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Is Djibouti Safe?

Djibouti faces a high risk of terrorism, with frequent attacks by extremist groups. Violent crime, including armed robbery, is prevalent, especially in Djibouti City. Petty crime like pickpocketing is common in crowded areas. Clashes between ethnic groups and civil unrest occur sporadically. Travelers should exercise extreme caution, avoid protests, and follow local news for updates.

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Safety & Security

Djibouti is generally considered safe for travelers, but there are some risks to be aware of. Petty crime like pickpocketing and bag snatching occurs, especially in crowded areas. Violent crime rates are low, but disputes can escalate quickly. Scams targeting foreigners are not uncommon.

  • Petty Crime: Pickpocketing and bag snatching are the most common crimes, particularly in markets and crowded areas. Remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.
  • Violent Crime: While rates are relatively low, incidents like armed robbery and carjacking do occur, especially at night in isolated areas.
  • Disputes: Disputes can escalate quickly, so it's best to avoid confrontations and remain calm if one arises.
  • Scams: Common scams include taxi overcharging, fake tour guides, and requests for money from strangers. Exercise caution and only use reputable services.
  • Civil Unrest: While rare, protests and civil unrest can occur, potentially disrupting travel plans. Monitor local news and avoid large gatherings.
  • Terrorism: The risk of terrorism exists, though attacks are infrequent. Remain vigilant in crowded areas and follow advice from local authorities.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Djibouti should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has made progress in improving healthcare facilities, some challenges remain.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, and consider additional vaccines like hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies, depending on your travel plans.
  • Insect-borne Diseases: Malaria and dengue fever are present in some areas. Use insect repellent and consider antimalarial medication.
  • Water and Food Safety: Drink only bottled or purified water and avoid undercooked food to prevent waterborne and foodborne illnesses.
  • Air Pollution: Air quality in urban areas can be poor, posing risks for those with respiratory conditions.
  • Medical Facilities: While facilities in Djibouti City are improving, they may be limited outside the capital. Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance.

Natural Disasters

Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa, a region prone to natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and earthquakes. While the risk of major natural disasters is relatively low, travelers should be prepared for potential disruptions.

  • Droughts are a common occurrence in Djibouti due to its arid climate. These can lead to water shortages and impact food supplies.
  • Floods can occur during the rainy seasons, particularly in low-lying areas and near wadis (dry riverbeds). Flash floods can be dangerous and disruptive.
  • Earthquakes are a risk in Djibouti due to its location along the East African Rift Valley. While major earthquakes are infrequent, minor tremors can occur.
  • Volcanic Activity is not a significant concern in Djibouti, as there are no active volcanoes in the country.
  • Sandstorms and dust storms can occur, particularly during the dry season, reducing visibility and causing respiratory issues.

Travelers should monitor weather conditions, follow local advisories, and be prepared to adjust plans if necessary. Ensuring adequate supplies of food, water, and essential items is recommended, especially when traveling to remote areas.


Public transportation in Djibouti is relatively limited, with taxis and shared minibuses being the primary modes of transport for locals and visitors alike. Road safety can be a concern due to poorly maintained roads, reckless driving practices, and a lack of enforcement of traffic laws.

  • Taxis are readily available in major cities, but it's advisable to negotiate fares beforehand and ensure the meter is running to avoid overcharging.
  • Shared minibuses (known as "garis") operate on fixed routes within cities and between towns, offering a budget-friendly option for shorter journeys. However, they are often overcrowded and may lack proper safety standards.
  • Self-driving is generally not recommended for tourists due to the poor road conditions, aggressive driving habits of locals, and the risk of getting lost or stranded in remote areas.
  • Rental cars are available, but it's crucial to exercise caution on the roads and familiarize yourself with local driving customs and regulations.
  • Road conditions can be hazardous, especially in rural areas, with potholes, loose gravel, and limited signage or lighting.

Travelers are advised to prioritize safety over convenience when choosing transportation options and to remain vigilant and cautious while on the roads in Djibouti.

Cultural Norms

Djibouti is a predominantly Muslim country, and it's essential for travelers to respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or rural areas. Women should cover their shoulders, midriffs, and knees. During Ramadan, avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public areas during daylight hours.

  • Greetings are important in Djibouti's culture. Greet people with a handshake, and use formal titles like "Monsieur" or "Madame" until invited to use first names.
  • Photography can be sensitive, especially in markets or around military installations. Always ask for permission before taking photos of individuals.
  • Hospitality is highly valued. Accept offers of food or drink graciously, even if you decline.
  • Public Displays of Affection between couples should be avoided, as they are considered inappropriate.
  • Alcohol Consumption is legal but frowned upon in public. Drink discreetly and avoid intoxication.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Djibouti are limited, especially for tourists. The availability and reliability of ambulances, fire services, and police assistance can be inconsistent, particularly outside the capital city.

  • Medical Facilities are generally basic, with inadequate resources and staff. Many travelers opt for medical evacuation to other countries for serious conditions or emergencies.

  • Police Response can be slow, and language barriers may hinder effective communication with authorities. Tourists are advised to exercise caution and avoid confrontations.

  • Tourist Police Units exist in some areas frequented by visitors, but their presence is not widespread throughout the country.

While embassies and travel companies may provide emergency assistance to their citizens or clients, independent travelers should have contingency plans and appropriate travel insurance in case of emergencies in Djibouti.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Djibouti safe for tourists?

Djibouti is generally safe for tourists, but caution is advised due to the threat of terrorism and civil unrest. Avoid crowded areas, monitor local media, and follow the advice of local authorities. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is common in urban areas.

Is Djibouti safe for solo female travelers?

While not extremely dangerous, solo female travelers should exercise caution in Djibouti. Dress modestly, avoid isolated areas, and be aware of cultural norms. Harassment and unwanted attention can occur, so it's advisable to travel with a companion or group when possible.

Is Djibouti safe for families?

Djibouti can be safe for families with proper precautions. Avoid demonstrations, monitor travel advisories, and ensure children are supervised. Facilities for families may be limited, so research accommodations and activities beforehand. Heat and sanitation can be challenging with young children.

Is Djibouti LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are illegal in Djibouti, and the LGBTQ+ community faces discrimination and social stigma. Public displays of affection between same-sex couples are not advised. Travelers should exercise discretion and caution regarding their sexual orientation.

Do you need a visa to go to Djibouti?

Most visitors require a visa to enter Djibouti, which can be obtained on arrival or in advance from Djiboutian embassies. Citizens of some countries may be eligible for visa-free entry for short stays. It's essential to have a valid passport with at least six months' validity.

Can you drink tap water in Djibouti?

It is not recommended to drink tap water in Djibouti due to potential contamination. Stick to bottled or purified water, and avoid ice cubes made from tap water. Boiling or using a water purification system can make tap water safe for drinking.

What is the currency in Djibouti?

The official currency in Djibouti is the Djiboutian franc (DJF). However, the US dollar is widely accepted, especially in tourist areas. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and restaurants, but cash is recommended for smaller transactions.

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