One of the questions from first-time visitors to Bangkok I often get asked is this one: Is it safe to walk around Bangkok during the day? What about at night?
As someone who has lived in the Thai capital for almost two decades, I have to say the question always makes me pause before I answer.
That is because, in all my years traveling all over the world, I have been to few cities that are safer to walk around in than Bangkok. So I am always quite surprised when people even ask.
In other words, the answer to “Is it safe to walk around Bangkok during the day or at night” is, yes. Completely safe.
Is it safe to walk around Bangkok for female travelers?
Of course, it is often women more than men that are worried about walking around Bangkok. Either by themselves or with another woman.
Especially if those women do not travel very often, or never travel alone.
As a woman myself, I can tell you I have not had one problem with a Thai in over 18 years of living in Bangkok. Eighteen years of traveling all over the city by myself — in taxis, on motorbike taxis, on buses, the sky train and the underground, and yes, walking. Often.
I have walked around Bangkok during the early morning hours of 4 am to 7 am on the way to do visa runs to Cambodia. I have walked in Bangkok well past 2 am on my way back from an evening out with friends.
I have walked by myself, down back streets and into sois, and some days walked for miles all over the city just enjoying local Thai life. And no, I have never once had a problem with anyone.
The only minor problem I have ever had in one of the less-traveled Bangkok back streets was when I came across a large snake slithering across the street in front of me.
I stopped in my tracks, waited till it had moved off into the undergrowth and then kept on walking.
Use common sense when walking in Bangkok
Of course, there are things you should be sure to do to ensure walking in Bangkok is safe for you.
In the Thai capital, that usually means do not wear lavish gold jewelry as, although muggings in the Thai capital are much more uncommon than in most other capital cities, they do occasionally happen.
It also means watch where you are walking so you do not fall down a hole (there are many of them on Thai sidewalks and streets), do not walk around drunk and do not get into altercations with Thais.
As for the latter, as a whole Thais are friendly, polite and respectful and will rarely go out of their way to cause trouble. The only time anyone has a problem with a Thai is usually when they themselves cause it. (Think drunk tourist out to pick a fight).
When that happens, the Thai in question will round up his friends, and the resulting fight will not be pleasant. But particularly not for you.
In other words, if you are polite and respectful wherever you go, most Thais do not enjoy confrontations and will go out of their way to avoid them.
Get violent or abusive yourself, however, and do not be surprised when a Thai responds in kind. With 10 of his friends in tow.
Where to walk in Bangkok?
Bangkok is such a fascinating city, just about any street has something of interest on it.
You could start with a general walk around the Sukhumvit area of the city, which is where many of the large shopping malls are located and where half the city seems to congregate to shop.
Or take a walk around Lumphini Park early in the morning to check out the joggers, the Tai Chi practitioners and the monitor lizards. (Yes, they look like small crocodiles, but they are not).
I also have three favorite Bangkok walks I have done many times. I can recommend all of them.