South Africa : Safety by CitySouth Africa - safety as a country
Bloemfontein is known as the City of Roses.
It got its fond name because of the many rose bushes in gardens, parks, and along the city’s streets.
The translation from Afrikaans is “fountain of flowers.”
Bloemfontein is the capital city and the largest city in the Free State province of South Africa.
It is also considered to be the judicial capital, even though the Constitutional Court is located in Johannesburg.
Some sources claim that a British major founded Bloem, but there were already several groups of people living in and around Bloemfontein.
Those groups included the ǀHũdiǁʼaes, Einiǁʼaes, and other people.
Bloemfontein, located on a high plateau, is on the southern edge of the Highveld.
It is a major tourist area because of its history and the many things to do when visiting the city.
Travelers need to learn safety precautions, know where to visit, where to stay away from, and general information before visiting Bloemfontein.
Warnings & Dangers in Bloemfontein
OVERALL RISK: HIGH
Thousands of people visit Bloemfontein and other areas of South Africa each year and have a wonderful time. It is of the utmost importance that travelers heed any warnings provided by the U.S. State Department and other official agencies before traveling to Bloemfontein. The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory update on November 7, 2023, listing South Africa as a Level 2 Travel Advisory. A Level 2 Travel Advisory means that travelers should “exercise increased caution.” The reason for the advisory update is because of civil unrest and high rates of crime in South Africa, including in Bloemfontein.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Bloemfontein has many taxi companies that are safe for travelers. Do not get into any taxi parked on a road or at a tourist destination. Call the taxi or transport company, or use the app. Taxi drivers became disgruntled after they felt that the popularity of buses and other transport services hurt their business. One thing to consider when deciding on the best mode of transport is the fact that South Africa has notoriously bad roads. Travelers who drive in Bloemfontein should not rely on GPS routes. The GPS may lead visitors to unsafe routes because it may suggest shortcuts, which take visitors to high crime rate areas.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: HIGH
Petty theft crimes are common throughout much of South Africa, including in Bloemfontein. Pickpockets are common in large cities, primarily because of the poverty and the opportunity. Visitors to Bloemfontein need to be aware of the pickpocket risk and protect their cash, wallet, and purse from would-be pickpockets.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: HIGH
The risk of natural disasters, and their effect on people, structures, roads, and overall safety is an ongoing concern for residents and visitors to Bloemfontein. The risk for flooding is very high, with seemingly little effort to invest in preventative measures. Reports of flooding and the considerable damage caused by floods date back decades in and around Bloemfontein. A 2019 report from SABC News indicated that the Free State government admitted that the government was “not ready” for natural disaster management.
MUGGING RISK: HIGH
The risk of becoming a mugging victim or a victim of other violent crimes is high in Bloemfontein. The U.S. State Department specifically lists mugging as one of the crimes that is common in South Africa. The risk of mugging is higher in business districts, especially after dark.
TERRORISM RISK: HIGH
Travelers who visit Bloemfontein should take precautions to know the terrorism risk when they travel because it may change from day to day. Terrorism does not affect one group of people who live in or visit the area. Terrorism in and around Bloemfontein has happened during and after political elections, kidnappings of foreign nationals, and against various groups of people. The United Nations indicated in 2022 that the growth of terrorist activities is a major threat in Africa and that it is a threat to global security and peace.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
Various types of scams are common in Bloemfontein and other areas of South Africa. One scam is related to driver’s license scams. Another common scam is related to social media. Fake landlords attempt to rent properties to unsuspecting Bloemfontein residents or tourists. Visitors should protect themselves by knowing common scams. Visit trusted websites, and do not fall for offers to get a credit card or rent a property when visiting Bloemfontein.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: HIGH
Women need to be especially cautious when traveling to Bloemfontein. Rapes and other violent crimes occur frequently in South Africa. The area ranks high among global statistics for murder and rape crimes. Cities in South Africa, including Bloem, are not safe for women who travel alone and visit sites or destinations alone. Women who want to visit Bloemfontein to explore its beauty and sites will likely increase their safety if they book a tour.
TAP WATER RISK: HIGH
The city sites that are responsible for the safety of tap water indicate that the water is safe to drink. The information provided by the city, indicating that the water safety exceeds the local and international standards, differs from reports from other sources. Green Bloemfontein explains that although the city of Bloemfontein achieved safe standards for its water, it only achieved “generally safe, but with inadequate monitoring standards." The tap water in some nearby areas is considered unsafe to drink. Visitors likely want to have bottled water to drink when visiting Bloem and avoid tap water.
Safest Places to Visit in Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein takes pride in its many sites and things to do that delight visitors and residents.
The city maintains the historical sites and structures so that people learn about the history and the important people of Bloemfontein.
J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, was born in Bloemfontein.
A plaque commemorates his birthplace in Bloemfontein.
The National Museum contains items that showcase the art, natural history, and culture of Bloemfontein.
See Stone Age tools and tools from South African indigenous tribes.
Naval Hill is the first digital planetarium in sub-Saharan Africa.
Visitors also see the Boyden Observatory in the same building.
Franklin Game Reserve provides awe-inspiring views of nature and the opportunity to see African animals.
Bloemfontein’s visitors see zebras, antelopes, giraffes, ostriches, and various bird species.
The Anglo-Boer War Museum contains artifacts, photographs, and paintings that commemorate the conflict between Great Britain and the Boer Republics of the Transvaal, and the Orange Free State.
The National Women’s Memorial, located outside the museum, commemorates the 26,000 women and children who died in the prisoner of war camps.
The annual Mangaung Roses Festival takes place in October of every year.
It celebrates the City of Roses heritage of Bloemfontein.
Thousands of residents and visitors attend the annual parade and festival.
Places to Avoid in Bloemfontein
Stay away from neighborhoods that travel groups or local officials warn are unsafe for visitors.
Some neighborhoods in Bloemfontein have many vacant homes and businesses, which may invite crime.
Neighborhoods with high poverty rates tend to have more crime.
Do not go to the downtown business district after dark alone.
Travelers need to stay with their group, whether engaging in the many nightlife and entertainment options or visiting popular tourist destinations.
Travelers should not accept rides or offers from strangers to walk with the visitor to show them how to get to a destination.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Bloemfontein
- Check the U.S. State Department before you go. Check the U.S. State Department website for the latest travel advisory level before traveling to Bloemfontein, South Africa. The travel advisory level may change suddenly because of heightened crime risks or civil unrest.
- Travel with a tour group. Many tour groups offer exciting trips to Bloemfontein. Check for your interests, whether you prefer to explore game reserves or see the sites of the city.
- Do not accept offers for public transport from unknown companies. Do not accept rides from individuals or bus drivers whose vehicles are not properly labeled as a reputable transport company. Visitors should never get into a vehicle that they did not order, either by reserving it from the company’s app or by calling the company on the phone.
- Watch for sudden protests and demonstrations. The U.S. State Department warns that visitors to South Africa should watch for sudden strikes, protests, and demonstrations. Check for these risks before traveling to the city, and before venturing out while in Bloemfontein.
- Guard your cash. Travelers should never show their cash when paying for an item at one of the many stores, restaurants, shops, or destinations in Bloemfontein. Take only the cash that you think you need when venturing out around town.
- Get your own card back. Credit card theft and scams are common around the globe, including in Bloemfontein. Look at your credit card when you get it back after making a purchase. Make sure that it is your card. Do not allow a merchant or other person to disappear with your card.
- Keep documents secure. Always carry a copy of your passport and visa when visiting Bloemfontein. Keep the original documents in a secure location.
- Hide your wallet. Do not carry your wallet or purse in a way that makes you a target of pickpockets. Keep your purse over your body in a cross-body style. Place your wallet in an inside pocket.
- Check hotel ratings and reviews. Do not book a hotel just because it offers a great deal. It could be in a high-crime area. Check hotel ratings and reviews before booking your hotel.
- Abide by local laws. Do not violate any of Bloemfontein’s laws during your visit. Show respect for the law and the people. Visitors do not want to be locked up in a South African jail.
So... How Safe Is Bloemfontein Really?
Thousands of people visit Bloemfontein without any bad experiences.
It is a beautiful place, with a lot of things for travelers to see and do.
The crime rate, particularly the incidence of violent crimes, civil unrest, and terrorism risks concern U.S. and international agencies.
Checking the U.S. State Department site and local news reports will help visitors improve their safety.
Be aware of your surroundings and leave your valuables at home.
Women should always travel with someone and should have someone with them when they go out to see the sites or to shop at the many stores.
How Does Bloemfontein Compare?
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Visitors must apply for a visa before visiting South Africa. The South African government issues visas for visitors. It is good for 90 days. Airlines must insist that travelers have a valid visa before they board because visas are not issued at ports of entry. Travelers from the U.S. do not need a visa for a short-term holiday. They do need a valid passport.
The Rand is the currency of South Africa. Plan ahead for converting your U.S. dollars into South African currency so that you pay the fewest fees. Exchange your money at your bank or credit union for the fewest fees. You can also see if your bank has a branch in Bloemfontein.
Summers in Bloemfontein are warm to hot and often wet. Winter temperatures are cold and dry. Check the forecast before leaving on your trip. Take extra clothing in case the weather forecast changes in Bloemfontein.
The primary airport in Bloemfontein is the Bram Fischer International Airport. The airport runways are shared with AFB Bloemspruit. Take a taxi directly from the airport to your hotel.
Purchasing travelers' insurance is important for visitors to Bloemfontein. Get a quote before making your purchase.
Bloemfontein Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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South Africa - Safety by City