Staying Safe in Suriname as an Expat

Is Suriname Safe to Visit? Suriname Safety Travel Tips

This sovereign state is also known as the Republic of Suriname, and it is located on the northeastern Atlantic Coast of South America. Overall, the country offers many things, such as roaring rivers, tropical rainforests, a great deal of ethnic diversity, and pieces of the Dutch colonial history.

The largest city of Suriname, which is also its capital, Paramaribo, is also the home of the most people in this country. While you can be amazed by Suriname’s cities, which are modern and have a night-life that you wouldn’t expect them having, the most interesting part of this country is, naturally, the untamed and dense jungle.

In terms of diversity, you can come across Chinese, indigenous Amerindian, Indian, Indonesian, and African people, as well as descendants of Dutch and British colonists that are now locals. Therefore, you will also be able to experience and delight your taste buds with the food that is specific to these cultures – you should also be prepared for spicy food, of course.

But, of course, as it is located in South America, you might ask yourself if this country is safe to visit. While offering many amazing sights and a plethora of cultures and religions for you to see, there are also some dangerous parts of Suriname. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, we will make a risk report and answer the question of how safe is Suriname for tourists. So, hang on and let’s begin.

Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Suriname

Overall Risks in Suriname: HIGH

Suriname is, mainly, a safe place to travel to. Most of the tourists traveling here have no problems or other extraordinary events; however, you should be on your toes at all times, because armed robbery, violent crime, and burglary often occur in Suriname.

The capital, Paramaribo, is susceptible to most of the aforementioned events, especially after dark, as it is reported as being lawless after dark. Given the low presence of authorities and a history of burglary and pickpocketing, areas like Moengo, Albina, Palm Garden, and the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina should be avoided as they have a risk status of high.

The current president of Suriname and his son, which has been arrested for trying to set up terrorist camps, can also influence the status of the country. Demonstrations can occur, with protests against illegal Brazilian miners and immigrants. Therefore it’s best to stay out of crowded places. Also, since the president got instated due to a military coup in 1980, this is possible to happen once again.

However, Suriname is not targeted by any radical groups and does not have significant enemies, so the risk of terrorism is quite low. The only thing you have to add to your Suriname safety guide is the attention towards any suspicious events and you being alert at all times.

Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Suriname: HIGH

Next on our Suriname safety travel tips section is the risk of pickpocketing and theft. When it comes to these, you have to tread carefully, especially in the major shopping and business districts of the capital. Here, robbery is close to being common and you should avoid displaying any expensive items, jewelry, or such.

Naturally, secluded and remote areas should be entirely avoided. The only part of the capital that is safe to visit after dawn is the entertainment center set-up around the Torarica Hotel. All of the other areas of the city, and the country, especially Palm Garden, should be avoided at all costs after dark.

Moreover, to ensure your safety, a tour company that is well-established is recommended if you want to travel around Suriname. The reports tell of a generally safe country, but with increasingly more robberies and some violent crime.

  • How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Suriname?

As mentioned above, there are a couple of essential things that you have to do in order to avoid pickpocketing and theft while visiting Suriname. Given that this is one of the country’s high risk aspects, it is important to treat it accordingly.

Therefore, be careful how you step out of your accommodation. We refer to the amount of jewellery you are wearing, gadgets you plan to use, and money you want to bring out with you. Given that you are a tourist, jewellery should be either minimal or gone for good, so to speak. If you don’t want to draw any curious and malicious eyes, it is better to leave your necklace and bracelet, for example, back at the hotel. When it comes to gadgets, you should bring only the essentials – your phone, for emergencies, and you camera to take photos and videos. However, you have to keep these safe in your backpack or front pockets when you are not using them.

In terms of money, once again, only the essential matters. Don’t walk around town with large sums of money on you. If you get robbed or pickpocketed, you shouldn’t lose as much as to make your trip a disaster. Keep your original ID and passport in the hotel and carry copies of those with you in order to avoid some really uncomfortable situations.

Scam Risk in Suriname: MEDIUM

Of course, when thinking about how safe Suriname is for tourists, one should always take scams into consideration. While there have been no reports of large scamming cases, it is good that you prepare for this as well, as it might happen.

It was mentioned earlier that pickpocketing is becoming common on the streets of Suriname, especially at night – therefore you should be careful during the day as villains might resort to scams as well.

  • How to avoid being scammed in Suriname?

It is better you don’t engage in any conversation with any locals or try to help them – or let them help you as they may request payment afterward. Also, you should always withdraw money from within the banks and not use the ATM outside as it might be rigged or you might get robbed while doing so.

If you’ve been scammed, the best thing to do is alert the authorities as soon as possible and let them handle the issue.

Kidnapping Risk in Suriname: LOW

In Suriname, the risk of getting kidnapped is very low. There have been little to no reports of tourists being kidnapped; therefore, you shouldn’t be worried about this. However, you should be on a high alert at all times.

Given the country’s overall risk report, you should always pay attention to who is next to you or to your traveling companions. So, your Suriname safety guide should also include ways for you to keep a low profile.

  • How to avoid being kidnapped in Suriname?

Fortunately, we got your back, and we advise you not to wear any jewelry or anything of value that might attract villains. Also, in case something unfortunate happens, you have to keep calm and try to alert the authorities as fast as possible.

Also, don’t try to fight off the attacker as there may be more than one of them. Just keep calm and make a friend out of the local police.

Terrorism Risk in Suriname: LOW to MEDIUM

Naturally, with all the terrorism-related news around the world, you will wonder how safe is Suriname for tourists when it comes to the risk of terrorism or terrorist attacks.

Here, the risk is presented as low to medium because the country is not being targeted by any radical groups, as mentioned before. However, there are reports of people that were trying to recruit people in Suriname on behalf of Isis. Moreover, two Dutch brothers have been arrested recently as they are suspected to be terrorists.

If you happen to notice any acts of terrorism, you must leave the area immediately and alert the police. Terrorism, as we’ve all seen, is no joke and can have serious consequences. Don’t try to get a shot of the incidents or anything else, just go to the police and give them a full report of what happened – while remaining as calm as possible, of course.

  • How to avoid terrorism in Suriname?

As seen above, the ideal thing to do in dangerous situations is to keep calm and know your way to a safe location. This is why, even when traveling to a foreign country, you should familiarize yourself with the area you are about to visit, as well as with its safe places. For example, if you go to a mall, shopping center, or a touristic building/ attraction, you should know your way out of there, in case something goes wrong.

Moreover, if you notice anything suspicious – such as unattended bags or groups of people that don’t act in a normal manner – you should get yourself into a safer area, even though there may be no dangers in sight. If something really happens, you should try to alert the authorities as soon as you get yourself to a safe place or back to your accommodation.

Be extremely cautious around places of prayer, official buildings, and such, as these are the main targets when it comes to terrorist attacks.

Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Suriname: MEDIUM

Is Suriname safe for solo women travelers? The answer to this question would be yes if there was no solo in it. While, as you previously saw, the risk of rape is low and you shouldn’t be worried as a woman while traveling the roads of Suriname – you should definitely avoid traveling alone.

Most solo travelers are often targeted by thieves and those that pickpocket. You should hide any valuables and any large amount of money as you might soon be accompanied by someone you wouldn’t want to. Have a guide accompany you at all times if you are a solo traveler.

However, if anything happens, you should keep calm and try to alert the authorities as soon as possible – you could also ask for some trustworthy locals for help; usually, women will come in your aid. But your best chance is the authorities and a clear-thinking mind.

  • How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Suriname?

Traveling alone is a no-no when it comes to most, if not all foreign countries. If you’re visiting a country for the very first time and don’t know too much about it as well, it is highly recommended that you have a guide with you if your family or friends don’t want to accompany you. On the other hand, when you know a country’s culture, how the locals behave to tourists, as well as the areas you should stay away from, then maybe you are fit to travel alone.

However, we do not recommend solo traveling unless you’ve done your fair share of exploring and traveling throughout your life, so to speak. Experienced travelers may go solo, but those that do it for leisure, as a vacation, should have company.

Now, when it comes to avoiding crime as a solo woman traveler, you should first take a look at your outfits. Be considerate about the country’s culture, first of all, and then be aware of the fact that, while traveling, the last thing you want to do is dress in a provocative manner. Be decent, so to say, when choosing your outfit so that no one feels like approaching you. Some may just ask you out for a date, while other may have more malicious intents that you don’t want to deal with!

Jewellery is another issue. As mentioned above, you don’t want to draw attention to you. This implies simple clothing, minimal amount of jewellery, just a couple of gadgets, a secure backpack to keep your wallet and the aforementioned gadgets, and awareness of your surroundings. Naturally, walking alone during the night and/ or visiting night-clubs and bars is not recommended at all. If you want to drink something and maybe get a bit tipsy as a solo woman traveler, you should stick to the bar within your accommodation.

Rape Risk in Suriname: VERY LOW

According to various sources, the risk of rape in Suriname is very low – meaning that there have been no reports of tourists that experienced something like this. The two problems that the country is facing right now are homicide and child maltreatment.

  • How to avoid getting raped in Suriname?

However, being on your toes at all times is recommended. And in case something unfortunate happens, you should go and alert the authorities as soon as possible. You should also keep a close eye on your traveling companions and don’t get separated.

Risks for People Traveling with Children in Suriname: LOW

The risk of kidnapping is low in Suriname; therefore you shouldn’t be worried about anything happening to your child. Still, you should keep an eye close on him or them to be sure they are safe at all times.

There’s also an outspread of Zika virus – so if you are a female that’s pregnant or planning to get pregnant, or have children, you should avoid traveling to Suriname right now.

Again, if anything unfortunate happens, don’t resist the attackers as they might be armed, and head straight to the authorities.

  • How to avoid unwanted scenarios?

On top of what’s been mentioned above, you should also know that traveling with your children implies keeping an eye on them at all times. As you’ve noticed so far, Suriname is not that dangerous of a country. Therefore, you may stumble across large groups of tourists or crowds of people in general. It goes without saying that children will have a very easy time getting lost in a crowd if someone is not paying attention to them.

This is why it is highly recommended that you are not the lone adult, so to speak, when traveling with children. Have friends or family accompany you so that when you are shopping for souvenirs or going to the bathroom, your child will still be taken care of. As specified, they have a very low chance of getting kidnapped – on the other hand, keep in mind that children are the best when it comes to making themselves invisible, so to speak.

Natural Disaster Risks in Suriname: MEDIUM to HIGH

Yet another thing on our Suriname safety travel tips is the risk of natural disasters. As stated here, Suriname is prone to floods, which come with a 100% mortality rate when they occur.

This happens mostly on rainy seasons and in the capital, Paramaribo. The risk of roads getting flooded during these periods is also very high – as well as the health risk, so you should keep your personal hygiene in a perfect condition by washing your hands every time before and after you eat.

Transportation Risks in Suriname: LOW to MEDIUM

When it comes to transportation, Suriname is a relatively safe country. However, reports show that most of the country’s drivers have a poor sense of the road, making driving difficult for foreigners. On top of that, roads come with frequent hazards, poor conditions, as well as inadequate lighting. It is recommended that, if you plan on driving while in Suriname, you approach a defensive driving style and limit the time you spend driving during the night.

Driving at night comes with more risks than usual – cyclists that don’t have lights on their bikes, pedestrians on the side of the road, as well as stray animals. Stay within the speed limit and drive slower if the road you are on is in poor condition.

On the other hand, if you plan on using taxis as your means of transportation, you should use those from reputable companies. Do not hail them from the roadside. If you want information about the good, trusted taxi companies of the area you are in, you can seek out some advice from your accommodation’s staff or from your tour guide.

Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Suriname: LOW to MEDIUM

So far, there are no reports of serious incidents taking place in such locations. As mentioned above, Suriname is quite safe and doesn’t come with risks that should make you reconsider visiting the country. You have, however, to be cautious and aware of your surroundings at all times.

Before visiting a night-clubs, pub, or bar, it is recommended that you check for reviews online or even ask your accommodation’s staff for opinions. They will be able to tell you if a certain pub is located in a bad part of the city or not. You should also avoid visiting such locations during the night. We know it may be exciting to see the nightlife of a particular country but, unless you are accompanied by a medium-large group of people, you should not stay up until late, so to speak.

The only area you may visit during the night, according to various sources, is the entertainment center around the Torarica Hotel. On the other hand, the Palm Garden area of Paramaribo is said to be rather dangerous and should be avoided once the sun sets.

Overall, exploring the inner city – so to speak – usually comes with no issues for tourists, as long as they take the necessary, minimum safety measures and apply them at all times, no matter the circumstances.

Health Risks in Suriname

The country of Suriname has been classified as having a risk of transmission for the Zika virus. It is essential that you consult with your doctor and take the appropriate measures to avoid and prevent coming in contact with this virus. Suriname also comes with risks such as Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Malaria, Dengue, and Schistosomiasis. Again, consult with your doctor and make sure to make the required vaccines – listed below – before you visit the country.

To avoid most of the above conditions, do your best to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Given that you may have a hard time finding an effective bug repellent within the country, you should bring one with you from your home country.

In terms of medical facilities, they are severely limited in the country. It is highly recommended that you travel with proper travel health insurance and have enough funds on you to cover the costs of anything from medicine to treatment, evacuation, medical emergencies, and so on. The city of Paramaribo is home of the only non-stop medical facility in the country – the Academish Ziekenhuis.

We mentioned having enough funds with you mainly because not all medical facilities of Suriname will accept payment from the insurance companies. In most cases, as a foreigner, you will be required to pay for your treatment in advance and then claim it back from your insurer.

If you require medical assistance, dial 115. In case you are referred for treatment to one of the country’s medical facilities, you should inform your insurer or medical assistance company of your situation as soon as possible.

List of Vaccines You Need in Suriname

In order to avoid any medical condition during your visit in this country, you should have marked as checked the following vaccines on your Suriname safety guide, as well as taking precautions for some of them listed as viral illnesses:

  • MMR Primary Boosters
  • Tetanus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Yellow Fever
  • Malaria
  • Chikungunya
  • Dengue Fever

It is also recommended that you entirely avoid the local water supply and inspect carefully the bottled water you might buy before consuming it.

Most Dangerous Areas in Suriname

  • Palm Garden – Palmentium – area of Paramaribo – especially during the night.
  • The border areas with French Guiana.
  • The cities of Moengo and Albine – lawlessness and theft issues.

Concluding Remarks: Is Suriname Safe to Visit?

If you’re wondering if Suriname is safe to visit – then the answer is yes, as long as you take the necessary measures to keep safe. You should do common things when visiting this country, such as leaving your valuables and most important papers back at your hotel and avoid crowded places.

While the rates of criminality are quite high, you should have no problems enjoying a trip through the jungles of Suriname if you are on high alert and very careful.

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