Djibouti travel guide

Djibouti Travel Guide 2024

Nestled in the Horn of Africa, Djibouti is an alluring nation boasting a unique blend of natural wonders and cultural richness. Often overlooked, this small country offers breathtaking landscapes from volcanic formations and shimmering salt lakes to pristine coral reefs teeming with marine life. Discover ancient traditions, bustling markets, and the vibrant energy of Djibouti City, all set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty. This comprehensive guide will provide all the information you need to plan an unforgettable journey to Djibouti in 2024.

Planning Your Trip

Embarking on a journey to Djibouti requires careful planning to ensure a seamless and enriching experience. This enchanting nation offers a diverse range of attractions, from natural wonders to cultural treasures, each requiring thoughtful consideration when crafting your itinerary.

Research and Itinerary: Begin by delving into the wealth of online resources and travel guides to identify the attractions that resonate most with your interests. Are you captivated by the otherworldly landscapes of Lake Assal or eager to explore the vibrant underwater world of the Red Sea? Once you’ve pinpointed your must-see destinations, craft a well-paced itinerary that allows ample time for exploration, relaxation, and unexpected detours.

Travel Style and Budget: Determine your preferred travel style and budget. Are you seeking an adventurous backpacking trip, a luxurious getaway, or a culturally immersive experience? Djibouti caters to a variety of budgets, so outline your spending limits for accommodation, transportation, activities, and dining to guide your planning.

Booking Flights and Accommodation: Secure your international flights well in advance, especially if traveling during peak season. Simultaneously, reserve your accommodations, whether you prefer boutique hotels in Djibouti City or charming guesthouses closer to natural attractions.

Essential Packing: Pack light, breathable clothing suitable for Djibouti’s warm climate. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, insect repellent, and comfortable walking shoes. A portable charger and a universal adapter are also invaluable for staying connected.

Visa Requirements for Tourists

Prior to your departure for Djibouti, it’s imperative to ensure you possess the necessary travel documentation to enter the country legally. Djibouti offers various visa options for tourists, and understanding the specific requirements for your nationality is crucial for a smooth travel experience.

Visa On Arrival: Citizens of certain countries are eligible to obtain a visa upon arrival in Djibouti. This typically involves paying a fee at the designated immigration counter and presenting a passport valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay. It’s advisable to verify the latest visa regulations and associated fees with the Djibouti embassy or consulate in your home country before you travel.

E-Visa: Djibouti offers an electronic visa (e-visa) system for citizens of many countries. This convenient option allows travelers to apply for a tourist visa online through the official government portal. The e-visa application process generally requires providing personal information, passport details, travel itinerary, and supporting documents such as proof of accommodation and financial means. Once approved, the e-visa is electronically linked to your passport, permitting entry into Djibouti.

Visa Requirements and Validity: It’s essential to note that visa requirements and validity periods can change. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to consult the official website of the Djibouti Ministry of Foreign Affairs or contact the nearest Djibouti embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information based on your nationality and travel plans.

Best Time to Visit

Djibouti’s location in the Horn of Africa brings a hot, desert climate with variations in temperature and rainfall throughout the year. Choosing the optimal time to visit depends largely on your tolerance for heat and your desired activities.

Cooler Season (October – April): This period offers the most pleasant weather for exploring Djibouti’s diverse landscapes. Temperatures range from warm to hot, with lower humidity, making outdoor activities more enjoyable. This is an excellent time for hiking in the Goda Mountains, discovering Lake Assal, or diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea.

Hot Season (May – September): During these months, Djibouti experiences intense heat and high humidity, particularly in coastal areas. Temperatures can soar above 40°C (104°F), making strenuous outdoor activities challenging. However, this season is ideal for those seeking solitude, as tourist crowds are thinner, and accommodation prices may be lower.

Shoulder Seasons (April-May & September-October): These shoulder seasons offer a balance of pleasant weather and fewer crowds. You might encounter some rain showers, but they are generally short-lived and provide a refreshing break from the heat. This can be a favorable time to experience Djibouti’s natural beauty without the peak season influx of visitors.

Health and Safety Guidelines

Prioritizing your health and safety while traveling in Djibouti is paramount to ensuring a positive and enjoyable experience. Taking a few precautionary measures and staying informed about potential health risks will contribute to a safe and memorable journey.

Vaccinations and Health Precautions: Consult your healthcare provider well in advance of your trip to receive recommended vaccinations for Djibouti. Routine vaccinations, such as hepatitis A and typhoid, are generally advised, along with potential boosters for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Additionally, discuss malaria prophylaxis with your doctor, as it’s prevalent in certain areas of the country.

Food and Water Safety: Minimize the risk of gastrointestinal issues by consuming food and beverages from reputable sources. Opt for bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth, and be cautious with street food, especially if hygiene standards appear questionable. It’s always wise to carry hand sanitizer and practice thorough handwashing, particularly before meals.

Sun Protection and Heat Precautions: Djibouti’s intense sun can pose health risks. Protect yourself from sunburn and heatstroke by wearing wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially during outdoor activities. Avoid strenuous exertion during the hottest part of the day.

Getting to Djibouti

Djibouti’s strategic location on the Horn of Africa makes it accessible by both air and sea, with options catering to different preferences and budgets.

By Air: Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport (JIB) serves as the country’s primary international gateway, welcoming flights from major airlines worldwide. Direct connections are available from hubs like Addis Ababa, Dubai, Istanbul, and Paris. Upon arrival, taxis and pre-arranged transfers provide transportation to your chosen accommodation.

By Sea: Djibouti’s bustling port city offers ferry services to and from neighboring countries, primarily Yemen. However, it’s important to note that ferry schedules can be irregular, and sea conditions can impact travel. It’s advisable to check the latest information and exercise caution when considering this option.

Overland Travel: While overland travel to Djibouti from bordering nations like Ethiopia is possible, it’s essential to be aware of potential challenges. Border crossings can be time-consuming, and road conditions may be difficult. Thorough research, appropriate visas, and a reliable vehicle are crucial for overland journeys.

Getting Around Djibouti

Navigating Djibouti is relatively straightforward, with various transportation options available to suit different budgets and travel styles. From exploring the bustling capital city to venturing into the country’s scenic landscapes, understanding your transportation choices will enhance your travel experience.

Taxis: Taxis are readily available in Djibouti City and are a convenient way to travel short distances within urban areas. Ensure the driver uses the meter or agree on a fare before starting your journey. Shared taxis, known as “collective taxis,” offer a more budget-friendly option for traveling between towns and cities, though they typically involve a more crowded experience.

Rental Cars: Renting a car provides flexibility for independent exploration, particularly if you plan to venture beyond major cities. International car rental agencies are present at Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport and in Djibouti City. However, it’s important to note that road conditions outside urban areas can be challenging, and a 4×4 vehicle is recommended for some routes.

Domestic Flights: For reaching remote areas or islands, domestic flights operated by Air Djibouti provide a convenient option. While flights can be limited, they offer a time-efficient way to access destinations like the Seven Brothers Islands or the Lake Abbe region.


Djibouti offers a range of accommodation options to suit diverse budgets and preferences, from internationally branded hotels to locally run guesthouses. Whether you seek modern amenities in Djibouti City or a tranquil retreat near natural wonders, you’ll find accommodations to complement your travel style.

Hotels: Djibouti City boasts a selection of international hotels, primarily concentrated around the Plateau du Serpent area. These establishments offer comfortable rooms, modern amenities, and often feature swimming pools, restaurants, and business facilities. For those seeking luxury, several high-end hotels provide panoramic views and exceptional service.

Guesthouses and Auberges: In smaller towns and villages, guesthouses and auberges provide a more intimate and budget-friendly alternative. While amenities may be more basic, these accommodations offer a chance to experience local hospitality and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Camping: For adventurous travelers, camping amidst Djibouti’s stunning natural beauty can be an unforgettable experience. Designated campsites are available near attractions like Lake Assal and the Goda Mountains. However, it’s essential to be self-sufficient and come prepared with all necessary camping gear and supplies.

Top Tourist Attractions

Djibouti’s tapestry of natural wonders and cultural gems offers a diverse array of attractions for every type of traveler. From otherworldly landscapes to vibrant city life, here are some of the must-visit destinations that should top your Djibouti itinerary:

Lake Assal: Journey to the lowest point in Africa and witness the surreal beauty of Lake Assal. This dazzling salt lake, ringed by volcanic formations, presents an ethereal spectacle with its turquoise waters and shimmering salt flats. Explore the surrounding landscape and marvel at nature’s artistry.

Goda Mountains: Escape the coastal heat and venture into the cooler climes of the Goda Mountains. Hike through lush forests, encounter endemic wildlife, and discover hidden waterfalls cascading down rugged cliffs. The Day Forest National Park, nestled within these mountains, offers breathtaking views and a chance to connect with nature.

Moucha & Maskali Islands: Embark on a boat trip to the serene Moucha and Maskali Islands. Surrounded by pristine coral reefs, these islands are a haven for snorkeling, diving, and relaxing on idyllic beaches. Encounter colorful marine life, swim in crystal-clear waters, and soak up the tranquility of these island gems.

Djiboutian Culture and Customs

Djibouti’s rich cultural tapestry is woven from a blend of Afar, Somali, and Arab influences, creating a vibrant society with unique traditions and customs. Embracing and respecting local customs is essential for fostering meaningful connections and ensuring a culturally sensitive travel experience.

Greetings and Etiquette: Djiboutians are generally warm and welcoming people. A handshake is the customary greeting between men, while women may greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. When interacting with locals, it’s considered polite to maintain eye contact and engage in friendly conversation.

Dress Code: While Djibouti is a predominantly Muslim country, dress standards are generally relaxed, particularly in tourist areas. However, it’s respectful to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Women may consider covering their heads with a scarf when entering mosques.

Photography: Always ask permission before photographing people, particularly women, as it’s considered disrespectful to do so without consent. Similarly, exercise discretion when photographing military installations or government buildings, as this may raise security concerns.

Food and Drink

Djibouti’s culinary landscape reflects its unique blend of African, Middle Eastern, and French influences, offering a tantalizing array of flavors to entice your taste buds. From aromatic spices to fresh seafood, be prepared to embark on a delightful culinary adventure.

Traditional Dishes: Sample staples like “skudah,” a hearty stew often made with lamb or goat meat and seasoned with fragrant spices. “Fah-fah,” a savory soup made with beef, lentils, and vegetables, is another popular choice. Don’t miss the opportunity to try fresh seafood, particularly fish and lobster, often grilled or prepared with spicy sauces.

Culinary Influences: Djibouti’s history as a French colony is evident in its cuisine, with baguettes, pastries, and coffee often enjoyed alongside traditional dishes. Middle Eastern influences are also prevalent, with flavorful dishes like hummus, falafel, and shawarma readily available.

Beverages: Stay hydrated with refreshing fruit juices, such as mango, papaya, and guava. Locally grown coffee, often prepared in a traditional jebena, offers a flavorful pick-me-up. While alcohol is available, consumption is generally limited to hotels and restaurants.


Djibouti offers a diverse shopping experience, from bustling marketplaces brimming with local crafts to modern boutiques showcasing international brands. Whether you’re searching for unique souvenirs or everyday essentials, exploring Djibouti’s retail scene is an integral part of experiencing the country’s vibrant culture.

Local Markets: Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and aromas of Djibouti City’s bustling markets. The Marché Central (Central Market) is a sensory overload, with vendors selling everything from colorful fabrics and spices to fresh produce and household goods. For a more traditional experience, venture to the Ethiopian Market, known for its handcrafted jewelry, leather goods, and traditional clothing.

Handicrafts and Souvenirs: Bring home a piece of Djibouti with unique handicrafts. Look for intricately woven baskets, colorful textiles, traditional jewelry made with silver or beads, and wooden carvings depicting local scenes or wildlife. Frankincense and myrrh, aromatic resins used in perfumes and incense, also make distinctive souvenirs.

Modern Shopping: Djibouti City is home to several modern shopping malls and boutiques offering a range of international brands, electronics, clothing, and accessories. These establishments provide a more contemporary shopping experience and cater to a variety of tastes and budgets.

Money and Banking

Understanding Djibouti’s currency and banking system is essential for seamless financial transactions during your trip. Being prepared with the right payment methods and knowing where to exchange currency will ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience.

Currency: The official currency of Djibouti is the Djiboutian franc (DJF). It’s advisable to have some local currency on hand for smaller expenses, especially in markets and when using taxis. Major currencies, such as US dollars and Euros, are generally accepted at hotels, larger restaurants, and some shops, but exchange rates may vary.

ATMs: ATMs are widely available in Djibouti City and larger towns, providing a convenient way to withdraw local currency. However, it’s prudent to inform your bank of your travel plans to ensure your card functions properly abroad. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit card networks.

Currency Exchange: Currency exchange offices (bureaux de change) can be found in Djibouti City and at the airport. They typically offer competitive exchange rates compared to banks. It’s advisable to compare rates from several providers before exchanging your currency.

Staying Connected

Staying connected while traveling in Djibouti allows you to share your experiences, navigate with ease, and stay informed. While internet access has improved in recent years, it’s still advisable to plan and explore available options to ensure seamless connectivity throughout your trip.

Mobile Data: Consider purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival for convenient and affordable mobile data. Djibouti Telecom and Evatis, the country’s main telecommunications providers, offer prepaid SIM cards with various data packages. You can easily obtain a SIM card at the airport or designated stores.

Wi-Fi Availability: Wi-Fi access is becoming increasingly common in Djibouti, particularly in hotels, restaurants, and cafes in urban areas. However, connection speeds and reliability can vary. It’s always a good idea to inquire about Wi-Fi availability and any associated charges before relying on it as your primary internet source.

Communication Apps: Downloading communication apps like WhatsApp, Viber, or Skype before your trip allows you to stay in touch with family and friends back home using mobile data or Wi-Fi. These apps offer cost-effective alternatives to international roaming charges for messaging and calls.

Responsible Tourism

Traveling responsibly in Djibouti ensures that your visit contributes positively to the local communities and environment. By making conscious choices and adopting sustainable practices, you can help preserve Djibouti’s natural beauty and cultural heritage for future generations.

Respect Local Customs: Embrace and respect Djiboutian culture by dressing modestly, asking permission before taking photographs of individuals, and learning a few basic greetings in the local language. Engage respectfully with locals, demonstrating an interest in their traditions and way of life.

Support Local Businesses: Opt for locally owned accommodations, restaurants, and shops to directly benefit the Djiboutian economy. Purchase authentic handicrafts and souvenirs from local artisans, supporting traditional skills and preserving cultural heritage.

Environmental Awareness: Minimize your environmental footprint by conserving water and energy, particularly in accommodations. Dispose of waste responsibly, using designated bins and opting for reusable bags and water bottles whenever possible.

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Leave a Reply