Chiang Mai has been named the safest destination for American travelers in Southeast Asia, beating the far more developed hubs of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to the number one spot. A culture-filled, sprawling city in Northern Thailand, it is one of the region’s top attractions, known for its imperial grandeur and perfectly-preserved Old City.
Now that Thailand is open once again for tourism, following two years of strict border checks, Americans are returning to the country in droves, drawn to its pristine nature, paradisaical islands, and laid-back atmosphere. Safety remains a top priority for those traveling abroad, though, especially in destinations where they are prone to be scammed.
Scamming and petty crimes are common across a number of Thai cities, but risks seem to be lower in Chiang Mai in particular:
Chiang Mai Is The Highest-Peaking Southeast Asian City On A Safety Perception Index
Every year, the leading crowd-sourced database for quality of life worldwide Numbeo publishes its Crime and Safety Indices by City, with crime rates compiled across 416 cities. According to the ranking, the city of Chiang Mai is one of the top 40 safest in the world, charting at number 32, and the highest-peaking in Southeast Asia (SEA).
Although Singapore is often regarded as the subcontinent’s most developed and ‘Westernized’, and thus less risky city, the overall perception of urban safety is slightly lower than Chiang Mai’s (70.8 against 75.5). It even topples Tokyo, Japan, ranking one slot lower at number 33, and in the wider East Asia it is only surpassed by Hong Kong at number 17.
When it comes to crime, the index averaged 24.5, considered ‘low’: a majority of tourists will feel safe in Chiang Mai, and most will not run into any trouble walking alone in daylight or nighttime. To draw a comparison, Bangkok’s crime index was a much higher 40.5, while safety levels were lower at 59.5 – still high enough to make it the 7th safest destination in SEA.
Three Thai Cities Feature In The Ranking
Anucha Burapachaisri, the Prime Minister’s Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs, was quoted saying, ‘Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is glad to see several cities in Thailand cited as having a high level of safety‘, and that the Government’s determination to eradicate crimes has created confidence among foreigners who want to travel to Thailand.
In total, three Thai cities are cited on the Numbeo list, the third being Pattaya (number 210), sharing the same crime rates as Windsor in Canada. Overall, Thailand is incredibly safe for tourists: the U.S. Department of State considers it a Level 1 destination, advising Americans to exercise ‘normal precautions’ when visiting.
The only regions where travel is strongly advised against are Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla, due to the ‘ongoing insurgent activities’. These insurgencies are mostly centered in the southernmost provinces of mainland Thailand, where public dissatisfaction with the current government is notably higher.
Thailand’s Incredibly Affordable Cultural Capital
Chiang Mai is one of the most sought-after city breaks in Thailand, and a city brimming with History and imposing structures at every corner. Originally founded in the late 13th century, it replaced neighboring Chiang Rai as the capital of the historical Lanna Kingdom, a position it held until 1558, when its importance as a political center declined.
Still to this day, remnants of the bygone era are scattered around the concrete jungle, with a series of defensive walls and moats, and the Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang temples standing among the most easily recognized landmarks. On top of its historical relevance and reinforced security, Chiang Mai is incredibly affordable:
Numbeo estimates that a single person’s monthly costs are US$518.30 without rent, about 25.6% and 10.9% lower than the capital (Bangkok) and Phuket City, two competing hubs within Thailand. Compared to the States, in order to maintain the same standards of living in Chiang Mai as you would earning US$9,000 in New York, US$2,302.70 a month would suffice.
Less crime, a higher quality of life, and significantly cheaper: it’s no wonder Thailand as a whole is the trendiest spot for young adventurers right now.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com