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Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

Cotonou is a dangerous city where muggings at knife-point are not uncommon, but tourists will be fine if they follow a few obvious rules. Stay away from the beach, a lawless zone even locals avoid. Watch your wallet in the Grand Marché du Dantokpa. Avoid the Jonquet and Ganhi business districts and the port area from late afternoon onwards, and stick to thoroughfares throughout the city. Taxis are safer at night than walking or taking zemi-johns – which are hair-raising at the best of times, and plain suicidal during rush hour.

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Plausible in both appearance and manner, con men have all sorts of stories to lure tourists to a secluded area where a gang of accomplices is waiting. They may say they are in a band and they want to give you a CD, or they want you to meet a Western colleague. If someone offers to take you to the beach, alarm bells should start ringing.

Muggers have also been known to pose as zemi-john drivers.

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While you're there

Medical services

Pharmacie Camp Ghezo (21 31 55 52; Rue 240) The best-stocked pharmacy, just around the corner from the US embassy.

Polyclinique les Cocotiers (21 30 14 20; Rue 373) A private and efficient clinic at the Carrefour de Cadjéhoun, across from the PTT Cadjéhoun.

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