Is it Safe to Travel to Cambodia?

Cambodia is a very popular destination for those who are backpacking across Southeast Asia, with a host of brilliant attractions and a range of urban and rural areas that offer unique experiences of the county and its culture. The vibrant cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap offer an incredible range of cuisine and nightlife, the southwest of the country has miles of beautiful beaches and waterfront buildings to enjoy, and rural east Cambodia is a dream for lovers of wildlife and natural landscapes.

Cambodia is an ancient country, with evidence of human settlements that are believed to date all the way back to 6000 BC. The most famous historical period was the powerful Khmer (Cambodian) Empire that ruled from the 9th to the 13th century and left the legacy of the incredible Angkor Wat temple complex, which is one of the country’s most famous sights.

In the 1970s Cambodia was massively affected by a period of extremist rule under the Khmer Rouge political party, which devastated the population with an estimated death toll of over two million. It took until the 1990s for the regime and government to be completely removed from the country, and the majority of the population are still feeling the effects 30 years on.

Luckily for travellers, Cambodia is now a very safe country to visit, with low rates of serious crime and a relatively stable political climate. However, tourists can still be affected by health issues or incidents such as theft or pickpocketing, which can compromise your trip.

One way to ensure that you are protected against any problems whilst in Cambodia is to purchase comprehensive travel insurance, allowing you peace of mind during your holiday and making sure you aren’t affected by anything that might go wrong. We’ve put together this guide to provide you with Cambodia travel advice and answer any questions about whether it is safe to travel to Cambodia. 

Health Concerns in Cambodia

Before you travel to Cambodia, you are advised to read up on any potential health risks that you may come across whilst travelling around the country, to make sure that you are prepared and can take the necessary precautions before your arrival. If you are on any long-term medication, ensure that you have enough to last for your trip, and check if there are any restrictions on bringing certain types of medication into the country before you travel.

Healthcare services in Cambodia are quite poor, even in the most developed city of Phnom Penh where services vary and can be expensive. Pharmacies are also potentially unsafe, as many sell medication that is either out of date or counterfeit. It is important that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance before you come to Cambodia, as this will cover you in the case of any medical emergencies and ensure that you receive the right treatment.

You should make sure that you are up to date on all routine vaccinations before you travel, and check with your doctor 6-8 weeks before your trip if there are any other boosters that you need. Vaccinations that are often recommended include Hepatitis A and tetanus, and you may also want to consider boosters for Hepatitis B, Rabies Typhoid and Cholera depending on which areas of Cambodia you are visiting and how long you will be there for.

Those who are coming to Cambodia from counties that have a risk of Yellow Fever will need to bring a vaccination certificate for the disease before entering, as will anyone who has spent more than 12 hours in the airport of an at-risk country.

Malaria is present in many of the rural parts of Cambodia, and if you are travelling to a high-risk area you are likely to be prescribed malaria tablets to keep protected from infection. If you are not travelling to a high-risk area you are still advised to take precautions against insect bites, as dengue fever can also be caught across Cambodia from mosquito bites and does not have a vaccination. Precautions include using insect repellent, covering your skin (particularly in the evening) and sleeping under a mosquito net.

The parasitic infection known as bilharzia can be transmitted to humans who come in contact with freshwater lakes and streams in Cambodia and can cause serious health problems if not detected and treated. It is wise to avoid swimming or paddling in freshwater lakes and streams just to be safe, and being aware of the symptoms of the disease in case you become unwell after your trip.

There is a moderate risk of contracting HIV/AIDS in Cambodia if you engage in sexual activity with someone else who is infected. You should consider this risk and how you can protect yourself before making any decisions that might expose you to the virus, and act accordingly.

Although there are a number of health risks when visiting Cambodia, most of these are very easily avoided by doing your research before you travel and taking the necessary precautions throughout your stay. Practice good hygiene at all times to avoid getting sick, and always consult your doctor if you become unwell after you return from the country.

Phnom Penh Cityscape

Food and Drink Safety in Cambodia

Cambodia is not particularly famous for its food, but this does not mean that it is a bad place to sample unique, cultural cuisine. Khmer curries in particular are wonderfully rich and delicious, and vegetarians will find that they have a wide range of choices when it comes to looking for something to eat.

Food hygiene levels are not as high in Cambodia as they are in the western world however, and you should be cautious of what you are eating in both restaurants and with street food. Something to look out for is salads which may not have been washed or fruit and vegetables that are unpeeled, as these could all be carrying bacteria.

It is sensible to be wary of any meat you are offered whilst in Cambodia, as it is often not easy to determine what animal you may be eating. Seafood also has the potential to make you unwell, so ensure that what you are eating is very fresh before you tuck in.

Street food can be one of the best ways to sample the local delicacies of a country, but in somewhere as warm as Cambodia you should consider how long food might have been sitting outside, and whether it is still safe to eat. By using common sense and just being extra careful, you are unlikely to have any problem with the food that you eat in Cambodia.

Phnom Penh is the only place in Cambodia that tap water may be safe to drink, but even then this is not guaranteed. You are advised to drink only bottled water when you are in the country or bring water purification tablets with you to use instead. You can boil water before drinking it if necessary, but this doesn’t always guarantee that what you are drinking will be safe.

Another drink you need to be wary of is homemade or unlabeled alcohol in Cambodia, which has the problem of sometimes containing methanol, which is a very harmful substance. Symptoms of methanol poisoning are similar to feeling drunk, accompanied by vision problems which can lead to blindness in extreme cases. You should seek urgent medical advice if you or someone you are with has suspected methanol poisoning, but your best bet is just to stick to sealed and branded alcohol to avoid any danger.

Crime in Cambodia

Cambodia is a country that is set up to deal with a lot of tourism, and for this reason it tends to be relatively safe for travellers who visit the country. The most common instances of crime tend to be pickpocketing or petty theft, which are easy to avoid if you remain vigilant wherever you are.

Thieves in Cambodia tend to target people whose bags are hanging from their shoulder as they walk or on their chair whilst sitting down, and many travel on motorcycles so that they can snatch your belongings and make a quick escape. Therefore, you should make sure that your valuables are never on show as you are walking anywhere, keep belongings on your lap whilst sitting down, and ensure that bags are worn across the body so that they can’t be quickly removed.

The best way to avoid having your valuables stolen is to simply not bring them on holiday at all, or to leave them securely in your accommodation when you go out. Consider wearing a money belt under your clothes to keep phones and wallets safe, and do not wear expensive jewellery or watches if you are not willing to risk them going missing.

These kinds of crimes are more likely to happen to travellers whilst you are in big cities and tourist areas in Cambodia such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Always remain aware of your surroundings and belongings to avoid becoming the victim of crime, and trust your instincts if a situation or person doesn’t feel safe.

The majority of serious cases of crime do not happen to tourists and occur instead between local residents of Cambodia. To avoid running into any dangerous situations on your trip, research which areas of the county are best avoided before you travel, never walk around a place you don’t know at night, and use your common sense if travelling on your own or to somewhere new.

Cambodia Monk

Terrorism Risks

There is no recent history of terrorism in Cambodia, and the country is not known for being affiliated with any political groups that are likely to carry out terrorist attacks. Whilst there have been a very small number of bomb attacks and shootings in the past, the majority of these were not linked to terrorist activity and were due to personal or business disputes.

However, terrorist attacks cannot be entirely ruled out wherever you travel, and you are advised to stay alert throughout your stay and know what to do in the case of a sudden attack. Keep an eye on Cambodia’s local news before and during your trip to the country, to make sure you are aware of any potential occasion for political unrest or danger.

British nationals are more at risk at the moment of being the victims of terrorist attacks by groups motivated by the conflict in Syria and Iraq, although visiting Cambodia does not increase your risk of this. Remain vigilant at all times when you are travelling, and trust your instincts if a situation feels unsafe.

Family Travel Safety

Cambodia can be a brilliant place to take a family, as there is a fantastic selection of things to do that many children will enjoy, such as visiting the country’s incredible ancient temples, spending time at the beach or spotting some of Cambodia’s native animals.

Khmer people are notoriously friendly and hospitable, and are particularly welcoming to children of all ages. The country has a good selection of family-friendly hotels and accommodation, and you will find that many restaurants serve Western dishes or plain food alongside local specialities, for children who aren’t as adventurous with their meals.

Whilst Cambodia is great for a family holiday, it is worth noting that the country is perhaps better suited to older children and those who are used to more adventurous holidays, as they are likely to get more out of the trip. When getting around it is safest to avoid public transport if you are with children, and be aware of the wildlife that could pose a threat to anyone in your family, such as snakes or sandflies. Cambodia can also get very hot, and you should make sure that children are always wearing adequate sun protection and stay hydrated throughout the day.

To ensure that you and your family have a safe and relaxing trip to Cambodia, make sure that your children know what to do in the case of an emergency and are able to ask for help or contact you in the unlikely event that they get lost or separated from you.

Woman in Cambodia

Female Travel Safety

If you’re a woman travelling solo then Cambodia is actually a really safe place to visit on your own. The country’s culture is very laid back and welcoming, and cases of female harassment, catcalling and sexual harassment towards female tourists are incredibly low.

As when visiting any country however, women are usually more at risk of coming across dangerous situations, especially when on their own. You should follow the same advice as you would whilst anywhere in the world; don’t walk around alone at night, never leave your drink unattended, be cautious when visiting less populated areas, and only agree to meet someone new in a busy and well-lit area.

It is also worth noting that Cambodia is a relatively conservative country, and that wearing clothing that covers your knees and shoulders is considered respectful as a woman. This is only enforced in religious places such as temples, but local women in particular tend to cover up everywhere they go.

Tips for Staying Safe in Cambodia

  • Buy the Right Travel Insurance

Wherever you travel, it is important that you are covered by comprehensive travel insurance that will cover everything you will be doing during your time in Cambodia, to protect you in the case of an emergency or if something does go wrong. Making sure your insurance covers healthcare is particularly important when visiting Cambodia, as payment will be required in advance of any treatment that you might have to receive whilst you are there.

It is unlikely that you will encounter anything unsafe whilst in Cambodia, but travel insurance from Navigator Travel will give you the peace of mind needed to really enjoy your holiday, safe in the knowledge that you are covered if anything doesn’t go according to plan.

  • Keep Your Belongings Close at All Times

Theft is the highest reported crime by tourists in Cambodia, and victims tend to be those who weren’t paying attention to their belongings or who were carrying expensive items in full view.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of theft or pickpocketing is to make sure you know where your possessions are at all times and keep anything that is valuable close to your body and hidden. Never leave a bag unattended, even if a local says that they will keep an eye on it, and consider leaving anything that has a high value at home or in your accommodation.

Travel insurance is a must if you are planning on bringing anything valuable with you to Cambodia, as this will cover you if anything does go missing or get stolen.

  • Use Common Sense

As when travelling in any country, the best way to stay safe is to be sensible and follow reliable guidance so that you don’t run into any trouble. Cambodia is a very safe place, and the majority of visitors will not encounter any kind of crime or danger the whole time they are in the country.

Trust your instincts and use common sense; if something doesn’t feel right and safe then don’t do it.

Cambodia Temple Sunset


If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia then make sure that you are covered by comprehensive travel insurance from Navigator Travel, to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday that goes without a hitch.

Is it Safe to Travel to Ecuador?

Ecuador is a diverse country in South America, known for its vast amount of wildlife and the famous Galápagos Islands. With incredible beaches looking out onto the Pacific Ocean and a range of scenery that includes mountains, volcanoes and rainforests, Ecuador is a haven for nature lovers or those wanting a holiday steeped in adventure and exploration.

Many people come to Ecuador to explore its landscape, whether that’s trekking through the Amazon Rainforest, climbing one of the Andes mountains or simply travelling around the different areas of the country to enjoy the wide range of experiences that are on offer. On the whole, Ecuador is a pretty safe place to travel to and is an ideal holiday destination, but there are some things that you should be aware of before you travel.

The good news is that the most dangerous part of Ecuador is one that travellers are highly unlikely to spend any time in; the exclusion zone on the Colombian border. This area is known for its drug problems, criminal groups and kidnapping cases, and tourists are not allowed anywhere near. The only instance you should need to come to the exclusion is if you are crossing the border at the official location, which is protected by the military and should be safe.

Travellers should be warned that there is a moderate threat of natural disaster in Ecuador, as the country is on the equator and can experience earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Although the risks of encountering natural disasters are not very high, you should still make sure that you are aware of the evacuation procedures that Ecuador has in place, and consider downloading an earthquake app on your phone to keep you informed if there is an emergency.

If you are coming to Ecuador then you should remember that the few dangerous risks the country poses are highly unlikely to affect travellers and that the majority of people who come to the country have an entirely safe trip. In case of an emergency, it is always wise to purchase comprehensive travel insurance to protect you if something does go wrong, and provide you with peace of mind so that you can enjoy your holiday.

Ecuador Flag

Health Concerns in Ecuador

6-8 weeks before you travel, you will need to make an appointment to receive the appropriate vaccinations before travelling to Ecuador. All routine vaccinations should be up to date for anyone travelling to the country, and it is also recommended that you receive boosters against Hepatitis A and Typhoid, as there is a risk of coming into contact with both of these whilst in Ecuador.

It may be recommended for some travellers to also receive boosters against Rabies, Tetanus and Hepatitis B, depending on what they will be doing in the country and how long they will be staying there.

Anyone who is taking medication for a long-term condition should check the legality of this medicine in Ecuador before they travel, to make sure that it will not get confiscated on arrival. It is a good idea to bring a surplus of specific medication when travelling to a foreign country in case your journey home gets delayed, but make sure you check if there are limits to the amount you can bring into the country.

Ecuador is a country where malaria is present, but you have a very low risk of contracting the disease. Malaria tablets are not usually advised, but it is strongly recommended that you take precautions against insect bites by covering your skin in the evenings, using insect repellent, and sleeping under a mosquito net.

There is a low risk of yellow fever in Ecuador as well, particularly in certain rural areas of the country. Whilst only required for some travellers who are coming from other countries in South America or Africa, it is strongly recommended if you are visiting some areas of Ecuador. More details can be found online, and your doctor should be able to advise you on the risk.

A health risk that is prevalent in Ecuador is altitude sickness, which you are at risk of when in parts of the country that have an altitude of over 2500 metres. You should research the risks and symptoms of altitude sickness and acute mountain sickness before taking part in any activity that will involve high altitudes, and ensure that you ascend areas above 2500 metres slowly and safely.

Cuenca Cathedral

Food and Drink Safety in Ecuador

The majority of food that you will find in Ecuador will be safe to eat, as long as you follow common sense when choosing where to buy from. Meals from street vendors will always carry a higher risk as health and safety standards will be lower, but food from most restaurants and cafes will be fine.

As a general rule in any country, avoid eating and meat or eggs that do not appear to have been cooked properly, and do not accept any meat that looks like it has come from a dubious source. Ensure that dairy products are pasteurised and stored in a refrigerated area, and don’t risk consuming anything that looks or smells like it might have gone off.

The water in Ecuador is not safe to drink, and whilst fruit and vegetables from the country are safe to eat they can become contaminated if washed in water that has not been purified. Always check that any fruit or veg has been cleaned properly, or clean it yourself, and never eat salad from a restaurant unless it specifically states that it has been washed in uncontaminated water.

Any tap water in Ecuador is likely to contain bacteria that will make you ill, so you will have to buy bottled water during your stay. You can use iodine tablets to purify water or boil water if you are desperate, but the best thing to do is just purchase purified water in a sealed bottle, so you know it will be safe to drink.

Juices can often be mixed with contaminated water or unpasteurised milk, so avoid buying these when out and about. Ice cubes that are offered in restaurants are often made with tap water, so make sure you order all cold drinks without ice.

Crime in Ecuador

A good idea when travelling to any new country is to research common scams and crimes that affect tourists, and which areas are particularly unsafe. Overall Ecuador is a relatively safe country, and travellers who stick to the populated and tourist-focused areas of Ecuador are very unlikely to fall victim to crime, as long as they are aware of the risks and pay close attention to their belongings and surroundings.

The most common incidences of crime that travellers to Ecuador are likely to encounter are things like mugging, pickpocketing or tourist scams. Staying vigilant and following common sense is the best way to avoid being targeted by criminals, but purchasing travel insurance will protect you and your belongings in the unlikely event you fall victim to local crime.

The best way to avoid falling being targeted by pickpockets is simply not to bring anything valuable with you to Ecuador, as this eradicates your risk of losing it or having it stolen. Always keep expensive items such as phones and cameras out of sight if you are travelling, and never leave your bag or jacket unattended, wherever you are.

Tourists can be targeted whilst withdrawing money from a bank or ATM. It is worth knowing that the Ecuadorian police offer a free escort to and from a bank if you need to withdraw a large amount of money, and travellers are encouraged to use this service to stay safe.

Cases of armed robbery are increasing in Ecuador, especially in Quito, Guayaquil and other remote areas. Tourists are not recommended to spend time in these parts of the country so it is unlikely that you will encounter any armed robbery, but it is safest to travel in a group and always hand over your belongings straight away if you are threatened.

Unfortunately, sexual assault against foreign women does occur in Ecuador, particularly in the eastern city of Montañita. Women, in particular, should make sure that their accommodation is secure and be wary of travelling on their own, but all travellers should remain vigilant and take safety precautions against attacks from strangers.

Drugs are often used by criminals to confuse or subdue their victims, and variations of the drug scopolamine particularly are found in a lot of criminal attacks in Ecuador. Never accept food, drink, or even leaflets from strangers who approach you, and notify someone if you start to feel unwell and fear that you might have been drugged.

Ecuador Basin

Terrorism Risks

Although there is not a high risk of terrorism in Ecuador, the exclusion zone on the border of Colombia and the northern province of Esmeraldas have experienced several bomb explosions in recent years. Travellers are not allowed to enter this area unless for exceptional, essential travel however, so your risk is very low. Any terror attacks that do occur in Ecuador are likely to be the work of small, independent groups that may have come from or been influenced by the activity in the neighbouring countries of Peru and Columbia.

Despite some period of political unrest, Ecuador is considered to be a relatively peaceful country in comparison to other areas of South America, although there is always a small risk of sudden change. It is advised however that you stay away from any political protest or event that may happen in the country, as these are likely to have a higher risk of danger.

There is currently an increased threat of terror attacks against UK citizens wherever you travel, although there is no greater risk of this when visiting Ecuador. Read up on government advice on how to protect yourself, and stay vigilant at all times whilst travelling.

Family Travel Safety

Culture in Ecuador is centred around families, which makes it an excellent place to bring children for a holiday. From the long, sandy beaches to the thrilling Galápagos Islands, the country presents a whole new world of sights and experiences that guarantee a thrilling holiday.

Adventurous children will love visiting Ecuador, with its exciting landscape and plethora of different outdoor activities. The country is best suited to children who can join in with activities such as hiking, cycling and swimming, as these are some of the best ways to explore the different parts of Ecuador.

Ecuador’s position on the equator, and the altitude of some parts of the country, mean that everyone is more at risk of getting sunburn or heatstroke, so make sure to pack adequate sun protection for every member of your family. You should also make sure that all children are up to date on routine vaccinations before travelling.

Some areas of the country are less safe than others, and if you are travelling with children it is advised to stick to the large and busy areas of Ecuador, where serious crime is less likely. Make sure your children do not wander off by themselves and know what to do in an emergency, to ensure that your trip is safe and relaxing for everyone.

Galapagos Island Bird

Female Travel Safety

Ecuador is no more dangerous for female travellers than most other countries, but women who are travelling alone should take the same safety precautions as they would whilst anywhere else. Unfortunately, women on their own are more at risk of becoming victims of crime or sexual assault, and you should try and stay in a group of people you know as much as possible, to avoid being targeted.

Solo female travellers should travel around the country using private transportation; ordering taxis from reputable companies and never just hailing one from the street. Avoid driving in a car on your own as women tend to be targeted by smash-and-grab thieves if they are thought to be alone in a car.

Any women, alone or with friends, may encounter some level of catcalling when out and about in Ecuador, because of the country’s culture and attitude towards masculinity. The best advice if you encounter some form of minor sexual harassment is to just try and ignore it, and move away from those who are trying to get your attention.

As with any country, women should keep hold of their drinks when out in the evenings, and the use of a drug called scopolamine is commonly used to spike drinks in Ecuador to subdue victims of assault. Stay in a group when moving around at night, and always stick to busy and well-lit areas when you are meeting or talking to somebody new.

Rural areas or towns such as Guayaquil and Quito or more likely to be unsafe for women, and if you are coming to Ecuador on your own and want to explore areas like the Amazon or the Galápagos Islands, it is recommended that you join a group tour.

Tips for Staying Safe in Ecuador

  • Do Your Research

The best way to stay safe whilst travelling to any new country is to make yourself aware of the potential risks you may encounter so that you can avoid them and know how to keep yourself safe. Most of Ecuador’s safety issues can easily be dealt with if you know what to expect and remember to keep an eye out for any potentially dangerous situations as you travel.

  • Use Common Sense

Following safety guidelines, remaining alert and being sensible are some of the best ways to stay safe whilst travelling in Ecuador, and should ensure that you have an enjoyable and hassle-free experience of the country. The majority of tourists do not have any problems during their stay, and using your common sense will get you a long way when it comes down to making safe and responsible decisions.

  • Buy the Right Insurance

Ecuador is generally a safe country, but it is wise to purchase travel insurance before your trip in case anything does go wrong. Health issues, theft, weather or politics can affect a holiday to any country, and it is always reassuring to know that you have insurance in the case of any sudden changes.

Ecuador Volcano

Travel insurance should always be chosen carefully, as different people need cover for different things, and it is important to check that you are protected for whatever your holiday involves. If you do decide to travel to Ecuador, choosing comprehensive insurance from Navigator Travel Insurance will ensure that you are covered in the event of an accident or mishap during your trip.

Is it Safe to Travel to South Africa?

South Africa is the southernmost country on the African continent; a vibrant and dynamic destination that is popular with tourists wanting to see deserts, mountains and beaches, explore large bustling cities and try out a variety of thrilling activities. From the diverse ‘mother city’ of Cape Town to the scenic Kruger National Park, South Africa offers a wide range of sights and experiences that make it an excellent place to visit.

The country’s political past is particularly turbulent however, and the effects of the 20th century apartheid system that enforced racial segregation are still being felt. What you can expect when travelling in South Africa are developed areas of wealth and modernity alongside poorer, more neglected communities, but this should not deter your decision to visit to the country. As long as you are careful, prepared and aware of the issues that the country still faces, it is safe to travel in South Africa. 

Travel insurance is vital to ensure that you are covered in case of any misfortune, and this guide will provide South Africa travel advice to prepare you for a safe and hassle-free trip.

Health Concerns in South Africa

Several vaccinations for South Africa are recommended or required depending on how long you will be visiting and what you will be doing during your stay. It is best to consult your doctor at least 6-8 weeks before you travel, but an immunisation against Diphtheria and Hepatitis A are usually advised, and other vaccinations can be considered.

Anyone aged one year or over who is travelling from a country that has a Yellow Fever risk of transmission will also be required to present a certificate of vaccination against the disease before entering the country. 

Malaria is common in some parts of South Africa, but can be easily prevented. If you are travelling to a high-risk area you will be strongly advised to take malaria medication, and all visitors should take precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long, loose clothing, and sleeping under a mosquito net.

It is recommended that you do not swim in any freshwater lakes and rivers, particularly in rural locations, to prevent exposure to parasites that live in the water and can cause a disease known as bilharzia. The infection is treatable but unpleasant, so it is best to avoid any chance of contracting it by only swimming in water you know to be safe.

South Africa has a high rate of HIV/AIDS, and visitors should consider the best ways to minimise their exposure to this if they are likely to be in a situation where transmission is possible. 

sunset-Table Mountain South Africa blog image

Food and Drink Safety in South Africa

If you are only travelling to South Africa’s larger cities then you are unlikely to run into any trouble with food and drink, as long as you are cautious with where you choose to purchase meals and remain aware of the risks that some foods may carry. The country’s cuisine is delicious and varied, with a number of different cultural influences inspiring dishes from curries to cocktails, and should definitely be sampled during your trip.

If you are staying somewhere in South Africa that is more remote, be particularly careful with meat or dairy products, and always ensure that what you are eating has been peeled, cleaned or properly cooked. 

Cholera is a water-borne disease that mainly occurs in some rural areas of the country, and if you are visiting one of these you should not drink anything other than sealed or boiled water in order to protect yourself. Most tap water in major cities is safe to drink, but you can always buy bottled just to be on the safe side. 

South Africa dried beef jerky

Crime in South Africa

South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and it is vital that travellers remain vigilant and take as many precautions as possible to remain safe when in the country. 

The statistics may be scary, but it is important to note that most of the violent crime the country is known for will not affect visitors, as it takes place predominantly in areas that are not for tourists. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you do not visit any of South Africa’s isolated ‘townships’ to avoid running into any trouble.

Incidents such as theft or tourist scams are much more likely to affect those who are travelling in South Africa, which you can protect yourself against by staying alert at all times, using common sense, and ensuring that you have travel insurance that will cover you in the case of any unfortunate occurrences. 

As you would in any busy holiday destination, never leave any personal belongings unattended and make sure that no expensive items are on show when you are in a public place. Credit card skimming is a common problem in South Africa, so keep cards hidden and safe and always cover your PIN if you need to use an ATM. 

Before arriving in the country, make yourself aware of the kind of tourist scams you might encounter during your visit, so that you know what to look out for. Again, as in any country that is popular with tourists, these kinds of incidents are easily avoided by trusting your instincts and being wary of anyone who approaches you, even if they seem friendly. 

Terrorism Risks

There has not been a serious terror attack in South Africa since the 1990s, but the country’s history of violent extremism and political unrest mean that the threat of terrorism does remain present. Action by the terrorist organization Daesh is the main threat in South Africa, with a number of reports of radicalisation in the country as well as links to planning and financing terrorist acts. 

There is currently an increased threat of terrorism globally, and British Nationals are particularly at risk. Advice against staying safe from terrorism whilst abroad can be found on the website, but it is best to be vigilant in areas such as shops, places of worship, popular tourist attractions, and when travelling on public transport. 

Whilst the apartheid period in South Africa ended long ago, the effects of civil unrest and government corruption are still felt across the country, which has increased the likelihood of violent demonstrations and acts of terrorism. Travellers should always avoid any large, political gatherings such as protests, as these are likely to be particularly unsafe. 

Family Travel Safety

From exciting safaris to brilliant beaches, South Africa is a fantastic location for an adventurous family holiday, particularly when staying in larger cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg which are well equipped for families of tourists and very safe. Places like the Kruger National Park and several other game reserves also have family lodges and are malaria-free, offering special guides and safari trips for children that combine sightseeing with learning about the area.

There are many family-friendly attractions across the country, including animal parks, museums and galleries, and outdoor activities such as water sports and ziplining which are all safe for children and make for excellent days out. Trips to the beach or visits to popular locations such as Table Mountain outside of Cape Town are also a great way to spend your time and experience a variety of South Africa’s beautiful scenery. 

Temperatures in South Africa do not tend to reach much over 30°C in its hottest months between November and March, but precautions against sunburn, sunstroke and dehydration are necessary for both children and adults, as is protection against insect bites.

And as when travelling in any foreign country, make sure that children are never left on their own, know what to do in an emergency, and are not taking any risks. This will ensure that a family trip to South Africa is entirely safe and relaxing for everyone, meaning you can spend your time enjoying every moment of your holiday. 

The entry requirements for bringing children into South Africa used to be complicated, but now under-eighteens entering the country with a parent for a holiday now only need a valid passport, making it much easier to travel as a family. 

girl-on South African Beach

Female Travel Safety

Assault, rape and murder rates in South Africa are unfortunately very high for women, but again it is important to note the vast majority of these crimes happen in places that travellers to the country are unlikely to be, meaning that the risk for visitors is low.

Female tourists should follow the normal personal safety procedures they would take when anywhere in the world; paying attention to their surroundings, avoiding walking alone at night, and making sure that somebody else knows where they are going to be and for how long if they are travelling on their own. As in any country, make sure that drinks are never left unattended when in a bar or a club, and remain in public areas if you are meeting and socialising with somebody new. 

penguins-female backpacker

Tips for Staying Safe in South Africa

  • Know Where to Avoid

As previously mentioned, the districts in South Africa known as ‘townships’, which remain from the apartheid period of racial segregation, should be avoided by travellers, as these areas tend to have a higher proportion of crime and visitors who are not local are more likely to be targeted if they enter. It is possible to visit a ‘township’ as part of a tour, but always make sure that you are with a trusted guide who knows the area well, and always visit during daylight hours.

You can research the places you are planning on staying in South Africa before your trip, to make sure you are aware of any locations that are less suited to tourists and avoid running into any trouble by being unprepared. 

  • Don’t Walk Around at Night

Walking around an unfamiliar location at night tends not to be advised wherever you are, and South Africa is no different. Even when in a group, it is better to use a trusted form of public transport or just avoid having to make any long journeys on foot in the evening, especially through less populated areas. 

It is also worth noting that it is safer to arrange your flights so that you arrive in the country during the day and don’t have to find your accommodation in the dark.

  • Keep All Valuables Hidden 

Tourists tend to be easy targets for pickpockets and thieves in busy cities, and you can protect yourself from theft by making sure that valuable items are always kept close to you and hidden when in public. It is recommended that possessions such as expensive jewellery or technology are not brought on your trip, and that anything important you do decide to bring with you is kept close by in your hand luggage whilst travelling.

  • Stay in A Group

Travelling on your own can be an exciting and liberating experience, and many independent visitors have hassle-free experiences of South Africa. However, it is often a lot safer to be in a group whilst exploring the country, especially when walking around at night or hiking in the mountains.

There are a variety of excellent group tours on offer to those who are travelling solo but don’t want to be alone, with experienced guides leading safe and interesting excursions around South Africa.

  • Spend More to Stay Safe

Whilst it can be tempting to try and save money and travel cheaply on your holiday, it is always best to spend a little more money to ensure that your accommodation and the area you are staying in are safe and secure. The exchange rate for foreign visitors is good in South Africa, meaning that you can afford to take taxis instead of risking public transport and pay more for activities that won’t put you at risk.

  • Listen to Your Instincts

Ultimately, you are unlikely to run into any problems whilst travelling in South Africa, especially if you are always making sure to be cautious, alert, and aware of what you might encounter during your stay. Applying the same common sense as you would when on holiday anywhere will get you a long way, and allow you to make the most out of exploring such a diverse and beautiful country.   

Almost everyone who visits South Africa finds themselves coming back again, and no other country has quite the variety of culture, landscape and activities on offer to travellers wanting to explore the tip of one of the world’s most diverse continents. Whilst more care should be taken to make sure that you stay safe, South Africa is not a dangerous place for visitors who come prepared, and can be enjoyed throughout the year as a holiday destination. 

table-mountain at night