Most people in Britain and America get the Asian crime rates wrong, very wrong. Crime in Asia is vastly lower than in Britain and America.
If you look at the crime stats, or stories about corrupt officials and corrupt policemen, you will be misled about crime in Asia and hassle In Asia. People in poor areas rob and kill other people in poor areas, and as a tourist you will never see it, you will never be involved.
Attacks against tourists in Malaysia and Indonesia are just about zero, year after year. In Kuala Lumpur, however, is a bar street full of drunk Aussies fighting, and you may get caught up in it at 4am, Bukit Bingtang. If you are sensible, you will avoid such tourist traps, and you will never be threatened.
In Bali, in some tourist strips, the Aussie drunks are again an issue, and these places are to be avoided, the Kuta area.
Thailand, however, is risky, and many locals will target tourists, not least because those locals are very pissed off with decades of stupid drunk Western men on sex holidays. In Thailand you are likely to see lots of problems, but in Malaysia and Indonesia you could live for years and encounter absolutely zero problems.
I am yet to see a problem in Malaysia or Indonesia that did not involve a drunk tourist. Compared to the UK and to Europe, Malaysia and Indonesia are fantastic places, no crime, no hassle, very friendly people.
Crime in Asia – Casual drunken violence
In Britain, Australia and America, casual drunken violence is an issue every Friday and Saturday night. Drink in a busy bar, look at someone the wrong way, nudge and elbow, and you’ll get hurt in a fight. In Asia, the locals do drink, but you will never see them drunk and fighting. Stare at someone and nothing is going to happen, nudge and elbow and they will say sorry.
Asian people do not have a drinking culture, and as such they don’t drink and fight. Responsible Asian people never drink alcohol. Most bars are sedate, even when busy, no hassle, no fighting, but if you see a problem then look for the ex-pat or tourist at the centre.
But if you buy a property or open a business then you will be involved with local and national officials, and you will start to see the corruption. Everything can be done, or speeded up, by paying a bribe, so just get used to it.
If you have a broken light on your car in Indonesia, give the police $5 and smile nicely. Drive into a gang-controlled street, pay the $1 and smile nicely (the going rate is actually 10cents). Don’t argue with the gang member for 10cents, he will have friends nearby.
If you live in a nice condo, pool and gym, shops underneath it, you will never encounter a problem, ever, and you will see no crime, you will not be hassled.
In both Malaysia and Indonesia the airport transfer taxis are great, cheap, you will not have a problem. But in both cities, and every city in the world, local taxis are to be avoided. Most taxi drivers don’t have a clue where they’re going, and will mess you about.
Uber and GrabTaxi are great, and very cheap. In Malaysia and Indonesia, always look to see if the taxi has sat nav, ask about it.
In many years of living and travelling in Asia I have seen less crime than witnessed in an hour in my home town in the UK. Asia is very safe, apart from Thailand.