wat phra pan (wat phranon mee pukha), chiang mai, thailand

12 Safest Countries in Asia for 2018 (updated 2020)

Asia has it all: impressive sights and sounds, intense cultural experiences and peaceful natural retreats just waiting to be discovered. Each country within this grand continent offers an opportunity for adventure, plenty of sights to gawk over and incredible experiences to cross off. 

With so many things to do and places to see, you might be left feeling indecisive, so to help you decide, we suggest visiting the safest countries. We’ve updated our list based on the most recent Global Peace Index, which provides us a clear projection of where to travel in 2020 where safety is concerned. So without further delay here are the top 12 safest countries to visit in Asia in 2020, recognised as some of the most peaceful on earth according to the Global Peace Index. 

1. Singapore

The top position for the safest country according to the Global Peace Index goes to Singapore. A melting pot of cultures, it sits firmly at the top of our list for the safest countries in Asia for yet another year. From Chinatown to Little India, the city will welcome you no matter where you’re from.

All the while, Singapore still maintains its green spaces which will delight all types of travellers. The diversity of experiences extends to the mind-boggling food that ranges from cheap, local fare to Michelin star-worthy dishes. Soak in the Singapore Botanic Gardens or if you need your adventure fix, set out to see nocturnal animals on a night safari.

Illuminate Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Singapore’s iconic Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay | ⓒ Romain Pontida/Flickr

2. Japan

The second spot on the Global Peace Index for the list of safest countries in Asia 2020 once again goes to Japan. This country is one of the most welcoming, inspiring and exciting places you will ever visit. On this volcanic archipelago, petty crime like pickpocketing is not to be expected. Instead, most locals you encounter will treat you with the utmost politeness.  

In urban centres like Tokyo, the ease of modern transportation and the helpfulness of young locals who speak English are the ultimate bonus. If you fancy exploring Osaka’s indulgent food markets, feasting on out-of-this-world sushi served on a conveyor belt in Tokyo, or visiting the Kyoto Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, then Japan is sure to impress you (while keeping you safe). 

3. Malaysia

Following closely behind the leaders on the Global Peace Index is Malaysia, which scored an overall global ranking of 25 in the world. In short, it is beyond safe to visit, and once you arrive, you’ll soon understand why there’s something so mesmerizing about Malaysia. The magic of this Southeast Asian nation can only be experienced first hand – the inviting, friendly atmosphere will have you hooked within moments.

Batu Caves in Malaysia
Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur | © Meimei Ismail/Unsplash

You’ll also find plenty of picturesque islands dotted around the mainland, buzzing cities and lots of delicious food to devour.

4. Taiwan

Taiwan might not be the first place you would suspect to be at the top of the Global Peace Ranking Index, but it’s been a steady climber where safety is concerned over the last decade. If you don’t know much about Taiwan, 2020 might be the year to visit this up-and-coming destination to see what makes it so enticing.

While the history of Taiwan is complicated, Taiwan is a certainly a destination that holds its own and the crime rate is incredibly low, as is the petty crime rate. Of course, there is a chance that visitors will fall prey to pickpockets yet the risk much lower than other large cities.

As for the culinary scene, Taiwan is filled with dishes for you to indulge in, including xiao long bao (soup dumplings), gua bao (a steamed pork bun) or shaobing (flatbread).

5. Indonesia

Good news for Indonesia, who has managed to climb 3 spots in their region, and a staggering 14 overall! While climate hazards continue to pose an ongoing threat, the country itself remains one of the safest in Asia. Many travellers flock to its shores to discover the wonderful food, lush green rice paddies, stunning beaches and ancient temples. In other words, things are beautiful here, and you’re sure to feel safe within moments of arrival, especially in Bali.

Penglipuran Village, Bali, indonesia
Penglipuran Village, Bali | © Ruben Hutabarat/Unsplash

If you don’t fall in love with the laid-back surf town of Canggu and it’s fun-loving nightlife, then you’re sure to love exploring the tropical Gili islands. If you’re into picture-perfect views, you’ll find it hard to choose your favourite between the sunrise at the volcanic Mount Batur and the towering waterfalls of Tukad Cepung. 

6. Mongolia 

Mongolia is one of the unexpected surprises on this list as many travellers tend to overlook this remote and untouched destination. With an overall global ranking of 46 among the world’s most peaceful countries, you won’t need to worry about petty crime and tourist scams here. Naturally, you would want to remain vigilant and keep an eye on your bags or wallet, but you won’t have too much to worry about as long as you use common sense. In Ulaanbaatar, like any major city there is always a risk of small crime, but compared to other countries in the region it is minimal.

As for experiences, if you’re looking for the ultimate adventure, consider travelling along the Trans-Mongolian railway where you’re bound to create memories to last a lifetime.

7. Laos 

Anyone who has visited Laos would not be surprised that this country has secured one of the top spots. While it’s true that Laos has dropped down two spots in the region, it’s actually climbed two globally. Still, it’s extremely safe with few crimes reported and less scams that you might find in countries more popular with tourist crowds. With beautiful countryside that changes at every turn, delicious food and friendly locals, Laos should most certainly be next on your must-visit list.

While you’re there, you can spend a night in the jungle with the Gibbon Experience, observe decades-old traditions with the Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony in Luang Prabang or cycle through Vang Vieng for an experience like no other.

A hot air balloon hovers in a field with green trees
Soar across paradise in Laos | © Yosi Bitran/Unsplash

8. South Korea

As opposed to its heavily veiled northern neighbour, South Korea is filled with inviting attractions that include niche bars tucked away in the streets of its capital, Seoul, to the giant lava tube, Manjang Cave, on Jeju Island. Free Wi-Fi is available almost everywhere, even at many historical sites, this will give you some peace of mind and ease navigating around by yourself!

In addition to the growing expat community that is present in South Korea, it’s been vetted as a top destination by countries around the world after they hosted the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.

Jinhae South Korea
Cherry blossoms blooming in Jinhae, South Korea | © Sam Ng/Flickr

9. Vietnam

Coming in at number nine on our list, Vietnam is a land of gorgeous panoramas, rich culture and it boasts a street food scene that is well worth diving deep into. Travelling through Vietnam is thrilling – some days you can hop on a motorbike to take in the country’s extensive coastline, other days you can kayak through the sparkling waters of Ha Long Bay for a taste of the country’s natural beauty.

As for the locals? They are some of the friendliest. When it comes to the happiness radar, it’s no wonder Vietnam stands out as one of the world’s top places to be. You can immerse yourself in the smiles by unrestricted happiness for yourself, consider participating in a laughing yoga class in the capital of Hanoi. 

What’s more, the complex system of rivers known as the Mekong Delta hosts vibrant floating markets that are the fabric of local life and are a must-visit location. In Vietnam, not only will you be well and truly impressed by the many local experiences, you may never want to leave. And for that, we don’t blame you!

Aerial view of Ha Long Bay with junk boats sailing through the limestone pillars
Ha Long Bay’s famous soaring limestone islets | ⓒ Ammie Ngo/Unsplash

10. Cambodia

Cambodia might have a devastating, dark past however that is by no means a reflection on its peace rankings. There’s so much to love about this little country and petty crime against travellers is virtually unheard of. Embrace the scenery of this Southeast Asian nation as you roam through lively markets, majestic temples and charismatic towns that seem untouched by modern tourism developments. It’s time to delve a little bit deeper and get acquainted with Cambodia. 

If you are looking to learn more about the history of Cambodia and the resilience and strength of the country’s population, a visit to the Killing Fields and S21 is a must. The experience is essential to understanding Cambodia’s fraught history and will open your eyes to life under the Khmer Rouge which of course.

11. China

It may come as a surprise, but China’s big cities are actually regarded as among the safest in the region. The beauty of China is that it showcases historical China (yes, we’re referring to the 2,300 year old Great Wall), but there are also many modern twists such as the lightning-quick train system that runs from Beijing to Guangzhou and The Shanghai Tower which punctures the city’s skyline and is one of the world’s tallest buildings.

If you’re a fan of green scenery, there’s that too. Make your way to Guilin to see a dramatic landscape made up of limestone karst hills.

Zhangjiajie, Huaihua, China
Zhangjiajie, Huaihua, China | © Joshua Sortino/Unsplash

12. Thailand

Thailand has been pretty consistent as a top choice for travellers heading to Asia. From visiting Northern hill tribes and elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai to island hopping and hedonistic Full Moon parties. It’s paradise! Thailand can be relied upon for relaxing trouble-free on heavenly, tropical beaches and friendly locals. No wonder it’s one of the safest countries in Asia 2018! 

Are you ready to find your next adventure? Are you feeling inspired by our list of the safest countries in Asia 2020? Take a look at the most popular tours to Asia here. 

Julie is a Toronto-based journalist whose biggest thrill is solo travel. She loves talking to strangers, both near and far, and telling their stories through photos and words. Follow her adventures on Instagram @julesfayegermansky and Twitter @julsgermansky.

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