Chiang Mai, Thailand

Stay Safe


Like most of Thailand,
Chiang Mai is quite safe, even at night. The dark streets can look forbidding but crime is rare and visitors shouldn't worry unduly. As always, travellers should take extra precautions in all poorly lit or more remote areas. Don't carry valuables in a bag after dark as the most common tourist related crime here is bag-snatching by youths on motorbikes. Mind your bag especially if you are walking on a dark street at night.

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Street scene in Chiang Mai by Takeaway

The safest approach is to act like your Thai hosts and wear reasonable clothing (shoulders and chest covered) medium-length skirts, long shorts or long pants, speak in a moderate tone of voice and avoid flashing money or jewelry. Not only will respectable Thais appreciate your behavior, you are much less likely to create attention and become a target of any criminal activity.

Unfortunately some scams from Bangkok have started to rear their ugly heads in Chiang Mai as well. Two in particular are worth watching out for:

  • Tuk-tuk scam - A smooth-talking tuk tuk driver tells you that the attraction you want to see is closed and instead offers you a sightseeing tour for a ridiculously low price. You will probably end up visiting overpriced shops.
  • Gem scam - You are probably approached and talked into visiting a gem store and when at the store convinced to purchase near-worthless gems at far above their real value.

Thai police in Chiang Mai by Takeaway

Chiang Mai's smoke levels can be discomfiting (sometimes dangerous) and during the rice field burning season (January-March), parts of northern Thailand often falls under a thick haze.
Currently, there is no political will to tackle the burning of rice fields, which is the cause of the smoke. Presently, the "solution" is to spray the streets with water to "moisten the air". If you intend to visit Chiang Mai during this time, you are well advised to check on smoke levels in advance.

Tap water is generally not suitable for drinking. Water from sealed bottles nearly always are and should be used wherever possible. Nearly all restaurants use ice made by professional ice-making companies and is generally safe. Bottled water can be cheaply purchased from the convenience stores and street-side water dispensaries (1 baht per liter) can be found throughout the city.

Guide to
Chiang Mai
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