Traveling to Ethiopia. Suburb

Traveling to Ethiopia – The answers to all your questions

Published: 10 September 2019 Modified: 10 October 2019

Ever since Dr. Abiy came to power, more and more tourist travel to Ethiopia. Overall the country is safe to visit. There is not much information out there about Ethiopia, so there are many unanswered questions. We will give answer to all your burning questions, so everyone is well prepared before traveling to Ethiopia.

#1 – Do I need a visa for traveling to Ethiopia? 

To enter Ethiopia, you need a visa. There are different possibilities. For a stay up to 30 days, you can get a visa on arrival. At arrival you just show your passport, booking of your first night in a hotel and pay them US$50. There will be not many tourists, so a visa on arrival is easy to get and done within a few minutes. Nowadays, thanks to Dr. Abiy, you can apply for an E-visa. Print the visa and you can stay up to 90 days. The cost varies, since you can choose single or multiple entry and the length of your stay. For a tourist visa up to 6 months you have to go to the Ethiopian embassy itself. Fill out the request form and submit 2 passport size photographs. The cost for a 6-month visa is US$75. 

City view in Ethiopia

#2 – Which questions are asked at the airport? 

They will always ask you some questions upon arrival. In general, the English of the airport employees is very, very bad. So, the questions will be basic. – What is the reason for traveling to Ethiopia? – Where do you stay? (First night), Address and phone number– What is your phone number?  

Airport in Ethiopia

#3 – Is traveling to Ethiopia safe? 

Like mentioned before, traveling to Ethiopia is relatively safe. Of course, there always places whom are better to be avoided. Usually it’s better to avoid border areas like the border with Somalia. Whenever you travel abroad, make sure you make this known to your own embassy. They can update whenever there is any problem within the country.

Check out Lonely Planet’s article with more current information about safety in Ethiopia

#4 – Do I need a credit card in Ethiopia? 

A credit card is not necessary. You can just as easily use your regular bank card. However, the ATM’s don’t always function. Usually due to connection issues or power cuts. Make sure you always have some cash on hand. Exchanging money at the bank is easy and cheaper than using an ATM. 

#5 – How expensive is traveling to Ethiopia? 

Ethiopia, is just like any other country in Africa, a bit expensive to travel. Cost per day will be around a US$100 to US$150 per day. Luckily, it’s all worth the money!

In this blog you can read all about the cost of traveling in Ethiopia

Ethiopian shopping mall

#6 – Dress code of traveling in Ethiopia

The dress code is not very strict in Ethiopia. The most important thing is covering the knees. Covering shoulders etc. is not necessary. While swimming they will appreciate it if you wear a bathing suit instead of a bikini. They won’t say much, but stare the whole time. And it’s quite uncomfortable, all those people staring at you. 

#7 – Do they speak English?

In general, nobody speaks English. Even in hotels or restaurants where tourist are common, they can only speak a few words. Luckily the locals are very sweet and always willing to help you. So, in the end you will be fine. 

#8 – Can you easily travel to neighboring countries? 

For both Eritrea and Djibouti, you need to have a visa, which is not possible to get at the border. If you already have your visa, you can take a bus to Eritrea and a train to Djibouti. There are daily flights going from Addis Ababa to all neighboring countries. Taking a bus to Kenia is the easiest way to travel. Note: Sometimes tribes in Ethiopia fight at the border. Every now and then the border will be closed. So, if you are planning to cross over to Kenia, check the latest news. 

Traveling to Ethiopia. Suburb

#9 – Car rental 

Renting a car is a possibility. However, you will need a set of proper driving skills. They drive like crazy people here. They love to cut you off, give your bumper a little push all the time. It is not very comfortable to drive yourself. There are no rules of driving in Ethiopia. The country has the highest rate of deadly traffic accidents in the world. Renting a car will cost around US$60 to US$70 per day. Almost the same price as hiring a car with a driver. You can drive with your own license for 45 days. 

#10 – How about the infrastructure?

The roads are surprisingly good in Ethiopia. Which doesn’t mean public transport is well arranged. There is basically no infrastructure for tourist. But you can use the public transport, like any other local. Which means long bus rides, with lots of people squeezed in to the bus. Seats for two are always for three people and preferably four. Do the math. Flying is an easy way of transporting yourself around the country. Almost all major cities have an airport nowadays. 

#11 – The best time to travel Ethiopia

There is a dry and a wet season in Ethiopia. The rainy season is from mid-June till the end of August. During these months, there will be heavy rain daily. Just for a few hours, but enough to make everything muddy. Trails in the Simien mountains can be closed during these months. In the dry season, there will be no rain for months. Sunshine is guaranteed. The most beautiful months are October till December. The whole country is green and flowers are blooming. There are less tourist during the rainy season, but even in the ‘high season’, you will not meet many other travelers. 

Timkat in Gondar

#12 – Which vaccines are recommended for Ethiopia 

No guarantees, but usually they don’t ask about vaccines at the airport. For your own safety it is recommended to get some vaccines before traveling abroad. Recommended vaccines are; DTP, Hepatitis A and Yellow fever. Officially it’s also obligated to have a cholera stamp in your vaccine passport. In some areas malaria is present, so you might need some pills for that. Always check with your own doctor, which vaccines he or she recommends for you. 

#13 – Travel routes in Ethiopia 

Ethiopia is an inspiring country, with many beautiful places to visit. Most travelers choose between the north or south. The north is known for culture and enchant history. You can find places like Bahir Dar, the majestic Simien mountains and Gondar. If you have five to six weeks you can see most hotspots in the north and south. In the South are many tribes and lots of wildlife.

Find out awesome travel routes for north and south Ethiopia. 

Suzan - Hi! I am a Dutchie, who lives in Ethiopia. I love to travel the world and meet new people. It is so much fun to visit exotic places, rough jungles and beautiful old cities. Via Travelaar I have the chance to share all my amazing experiences with you. If you want to follow my own journey, see my Instagram: @gateb91