In any accommodation, check the shower fitting. A rather dangerous type manufactured in Brazil is popular, which contains an ungrounded 4kW electric heater. DO NOT touch the fitting when in use, they have been known to give severe electric shocks. Better still, switch the power off there should be a nearby circuit breaker and have a cold shower. Be similarly cautious with any other type of electrical shower heater.
Risks are much the same as many other countries in Africa and significantly less than some, including parts of South Africa. Nevertheless muggings, robberies, rape and murder do occur, so the normal precautions should be taken. Women absolutely should never walk alone on beaches, in recent years, attacks on women have grown in tourist areas. In particular it's worth checking with local hostels and other travellers as to where dangerous areas are.
But in general the Mozambican people are extremely warm and friendly and you will encounter far less hassle than in almost all of the countries surrounding it.
Violence between FRELIMO and RENAMO has erupted recently, with many South African tourists having been attacked. The violence is only evident north of Vilanculos. If you stay south of this, you should be clear of any violence. Consult your local Ministry of Foreign Affairs for further information and to ensure that travel to Mozambique is still safe. It is advised that your report your presence to your country's embassy in Maputo or consulate in another major city upon your arrival in Mozambique.
Get all your vaccine shots before arriving.
Medical facilities in Mozambique are now generally reasonably stocked, but it is always worth getting a range of vaccinations before you leave; prevention is better than the cure. It is worth considering carrying some clean needles if you are visiting out-of-the-way areas, as remote medical facilities may have problems getting hold of them.
Do not drink tap water or use any ice.
South of the Zambezi river that divides the country, Mozambique is much more developed, especially around Maputo, tourist areas such as Inhambane and the industrial city of Beira. Here, especially in built-up areas, it is safe to drink the tap water, hence water in this area is marketed as "mineral water" and not "drinking water" and is sold at an inflated price as a semi-luxury item sometimes for as much as 50 or 60 Meticais in backpackers lodges and restaurants. The infrastructure in the north of the country is much less developed and, as such, caution must be exercised, especially in rural areas and the area near Palma and bordering Tanzania. The tap water is usually safe to drink in the main cities such as Nampula and Pemba, and on Mozambique Island. If you are ever unsure about the quality of the tap water, water-purifying liquids normally chlorine-based are widely available and very cheap, costing around 40 cents for a large bottle. The most popular brand is "Certeza", and it is easy to find. You could also consider bringing puri-tabs if you are planning on going well off the beaten track.
is essential in all parts of Mozambique. Chloroquine/Paludrine are now as ineffective as in other parts of east Africa, and it's worth going to see your doctor to get decent protection. If you are in country and suspect you have malaria, there are clinics in every town that will administer a test for approximately 50Mts. The treatment also costs 50Mts if the test comes out positive.
Internet is widely available in Maputo, with many internet cafes and all major hotels having internet access. All service providers mCel, Vodacom and Movitel have introduced internet to cellphone and USB modems. However, Movitel USB modems are the most widespread and you will find 3G speeds in most areas, however frequent disconnection is an issue. See above for further information. Outside Maputo internet coverage is sporadic and mostly available in places frequented by tourists. Local Telecommunication de Mozambique TDM offices almost always have internet although speed and availability can be problematic.
The official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, though many people speak English in the capital Maputo and in touristy areas. The further north you travel the less likely you are to encounter English speakers, and as you enter more rural areas even Portuguese is limited.
Swahili is useful in the far north of the country as you get close to Tanzania, especially along the coast, and Nyanja is spoken near the border with Malawi and Zambia. Some native words from the Shona language can be useful if you are traveling near Cabora Bassa.
mCel (http://www.mcel.co.mz/) is the state-owned provider, and there are two other telecom service providers in the country, the South-African owned Vodacom Mozambique (http://www.vm.co.mz/) and Movitel. GPRS data and internet are available on mCel, with 3G in Maputo and other main cities. The APN for Internet is isp.mcel.mz and for WAP it is wap.mcel.mz with an IP address 10.1.4.35. Vodacom have 3G in many towns and GPRS Edge elsewhere. The APN is internet. Movitel has the best network by far in the bush and if you are looking to travel off-the-track, then a prepaid Movitel SIM card will definitely be handy. Check your phone manual for setting instructions. The mCel service is not entirely reliable, especially outside Maputo. Vodacom is generally very good in most areas except North Mozambique - where it is present in towns only. While it is OK to buy credit from the hundreds of vendors roaming the streets wearing mCel or Vodacom shirts you should never buy SIM cards / starter packs, in many cases they sell them at hugely inflated prices and often they will be from one of the many recalled batches that no longer work. Any mobile phone store can sell you a working starter pack for around 50Mts. As of August 2013, the prices of SIM Cards had come down to 10 Mzn retail, and issues with old SIM cards not working had almost entirely vanished. You could buy a few of them as the companies wait 15-30 days to organize and verify the documentation.
There are many FM stations in Maputo, offering a variety of music and speech. Away from the capital, Radio Mozambique will be heard in many places and BBC World Service have their English/Portuguese service in the main cities. There are numerous small community radio stations serving smaller towns/villages.
A new radio station called LM Radio Lifetime Music Radio, broadcasts in English on 87.8 FM in Maputo and Matola. The radio station offers a wide range of music from the 60s, 70s and 80s together with a blend of modern day music in the same style and flavor. The radio station also provides regular travel and safety tips for visitors to Mozambique. Don't expect too much to do with your radio once outside Southern Mozambique's Maputo area.
While most of the country has been cleared there is still an on-going risk in rural areas away from the EN1 in Sofala, Tete, Manica, Gaza, Inhambane and Maputo provinces. It should be noted that only 2 or 3 incidents a year occur with landmines and they are all well outside the tourist trail.
Prostitution is legal throughout the country, however because of the high rate of HIV/AIDS, it should be in best interest to avoid it, as it is not regulated well. If you choose to indulge in it, its best to avoid prostitutes that are below the legal age of consent, as punishments can be severe. Prostitution among children is a major problem in Mozambique.
The police in Mozambique should be looked at with a wary eye, and placing trust in them should only be done as a very last resort.
Insisting on being taken to a police station is unlikely to improve your situation, with the exception of Maputo. The police have been known to rob tourists blind and throw them in a cell. Instead, mention contacting your embassy or the anti-corruption hot line to verify a fine, and always ask for a receipt.
If you have cause to go to a police station e.g., filing a police report for insurance purposes after a theft do not take any valuables or excessive currency with you, and try to always go with someone else.
In Mozambique the speed limit in town is 60km/h unless contrary road signs and 100km/h or 120km/h elsewhere. There are numerous mobile speed traps on the EN1, often in areas where you don't imagine the speed limit has dropped. Be very alert to speed limits on this highway as the police are very effective in stopping motorists who do not reduce speed quick enough, or who started accelerating too early coming out of a small town before the increased speed limit. It is a challenge to drive from Maputo to Vilanculos without getting stopped at least once, even if you try your best to obey the speed limits.
When dealing with the Mozambican police never suggest a bribe; simply listen to whatever lecture they care to give, and ask "What can we do about this?". Often they will simply let you go. If they do ask for a bribe, the amount is entirely negotiable and can range from a bottle of cola for carrying no identification up to several hundred USD for minor drug infractions.
By law you must carry a form of identification with you at all times and present it to the police on request. As a result you should carry a notarized copy of your passport photo page, visa and entry stamp with you at all times. Ask your hotel where to locate a notary or contact your local embassy as soon as you enter the country. In Maputo, there is one on Av. Lenine, close to Mimmo's, and another on Av. Armando Tivane one block west of Av. Nyerere between Av. Mao Tse-Tung and Av. 24 de Julho. They are not particularly easy to find; ask around.
If you are asked for identification by the police and you do not have a notarized copy, under no circumstances give them your passport. If you do, then it will likely cost you a great deal of money to get it back. Often simply talking to them a while will get them to go away.