Is Chiang Mai Safe? (The Ultimate Safety Guide)

Rice fields, ancient temples, mountainous landscapes, and traditional markets; Chiang Mai is home to an incredible selection of natural attractions.

But safety in Chiang Mai can be a concern – the risk of air pollution, drugs, theft, and petty scams are extremely real. If you add traffic dangers into the mix, you will probably be asking, “is Chiang Mai safe?”

That is why we have compiled together this guide – to provide you with all the information necessary for staying safe in Chiang Mai.

We are going to be discussing a whole range of topics from the risks of air pollution and road dangers, to whether it’s safe for a solo female traveller in Chiang Mai – and just about everything that comes in-between. We’ll be embracing Chiang Mai in its entirety.

Maybe it’s your first time in Thailand, and you’re worried about the idea of travelling alone, or perhaps you’re just wondering if Chiang Mai is suitable for families. No matter your concern, we have composed this guide to help.

Is Chiang Mai Safe? (Our Take)

chiang mai

Chiang Mai is by far one of the safest places to visit in Thailand. There is undoubtedly an element of danger (just like with any destination in the world) – but on the whole, Chiang Mai is a very safe place to visit.

Situating in the North of Thailand, Chiang Mai is most-recognised for its natural beauty and slow way of life. If you’re coming to Thailand and looking for a place of relaxation, definitely consider visiting the therapeutic city of Chiang Mai.

Every year in Chiang Mai, as the cool season comes to an end, the air quality takes a turn for the worse. The leading causes of this pollution are natural forest fires, intentional forest fires, and burning rice fields.

It is common for farmers to burn their crop fields in preparation for new harvests in the following year. The air pollution is usually at its worst between February to April.

Although it’s illegal for farmers to burn their fields as its harmful to the environment and peoples health, they continue with the practice due to lack of cheaper alternatives.

Flooding is another dangerous threat in Chiang Mai. The risk of flooding is increasing due to the expanding population, unplanned development, and climate change.

If you combine these natural hazards with the risk of human threat: e.g. scams, theft, drugs, and pickpockets, then you can see why safety in Chiang Mai may be a genuine concern.

Nevertheless, even after considering the different threats in Chiang Mai, the odds of you experiencing any of these situations are incredibly low – and that is why we have no issue in declaring that Chiang Mai is very safe.

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How safe is Chiang Mai to Travel? (The Facts)

chiang mai temples

Chiang Mai is hands down a safe destination to travel. The city welcomes over ten million visitors a year – and this number is ever-increasing. 

Undoubtedly, the biggest threat in Chiang Mai is road accidents. The city has reportedly one of the highest amounts of traffic-related accidents in all of Thailand. Over 20,000 people are killed every year, with Chiang Mai being one of the main contributors to this terrifying statistic.

However, life on Chiang Mai continues as usual. Although these statistics are incredibly concerning, it hasn’t stopped the large number of tourists from visiting. Tens of thousands of people visit Chiang Mai every day, and most don’t encounter any issues. Just make when you are on the road to take precautions.

Is Chiang Mai safe for females?

solo female traveler
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Thailand is a very welcoming country and extremely popular with solo female travelers. Not only is it a safe destination for female travelers, but it’s also an incredibly rewarding country to visit alone. 

Just like most countries in the world, simply being a female makes travel more dangerous. To help you on your journey, here are a few safety tips to follow when traveling around Chiang Mai as a solo female traveler.

  • Don’t walk alone at night, especially around quiet streets and dark alleyways. Try sticking in groups, and always take a licensed taxi wherever possible. 
  • Engage in tours and other group activities. By participating in tours and other group activities, you will have the chance to meet other like-minded people and perhaps even make some friends.
  • As a solo female traveler, you are a bigger target for pickpockets and bag snatchers. Make sure to keep your valuables close by, and if possible, use a bag with a cross strap. 

Are Taxis Safe In Chiang Mai?

There are plenty of taxis in Chiang Mai, but it is rare to find a metered taxi. Usually, the prices are a fixed amount, and you should agree on a price before entering the taxi.

Be particularly cautious around the airports and bus stations as the taxi drivers around these particular areas have a reputation for charging extortionate amounts.

To negotiate the best deals, make sure always to know the rough journey duration before entering a taxi. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay around 150 baht for a taxi to most destinations in the city.

Is Chiang Mai safe to travel alone?

It is certainly safe to travel to Chiang Mai alone, but it’s still essential to apply the same precautions as you would back home. If you are staying in the main tourist hotspots, then it is typically safe to wander the streets both day and night. There are usually plenty of people out and about. Try to avoid dark roads and alleys, and stick to where the majority of people are.

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A great way to meet other fellow travelers is by staying in hostels and guesthouses. You will encounter other travelers of all types of ages and nationalities.

Chiang Mai Travel Insurance

Enjoy your time in Chiang Mai, but always make sure to get the right travel insurance! Even if you’re only going for a short time, you should always take out travel insurance. Take our word for it: travel insurance can save you thousands of pounds – so make sure to get it before you leave.

We highly recommend using World Nomads, but there are many insurance companies to choose from, so make sure to shop around to find the best deal. 

Top Safety Tips for Travelling to Chiang Mai

chiang mai safety tips

Although Chiang Mai is generally safe, it is still important to remember these safety tips for keeping safe in Chiang Mai:

  1. Avoid visiting between February – April – these months are officially known as ‘burning season’ and are when the air pollution is at its worst.
  2. STEER CLEAR OF DRUGS – getting caught with possession of drugs in Thailand comes with severe consequences. Penalties can be as drastic as life in prison.
  3. Use effective mosquito repellant– evade being bitten by wearing strong insect repellant. Although the risk of malaria is virtually zero, dengue fever is another life-threatening virus that exists in Chiang Mai.
  4. Keep digital copies of your travel documents – it’s always handy to keep a digital copy of your passport and other travel documents in case anything gets lost.
  5. Do not drink tap water – the tap water in Chiang Mai is not safe for drinking, so stick to only bottled water.
  6. Always wear a helmet – Chiang Mai is prone to road accidents. If you are hiring a scooter, make sure to wear the appropriate protection. (also, the police can fine you if you are not wearing one)
  7. Keep your valuables safe – ideally, you should keep all of your valuables locked in your hotel’s safety deposit box. Only bring out enough cash necessary, and always keep your valuables in sight.
  8. Avoid travelling alone at night – a standard guideline for most unfamiliar places, but should be followed in Chiang Mai too.
  9. Dress appropriately – less to do with safety, and more about showing respect to the local culture. Thai people dress modestly, and to show respect, you should also do the same.

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James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers