The capital of Thailand, Bangkok, is largely safe for travelers. While parts of the city feel seamy (places like Patpong and Soi Cowboy come to mind), visitors to Bangkok will enjoy a pleasant, trouble-free stay unless they go out of their way to look for trouble! That said, Bangkok travelers will need to know a few things: how to avoid scams, how to manage any politically-tinged encounter, and how to negotiate the city’s notorious traffic situation.
- Due to COVID-19, Thailand has restricted foreign visitors from entering the country, with only a few exceptions.
- The U.S. State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) considers Thailand a Level 1 destination, "indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions." The State Department urges caution due to sporadic demonstrations in the capital.
- Canada advises travelers to observe a high degree of caution when traveling to Thailand "due to ongoing political tensions and sporadic demonstrations in Bangkok and elsewhere in the country.”
- If you’re planning to visit Bangkok between May and October, know that you’ll be flying in during the rainy season, when rainfall is a daily occurrence. Be careful of floods and other monsoon-related incidents that might disrupt your trip.
Is Bangkok Dangerous?
OSAC's 2020 Crime & Safety Report considers Bangkok to be a low-threat location for crime, with tourist-directed criminal activity limited to non-confrontational street crimes and crimes of opportunity (snatch theft, cut-purse theft, jewelry schemes, and tourist fraud, among others).
These crimes mostly take place in Bangkok’s most crowded and tourist-heavy areas. These include the red-light districts Nana Plaza, Soi Cowboy and Patpong; Khao San Road; Siam Paragon Mall; and Chatuchak Weekend Market.
Certain parts of Bangkok are infested with pickpockets. These include Bangkok’s night markets; bus stops; shopping malls; and tourist stops like the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, and Khao San Road. Visitors to these locations should be on extra guard—wear your bags in front of you, or invest in belt bags or hidden pockets to stash your money and valuables.
Violent crimes like assault and rape are rare, but not beyond the realm of possibility. Look at our safety tips at the end of this article to learn how to minimize the chances of falling victim to violence in Bangkok.
Scam artists also proliferate where tourists in Bangkok can be found. Read our list of popular scams in Southeast Asia to find out about the most common swindles perpetuated on Bangkok tourists.
Is Bangkok Safe for Solo Travelers?
Bangkok has long been a favored destination for solo travelers, due to the excellent tourist infrastructure balanced with the “other”-ness of Thailand’s capital relative to Western capitals. It’s a modern capital that plays faster and looser with the usual rules.
When bad things happen to tourists, they largely happen because said tourist is drunk, high, or overly aggressive to locals. Recreational drugs are still illegal in Thailand, and crimes of opportunity do happen to drunk tourists separated from their friends.
Follow the same safe partying rules you’d follow at home—don’t drink too much and avoid recreational drugs. Play nice with locals: don't be the cause of any embarrassment or "lost face" on their part. Being stupidly confrontational may lead to injury or worse.
Is Bangkok Safe for Female Travelers?
Women traveling in Bangkok can rest easy: the city is generally safe for female travelers. Precautions for women travelers worldwide apply to Bangkok, including the following:
- Don’t flaunt your valuables, like expensive electronics and jewelry
- Avoid riding a taxi alone late at night
- Avoid getting drunk in public
- Avoid dark, secluded alleys; similarly, avoid red-light districts if you’re alone
- Don’t leave your drinks unattended, as they might be spiked when you’re not looking
Is Bangkok Safe for LGBTQ+ Travelers?
Thailand’s thriving LGBTQ+ scene assures gay and lesbian travelers of their safety when visiting the nation’s capital. Laws criminalizing “sodomy” were repealed in 1956, and ongoing activism may yet help legalize same sex unions in the near future.
As a whole, Bangkok is highly accommodating of LGBTQ+ visitors, who won’t feel the need to keep their orientation on the down low.
Is Bangkok Safe for BIPOC Travelers?
Bangkok welcomes all travelers of all ethnicities. Black tourists in Thailand will find themselves as welcome in Bangkok as any other visitor.
A certain colorism pervades Thai culture, though, that foreign tourists of color (especially those with dark skin) should be aware of. Historically, lighter skin is associated by Thais with privilege (higher social standing meant you worked indoors, if at all; tanned skin was associated with the lower classes, who worked in the sun). Thus, Thais place a high value on lighter skin, as demonstrated by the $320 million-dollar local market for skin whitening creams and drugs.
While race-based discrimination won’t be an issue for Black travelers in Bangkok, they should be prepared to deal with the occasional curious look or awkward comment from well-meaning locals.
Safety Tips for Travelers
- Sign up with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service that alerts the local U.S. Embassy to your presence and connects you to regular updates on traveler safety.
- For U.S. citizens: the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok can be reached via an emergency line: 02-205-4000. Call this number to report violent crime, arrest, or grave illness.
- Visitors hoping to sample Bangkok’s sex tourism trade should be aware that Thailand has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Southeast Asia.
- Don’t get caught up in local politics, including demonstrations. Sporadic protests may occur in public places; you’ll get plenty of warning if one is about to occur, allowing you to steer clear. This is doubly important if you’re wearing either red or yellow—two colors associated with opposite sides of the country’s political divide!
- Don’t criticize the Thai monarchy; you’ll run afoul of Thailand’s strict lese-majeste laws, which might earn you jail time.
- Look both ways when crossing the street. Motorized vehicles in Bangkok do not yield to pedestrians; arguments about right of way won’t matter if you’re injured or dead!
- Try not to get drunk or high in public. Intoxication will only increase the risk of opportunistic crime against your person, including (but not limited to) pickpocketing, mugging, or assault. Obvious drug use may also result in your arrest, as recreational drugs are still illegal in Thailand.
- In case of emergency, contact the tourist police by calling 1155. For other tourist-related matters, contact the city’s tourist assistance Centre at +66 (02) 281 5051.
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Thailand. "COVID-19 Information." October 13, 2020.
OSAC.gov. "Thailand 2020 Crime &Safety Report: Bangkok." February 25, 2020.
Travel.State.Gov. "Thailand International Travel Information." August 6, 2020.
Travel.gc.ca. "Official Global Travel Advisories: Thailand." October 23, 2020.
Travelscams.org. "Pickpockets in Thailand." November 22, 2019.
USAID. "Being LGBT in Asia: Thailand Country Report." September 2014.
Reuters. "Gay couples to 'live more freely' with Thai civil unions." February 8, 2019.
Thai Enquirer. "Johnson & Johnson to discontinue skin whitening line in Asia after BLM backlash." June 22, 2020.
CIA World Factbook. "Country Comparison, HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate." 2016.
The Diplomat. "Behind Thailand’s Protests, Cracks in the Establishment." August 27, 2020.