In general, is Budapest a safe place to visit? One of my friends is Asian, so is there a problem with hate crimes in Hungary?
I can never address concerns about racial hate crimes because I just don't see it. But as far as general security, I view Budapest that same as any other European country. We were there two years ago and felt perfectly safe but then I am an old white guy. I think the usual precautions about pickpockets, late nights and dark alleys should be adhered to but other than that we found the people friendly and helpful if we had problem.
Yes, even Hungary slides to the right, Budapest is a safe, diverse city. I traveled there alone two years ago and found it very easy to navigate, walking after dark and taking transit safe. Just take usual precautions about pickpockets, which is a risk you run anywhere.
I've felt safe on my visits to Budapest, never encountered any problems and found the people to be open and friendly. I can't speak for any racial issues as I'm white. When you state that your friend is Asian which part of Asia does his ethnicity relate to? It's a broad term and there are widely variable differences due to the sheer size of the continent. Asian in the UK commonly refers to people from the Indian subcontinent whereas in the US it is used to refer to people from China, Japan and Southeast Asia. I can't tell where you're from as to me your moniker would suggest that you're a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan but you may be referring to a completely different Wolves.
As a senior woman traveling alone I felt perfectly safe walking around Budapest and on the metro/trams quite late into the evening. Of course I was there in mid-summer so it was light late into the evening and lots of people around everywhere I went. But, in general, I thought the city had a very safe and comfortable feel. I'm not aware of the rate of hate crimes against Asians in Hungary and don't know how the whole pandemic situation has affected that so can't speak to that.
The statistical crime rate in Budapest is as low or lower than many major cities in Europe. Certainly lower than Paris, London or Rome https://www.numbeo.com/crime/comparison.jsp
As a tourist it would be difficult to walk into the "wrong" neighborhood and the closest you come, which has a few sites of interest to a tourist, is the outer part of District VIII.
Within the Tourist Districts (I, II, V, IV, XIII and the lower parts of VI, VII and VIII), I wouldn't hesitate to walk home at 2am and you will see many others including single women doing it routinely.
The Hungarian government has close business ties with China and attracts a lot of Asian tourists and business travelers.
A major square on Andrassy ut, the Champs-Élysées of Budapest is called the Oktogon which every tourist will pass several times on a multi-day stay; note the signage on the top of the building https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/b/budapest-oktogon-station-hungary-march-view-entance-206954340.jpg.
On hate crimes against Asians, Let's leave it at "not likely"
Budapest is very, very safe. Much safer than Berlin, Paris, and even Vienna. I was there in 2018 and 2019, traveling alone. I saw many young Asian tourists, including single females walking in downtown late at night.
I never felt threatened and Hungarians are generally very polite and helpful.