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.
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.
Warnings & Dangers
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.
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.
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.
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.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Transports and taxis are generally very safe in San Francisco, but beware of pickpockets.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Earthquakes can happen in California, but are not very common (the last major one was in 1994).
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
San Francisco has not recently been targeted by terrorist attacks, but it is best to stay alert.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
SF is generally very safe for women travelers.
Avoid Being A Victim! 10 Tips for Your Personal Safety
It is best to carry a small bag across your shoulder or wear a concealed pouch rather than a back pack
Carry as little cash as you can
Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket
Beware of individuals who act strangely and who try to divert your attention in order to steal your belongings.
Pay special attention while seating on restaurants and café terraces, when you are withdrawing money from ATMs or near tourist attractions
Never keep your mobile phone or wallet on the table of a café or restaurant.
Don’t wear expensive jewellery in an ostentatious way
If an attacker tries to snatch your bag, don’t try to stop them as you will risk being injured
Thieves commonly work near tourist attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations, airports, subways and target vehicles with non-local license plates.
Most but not all of pickpockets work in groups, often as teenagers
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.