Health Advice for Venezuela

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Health and Safety Advice for Venezuela

Staying Healthy

You may have some diarrhea issues adjusting to the foods and liquids in Venezuela. You should preferably buy bottled water and not drink from the tap, but iced drinks and salads are generally fine (depending on the water supply quality of your native country). Be careful with expired foods and cheeses that are many days old. You usually find street vendors by highways, who sell food and who don't always have much of hygienic food handling practices. Use common sense when selecting what to eat in the street. Mind, that fresh food and mayonnaise may go bad fast due to the local climate.

Staying Safe

Venezuela has its fair share of poverty and crime. Venezuela has one of the highest homicide rates worldwide. It is necessary to be vigilant when in crowded cities, as pickpockets and muggers may be around. Most sections of large cities are not safe to walk at night. Stay in populated areas. Always travel by vehicle at night. The outskirts of many cities are very poor and crime-ridden, and are not appropriate for tourists. When in doubt, ask local inhabitants or taxi drivers whether an area is safe or not. In general, if one looks like a (presumably wealthy) tourist, these sections of town should be avoided. It is advisable not to wear expensive jewelry or watches. Take care with taking pictures and unfolding maps in crowds. Pretend you know where you are going even if you aren't sure.

Always ride on a legal taxi (Yellow plates). The white plates taxis are not legal and may be dangerous.

Additionally, one must be wary of corrupt officials (police and National Guard). Some officials may demand bribes or otherwise extort travelers. Keep watch of your belongings at all times. Despite all these recommendations, one is usually quite safe in Venezuela if they apply a little common sense, and avoid looking overly wealthy when traveling. Women with big purses are recommended not to walk around alone. Tourists should avoid walking long distances in the towns and cities unless you know where you are going. Where possible arrange vehicle transport. It is not advisable for female tourists to walk through poor areas or shanty towns without a local guide. It is greater risk of rape or sexual assault if they walk through these areas.

Above all, when you are in Venezuela it is very important to use common sense. If you follow the right precautions, you'll probably have no problem. Don't look at anybody the wrong way, and don't look too wealthy.

In the sad event you do get mugged, by all means don't even try to put up resistance and avoid eye contact, most muggers in Venezuela carry firearms and don't hesitate to shoot at the slightest provocation, keep calm and give the mugger whatever he wants, failure to do so is quite often deadly, also, reporting a mugging to the police is seldom worth the trouble, it's best to forget it as muggers are only rarely caught.

Despite all the issues with insecurity, you may avoid most problems by either staying in the touristic areas or visiting the less touristic areas with someone that lives in the country.

Also, Venezuela has an interesting policy towards cannabis. You may possess up to 20gr, but be forewarned that anything more can get you thrown in prison for a long time. Even though this policy is quite liberal by American or British standards, you should keep all cannabis use private, if just to not have unwanted attention drawn towards you.

Avoid long distance car traveling at night, since many highways are insecure then. Venezuelans are usually ready to help you if you have a problem. However, they probably won't dare to stop for you in the dark, as they would risk to be assaulted with good cause.

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