San Francisco

San Francisco, California, a major city of the Bay Area famous for its warm weather, the Golden Gate bridge, its liberal community and for being the center of the US Tech industry. The Bay Area has a population of c. 7.15 million while San Francisco has one of about 800,000 people. Over 26 million people visit the city each year. As any big city, San Francisco has its problems with crime and theft, and travelers should be cautious in some areas that can be seen on the map. Pickpocketing can be an issue in some crowded neighborhoods, and some areas have a very large homeless population and junkies that can sometimes be aggressive. SafeAround has compiled information from numerous sources make sure you have a safe trip while in San Francisco, and be aware of all potential dangers.

SAFETY INDEX

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : LOW

San Francisco is a safe city. With a rating of 69,4% the US is ranked 51th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

There is some pickpocket-related risk in the touristic parts of San Francisco and in public transportation. Be careful along Fisherman’s Wharf, the F-Market Streetcar line and others parts marked on the map. There is no need to be paranoid, take a few simple precautions will that minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

Tourists staying in San Francisco will be fine, but in some parts of the city – shown on the map- there is a small risk of getting mugged. Do not go there alone, particularly at night.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : LOW

As in any touristic place, there may be people trying to scam you. Be aware of “gold ring” tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Transports and taxis are generally very safe in San Francisco, but beware of pickpockets.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Earthquakes can happen in California, but are not very common (the last major one was in 1994).

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

San Francisco has not recently been targeted by terrorist attacks, but it is best to stay alert.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

SF is generally very safe for women travelers.

Carte

WHAT TO DO?

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s wharf is the touristic center of San Francisco, with over 12 million visitors every year. Famous for its piers with scenic views, sea-lion sightings, entertainment and dining, it is located at the northern tip of the San Francisco Area. There are also many street performers in the area, if you decide to watch their show don’t forget to drop them few bucks. The Wharf is very safe, however the large number of tourists attracts pickpockets and scam artists such as fake charitable organizations or “Cup Shuffle” players.

Chinatown & Union Square

Next to Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco’ Chinatown is one of the oldest (it was established in 1850) chinese communities outside China. The Stockton Street Produce Market is one of the city’s most famous and a must-do for all visitors, as well as other quirky attractions such as the Fortune Cookie factory or the Jack Kerouac Alley. South of Chinatown, Union Square is SF’s Financial district, which includes a lot of retail and department stores, theaters and restaurants. Both areas are very safe; Chinatown is crowded during the day and empty at night but still safe.

Civic Center & Tenderloin

West of Union Square can be found SF’s civic center and city hall building, as well as many other buildings of architectural interest such as the Asian Art Museum, the Bill Graham Auditorium, Louise Davies Symphony Hall or the War Memorial Opera House. South of the Civic Center, the area called the Tenderloin (because of its shape) is one of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhood, with a reputation of high criminality. While parts of the area are going under a fast gentrification, with many affordable bars, shops and restaurants, the areas around Turk St. and Taylor St. are filled with many homeless people, drug addicts and prostitutes. Travelers should be careful at all times when in this area.

Useful Information

The US has one of the harshest entry policy, sometimes asking for an interview even for a tourist visa. Prepare to pay fees up to USD 160 for your application. Some countries like the ones from the EU or Australia have a visa waiver program (ESTA) which can be filled online. See https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html for more information. Strong custom regulations also apply (see the CPB website for more details), and the Travel Safety Administration can open your luggage without your presence. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in the United States is the US Dollar. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted countrywide, and ATMs are found nearly in every city. The costs can vary widely between the states, but it is fair to assume a $100 budget per day on average, $150 if you rent a car and around $300 for top end accomodation. A 10% service tipping is customary in many sectors such as airport and hotel bag porters, bartenders , hotel maids, restaurant servers and taxi drivers.
The weather in the US varies greatly between the states : from the mediterranean weather of California to the Glaciers of Alaska or the subtropical Florida, each region has its best time to visit; although major cities can be visited all year round. This graph can be useful for finding the best time to travel.
The main international airports are in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Denver and San Francisco. If you’re looking fore cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page