Health & safety
Haiti has rarely enjoyed a good media image abroad. Poverty and regular political turmoil play their part, and many governments currently advise against travel to the country.
The presence of UN soldiers has done much to bring stability to Haiti, especially in dealing with the gang and kidnapping problem. But always keep your ear to the ground for current developments before traveling – trouble generally occurs around elections, although it’s incredibly rare for foreigners to get caught up in it. Avoid demonstrations, and if you come across one, turn in the opposite direction.
A weak state and high poverty levels can foster street crime. Take advantage of hotel safes and don’t carry anything you’re not willing to lose (or money in your back pocket).
For all this, the main annoyance travelers are likely to face are the poor electricity supply and crazy traffic. Beggars can be persistent in some places, and at tourist spots such as the Citadelle expect persistent attention from faux guides. Try to discourage them before you set off – their only function seems to be to tell you how much tip you’re going to have to pay at the end – as it’s very hard to not pay them after they’ve run up a mountain alongside you.
Finally, while taking care to be sensible, it’s important not to get too hung up on Haiti’s bad name. Many travelers fear the worst and avoid the country; those who do make it here are more likely to come away with positive impressions rather than horror stories.
Port-au-Prince has the best medical facilities and a few international-standard hospitals, but there are decent pharmacies across the country. A foreign-aid program means that there are many Cuban doctors in Haiti.
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