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Getting In and Around
: Although Ethiopian tourist visas may be available upon travelers’ arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, we strongly recommend obtaining an Ethiopian visa prior to your vacation to prevent any delay or confusion.
: There is a very efficient minibus system that services the entire capital. There is little for the tourist or foreigner to worry about while riding these buses as they are rarely overcrowded and it is unusual for a foreigner to be charged an inflated rate.
Taxis in Addis Ababa are very cheap and can be found outside the airport and popular hotels. Be prepared to bargain with drivers.
Safety and Security
Addis Ababa is notorious for being one of the African capitals with the worst rates of petty theft, con tricks, and scams, especially against tourists. However, violent crime is unusual.
Always have your wits about you and watch for pickpockets, especially in crowded areas and at popular tourist destinations. Keep important items like passports and excess cash in a safe place.
Before traveling to Addis Ababa, check out the U.S. Department of State’s consular website for travel warnings concerning the capital.
The Top 4: Local Advice
1. Addis Ababa is located in the center of Ethiopia, sitting on a plateau at an altitude of 2,400 meters. You may experience mild altitude sickness upon arrival: be sure to drink plenty of water, take pain medication if appropriate and necessary (don't forget to get medical advice for anything serious), and get lots of rest if you’re feeling under the weather.
2. Most places in Addis Ababa do not accept credit cards, except large hotels such as the Sheraton and Hilton. ATMs at these locations are not guaranteed to work, so make sure to always have extra cash on you (but be careful of pickpockets in the city). Exchange foreign currency into Ethiopian birr at authorized banks and never on the black market as that can result in heavy fines or even imprisonment. Some hotels and car rental agencies will accept foreign currency.
3. Be careful what you snap shots of while wandering around the capital. Ethiopian law prohibits photography of military, government, and industrial infrastructure. If you are unsure whether or not you can photograph something, ask a local.
4. Most streets are unmarked or have multiple names, which can make navigating the city confusing. Having an up-to-date map is essential to your success at getting around. Try to take note of landmarks around you. If you need to travel to a certain destination, describing landmarks will help taxi drivers if you decide to take a car.