people walking on street near brown concrete tower during daytime
trees near pathway during daytime
Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar during day

Is Madagascar Safe?

Madagascar presents moderate safety risks for travelers. While petty crime is common, violent crime against tourists is relatively rare. However, civil unrest and political tensions can escalate quickly, disrupting travel. Tropical diseases like malaria are prevalent, necessitating preventive measures. Natural disasters, particularly cyclones, pose a risk during certain seasons. Exercising vigilance and seeking updated advisories is advisable for a safe visit.

Download Vigilios

Your Pocket-Sized Travel Safety Guide

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store

Safety & Security

Madagascar is generally considered safe for travelers, but there are some risks to be aware of. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is common in urban areas and tourist hotspots. Violent crime, while relatively rare, does occur, so travelers should exercise caution, especially at night.

  • Petty Crime: Pickpocketing, bag snatching, and theft from vehicles are common in cities like Antananarivo and tourist areas. Remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.

  • Violent Crime: While not widespread, incidents of armed robbery, carjacking, and assault have been reported, particularly in isolated areas and at night. Avoid walking alone after dark.

  • Scams: Be wary of common scams, such as overcharging for goods or services, fake tour guides, and taxi scams. Only use official taxis or ride-sharing services.

  • Civil Unrest: Political demonstrations and strikes can occur, sometimes leading to violence. Monitor local news and avoid large gatherings or protests.

  • Terrorism: The risk of terrorism is low, but attacks cannot be ruled out. Exercise caution in crowded areas and follow the advice of local authorities.

Travelers should remain vigilant, avoid isolated areas, and take precautions to minimize risks. Consulting travel advisories and local contacts for up-to-date information is recommended.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Madagascar should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has made progress in improving healthcare, medical facilities outside major cities may be limited.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, and consider additional vaccines like hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies, depending on your travel plans.
  • Malaria: Madagascar has a high risk of malaria transmission. Antimalarial medication is recommended, along with insect repellent and protective clothing.
  • Dengue Fever: This mosquito-borne viral disease is a risk, especially during the rainy season. Use insect repellent and seek medical attention if you develop symptoms.
  • Water and Food Safety: Drink only bottled or purified water and avoid undercooked or raw foods to prevent waterborne and foodborne illnesses.
  • HIV/AIDS: Madagascar has a high prevalence rate. Take precautions to avoid exposure to bodily fluids.
  • Air Pollution: Major cities like Antananarivo experience high levels of air pollution, which can exacerbate respiratory conditions.

Natural Disasters

Madagascar is prone to several natural disasters that travelers should be aware of. The island nation experiences cyclones and tropical storms during the rainy season from January to March, which can cause flooding, landslides, and disruptions to transportation and infrastructure. The risk of earthquakes is also present, though major seismic events are relatively infrequent.

  • Cyclones and Tropical Storms: These weather systems can bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and storm surges, posing risks to coastal areas. Travelers should monitor weather advisories and follow guidance from local authorities during cyclone seasons.

  • Flooding and Landslides: Heavy rains can trigger flash floods and landslides, particularly in mountainous regions and urban areas with poor drainage systems. Avoid low-lying areas and stay informed about potential risks.

  • Earthquakes: While not as frequent as in some other regions, earthquakes do occur in Madagascar. Familiarize yourself with safety procedures in case of seismic activity.

  • Volcanic Activity: Madagascar has several dormant volcanoes, but volcanic eruptions are rare. However, travelers should remain vigilant and follow official advisories if any volcanic activity is reported.

Travelers are advised to stay updated on weather forecasts, heed warnings from local authorities, and have contingency plans in place for potential natural disasters during their visit to Madagascar.


Transportation in Madagascar can be challenging for travelers. While major cities have public transportation options like bush taxis (shared minivans) and pousse-pousses (rickshaws), services are often unreliable and overcrowded. Taxis are available but can be expensive for longer distances.

  • Road Safety is a significant concern, with poorly maintained roads, lack of street lighting, and reckless driving practices. Rental cars are an option, but self-driving can be risky due to the road conditions and potential for vehicle breakdowns in remote areas.

  • Air Travel is often the most convenient way to cover long distances within the country, but domestic flights can be subject to delays and cancellations. Major airports are located in Antananarivo, Nosy Be, and Tulear.

  • For shorter distances, Boat Travel is an option, particularly for accessing coastal towns and islands. However, safety standards for boats and ferries may not meet international norms.

It's advisable to exercise caution when using public transportation, plan routes carefully, and consider hiring a private driver or joining organized tours, especially for longer journeys or remote destinations.

Cultural Norms

Madagascar is a culturally diverse nation with a mix of African, Asian, and European influences. Respecting local customs and traditions is essential for travelers. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress Modestly: Avoid revealing clothing, especially when visiting rural areas or religious sites. Cover your shoulders and knees.

  • Greetings: Greet elders and those in authority with respect. A slight nod or handshake is appropriate.

  • Photography: Ask for permission before taking photos of locals, especially in rural areas. Some may consider it disrespectful or expect payment.

  • Religious Customs: Remove shoes when entering religious sites and homes. Avoid public displays of affection during religious festivals.

  • Local Etiquette: Avoid pointing with your finger or touching someone's head. Use your right hand for eating and greeting. Burping after a meal is considered a compliment.

  • Traditional Beliefs: Many Malagasy hold traditional beliefs in addition to Christianity or Islam. Respect their customs and avoid mocking or dismissing them.

  • Environmental Respect: Malagasy people have a deep connection with nature. Avoid littering or damaging the environment.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Madagascar are generally limited, especially outside major cities. While ambulance services exist in urban areas, response times can be slow and the quality of care may vary. Private clinics and hospitals in cities like Antananarivo offer better emergency medical facilities for travelers, but can be expensive.

  • Limited Ambulance Services: Public ambulance availability is scarce, with long response times common. Private ambulance options are available in cities but can be costly.

  • Hospital Facilities: Major private hospitals in Antananarivo have emergency rooms, but quality varies. Public hospitals often lack resources and adequate staffing for emergencies.

  • Police and Fire Services: Police response times for emergencies can be slow, especially outside cities. Fire services have limited resources and capabilities.

  • Tourist Police: Some major tourist areas have dedicated tourist police units to assist travelers, though their availability is limited.

  • Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance with emergency evacuation coverage is highly recommended for Madagascar due to the limited emergency infrastructure.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful illustration with three people and the letters "FAQ" representing a Frequently Asked Questions section

Is Madagascar safe for tourists?

Madagascar is generally safe for tourists, but caution is advised. Petty crime and scams occur in cities and tourist areas. Avoid isolated areas, especially after dark. Remain vigilant, and don't carry valuables or large amounts of cash.

Is Madagascar safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should exercise caution in Madagascar. While not overly dangerous, incidents of harassment and opportunistic crime do occur. Dress modestly, avoid walking alone at night, and be cautious when accepting assistance from strangers.

Is Madagascar safe for families?

Madagascar is a family-friendly destination with a rich culture and natural attractions. However, facilities for children may be limited, and medical care can be substandard. Ensure your family has comprehensive travel insurance and required vaccinations.

Is Madagascar LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are legal in Madagascar, but LGBTQ+ individuals may face social stigma and discrimination. Public displays of affection should be avoided. Same-sex marriage is not recognized, and there are no legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community.

Do you need a visa to go to Madagascar?

Most visitors require a visa to enter Madagascar, which can be obtained on arrival or in advance. U.S., Canadian, and EU citizens can typically stay for up to 90 days without a visa. Always check entry requirements with your embassy, as regulations may change.

Can you drink tap water in Madagascar?

Tap water in Madagascar is not safe to drink. Contamination and poor sanitation can lead to waterborne illnesses. Stick to bottled, filtered, or boiled water for drinking and brushing teeth. Avoid ice cubes and raw foods washed in tap water.

What is the currency in Madagascar?

The Malagasy Ariary (MGA) is the official currency of Madagascar. While credit cards are accepted in major cities and tourist areas, cash is preferred, especially in rural regions. Ensure you have sufficient local currency on hand.

Download the App

Map, Insights & Support - Vigilios is your Personal Safety Companion

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store QR LinkApp Store
Google Play QR Link
Coming soon to Android
Google Play