cars on road near high rise buildings during daytime
body of water near buildings at daytime
aerial view of city buildings during daytime

Is Dar es Salaam Safe?

Dar es Salaam has a moderate crime rate, with risks of muggings, bag snatching, and residential break-ins. Terrorism is an ongoing concern, though incidents targeting foreigners are rare. Avoid crowded areas and monitor local news. Road safety is poor due to reckless driving and lack of traffic enforcement. Use trusted transportation services and exercise caution when walking or driving. Adequate medical facilities are limited, so ensure proper vaccinations and travel insurance.

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Safety & Security

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city, is generally considered safe for travelers, but it's essential to exercise caution and be aware of potential risks.

  • Petty Crime: Pickpocketing, bag snatching, and theft from vehicles are common, especially in crowded areas and markets. Remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.

  • Violent Crime: While violent crime against tourists is relatively rare, incidents of armed robbery, carjacking, and home invasions do occur, particularly in isolated areas or at night. Avoid walking alone after dark and use trusted transportation services.

  • Scams: Be wary of common scams, such as fake tour guides, overcharging for services, or individuals posing as officials demanding bribes. Only use reputable tour operators and be cautious of unsolicited offers.

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

  • Terrorism: While the risk of terrorism is low, it cannot be ruled out entirely. Exercise vigilance in public places and follow the advice of local authorities.

It's advisable to register with your embassy or consulate, avoid displaying valuables, and familiarize yourself with local laws and customs. Exercising common sense and being aware of your surroundings can help mitigate potential risks.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Dar es Salaam should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the city has decent medical facilities, it's advisable to get vaccinated against diseases like hepatitis A, typhoid, and yellow fever before your trip. Malaria is also a concern, so antimalarial medication and insect repellent are recommended.

  • Insect-Borne Diseases: Malaria, dengue fever, and chikungunya are prevalent in Tanzania. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and consider antimalarial medication.

  • Water and Food Safety: Avoid tap water and only consume bottled or purified water. Be cautious with street food and ensure proper hygiene when eating out.

  • Air Pollution: Dar es Salaam has high levels of air pollution, which can exacerbate respiratory issues. Those with asthma or other respiratory conditions should take necessary precautions.

  • Medical Facilities: While the city has several private hospitals and clinics, the quality of care may vary. Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance and access to emergency medical evacuation if needed.

  • Vaccinations: Consult your doctor about recommended vaccinations, such as hepatitis A, typhoid, yellow fever, and others, depending on your travel plans and medical history.

Natural Disasters

Dar es Salaam, located along the coast of Tanzania, is generally not at high risk for major natural disasters. However, travelers should be aware of the following potential hazards:

  • Flooding: The city experiences heavy rainfall during the wet seasons (March-May and October-December), which can lead to localized flooding in low-lying areas. Flash floods can disrupt transportation and damage infrastructure.

  • Tropical Cyclones: While rare, Dar es Salaam can be affected by tropical cyclones originating in the Indian Ocean. These storms can bring heavy rains, strong winds, and potential storm surges along the coast.

  • Earthquakes: Tanzania lies within a seismically active region, and minor earthquakes do occur occasionally. However, the risk of a major, destructive earthquake in Dar es Salaam is relatively low.

  • Droughts: Prolonged dry spells and droughts can affect the region, potentially leading to water shortages and disruptions in food supply.

It's advisable for travelers to monitor weather forecasts, heed any warnings or advisories issued by local authorities, and follow guidance from their accommodation or tour operators regarding potential natural hazards. Purchasing comprehensive travel insurance is also recommended.


Public transportation in Dar es Salaam consists primarily of dalla-dallas (minibuses) and local buses. While relatively inexpensive, these modes of transport can be overcrowded, uncomfortable, and prone to reckless driving. Taxis are more reliable but should be booked through reputable companies to avoid scams.

  • Road Safety is a significant concern, with poorly maintained roads, lack of traffic enforcement, and aggressive driving behaviors contributing to a high rate of accidents.
  • Dalla-dallas and Local Buses are affordable but often overcrowded, with limited adherence to safety standards. Exercise caution when using these services.
  • Taxis offer a safer alternative, but it's advisable to use reputable companies or have your accommodation arrange transportation to avoid potential scams or unsafe vehicles.
  • Self-Driving is generally not recommended for visitors due to the chaotic traffic conditions and unfamiliar driving environment.
  • Walking or Cycling can be hazardous due to the lack of dedicated pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, as well as the risk of traffic accidents and crime in certain areas.

Cultural Norms

Dar es Salaam is a melting pot of cultures, with influences from various African, Arab, and Indian communities. As a traveler, it's essential to respect local customs and traditions to ensure a smooth and enriching experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress Modestly: While not as conservative as some other parts of Tanzania, it's advisable to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or traditional neighborhoods. Avoid revealing clothing and cover your shoulders and knees.

  • Greetings: Greetings are an essential part of Tanzanian culture. Take the time to greet people with a warm "Jambo" (hello) and a handshake, especially when interacting with elders or in formal settings.

  • Ramadan: During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public during this time, as it's considered disrespectful.

  • Photography: Be mindful when taking photographs, especially of people or religious sites. Always ask for permission before capturing someone's image.

  • Haggling: Haggling is a common practice in markets and with street vendors. However, it should be done respectfully and without aggression.

  • Gestures: Certain gestures, such as pointing with your finger or showing the soles of your feet, can be considered rude. Be mindful of your body language.

  • Local Festivals: Dar es Salaam hosts various cultural festivals and events throughout the year. Attending these can provide valuable insights into the local traditions and customs.

By respecting the local culture and customs, you'll not only have a more enriching experience but also foster positive relationships with the local community.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Dar es Salaam are limited and may not meet the standards expected by many international travelers. While ambulance services exist, response times can be slow, especially during rush hour traffic. Private hospitals and clinics generally offer better emergency care than public facilities, but services can be expensive for those without adequate travel insurance.

  • Ambulance Services are available but may experience delays due to traffic congestion and limited resources.
  • Private Hospitals such as Aga Khan Hospital and Regency Medical Center provide relatively reliable emergency care, though costs can be high.
  • Public Hospitals like Muhimbili National Hospital offer emergency treatment, but resources and staffing levels may be strained.
  • Tourist Police units exist to assist visitors, but their capabilities and response times can vary.
  • Travel Insurance with emergency medical coverage is highly recommended, as quality care at private facilities can be costly.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Dar es Salaam safe for tourists?

Dar es Salaam is generally safe for tourists with normal precautions. Avoid isolated areas, especially at night, and be cautious of petty crimes like bag snatching. Use trusted transportation and guides for excursions. Remain vigilant in crowded areas.

Is Dar es Salaam safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should exercise caution in Dar es Salaam. Avoid walking alone at night, dress modestly, and be aware of your surroundings. Consider joining group tours or hiring a local guide for added safety.

Is Dar es Salaam safe for families?

Dar es Salaam can be family-friendly with proper planning. Ensure accommodations cater to children's needs. Be cautious of food and water safety. Avoid crowded areas and protests. Seek medical advice for travel with infants.

Is Dar es Salaam LGBTQ+ friendly?

LGBTQ+ individuals should be discreet in Dar es Salaam, as same-sex relations are illegal in Tanzania. Public displays of affection may lead to harassment or legal consequences. Research LGBTQ+ travel resources for the latest advisories.

Do you need a visa to go to Dar es Salaam?

Most visitors require a visa to enter Tanzania, including Dar es Salaam. Citizens of select countries may be eligible for a visa on arrival or visa exemption for short stays. It's advisable to check visa requirements based on your nationality and travel purpose.

Can you drink tap water in Dar es Salaam?

It is not recommended to drink tap water in Dar es Salaam due to potential contamination. Stick to bottled, filtered, or boiled water for drinking and brushing teeth. Avoid ice cubes and raw foods washed with tap water.

What is the currency in Dar es Salaam?

The official currency in Dar es Salaam is the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS). Major hotels and restaurants may accept US Dollars or Euros, but cash in local currency is widely preferred. Credit cards are accepted at some establishments.

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