid, and what to do in case you find yourself in a dangerous situation is listed below. Plus tips about food and water safety.
Bangkok safety tips
Let’s start our Bangkok travel safety guide with useful tips. Simple things can make your trip to Bangkok safer and worry-free.
– Always carry a copy of your passport
It doesn’t matter where you are going, how long you are staying, or your Bangkok itinerary, always carry a copy of your passport with you! Even to go to a 7-Eleven shop!
I like to make a copy of my passport before traveling and to keep it in a secure but easily accessible location. Mine is always in my wallet.
Carrying a copy of your passport while traveling in Thailand can be useful for several reasons, including as a form of identification to get into tourist places or in clubs (yes, some places will ask for your ID), or to access assistance in emergency situations.
It’s especially important in case you lose your original passport or if it is stolen, as it can help you prove your identity and get assistance quickly.
More about essential travel documents here!
– Never give your passport as a deposit
Keep your passport safe and never give it as a deposit when staying at a hotel or when renting a scooter or car in Thailand.
First, it is illegal for hotels or other businesses to hold onto a guest’s passport.
Second, your passport is a valuable and important document that serves as proof of your identity and citizenship. If it is lost or stolen, it could be difficult and time-consuming to replace it in a foreign country. And it will be a pain to travel inside Thailand and to any other country.
Most hotels in Thailand have other options for securing a deposit, such as charging a credit card or taking a cash deposit. If a hotel insists on holding your passport as a deposit, it may be a good idea to consider staying at a different place.
– Always have Travel Insurance
If I were you I would never travel without reliable travel insurance, but if you are not convinced about it yet, here are a few things you should take into consideration.
1st – Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become sick or injured while traveling (I’m looking at you adventure activities lovers).
It can be especially important in Thailand, as medical care can be expensive and your domestic health insurance may not provide coverage abroad.
You can minimize your medical expenses by going to public hospitals in Thailand (which are good), but why risk your health if you can have outstanding care at a private hospital without worrying about the bill?
Trust me, Rob and I had medical emergencies in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. We went to different types of hospitals, the cheapest bill was USD 1200 and the most expensive was USD 3500, luckily our travel insurance covered everything. Such peace of mind!
2nd – Travel insurance can also provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unforeseen circumstances, such as illness, natural disasters, or travel advisories.
3rd – Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage, which can be especially useful if you are traveling with valuable items or are concerned about the security of your belongings.
There are many travel insurances out there, and finding the one that matches your style of traveling and budget can be daunting.
Rob and I have SafetWing Travel Insurance which is perfect for long-term travelers, digital nomads, or anyone that likes easy-to-book insurance with good coverage and fast customer service.
We already filled claims with them and the process was all online and straightforward.
But before buying anything, always read the travel insurance policy and its terms and conditions carefully to ensure that it meets your needs and provides adequate coverage.
– Get a SIM card
Buy a SIM card for your phone as soon as you arrive in Thailand. You can get it at the airport, at any shopping mall in Bangkok, or at one of the phone operators’ shops.
The most known operators are AIS and TRUE. Both offer tourist SIM cards that go from budget options with only data up to 3 months packages with internet and international calls.
Tourist SIM cards are easy to activate and are likely to have better coverage and reliability than your home country operator’s international roaming plan.
With a local SIM card, you can use maps which is vital to navigating any fast-paced destination like Bangkok safely, you can call a taxi, order food, and post all your amazing photos and videos on social media in real-time.
– Have the address of your accommodation written in English and Thai
It’s super helpful to have your hotel address written down in Thai and English when traveling in Bangkok. This can be especially useful if you need to show it to a taxi driver, tuk-tuk driver, or local street vendor, as many people in Thailand don’t speak fluent English.
Having the address written in Thai can help ensure that there is no miscommunication and that you are able to get to your destination without any problems.
You can ask the hotel staff to write the address in Thai for you, or you can use an online translation tool or app to translate the address yourself.
It is always a good idea to have a backup plan in case you are unable to communicate the address, if Google Maps is not giving the correct direction, or if you run out of battery on your phone.
– Always agree on the price before hopping in a tuk-tuk or taxi
This is the rule, no matter where you are traveling in Thailand. You will find a specific topic about getting around Bangkok safely below, keep reading!
– Protect yourself from mosquitoes
Some mosquito species in Thailand can transmit diseases such as Malaria, Dengue Fever, and Zika virus, so protect yourself.
Plus, is so annoying to be itching all the time. And if you are allergic to insect bites, like me, always have mosquito repellent in your bag. I haven’t tried but saw many travelers wearing mosquito-repellent bracelets, it might be an option as well.
You can find mosquito repellent in any convenience store like 7-Eleven. However, if you are traveling to small Thai islands, to remote places, or doing outdoor activities, I would say to carry a repellent with you.
You can also wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and sleep under a mosquito net to avoid bites. It is also a good idea to stay in accommodations with window screens to keep mosquitoes out.
Planning a trip to the Thai islands and other destinations?
Read all our guides about Thailand destinations here! From what to do and where to stay, to how to get to cities, islands, and national parks.
– Don’t get too drunk or wasted
Excessive drinking can make you more vulnerable to crime, such as theft or sexual assault. It can also make it more difficult to take care of yourself, especially if you are traveling alone. Although Bangkok is a safer city, it’s better not to put yourself in a vulnerable situation.
– Go to the Tourist Police if needed
The Tourist Police in Bangkok are specially trained and equipped to handle the needs of tourists. They are knowledgeable about the city and can provide assistance and advice on a wide range of issues, from navigating the city and finding your way to key attractions, to handling emergencies and protecting your safety.
You can contact the Tourist Police via phone by dialing 1155.
A quick tip to help you enjoy Bangkok safely and save money :
To see different sides of Bangkok and SAVE MONEY on the way, get your Bangkok Day Pass!
It’s a digital pass that gives you access to attractions (like the incredible Mahanakhon Skywalk), restaurants, boat transportation, tuk-tuk- tours, massages and more. It’s way cheaper than if you would pay for each activity separately.
We used the Bangkok Pass and loved it (here is a video of our itinerary).
The activities, attractions, restaurants and benefits in each city are different, so it’s worth checking them out.
Now let’s go back to our Bangkok safety guide.
8 Dangers in Bangkok you need to be aware of
As mentioned before, Bangkok is considered safe but there are a few things you should avoid during your holiday in Thailand. So let’s talk about the Bangkok dangers and problems you might face in this exciting and fun city.
1 – The Lèse-majesté Law
When visiting Thailand you need to be aware of the Lèse-majesté Law, which prohibits any acts that defame, insult, or threaten the royal family.
This law applies to both words and actions, and it can be enforced even if the act occurred outside of this Asian country. This means that you should avoid making negative comments about the royal family or engaging in actions or gestures that could be perceived as disrespectful, such as expressing critical opinions on social media or making obscene gestures while visiting a royal palace.
Violating the Lèse-majesté Law can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and even deportation.
2 – Traffic in Bangkok is chaotic
Traffic in Bangkok is usually heavy and congested, especially during peak hours. The city is known for its messy roads, and it can be challenging to navigate through it during rush hour.
Thailand has the worst road traffic fatality rates in Southeast Asia. Many of the traffic laws we follow in American and European countries are not enforced here, like wearing helmets and safety belts, which makes driving in Bangkok a dangerous experience.
If you are not an avid motorbike rider, or if you are not used to driving on the left-hand side of the road, you better not drive in Bangkok. We will talk about how to get around Bangkok safely later on.
In addition, the city has a high level of air pollution, and this can be exacerbated by heavy traffic.
3 – Crimes and pickpocketing in Bangkok
Tourist areas in any city, including Bangkok, can be prone to pickpocketing and other petty crimes.
It’s a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and to take common-sense precautions to protect yourself and your belongings while roaming around Thailand’s capital city.
Don’t flash your expensive jewelry, keep your phone in the front pocket or inside your bag. Buying a money belt (check some here) might be a good idea, especially if you will travel around Thailand.
Some areas in Bangkok may be more prone to pickpocketing, such as crowded places like Khaosan Road, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Chinatown streets at night, and tourist attractions.
Khao San Road area, which is a popular party spot for tourists, backpackers and young locals has been known for having a higher incidence of pickpocketing.
Similarly, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho area, two famous attractions and must-visit places in Bangkok, can also attract pickpockets and other thieves who prey on tourists.
Although we have been to Bangkok and all the places we mentioned countless times, and never faced any safety issues.
When it comes to violent crimes against tourists or foreigners, it’s rare. Bangkok, like other major cities in Asia, have a considered crime rate but nothing that will put travelers in danger.
Talking about Bangkok’s crime rates, I would say that corruption and bribery would be the only concern traveler should have. But again, if you are not doing anything wrong, there is no reason for an official to ask you for money.
4 – Bangkok scams and how to avoid them
Tourist scams in Thailand do exist, and many visitors still fall for them. So you better be aware of the scams in Bangkok and learn how to identify and avoid them.
Here are a few common tourists scams in Bangkok you should be aware of:
- Bangkok Tuk-Tuk Scams
Tuk-Tuks are a popular form of transportation in Bangkok, but some drivers may try to take advantage of tourists by charging excessively high prices or taking them to shops that pay them a commission for bringing in customers.
They also approach tourists near popular attractions saying that the attraction is closed but they can take you to another one for a very cheap price. On the way, they will stop in a shop where persuasive sellers will try to scam you.
- Bangkok Taxi Scams
Some taxi drivers in Bangkok may try to overcharge tourists by using a rigged meter or taking a longer route to their destination. Always keep a map of where you are going on your phone, and avoid getting a taxi when the driver refuses to switch the meter on.
- Bangkok Temple Scams
Some scams in Bangkok involve people posing as monks or temple officials asking tourists for donations, claiming that the money will be used for charitable purposes. If you want to help any institution or temple, do it, but check if you are giving money to the correct person or charity box.
- Bangkok Gem Scams
Some scams in Bangkok involve salespeople offering tourists the opportunity to buy gems at supposedly discounted prices, but the gems are either low quality or not genuine. If you want to buy jewelry or gems, research and opt for trustworthy shops.
It’s important to be aware of the scams in Thailand, and in case you get scammed, take a photo of the tuk-tuk, the shop facade, the taxi plate or the identification number on the car door. Then contact the Tourist Police asap.
And if someone offering goods or services that seem too good to be true approaches you, it is best to decline and move on.
Simple rules you can apply in Bangkok or in any other tourist and lively city worldwide. Here is a quick guide about the top 8 travel scams you can find while traveling.
5 – When partying, don’t leave your drink unattended
It is generally not a good idea to leave your drink unattended in any city, including Bangkok, as it could be spiked with drugs or other substances.
Drink spiking is a serious concern, as it can lead to health risks, including unconsciousness, sexual assault, and other dangerous situations. And it can happen in a fancy rooftop bar or at a backpacker’s bar.
For me, Bangkok is one of the safest and most exciting cities in Southeast Asia for partying, but you should always be careful.
Are you going to the dancefloor or to the toilet? Take your drink with you. And never accept drinks from a stranger.
Still talking about drinking and partying, is good to mention that the nightlife in Bangkok is safe. As usual, you always need to know where you are going and prefer well-known venues instead of a shady bar in a dark alley.
And is Bangkok safe at night?
Again, it generally is. We walked alone in Bangkok streets at night several times, and nothing ever happened to us. But again, you need to be aware of your surroundings and avoid any dodgy or unsafe area, especially if you are not sober.
6 – Drugs in Thailand (legal and illegal)
Yes, cannabis is legal in Thailand now, but other drugs aren’t. Tourists who use illegal drugs in Bangkok face many risks and potential consequences.
In Thailand, drug possession, use, and trafficking are all serious offenses that can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and even spending the rest of your life in jail.
In addition to the legal risks, tourists who use illegal drugs in Bangkok also face a number of health risks. The quality and purity of illegal drugs can vary widely and can cause serious side effects or health problems.
Using drugs can also impair your judgment and decision-making, which can lead to dangerous or risky behavior. Keep this in mind and avoid any sketchy experience.
When it comes to buying and using cannabis in Bangkok, you will find many shops and dispensaries across the city. Use your judgment to choose a place to buy, and don’t smoke in public areas.
The cannabis laws in Thailand have been discussed for months, and it has changed in the last weeks. Research before buying and using it, so you can be safe in Bangkok.
7 – Visiting Bangkok Red Lights Districts and prostitution
Prostitution is not legal in Thailand, although it is widely practiced in the country and many travelers come to Thailand and Bangkok for sex tourism.
The most famous Red Light Districts in Bangkok are Soy Cowboy, Nana Plaza, and Soi Patpong. I’m not saying you should or not visit them, but do your research before going there.
To ensure your Bangkok safety, it’s recommended to always go with a group or trusted friend (avoid going alone), be aware of your surroundings, and don’t wander in isolated areas. Always double-check in advance the price of the bar/club entrance, drinks and services.
And above all, be respectful to the people working, it doesn’t matter if they are in a club or on the streets.
8 – Terrorist attacks and travel warnings
Bangkok, like any major city, is always at some level of risk for terrorist attacks. However, the risk of a terrorist attack in Bangkok is considered to be low, and the Thai government has taken a number of steps to strengthen security measures to prevent attacks from occurring.
The most recent terrorist attack in Bangkok occurred on August 17, 2015, when a bomb exploded at the Erawan Shrine in the central business district, killing 20 people and injuring over 120 others. We were living here at that time, and it was a tense, sad and unforgettable experience.
If you are concerned about the risk of terrorism while traveling to Bangkok, it is a good idea to keep informed about the current security situation by contacting the local Thai Embassy. You can also follow the travel advice from your country.
Is Bangkok safe for solo female travelers?
Among all the questions about safety, this one is hard to answer because I have never traveled in Bangkok alone.
Well, I have done numerous activities, going out and about day and night by myself, but Rob was always in the city. So I knew I had him near me if anything went wrong, which never happened.
What I can say is that Bangkok is generally a safe city for solo female tourists, as long as you take some common-sense precautions to protect yourself.
We know many female solo travelers that visit Bangkok and Thailand often, and until now, we never heard anything alarming that would change our perceptions of the city and country’s safety.
The city has a large and welcoming tourist industry, and many people in the hospitality service are accustomed to dealing with solo female travelers and are usually friendly and helpful.
There are hostels with only female dorms, tours organized by females for female travelers, and you can even get a Grab Taxi (like Uber) drive by women for a woman.
It doesn’t matter the safety conditions of the destination, as a rule of thumb, it is always a good idea to exercise caution when traveling solo, regardless of your gender.
Also, to minimize your risk of encountering any problems while exploring Bangkok follow these tips:
- Make sure your favorite accommodation has a 24 hours reception,
- Book your stay in a safe area (tips about booking hotels here!),
- Opt for using public transportation or ordering a taxi via an app,
- Book trustworthy tours and local experiences (we recommend GetYourGuide and TakeMeTour).
With a little planning and common sense, solo female travelers can have a safe and enjoyable trip to this exciting and vibrant city.
How to get around Bangkok safely?
Many travelers are worried about getting around Bangkok or even traveling inside Thailand. And it’s understandable, as traveling in a different country with a difficult language and sometimes confusing information can be challenging.
Worry no more! There are several convenient and safe ways to get around Bangkok, whether you are traveling within the city or to other parts of Thailand.
Here are a few options to consider:
- Bangkok public transportation:
They are the best way to avoid traffic and get around the city easily.
You can use Google Maps to plan your way through the city, as it shows all public transportation and the timetables and fares are accurate.
BTS Skytrain and MRT are amazing and busy during rush hours!
The boat trips through Bangkok canals are the cheapest transportation option and a more local way of getting around. And it can be a bit slower compared to the metro or BTS Skytrain. You won’t see many tourists using it, but we use it frequently and love the rides.
I don’t recommend you use the city bus because of the busy roads and traffic jams. The majority of trips will take longer than expected, especially in peak time, and not all buses have air-con.
For the MRT and BTS, you can buy your ticket at the machines at the stations. For boats and buses, you pay directly to the person charging inside. Always carry change; it helps!
- Taxis in Bangkok
Taxis are widely available in Bangkok and can be a convenient way to get around even with the complex road network of the city. But it is important to be cautious when choosing a taxi.
Make sure the taxi has a working meter, and consider using ride-hailing apps such as Grab or Bolt. Both offer a more reliable and transparent service, and you can order a car or a motorbike taxi. When you download the apps you always receive coupons and deals on transport that will help you to save some money.
Through the apps, you can book the ride in advance which is perfect for getting around BKK in the early or late hours.
If you are hailing a taxi on the streets make sure the driver understands where you want to go, that the meter is on, or in the worst case that you agree on the price of the ride before starting the trip.
- Tuk-Tuk rides
Tuk-tuks are a popular and iconic form of transportation in Bangkok, but they are more expensive and less reliable than other options. It is a good idea to agree on the price before getting into a Tuk-Tuk and to be prepared to negotiate if necessary.
Although it might not be the cheapest or the fastest way to get around Bangkok, it’s part of Thailand’s culture, and you will see that even locals use it. You definitely should try it, at least once.
If you are concerned about safety, go on a ride with more people or friends, it will be fun!
- Renting a car or motorbike in Thailand
Renting a car or motorbike can be a convenient way to explore Bangkok and the surrounding area, but it is important to be aware of the local traffic laws and be prepared for busy roads.
Remember that we mentioned that Thailand has some of the worst road traffic stats, so you need to be careful.
I would not recommend driving in Bangkok. You can (and might need to) rent a motorbike on the islands or in smaller towns. You still will have to be aware of careless drivers and inexperienced motorbike drivers there, but the traffic will be less hectic.
Very importantly, if you are planning to drive in Thailand, you must have an International Driver’s License. It’s mandatory, and you will get a fine if you don’t have one. You can get it in your country of residence before traveling.
By choosing the right transportation option and being mindful, you can get around Bangkok and Thailand easily and safely.
Planning to travel around Thailand?
Is street food in Bangkok safe?
Bangkok is a street food paradise, it’s delicious and safe!
Street food is a popular and integral part of Bangkok’s culture, and you should try the wide variety of dishes available from street vendors.
Bangkok street food in is generally safe to eat, as long as you follow some basic precautions you can enjoy a trip with plenty of Thai flavors.
Here are a few tips for eating street food safely in Bangkok:
- Look for busy vendors. Choose street food vendors who are doing good business, as this is often a sign that the food is fresh and popular.
- Check the cleanliness of the vendor. Look for vendors who maintain clean and hygienic conditions, such as keeping their food on ice or coolers and cooking utensils clean.
- Avoid raw or undercooked food. Be wary of raw or undercooked food, such as raw meat or raw eggs, which may carry a higher risk of food poisoning.
- Thai food tends to be spicy and well-seasoned, if you’re not used to it ask for no spicy to avoid having an upset stomach.
If you want to try street food dishes but don’t feel confident, go to one of Bangkok’s shopping centers.
Most of the malls (even the fancy ones) have a local food court with all Thai classic recipes. The stalls usually have pictures of the dishes and their name in English.
Also, the shopping centers in Bangkok have amazing public facilities. You can use the toilet, resting areas, refill your water bottle and cool down from the Bangkok heat.
Can I drink tap water in Bangkok?
It is not recommended to drink tap water in Bangkok, as it is not treated to the same standards as drinking water in many Western countries.
While tap water in Bangkok is safe for bathing and cleaning, it may contain impurities or contaminants that can cause illness if you consume it.
To avoid getting sick, it is better to drink bottled water in Bangkok. Mineral or drinkable bottled water is widely available in supermarkets, convenience stores, and street vendors, and is generally safe to drink.
If you are concerned about generating too much plastic waste by buying water (what we all should be), check at your hotel or hostel if they offer a water station where you refill your bottle.
Another option is to refill your bottle at one of the many drinkable water stations at shopping malls, or the ones spread all over the city where you pay a couple of cents for a liter of water.
Bangkok travel safety wrap up
For us, Bangkok is one of the safest places we visited and lived, especially compared to our home country Brazil. It’s sad to say that, but it’s how we feel.
Bangkok is generally a safe city for tourists, but the usual advice is necessary: be aware of your surroundings and take common sense precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.
If you still think Bangkok is dangerous, I would say to travel to this incredible city prepared for emergencies. Familiarize yourself with your country’s embassy location and how you can find hospitals in case of any emergency. Also, get your travel insurance.
By doing so, you will feel safer and more prepared for the potential risks.
But above all, come to Bangkok and Thailand with an open heart. Let this incredible city and lovely country surprise you in good ways.
Love these tips about safety in Bangkok? Pin it for later and share it!