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Is Bangkok Safe?

I was in Bangkok in the middle of the 'riots' and during Military take over. I felt no less safe than at any other time - which is to say, very safe. With one notable exception; It was much safer to cross the road in the main city areas, because there was much less traffic.

Crossing a road in Asia, Bangkok in particular, can be a daunting experience if you are used to the 'well behaved' pedestrian aware traffic in Australia. Here are some tips for the first time traveler:

- do not think traffic will stop for you if you are using a crosswalk. Pedestrians on crosswalks are invisible to drivers in Bangkok
- don't assume traffic lights will be obeyed by all drivers, and expect them not to be obeyed by scooters
- if you have a green signal to cross the road, you still need to give way to turning traffic
- if a policeman directs you to cross, check the traffic first. Policemen are only slightly less invisible than pedestrians

The best way to cross the street is to wait next to a local and cross with them, making sure you are 'down-stream' of the traffic from them. But sometimes, even with a fair bit of experience now, I have found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then, the only thing I can do is hold up my hand, palm out to the traffic - the universal sign for 'sorry, dumb tourist crossing, please don't kill me', which has worked so far.


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