The best way to stay safe in Benin is to always always always be in the presence of a local person whom you can trust, such as a friend or even a hired tourist guide. They know which areas are safe, they know the prices of things, they speak the native languages, and they know which venues sell good food that is safe for westerners. For women, avoid travelling alone, try to be in the company of other people as much as possible. Do not travel at night alone, attacks along the beaches are frequent, and of course near hotels, nightclubs and other venues. Ignore any person who whistles at you during the night if you are alone. Benin is a peaceful country and the people are very kind and generous, but that being said muggings and robberies occur everywhere no matter how peaceful the place so be on guard. If you are a victim of a crime, contact the Gendarme Police immediately.
Watch what you eat/drink and where you eat/drink it. If you are going to eat street food, make sure it is served very very hot, since bacteria will not live in hot food. The most common causes of sickness is e.coli bacteria found in undercooked meat. Drinking water is readily available, if you want bottled water there is "Possatome"- a natural spring water bottled in the city with the same name. It is very good and about 500 CFA a bottle. In Cotonou, the tap water is safe to drink but is treated with chlorine which some people may be sensitive to. Malaria is a reality in Benin. Mosquitoes appear from dusk to dawn, standing water is conducive to mosquito breeding; and anti-malarial pills are available by prescription only. The only compulsory vaccination needed to enter the country is against Yellow Fever. The customs agents at the airport generally do not check to see if you have it, but it is strongly advised to get it before entering for your own health. Along with vaccines against polio, hepatitis A and B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Lock Jaw, Rabies and all the other standard childhood vaccines as per Canadian public school standards. AIDS is an issue in Benin as in all sub-Saharan African countries; use of a condom is highly recommended if entering into a sexual relationship with a Beninese partner. Other risks pertaining to unprotected sex are the same as in any other country whether developed or not: Syphilis, Chlamydia, HPV, etc. If traveling to Benin it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you speak to a doctor who specializes in travel. Ask your family doctor or public health nurse for the name of a travel clinic in your area. Go to them about 6 months prior to travel to Benin if possible. This information is designed as a guide and should not be taken as an expert account on how to stay healthy in Benin, only a licensed health professional can provide such information.
Visas are not required by the following nationalities:Algeria, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Côte D'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Taiwan, and Togo.
Visas can be single entry $40USD or multiple entry $45USD and last 30 days. Visas cost $140 for US citizens. In Paris, single entry visa costs EUR 70 for all EU citizens.
Unlike before, visa on arrival at land border crossings with a possibility for an extension is not possible anymore unless maybe when in transit in between Nigeria/Togo. A visa can be applied for in Lome before Friday and collected on Friday after 3pm. The cost is 10.000 for a 2 week single entry visa, requiring 2 pictures and maybe even proof of future onward journeys like a plane ticket.
Office de Tourisme d'Abomey et Région - Official site of the tourist information of Abomey and the region with much info about history, vodun, thematical city tours, excursions, hotels, etc., plus the possibility to make online-reservations of all products.
Office de Tourisme de Ouidah - Official site of the tourist information of the old coastal town of Ouidah with information abou where to stay, to eat, what to do, historical background, etc.
Parc National de la Pendjari and Maison Pendjari - Information about the Pandjari National Parc and possibility of online-reservations via the Maison Pendjari, the tourist information based in Tanguiéta.
Bénin Découverte - Local tour operator hotelier who offers also measured tours through the neighbouring countries.