Asia is one seriously vast land. The planet’s largest and most populous continent stretches from the iceberg-dotted Bering Straights in the east all the way to the Bosporus in the west, rolling from the Ural Mountains to the Arctic. Within are some seriously enthralling countries that offer a diverse array of experiences, but what are the safest destinations in Asia?
Cue this guide. It will delve into this incense-plumed part of the world to seek out the least-risky options for travelers concerned about the smooth running of their trip. It’s got a load of options, from places with modern megacities to others with laid-back hippie islands.
There’s certainly no shortage of contenders when it comes to the safest destinations in Asia. The likes of Thailand and Bali in Indonesia are now firmly established as backpacker rites of passage. They stand out on the travel front for their welcoming natures and enthralling cultures. But they’re really just the tip of the iceberg. You’ve also got hi-tech nations like South Korea and Japan, plus wild steppe lands like Mongolia. Let’s get into it…
Heading our list, and the Global Peace Index for Asia, is the city-state of Singapore. A major financial hub and center for shipping and trade, Singapore has an affluent economy and is one of the safest places to visit in the world, let alone just in Asia. Singapore benefits from consistently low crime rates, a dependable police force, and a transparent judicial system, all of which adds up to make it a generally hassle-free place for tourists.
Situated on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in the Indian Ocean, Singapore is a city, a nation, and a state in one. Big for a capital, but small for a country, Singapore is home to 5.7 million people. Its low rates of criminality is usually put down to the cooperative population, where crime and civilian revolt is rare. It might also have something to do with the fact that the town has one of the world’s highest concentration of millionaires!
Singapore is often added to Southeast Asian travel itineraries for a moment of escape from the hubbub and bustle of surrounding countries like Malaysia and Vietnam. It has no shortage of incredible sights to gawk at, from the amazing urban Botanical Gardens and the man-made beaches of Sentosa, to the towering high-rises of Marina Bar and the immersive quarters of Chinatown and Little India. If safety is your priority, Singapore secures the top spot.
Japan is one of the most magical and mythical lands in the world. A great string of islands that run from the snow-covered reaches of Hokkaido in the north all the way to the tropical East China Sea in the south, it’s a country where the ancient and the modern intertwine and mingle. More to the point: Japan almost always frequents lists of the safest countries in the world.
Japan is the world’s third-largest economy by GDP and the fourth-largest by overall purchasing power. It boasts an average household spending figure of $23,458 per year, which is higher than the OECD average. It’s lauded for its urban design and planning, and now has some of the most liveable cities on the planet – Tokyo, Osaka. To put it another way: Japan is a relatively rich nation, which is usually something that helps to send those all-important crime stats south.
On top of all that, there’s a deep tradition of hospitality in Japan that often leaves first-time visitors stunned. People still adhere to the ancient customs of omotenashi, which dictates that a host should provide genuine hospitality to all who come their way, be honest, open, and generous. You’ll notice the respectful nature with which people carry on in public, the aid that’s often given to people on the street, and the deference to older age groups.
Japan certainly has no shortage of awesome things to see and do, either. The snow-capped heights of Mount Fuji and the bustling urban squares of Toyo’s Shibuya both beckon in these parts, not to mention unknown ski fields up north and steam-belching mountain spas that date back to the Shogun era. What are you waiting for?
Despite a tumultuous history and a continuing foray with mainland China over the legitimacy of the government, Taiwan still manages to claim a spot on this list of the safest destinations in Asia. The main reason for that? It’s got some of the lowest crime rates on the globe – we’re talking violent crime stats that are 74% better than the USA, and a murder rate of 0.8 per 100,000 head of population (that’s less than one-fiftieth what it is in the most dangerous country of all, El Salvador).
Taiwan is considered especially safe for female travelers visiting alone, as you are unlikely to garner any extra attention just because you’re going solo as a female. Politics and terrorism, most notably political upheavals caused by the conflict with China, as well as natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons, are probably the main risk here.
Sitting at the junction of the East and the South China Sea in the northwestern Pacific, Taiwan is a gateway into East Asia, but there are plenty of amazing sights to explore in the nation itself. Taipei City, the capital of Taiwan, is an important center for overseas trade and is much safer than cities like London, New York, and even Paris. It’s home to the soaring 101 skyscraper and countless Michelin-starred restaurants.
Taipei is well-known for its sumptuous street food, night markets, sky lantern festivals, and friendly locals. Beyond the cities are soaring mountain ranges for hikers and glimmering beaches with turquoise water and surf waves. You won’t get bored in these parts!
Thailand has long been a magnet for international tourists and budding backpackers and there is little you can’t do in this diverse nation. From the ultramodern cityscape of the capital to the rural north, Thailand is peppered with opulent royal palaces, sacred temples, tropical beaches, and ancient ruins. There is something for everyone.
Thailand demonstrates low violent crime rates and good marks for personal safety, with citizens having limited weapon access. Thailand might still present high poverty rates and risk of petty crime like scams and theft, but one of the reasons it is considered so safe for holidaymakers is because the country has been on the backpacker radar since the 1960s. Developed tourist infrastructure, hassle-free travel routes, and great access to services from years of international popularity mean it is a great place for solo visitors.
Thailand is also known for being home to some of the friendliest people in the world who welcome tourists with open arms. Increased tourism is one of the biggest contributors to its once struggling economy, after all. There is also a thriving ex-pat community that live harmoniously with locals and helps make life easier for visitors. Stick to your limits and keep your wits about yourself and Thailand is a very safe destination.
Safety hasn’t always been associated with Malaysia with a history of civil unrest and a greater risk of terrorism. But this Southeast Asian territory has climbed the Global Peace Index in recent years and boosted its economy, with predictions set on Malaysia becoming a high-income country before 2030.
Visitors report very low crime rates and it is highly unlikely that you’ll encounter violence anywhere in Malaysia. Petty crime is also a risk, especially where tourists are concerned, but it’s very safe to live in most areas and Kuala Lumpur, the modern megacity, is among the safest capitals in the world.
Kuala Lumpur is considered a great place for backpackers with a thriving nightlife and a good local food scene. Malaysia is a majoritively Muslim country. While females shouldn’t face any issues, make sure you have common sense and respect the cultural values.
There is no reason that safety concerns should hold you back from visiting Malaysia, even as a solo traveler, as long as you familiarise yourself with the strict laws and cultural practices.
The good news for fans of Bali, Indonesia has climbed as many as 14 spaces in worldwide safety ratings in recent years as the country looks to leave beyond its complex history of conflict. Despite still having its dangers from natural disasters and petty crime, Indonesia is a very safe country for travelers, especially if you’re headed to the Island of the Gods.
From the rolling rice paddies to the ancient temples and the blessed surfing waves, Bali is Indonesia’s most popular holiday destination and one of Southeast Asia’s safest islands. With such well-trodden tourist paths, accommodating locals, and honest Hindu culture, you shouldn’t encounter any problems traveling the island alone. The Balinese hold strong values and most believe in Karma, this makes it unlikely that you’ll encounter violence or wrongdoing from a local. Rowdy tourists can be harder to navigate, but the trouble is easy to avoid if you take precautions.
The country’s capital Jakarta was once associated with high terrorism risk and violence. Still, it’s now a thriving metropole with sky bars to rival Bangkok’s and is considered much safer than many American cities of the same size.
Ah, Nepal. Rarely can a country take the breath away like this one. And we mean that literally, folks – this is the home of soaring Mount Everest, the 8,000-meter beast that reigns as the tallest peak on the planet. That’s also just one of a great stretch of the rugged Himalayas, which also crash through the skies at Annapurna, Mustang, Dhaulagiri – we could go on and on. Naturally, heading to those challenging highlands presents risks of its own, but overall Nepal can be considered a safe country to visit.
Compare it to the USA. Here, the murder rate is two compared to the five in the stars and stripes. Overall, there was an estimated 8,800 crimes in the country at last measuring, which is minuscule in the face of over 11 million that happened in America. Violent crime incidents are less frequent, too. So are burglaries. So is the overall number of prisoners. What more evidence do you need?
Most travelers start their journeys here in the mystical city of Kathmandu. Set in a basin of mountains on the edge of the Himalayas, it’s a truly ancient place of stupas clad in prayer flags and temples dating back through the centuries. From there, you can venture north to the hiking paths, or go south to see untrodden Nepal, where tigers and rhinos inhabit the river plains on the border with India.
Often overlooked because of its remote, land-locked location and nomadic culture, Mongolia is a fascinating nation in north-central Asia and one that is very safe for travelers. The country is dominated by vast, rugged territory and mountain plateaus, dotted with untrodden towns frozen in time. It’s been popular with mountain climbers and ramblers for years, but less associated with backpacker travel. Still, if you can get over the altitude and isolation it’s really worth the visit. Mongolia is one of the least crime-ridden Asian nations.
Mongolia demonstrates high poverty rates with as much as 30 percent of the country living below the poverty line. Yet, this hasn’t prevented the Mongolian people from being known for their kindness and generosity. Petty theft is your biggest concern and pickpocketing is common in busy market areas, especially because tourists can really stand out. Still, solo travelers are safe in Mongolia and females will receive as much as a few stares but this is usually harmless.
Mongolia was dominated for seven decades by a socialist one-party rule, closely aligned with the Soviet Union. But in the 1990s, the Mongolian people peacefully supported a move toward democratic revolution and this changed the outlook of politics within the country for good. There is no recent history of terrorism in Mongolia or active terrorist groups. You’re unlikely to encounter violence anywhere you go and neutral foreign policies have prevented conflict for years.
Check out Ulaanbaatar, the peaceful capital city, home to the National Museum of Mongolia and the restored Gandantegchinlen Monastery. Ulaanbaatar has the highest risk of petty crime in the whole country, but this risk is still half of that in London, Rome, and New York. Consider the Trans-Mongolian Railway for a real adventure and cultural awakening.
There was a time when a trip to Vietnam meant something a whole load more dangerous for western travelers. But this long, thin country that arcs around the southeastern edge of Southeast Asia has long since shed the shackles of war and moved headlong into the 21st century. It might still be officially Communist, but commerce, trade, booming cities, and big hotels are everywhere these days. Plus, the tanks and helicopters are now reserved for the enlightening war museums.
One of the most notable things is just how important travel and tourism are in these parts. At last count, it represented nearly 9% of the whole GDP of the country and was one of the largest sources of employment from north to south. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the government have taken pains to make traveling here safe and easy.
There are some places in Vietnam that certainly stand out more than others if you’re after a safe trip first and foremost. We especially like the charming colonial center of Hoi An, a one-time Japanese trading post that has paint-peeling cafés and wave-washed beaches. Then there’s Sa Pa, a chilled trekking mecca in the heights of the northern mountains.
Once a lesser-known neighbor of Southeast Asia’s Thai and Vietnamese jewels, Laos is a breathtaking landlocked nation that has emerged on the backpacker route and climbed well up the safety index as it’s done so. Dominated by beautiful countryside where the Mekong River weaves and flows, you’ll also find mountain terrain, colonial towns, hill tribe settlements, primeval jungles filled with gibbons, and Buddhist monasteries tagged by UNESCO. Tempting, eh?
You should bear in mind that Laos remains one of the poorer of the main Southeast Asian travel hotspots. Poverty is still very visible in the country, especially in the more untouched rural parts of the nation away from the bustling towns of Luang Prabang and Vientiane. That can lead to increased crime rates in some regions, particularly petty crimes like pickpocketing and travel scams.
Laos is also vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and landslides, while droughts can also occur in some regions. With the country being so big on jungle adventures, trekking trips, and cycling tours, like the renowned trip through Vang Vieng, that’s something worth remembering. It’s always advised to travel with a guide in Laos wherever you go outside of cities.
With a reputation that’s sometimes tainted by its unruly and totalitarian northern neighbor, South Korea might not be the first destination on the mind of solo travelers heading to Asia. But it should be. Brimming with culture, attractions, natural wonders, and modern cities, South Korea is a once-in-a-lifetime destination and a very safe place to boot…
Crime rates are much lower here than in the US on the whole, and on par with most of Europe. Walking around, even at night, is generally considered perfectly safe, and violent crime is very rare. South Korea has a highly developed and mixed economy. One perk of this for travelers is its technological advantages, as free Wi-Fi is available virtually everywhere, even at historical sights and on public transport (AKA – you should never get lost!).
There is a long list of cultural etiquette that visitors should follow in order to avoid offending locals. But South Koreans are generally welcoming and fun people and there’s a reason that Korean culture is so famed around the planet. Historically, South Korea has had a problematic relationship with the north, but the border between the two countries is the only real dangerous place for visitors – it’s known as the DMZ and isn’t even accessible. What’s more, recent years have seen major diplomatic breakthroughs between the two governments, so tensions have eased considerably.
From the streets of Seoul to Jeju Island and the Manjang Cave, South Korea is just waiting to be explored and personal safety concerns shouldn’t hold you back.
The safest destinations in Asia – our conclusion
We’ve scoured the whole continent of Asia on the hunt for the safest destinations going. What we’ve found is pretty wanderlust-stoking stuff. Mhmm…from the land of the soaring mountains in Nepal to the hubbub of Vietnam’s great metropolises, the temple-topped towns of Thailand to the rolling surf of Indonesia, there’s so much to get through in these parts on the safer side of the spectrum that you won’t be short on travel inspo that’s for sure.
Naturally, exactly how safe each of these destinations are depends a lot on where you go and what you do in individual countries. There are risks everywhere, whether that’s natural disasters or petty theft or deadly tropical snakes. So, always keep your wits about you, even in the uber-clean streets of central Singapore!
What is the safest country in Asia to visit?
Singapore and Japan are the safest destinations to visit in Asia, both consistently leading the global safety index for the country on the whole. These two nations are also among the safest places in the world with low terrorism risk, low crimes rates, and low poverty. These factors, along with great policing, stable governments, and cooperative societies make them safe for all visitors.
What should I avoid in Asia?
Many countries in Asia are very safe to visit and it’s easy to avoid trouble and have a hassle-free trip. Still, every country has a different set of cultural and religious values that visitors need to respect. Some things you should avoid in East Asia, on the whole, to prevent being disrespectful include touching a person’s head; disrespecting a religious God; talking (especially in a defamatory way) about the monarchy or government; being loud or rowdy in public; arguing with a local; bartering too much with vendors, and defaming local cuisine or customs.
What is the scariest country in Asia?
The least safe countries in Asia are concentrated in the Middle East. Nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen are all considered largely unsafe for visitors due to political and civil unrest, and ongoing conflicts.