Haiti Travel Information
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Local time is GMT -5.
110 volts, 60HZ. The plugs in use are the eastern type with two flat, parallel prongs or with two flat, parallel prongs and a third round pin below (Type A and B).
The two official languages of Haiti are Haitian Creole and French. English is spoken in the capital and at Labadee cruise port, and possibly by some locals in other places as well.
Malaria and dengue fever occur in Haiti and doctors recommend that travellers take malaria medication and protect themselves as far as possible from mosquito bites with insect repellent and mosquito nets. Chikungunya fever is also common in the region.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for those arriving from an infected country in Africa or the Americas, and hepatitis A and B, typhoid, polio and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) update vaccinations are recommended. Anybody planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, and at possible risk of animal bites, should consider a rabies vaccination.
Visitors should only drink boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. It is recommended that street food is avoided but if you do buy from street vendors try to only eat hot food and avoid fruit and vegetables unless washed by yourself.
Medical facilities in Port-au-Prince are of poor quality, and are virtually non-existent elsewhere in the country, so medical insurance with evacuation cover is essential, and it is advisable to bring all required medications from home. If you are travelling with prescribed medications be sure to carry a prescription and note from your doctor detailing what the medication is for and why you need it.
Hotel bills generally have a tax of 10 percent added, and a service charge of five percent. Restaurant staff in Haiti should be tipped around 10 percent of the bill. Taxi drivers can be given a discretionary tip if they are helpful and efficient. Most Haitians don't tip, but it is customary to tip in tourist locations and all gratuities are graciously accepted.
Haiti has a bad reputation for the safety and security of visitors because of a high crime rate and civil unrest, and both the British and US governments advised against all but essential travel to Haiti until recently. Now, both governments have issued warnings about numerous travel risks, with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advising against all travel to the slum districts of Port-au-Prince.
Most violent incidents concerning foreigners have occurred in or around the capital city and while kidnapping, armed robbery, gang violence, pick-pocketing and various other criminal acts against foreigners have decreased in recent years, the importance of caution and safety precautions cannot be overemphasised. Kidnapping was a serious problem at one time, with many US tourists held hostage for ransom, and although it happens far less now, it is still a danger outside of Labadee.
Since the 2010 earthquake, there has been little policing, and criminal activities such as looting, robbery, and assault are at their highest recorded levels. Travellers are urged to refrain from walking in the cities without a guide and to exercise extreme caution when using public transport of any kind. Travellers should also be aware that, since the earthquake, there have been warnings issued about cholera outbreaks, and medical infrastructure is particularly poor. Most tourists choose not to venture beyond the safe resort area of Labadee, where the port has been enclosed to protect visitors.
A smile goes a long way in Haiti, and while people might think Haitians are solemn at first glance, most quickly warm up to visitors. Haitians are proud people despite their poor circumstances and appreciate being treated with respect. It is advisable to show willingness to learn a few basic Creole phrases, and to ask permission before taking pictures of locals. In rural areas it is considered indecent for women to have bare legs or shoulders, and modesty is encouraged when it comes to clothing in general.
This being one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, and economically depressed, means that few business visitors come to Haiti. If embarking on a business trip to Haiti, business visitors should consider hiring a translator to ensure smooth communication. Business hours are generally from 8am to 4pm.
The international dialling code for Haiti is +509. Communications infrastructure is poor, but a GSM mobile network has recently become available. There are only a few internet cafes in Port-au-Prince, so mobile technology is probably the best form of internet connection.
The duty free allowance for goods brought in to Haiti is 1kg of tobacco products, one litre of spirits and other foods under HTG 2,500.
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