Is Kingston, Jamaica Safe? 15 Things To Know Before Visiting

Is Kingston, Jamaica a safe place to visit? Here is everything I learned while visiting Kingston, as well as some extra travel tips!

When I booked a trip to Kingston, Jamaica, some people advised me against it because they had heard it was dangerous.

I did lots of online research while wondering if Kingston was safe, but I also told myself not to judge a place before I had been there myself.

I only ended up spending 2 days in Jamaica’s capital city, but I found it to be perfectly safe!

However, there are some other things I wish I had known before traveling to Kingston.

In this article, I’ll discuss some safety tips for Kingston, and also share some other things I learned there about prices, tours, culture, etc.

Kingston, Jamaica is worth visiting! And it is safe in the right areas, in my experience at least.

Is Kingston, Jamaica Safe?

In the right areas, Kingston, Jamaica is perfectly safe! In my pre-trip research, I had heard that New Kingston was a very safe area of the city.

Many of the best Kingston attractions are in this area as well, including Devon House and the Bob Marley Museum.

So we booked a spare room in a local’s home on Airbnb in New Kingston. In our 2 days there, we never felt unsafe once!

Here are some of the reasons why I felt that New Kingston was safe:

  • We could ask any random person for directions and they were very nice and helpful every time
  • No one cat-called me or made unsolicited comments to Matt and I at all
  • Strangers sometimes smiled and said hello when we walked past them
  • We were staying with locals who gave us their perspective on the safety of Kingston

So in my personal experience, New Kingston is safe for travelers!

Read next: 22 Solo Travel Tips

How To Stay Safe In Kingston, Jamaica

If you are still unsure about whether or not Kingston is safe, here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

1. Stay in New Kingston

Throughout all of my research, every website noted that New Kingston is one of the safest areas of the city.

There are some dangerous neighborhoods where crime is more prevalent, so I would just book accommodation in New Kingston to be safe.

Matt and I walked all over New Kingston and never felt unsafe.

2. Stay with locals if you can

Whether you do a work exchange or find a home on Airbnb like we did, staying with locals is always a great way to travel.

Your local host will pass on their own knowledge and give you advice about where to go to stay safe.

Our Airbnb host even offered airport pickup for us in Kingston so we didn’t need to worry about finding transport through the city.

While she drove us home, she told us that southern Kingston is more dangerous than northern, and that most of the city’s crime is between local gangs and not tourists. Hearing that made me feel much safer!

A work exchange is a great way to stay with locals while traveling! Check out my ultimate guide here!

3. Avoid dangerous areas

Despite the apparent safety of New Kingston, there is known violent crime in other parts of the city.

Certain areas of Kingston are deemed dangerous due to gang activity. To stay safe in Kingston, just avoid any questionable areas entirely.

Do some research before you visit to see which areas are risky. I’m not an expert but you can generally find a list of places to avoid on your government’s state department website.

bob marley museum kingston jamaica
The Bob Marley Museum in New Kingston, Jamaica

4. Cross the street with caution

Locals do drive pretty wild in Kingston! There is lots of fast-moving traffic and sometimes there isn’t a clear place to cross the road.

Obviously you should always cross the street with caution anywhere.

But in Kingston especially, just be careful because people do drive really fast.

5. Drive extra carefully

If you are renting a car in Kingston, drive extra carefully because again, the roads are pretty crazy.

And the further out of the city you go, the riskier the roads get in terms of actual functionality and infrastructure.

But honestly, you shouldn’t need to rent a car in Kingston. It seems much easier and safer to just take taxis or get private transfers.

Read next: How To Get From Kingston to Ocho Rios

6. Be wary of going out at night

I’m not a huge fan of nightlife, and I think after many years of traveling I can gauge whether or not I feel comfortable going out at night.

First of all, avoid going out at night alone if you’re traveling. Especially if you’re a female!

Anyway, Matt and I didn’t go out at night in Kingston so I can’t say whether it was safe or not.

But the city is huge and spread out, and in New Kingston there isn’t really a downtown area where people congregate. So to go out at night we would have needed to find a venue somewhere and take public transport.

So we chose not to go out. But I would recommend asking trusted locals for advice about where to go and whether or not it’s safe.

7. Only use official ATMs inside banks

This is a safety tip for Kingston that I learned during my pre-trip research.

On the off chance that someone is trying to scam you or steal your credit card info, stick to official ATMs inside an establishment like a bank.

Again, Kingston felt safe and I never had any uneasy feelings around ATMs, but if you are nervous just use official ATMs just in case.

Other Things To Know Before Traveling To Kingston, Jamaica

Personally, Kingston wasn’t my favorite city I’ve ever visited. But not because it was unsafe!

Kingston felt very safe to me, and the people were so nice. It’s just a bit of a chaotic city that doesn’t have as much scenery or activities as the other parts of Jamaica.

But if you really want to see what real Jamaica looks like, Kingston is worth a visit. Here are some other things I learned during my visit!

8. Kingston is expensive

All of Jamaica is quite expensive for a vacation, but I still wasn’t expecting how steep some prices would be!

For example, two small ice creams at the famous Devon House cost a total of 18 USD.

We also stupidly bought a small punnet of strawberries from the supermarket without checking the price beforehand. They cost about 20 USD!

The strawberries thing was pretty hilarious, and of course we were happy to pay for the expensive ice cream.

But just remember to check the prices and plan a larger budget than you may think you need for Kingston!

Save money while traveling in Kingston with these 50 budget travel tips!

9. There are barely any tourists

Kingston is one of the least touristy places to visit in Jamaica!

Even though it’s the capital city, most tourists flock to the coastline to stay in fancy resorts.

Because we found a cheap flight into Kingston, we figured we should explore the city before heading to the coast.

In our full two days in Kingston, we barely saw any other tourists! Even at popular Kingston attractions, the few people there were mainly locals with maybe 2 or 3 international tourists.

10. Tours don’t always run from Kingston

Because there are so few tourists in Kingston, some tours may not actually do pick ups in the city.

We booked a day trip to the Blue Mountains and found out the day of that it was cancelled because there weren’t enough people for a pick-up in Kingston.

Most tours run from Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, so prepare for your tours to be cancelled if you’re trying to book something with transport from Kingston.

11. There are lots of dogs

There are so many dogs in Jamaica!

Unfortunately, the abundance of stray dogs in Jamaica is actually a problem for the animals and the people. In Kingston, you’re likely to see a few strays roaming around.

I would advise against approaching or touching any stray dogs.

However, we noticed that Jamaicans do love dogs and many keep dogs as pets.

Our Airbnb host had 5 dogs! They even had an unofficial adopted stray that loved hanging out there and he followed us all over our explorations of the city.

is kingston jamaica safe - stray dogs
The beautiful stray doggy that followed us around Kingston

12. Jamaicans love to honk their horns

If you’re driving around Kingston, or just exploring on foot, you’ll notice that people are constantly honking their car horns.

I’ve never heard so many car horns used in such a short time period!

It’s not always meant to signal something alarming or bad, and you’ll get used to hearing it. But people use their car horns as often as they use turn signals in Kingston!

Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Kingston!

13. It’s not a very walkable city

Kingston is a sprawling city that is pretty chaotic and spread out. There’s not really a downtown area where you can stroll around, and it’s not the best place for sightseeing on foot!

Our location in New Kingston meant that we could walk to some of the nearby attractions, but we were walking on narrow sidewalks next to main roads.

So you can walk around the city, but it’s not necessarily scenic.

If you’re traveling longer distances, you may be better off getting a taxi.

14. Locals are very kind

I’ve already mentioned this when answering the question, “Is Kingston Jamaica safe?” but I want to reiterate it.

In our experience, everyone we spoke to in Kingston was so nice and friendly!

When walking around residential areas, locals smiled and said hello. When we stopped to ask strangers for directions, they were super helpful and always directed us with a smile.

I felt that Jamaicans were very genuine and kind, so this made Kingston feel safe in my opinion.

15. Credit cards are often accepted

This is a random point to make, but I was happy to find that credit cards are often accepted at tourist attractions and shops.

I stupidly forgot to pack my debit card when traveling to Jamaica, so I couldn’t withdraw any cash.

Luckily, we could pay with a credit card at most establishments which was helpful.

is kingston jamaica safe - devon house bakery

Thanks for reading my travel and safety tips for Kingston, Jamaica!

I hope I’ve provided some insight into the question, “Is Kingston, Jamaica safe?” because I was asking myself that question before visiting.

Every travel blog and website answers this question differently, so I thought I would give my personal experience.

We only spent a few days in Kingston and we mainly stayed in one area. There is definitely much more to see and do beyond what we experienced, but I personally felt safe the whole time.

There were positives and negatives of Kingston, and I’m glad we went. It is considered the cultural capital of Jamaica, and it was cool to see a side of the country that hasn’t been adapted for tourism.

For more travel tips, check out these articles:

22 Solo Travel Tips

15 Must-Have Travel Essentials

Budget Traveler’s Guide to Travel Insurance

50 Budget Travel Tips

A Guide to Work Exchange: The Cheapest Way To Travel

is kingston jamaica safe

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