Durban is one of the cities in South Africa that may trick you into thinking you’re in Europe or America.
However, though it looks very modern and safe, it is not. It’s supposed to be one of the safest cities in South Africa, but unfortunately, even so, the crime rates aren’t low.
The city of Durban is located on the east coast of South Africa in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and in the municipality of eThekwini. It’s the third largest city in South Africa and the busiest port in Africa.
Durban has plenty of activities and sightseeing to offer, but tourist are mostly interested in The Golden Mile, the complex of beaches near downtown that go along the Indian Ocean.
These beaches are famous for excellent surfing opportunities and wide sandy beaches.
An added bonus if you visit off season is that you’ll practically have the place to yourself.
Warnings & Dangers in Durban
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
As amazingly fun and exciting Durban might be, you should be aware of the many dangers that await the unsuspecting tourists. This city has extremely high rates of crime. You should be vigilant and take all possible precaution measures in order to minimize the risk of something going wrong.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Public transport in South Africa is the scene of many criminal activities. Be aware of criminals waiting around at Johannesburg and Cape Town airports and then following tourists to their accommodation with a goal to rob them. There have also been reports of luggage thefts at the airports. Rails and metro trains are also the locations where assaults and robberies have occurred.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Pickpocketing has been on a decline during the past couple of years. Still, the most risky locations where you may encounter petty theft are crowded places such as markets, public transport and bus and train stations.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
South Africa is often the victim of many natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, storms and wildfires. One of the bigger floods in South Africa occurred in 2011 killing 91 people.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Mugging and robberies are a much bigger issue in this country than petty theft. In Durban, it is not as big of an issue as in other cities of South Africa. And though usually the motive of these incidents is theft, rape is sadly not uncommon at all, so female tourists should be particularly cautious.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Durban may become a victim of occasional tsunamis coming from the Indian Ocean. Another danger are floods. One of the bigger floods in South Africa occurred in 2011 killing 91 people.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
There are a couple of popular scams, one of them involving criminals posing as "tourist police" with a goal to rob visitors. They are known to stop tourist buses, saying that they're checking identification and searching luggage. However there's no such thing as "tourist police" in South Africa, so be on the lookout. Then there are so-called "strollers", and they can be anyone from children to junkies. Their only goal is to rob you blind so keep your valuables well hidden.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Though many female travelers went to Durban and had no problems at all, this country might not be the safest choice for female solo travelers. Be very careful at night and avoid risky situations such as winding up in deserted and poorly lit streets or finding yourself in an unknown area with strange people.
So... How Safe Is Durban Really?
Though Durban is a very dangerous city, the areas near the beach are secured. The beach strip is frequently visited by policemen, and there are CCTV cameras apart from it being brightly lit.
Since there are poor areas in this city, it is not at all uncommon to hear about muggings and armed robberies.
And though usually the motive of these crimes is theft, rape also occurs from time to time, which is especially relevant for female visitors.
There have also been reports of food and drink spiking, with victims ending up being assaulted and robbed after the incident.
However, what is more important than knowing what kind of crimes tend to occur in Durban, is knowing the areas and hotspots where they’re more likely to occur.
The promenade along the beach, for example, is safe to visit, but be sure to blend in and not go to the side and back roads of the hotels.
The usually busy central business district is empty after dark, so it’s best to avoid it.
At night, it is highly recommended to stick to the main streets and not go out on look walks after dark unless you are very familiar with the places you’re going.
- Visas - While U.S. citizens visiting Durban for tourism purposes do not need a visa for any stays shorter than ninety days, along with many other countries, there are some nationals that do need a visa in order to enter South Africa. Make sure your passports are valid for at least 30 days past your planned date of return from South Africa. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - South African rand is the official currency in Durban. ATMs can be found throughout the country and credit cards are widely accepted.
- Weather - Durban has subtropical climate, characterized by hot and humid summers and pleasantly warm and dry winters, which are snow- and frost-free.
- Airports - King Shaka International Airport is the primary airport serving Durban, South Africa. It is located in La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal, approximately 35 km north of the city centre of Durban,
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Durban, since it covers not only the costs medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.