How do I avoid being the victim of drink spiking in a bar? (As in spiking to steal money or commit credit card fraud, not for sexual assualt)

Presumably I should avoid places promoted by touts from Africa. Are places advertised on the internet generally safe, or should I only go to places listed in reputable tourist guides?

Does it only happen at hostess bars, or does it happen at non-"adult" venues as well?

Does it only happen in a few districts in Tokyo, or does it also happen in other cities?

  • 5
    I think this isn't Japan specific as this sort of thing can happen anywhere. Despite scaremongering it doesn't appear to be that common anywhere though, but some sensible tips on how to avoid this are probably useful globally.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 13:33
  • 1
    I don't see how this is travel related? It more falls under general safety discussion, such as "How do I prevent my house being burglarized". Voted to be closed as being off topic
    – user141
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 17:24
  • @Rory Alsop: drink spiking by other patrons apparently occurs in other countries, for example Australia, but I've never heard of drink spiking done by barstaff elsewhere. The precautions you'd take against the latter may differ from those you'd take against the former.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 21:18
  • as @zeocrash says, I'd feel much safer in Japan than some areas in other countries. I don't think you should believe all the bad hype you have heard.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 21:23
  • This has happened in Hong Kong to foreigners. (Usually women slipping something into the drink of unsuspecting western men, followed by a visit to the ATM of which the man has no recollection) and can happen in the most reputable bars. The best way to avoid is not to accept drinks from ladies unknown to you.
    – user5043
    Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 8:23

2 Answers 2


I've been to Japan twice now and have spent a good deal of time drinking in Tokyo. I've never had any issues.

Hostess bars have a reputation for this kind of behaviour (i've never been to one so i can't speak to the truth of that reputation).

I've never had any issues with drink spiking or credit card fraud, even when i've been drinking alone in Roppongi.

You don't really need to take any special precautions apart from the obvious:

  • Steer clear from bars that are empty.
  • Don't go drinking on your own
  • Stick to bars frequented by gaijin
  • Avoid the hostess bars (I'd suggest this anyway. Between door fees and drinks costs you're looking at an expensive night)
  • Keep an eye out for sit down charges (we got stung with this once, a bar in shibuya charged 4 of us almost 9000 yen for 4 drinks)

If you're going drinking in Roppongi (Tokyo), the Heartland bar in Roppongi Hills is a good place to start out the night.

Generally though Japan is incredibly safe for drinking in. You're at much higher risk drinking in somewhere like London or LA than you would be in Tokyo


I would go further and say this is incredibly unlikely - if anywhere is going to sting you on cost they will do it 'legitimately' (that is, 'sitdown' charges, cover fees, high drink prices, 'door' charges etc).

I have a friend who works in a hostess bar, and whilst the concept is still a little sleazy, they are still businesses and stick to charging exorbitantly high prices for drinks and chat (much like a strip club or similar establishment), rather than actually committing a serious crime to rob you. No need - it's ridiculously risky.

To be ultra-cautious I'd say always use cash where possible rather than paying by credit card, but to be honest given how seldom my UK credit card is accepted this is rarely even an option.

This sounds like a single story has been blown way out of proportion more than anything else - of all countries Japan is probably the one in which this is least likely to happen (see my answer to another question about crime in Japan).

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