If you clicked on this article, it means that you would fancy visiting Ghana, or you’ve heard about how amazing it is but you’re not that sure of how safe it is and how can you avoid any sort of unfortunate events.
It is said that Ghana is a West African Gem with a lot of incredible places to visit, with breathtaking views and amazing African safaris. But how safe is Ghana for tourists though?
Although it can be a beautiful experience, you would not be wrong if you might be having certain concerns when it comes to the safety of this country. How safe it really is for a tourist? Is it worth the experience? If you’re curious to find more answers to this question, we kindly invite you to carefully read this article and you will for sure find out the answer to every single question you might have had prior to this.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Ghana
Overall Risks in Ghana: Medium
There are certain areas in Ghana that are riskier than the others, but in general, it is recommended to be precautious, but in the normal ranges, due to certain criminal acts in some cities. It is important to stay safe and avoid areas that seem sketchy or you’ve heard that they should be avoided.
In most cases, the country may seem secure and you won’t feel like there is any danger around you, because you will feel welcomed by the locals. On the other hand, if danger occurs, sometimes the police may take too long to answer and get you the help you need – so this can be kind of frustrating if anything happens to you in Ghana.
Moreover, these violent or crimes scenes do not happen in every single city in Ghana, but in certain areas that we advise you to avoid if you’re traveling there. You never know what incidents can take place in front of you or to you, due to the higher chances of risk. The cities are in Accra, more specifically in these specific places: Sukura, Nima, Ashaiman, Sowutuom, and others.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Ghana: Medium to High
There can be other incidents such as thefts and pickpocketing, especially on the beach so try avoiding going there on your own or to really crowded places. This is one of their main issues because the risk of actual violent attacks isn’t that high.
Furthermore, there are a lot of reported cases of theft at the airport – individuals will steal one’s luggage and documents directly from the airport, especially at the Kotoka Airport and in the accommodations: hotels or bed and breakfast. It is highly recommended to keep all your valuable possessions on you at all costs and to pay attention when you are in crowded places; always lock your room before leaving and keep an eye out for suspicious people.
In the last few years, there have been reported a noticeable amount of petty crimes, especially in Accra so it would be best for you not to wander the streets at night, especially by yourself because you can easily be a target. Moreover, try avoiding the areas I’ve mentioned above alongside Teshie-Nungua Road or The Beach Area.
Even if it’s not the most encouraging advice or aspect to think about, if it happens for you to be in such a horrible incident, it is highly recommended to rigorously follow the attackers’ commands, because they do have the tendency to hurt their victims – as reports say.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Ghana?
As mentioned above, you will have to keep an eye out for anything suspicious around you. Moreover, you shouldn't carry valuables, expensive items, or large amounts of cash with you, as they may attract unwanted attention, especially if you decide to flash them while traveling. Things like smartphones, cameras, or a thick wallet, so to speak, will most likely attract petty thieves that will follow and try to rob you.
Stay away from any remote or shady areas and don't interact with anyone that seems to try to get your attention too hard - petty thieves often work in groups, where one of them distracts you while the other steals from your backpack or purse. Speaking of backpacks, make sure to never keep them on your back. Instead, have them in front of you or on your side, as thieves will have a much harder time pickpocketing you - and, if they try, you will most likely notice it.
Scam Risk in Ghana: Medium
Scams are a pretty often recurrence. There have been an increasing amount of scams reports in Ghana. How does it work? Well, it depends. Sometimes, people can portray themselves as somebody else – for instance, they can pose at taxi drivers, take you from the airport and then ask you for a lot of money and if you do not do, as they say, this may turn out to be a robbery, not necessarily a scam.
Also, another occurrence that can take place at the airport is for someone to act like an airport staff and then take your luggage and steal you, or tell you that your luggage has been lost and ask you for money – there are a lot of ways they can do it.
Another way they can scam people is over the phone, by portraying themselves as someone that works for your country institution, asking you for money, in order to get something fixed with your documents, or as a police officer that presents you a law, according to which you need to pay a fee or something similar. In order to make sure everything is legitimate, always ask for identification and double check it on the institution website. If that’s not possible, you need to know that any ID or badge has a picture and the name and you should never believe someone that only shows you a card with their name on it, because that can easily be forged.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Ghana?
How could you avoid these scams? Try not to trust anybody without further verification. Furthermore, if you have the opportunity of being safer, such as ordering a taxi instead of calling one out from the streets – so you would know who your driver is and in case of anything you can report the scammer.
It’s important to be vigilant of what is happening around you. These people are really good at it and at first, you may not even realize what is happening.
Kidnapping Risk in Ghana: MEDIUM
According to several sources, there have been reports of occasional kidnappings in Ghana, mainly criminally-motivated kidnappings. The regions with most reports/ cases are Kumasi, Accra, and Takoradi. What's worrying is that foreign nationals have been targeted by such incidents as well, making it quite dangerous to keep yourself safe if you travel to one of the mentioned locations.
Keep in mind that, even though kidnaps are usually used for political or financial gain, they can also be motivated by criminality. In such case, be aware of the fact that you being kidnapped might not ensure your protection or your safe release. It is better to do your best not to get into such a situation.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Ghana?
Long story short, we strongly recommend you to stay within the areas that are recommended for tourists and to not travel alone or in small groups. Naturally, all remote, deserted, or shady areas should be visited with a guide or within a tour only. If you stick to the city's main areas and avoid exploring your surroundings on your own, you shouldn't be approached by anyone that has the intention to kidnap you.
Naturally, do your best to avoid the areas we have mentioned, even though you are in a group. If you are traveling there with a tour guide, make sure to stick close to each other and know your group's whereabouts at all times.
Terrorism Risk in Ghana: Low
Even though these past few years, there hasn’t been any report on terrorism, but if we take the past experiences that Africans had, it’s important to stay observant at all times.
In 2015, there have been some tragic terrorist attacks in open areas in Ghana: Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burkina. In these cases, they attacked beaches and open spaces where most people including tourists were present. Furthermore, they attacked hotels, bars, and restaurants, knowing that most foreigners are there. You should be careful when going to open spaces and if you ever feel you’re in danger, you should immediately leave the premises.
Even though there were no recent signs of any act of terrorism, they can occur but not as often as you would expect. It’s good to see things in perspective and try to stay away from crowded places as much as possible as they are the most targeted places for terrorists.
- How to avoid terrorism in Ghana?
Even though the risk of terrorism is currently low, you should still be cautious - however, not extremely cautious, so to speak. If you want to make sure that you'll avoid any terrorist attacks, all you have to do is keep yourself alert while in crowded places, such as markets or shopping malls. You should apply the same behavior when you are in places of prayer, near official buildings, and city centers.
Keep an eye out for anything suspicious and, if you notice anything, just flee the area and alert the authorities. If any situations that seem to escalate occur, do the same thing - leave the area and either go to a safe place, such as your hotel, or alert the authorities.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Ghana: Medium
Is Ghana safe for solo women travelers? We say it’s a medium risk because women are usually the target for theft and small crimes because they are much more fragile and they cannot really protect themselves as much.
Although there haven’t been a lot of attacks on women on a regular basis, it’s still considerable. Just as in any other country, it’s advised not to go out at night at all, especially alone, because there can be a lot of people that hang out in a group that can be intimidating and does harm.
With that being said, the risk is no different to any other countries. Try avoiding attention, wear clothes that don’t get too much attention so you will be and feel safer. Our advice is to try as much as possible to be nice because people from Ghana tend to be nice with tourists and they make no discriminations – sometimes they are really nice and playful and sometimes they can get pretty pushy and aggressive so you need to see how the atmosphere is in order to act accordingly so you can be 100% safe.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Ghana?
How to avoid any risks? Be aware of the people that are around you. If any men approach you, be firm but as polite as you can, because as I said before they’re probably just trying to get to talk to you – but they don’t have the right attitude. Try not to walk the streets by yourself and if you need to travel from point A to point B, it’s recommended to get the big buses because they are a little bit safer than the others.
Rape Risk in Ghana: LOW to MEDIUM
There is little to no data when it comes to rape or sexual assault reports in Ghana. However, there have been some isolated incidents of sexual assault in the country, mainly in areas that are popular among tourists. Still, theft is considered as being the main issue in Ghana, especially in and around public beaches.
A small group is likely to be mugged while solo or duo travelers might get into more dangerous situations if they are not careful enough while traveling. Going to the beach alone is also not recommended, even if you do so during the day.
- How to avoid getting raped in Ghana?
Avoiding such incidents is quite easy - you just have to pay attention to your surroundings and choose the areas you want to visit carefully. Walking and traveling alone is, of course, not recommended, especially if you plan to visit beaches, bars, or remote areas. You should always be accompanied if you decide to travel outside the vicinity of your accommodation, so to speak.
Also, if you get mugged, it is better to just cooperate with the aggressor rather than risking the situation to escalate. Criminals here can turn quite violent so it is better to just lose some money you had in your wallet and not get injured. Basically, you would want to avoid any dangerous areas while keeping yourself close to a group if you want to avoid any bad thing happening.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Ghana: MEDIUM
Overall, there are no dangerous situations that your children could get themselves into, so to say. However, this doesn't meant that there are no risks at all. First of all, depending on the time you choose to visit Ghana, you may encounter crowds of tourists or a crowded city in general. In this case, you have to look after the little ones and make sure that they don't go missing.
In this respect, we strongly recommend you keep an eye on them at all times. If you can't do so, have someone from your group watch over them. The last thing you want is to find out that your children have gone missing.
Moreover, given the fact that Ghana has poor medical facilities outside towns, you should have prepared a first-aid kit for when you are traveling over long distances. It should contain everything you and your children may need - pain relief pills, band-aids, and so on. Medicine might be also hard to come by, so you will want to have a generous supply, especially if you know your children get head or tummy aches often.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
As mentioned above, avoiding unwanted scenarios is not hard. You just have to keep an eye out for the little ones and make sure that they are safe. It is also recommended that you travel in a decent-sized group if you plan to bring your children with you so that more than just a couple of people can watch over them.
Natural Disaster Risks in Ghana: Low
Even though there is a slight risk of natural disasters, Ghana isn’t that risky when it comes to weather-related events. Most common were floods, storms, rainstorms or droughts, depending on the season. They are sometimes just based on how the weather is like.
In 2015, there were heavy floods in Accra, the capital of Ghana, when the drainage systems were clocked and houses were ruined. It is reported that 25 people died from the floods and more than two hundred died from an incident at a petrol station that exploded due to the flood.
Even though this incident was considerably tragic, the risks aren’t that high in Ghana – there are only some minor incidents. According to The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) the risk raking is at 3.7 from a 10 score.
Transportation Risks in Ghana: MEDIUM
Ghana comes with roads in poor condition, especially in the country's rural areas. Its streets are also prone to accidents as most of them are either poorly lit or not lit at all. Therefore, not only the risk of accidents is greater but also the risk of being robbed - mainly on the roads outside the main towns.
If you plan on driving while in Ghana, then always keep your eyes on the road. Here, locals will mark an accident or hazard by placing leaves or grass on the road. If you see something like this, then you should slow down until you know exactly what's happening.
When it comes to public transportation, Ghana's taxi services are known for their low safety standards. Moreover, there have also been reports of robberies/ muggings taking place in taxis, even in licensed taxis. This is why it is strongly recommended that you thoroughly check the taxi, driver, and company that you are going to use for transportation before getting inside the vehicle - you may want to take a look at the car as well and make sure it is safe enough to ride with.
Obviously, it is advised that you don't drive during the night or rely on other means of transportation, be it licensed or not. However, if you necessarily have to travel, then we recommend you do so accompanied by someone that you can trust.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Ghana: MEDIUM
As you may have noticed so far, most crimes occur in either remote, dangerous areas or in outdoors crowded areas. This being said, there are little to no reports of incidents taking place inside night-clubs, pubs, or bars. It seems that thieves here are mostly opportunists, who don't actually plan their heists, so to speak.
In short, it is more likely that you'll get robbed or pickpocketed while simply walking on the street or traveling with your group. However, this doesn't mean that such things cannot happen in a night-club, pub, or bar. Incidents are not taking place in such locations probably because tourists refrain from visiting them - and this is a smart thing to do!
With a country like Ghana, which has its dangers and risks, it is better to just avoid visiting this type of locations. If you want to spend a night at the bar, then we strongly recommend you using the bar within your accommodation, as you are a very short way from you room if something bad happens.
Health Risks in Ghana
Before deciding on going on a trip to Ghana, you should see your doctor and run a complete check of your health. Why? Because the medical facilities in Ghana don’t have the necessary equipment and medicine in all their hospitals – so if you know you need to take a certain medication, make sure you take the necessary amount with you on the trip and don’t think about buying it from there, because they might not have it.
There is a certain disease that you need to know about before enrolling in this trip – diseases caused by the mosquitoes, such as malaria or yellow fever are pretty common in Ghana. It is highly recommended to do the following: always apply a mosquito repellent, try to wear long sleeves in order to avoid them biting your hands or legs, use a bed net and do not sleep in an open space. Moreover, make sure that the places you sleep in are protected by the mosquitoes and do not sleep in a place that isn’t.
It is recommended to get a vaccine for the Yellow Fever and try to prevent Malaria as much as possible by using the methods I’ve mentioned above. If you need more information on what diseases are at risk in Ghana you should know about the following: Dengue Fever, Tuberculosis, Rabies and Typhoid Fever.
List of Vaccines You Need in Ghana
As always, remember that consulting with your doctor, as well as with the latest health-related advice, is recommended when planning a trip to any foreign country. You can never know what diseases you expose yourself to while traveling. Here is a list of the vaccines that you currently have to take before entering Ghana - but remember to check for such information periodically in case there are any updates:
- Routine Vaccines
- Yellow Fever
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Most Dangerous Areas in Ghana
- Kotoka International Airport - theft of travel documents and luggage occurs here occasionally;
- Accra - the following regions of the capital city are considered as the most dangerous: George Walked Bush Highway, Graphic Road, Awundome Cemetary Road, Accra Mall Roundabout, Teshi-Nunga Road, Pokuase-Amasaman Road, Kokrobite beach area, and Labadi beach area;
- Kumasi, Takoradi, and Accra - regions where kidnappings have taken place.
Concluding Remarks: Is Ghana Safe To Visit?
As we can easily conclude from this article, Ghana is not that dangerous and doesn’t have that many risks – everything is moderate and it highly depends on your surroundings and how do you like spending your time.
As it is the Gem of West Africa, we would say that is worth the visit, because the locals are extremely welcoming and nice to all the tourists. You need to be highly observant of your surroundings because as in other countries, not all people all the same and you could be a victim of a theft or attack if you’re not careful enough.
Avoid walking alone, especially at night and try not to trust anybody that immediately asks you for money, or look like they would hurt you. Try adopting a firm attitude towards the locals, if they are too “pushy” with you.
Moreover, there have been a lot of reports of locals posing at the police in order to get money from you. This is a pretty common scam in Ghana, as you should not trust anybody until they show you a badge that has their picture on as well so you can make sure that’s the real person and the incident is indeed real.
The bottom line is that you should just visit everything you want, follow the instruction the country has, stay safe and enjoy your trip! If you will avoid all the things that may slightly cause you any unfortunate events, you will definitely have a great time. If you reduce the risks, you have all the possibilities to have an amazing African experience – do your research as thoroughly as possible, while you note everything down: the place you would like to visit, the cities, the reviews that a certain place and try following a Ghana safety guide, just as this one, in order to make sure that you know every single risk there is.