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Chiang Mai has been declared the safest destination for American travelers to Southeast Asia, overtaking the far more developed hubs of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for the top spot. Bursting with culture, a sprawling city in Northern Thailand, it is one of the top attractions in the region, known for its imperial grandeur and perfectly preserved Old Town.
Now that Thailand has reopened to tourism after two years of strict border controls, Americans are returning to the country in droves, attracted by its pristine nature, island paradises and laid-back atmosphere. However, security remains a top priority for those traveling abroad, especially in destinations where they are prone to fraud.
Scams and petty crime are common in a number of Thai cities, but the risks seem to be lower in Chiang Mai in particular:
Chiang Mai is the highest city in Southeast Asia in terms of safety perception index
Every year, the leading crowdsourced quality of life database worldwide Numbeo published his Crime and safety indices by city, with crime rates collected across 416 cities. According to the ranking, the city of Chiang Mai is one of the 40 safest in the worldranked number 32 and the highest peak in Southeast Asia (SEA).
Although Singapore is often considered the most developed and “westernized” city on the subcontinent, and therefore a less risky city, the overall perception of urban safety is slightly lower than that of Chiang Mai (70.8 vs. 75.5). It even dislodged Tokyo, Japan, ranking one place lower at number 33, and in wider East Asia it is only surpassed by Hong Kong at number 17.
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As for crime, the index averages 24.5, which is considered “low”: the majority of tourists will feel safe in Chiang Mai, and most will not encounter any problems walking alone during the day or at night. In comparison, Bangkok’s crime index was much higher at 40.5, while safety levels were lower at 59.5. still high enough to make it the 7th safest destination in the SEA.
Three Thai cities appear in the ranking
Anucha Burapachaisri, Deputy General Secretary for Political Affairs to the Prime Minister, was quoted as saying, “Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha is pleased to see several cities in Thailand listed as having a high level of safety‘, as well as the government’s determination to eradicate crime created confidence among foreigners who want to travel to Thailand.
A total of three Thai cities are cited on Numbeo list, with Pattaya (number 210) in third, sharing the same crime rates as Windsor in Canada. generally, Thailand is incredibly safe for tourists: The US State Department considers it a Tier 1 destination, advising Americans to take “normal precautions” when visiting.
The only regions where it is strongly advised not to travel are Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla, due to “ongoing insurgent activities”. These riots are mostly concentrated in the southernmost provinces of mainland Thailand, where public dissatisfaction with the current government is significantly higher.
Thailand’s incredibly accessible cultural capital
It’s Chiang Mai one of the most sought after city breaks in Thailand, and a city full of history and imposing structures around every corner. Originally founded in the late 13th century, it replaced neighboring Chiang Rai as the capital of the historic kingdom of Lanna, a position it held until 1558, when its importance as a political center declined.
To this day, remnants of a bygone era are scattered throughout the concrete jungle with a series of defensive walls and moats, with Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang among the most easily recognizable landmarks. Apart from its historical significance and heightened security, Chiang Mai is incredibly affordable:
Numbeo estimates that the monthly cost per person is US$518.30 without rent, about 25.6% and 10.9% lower than the capital city (Bangkok) and Phuket City, two competing centers in Thailand. Compared to the States, to maintain the same standard of living in Chiang Mai as you would earn $9,000 in New York, $2,302.70 per month would be enough.
Less crime, a higher quality of life and significantly cheaper: it’s no wonder Thailand is generally the trendiest place for young adventurers right now.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com