Yes, Bangkok is safe for a solo female traveler. However, it takes a few safety tips and some common sense. Here is a lowdown on both the basics and the specifics you should know about travelling in Bangkok alone – by female locals.
Bangkok is generally safe for travelers of all genders and races, on its own and compared to other mega cities across the world. As a solo female traveler, you can wear almost anything you want (though that doesn’t mean you should. See our safety tips below), roam the city on a whim and even go clubbing on your own (again, terms and conditions applied).
Yet, no matter how relatively safe Bangkok feels or how many countries you have trotted worry-free as a solo female traveler, Bangkok can be very dangerous if done wrong. As female locals, we’ve had our fair share of both the days that remind us why we love Bangkok, and those where we make a pledge to move away as soon as our lease expires. Here are things to know before you do Bangkok as a solo female traveler.
Accommodation: there are cheap and safe hostels outside Khaosan
We know the shoestring travel budget and the flat broke college days by heart. But do yourself a favor, and don’t stuff yourself into the shabby lodge on Khaosan Road. We aren’t just talking about safety here. Bed bug bites are a special kind of travel nightmare. Especially in such a hot and humid country like Thailand. Bangkok has cheap (10USD/night), clean and safe hostels and luxury hotels at every nook and cranny. So do some research beforehand. We recommend Phaya Thai, Pratunam and Ari areas. They are all a short walk to BTS and local food hubs. If wild nights in Khaosan top your Bangkok list, opt for a boutique guesthouse on Phra Athit road (Bangkok old town). It’s only 10 minutes away from the clubs, but has the good vibes and quietude for a good night’s sleep.
Read: Where to Stay in Bangkok
Drugs in your drinks are rare but real
This one is certainly among your general rules of thumb, whether you are a solo female traveler or not. Do not take drinks from strangers and do not leave your drinks unattended. Yes, drugging does happen in Bangkok and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Dress for the occasion
Although Thailand is a Buddhist country, Bangkok itself sees a lot of both locals and travelers in short shorts or v-cut tank tops. You will mostly be just fine in downtown area. Still, we do not recommend going about in revealing clothes in the suburbs of Bangkok, as you might attract wolf whistles or thirsty looks.
We’ve read a plethora of travel blogs on how Buddhism
If the whistles and looks do come your way, remain calm and keep walking.
For days at temples, palaces and museums, cover at least your upper arms and legs. Some royal temples do turn visitors in see-through long-sleeved tops away, or you will be asked to rent a shawl or even buy a new pair of long and loose pants.
Tips: Carry your own scarf or shawl to cover yourself.
Have the Grab app on your phone
Grab is the friend in need when you’ve just made it down three flights of stairs from the secret retro bar in one piece in the small hours of the night. It is also very handy when none of the cabs agree to turn the meter on, usually during the peak hours.
However, Bangkok taxis are totally fine in certain circumstances. Just make sure to get on only after you have settled the meter issue. Also, do not hail one when it’s late or when the area is empty.
How to keep your pockets from being picked
Just like when strolling in any busy city, make sure your handbags are zipped and keep your daypacks on the front. Although Bangkok hasn’t seen much of the wicker tricks (like the baby powder scam in Cambodia or the Paris stain scam), pickpocketing is undeniably common especially at Chatuchak Weekend Market or on a crowded bus.
Females of all races – don’t touch the monks in Thailand
We’ve come across countless questions from perplexed travelers along the line of ‘Should European women visiting Thailand avoid touching or sitting next to monks?’. Yes, when in Thailand, females of all ages and races should avoid touching the monks. The reason is that actually, the Buddhist rules forbid monks to touch women as it might stir unwanted sexual feelings. Yet when it comes to the daily life in such busy city, a little cooperation from the female tribes make the whole deal way easier – teamwork makes the dream work.
So what to do if you see a monk in your vicinity? If it’s on a narrow walkway, let the monk walk past you first. If it’s on a public transportation, monks will likely sit at the privileged seats reserved for them. If there is a free seat next to a monk, the culturally sensible thing to do is to leave it free. If you have to hand something to a monk, do not place it directly in his hand. Either give it to a male to pass to the monk, or place the object on a table for the monk to pick it up. It’s worth noting that monks will also do their best to avoid bumping into you, even on the most packed train.
Songkran Safety Tips for solo female travelers
If you are looking to have your first Songkran experience in Bangkok, you’ve come to the right place. (Read: Where to Celebrate Songkran in Bangkok) Yet, it’s important to note that Songkran sexual harassment do take place in between the dash and splash, even if you are sandwiched between huge group of friends most of the time. It also happens to local males.
Our advice to you fellow solo female travelers in Bangkok is simple, yet verging on the risk of sounding like a preachy granny. You will be soaked to your core, and the skimpy, see-through and low-cut clothes will shrink even more. And as much as we believe in the ‘it’s not the clothes, it’s the mindset’, the fact is we still have to do our bit and cover up to some extent, especially in this corner of the world (no. we are not proud of that). For Songkran parties in clubs, the same rules about drinks also apply here, if not even more. The last thing we would ever want is for sexual harassment to cloud your Bangkok trip, or hold you back from future female solo trips.