Welcome to Benin
Head to Benin for a largely undiscovered country, yet one rich in heritage and natural beauty. There are palm-lined ocean beaches, national parks full of lions and elephants and a friendly population ready and willing to share their culture with tourists.
Learn about African history Ouidah, with its fantastic museums about slavery and voodoo. Visit the ancient Abomey Royal Palaces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Relax in the charming town of Grand-Popo, near the Mono River and its mangroves. Unhurried, unfettered by modern over-tourism, Benin is worth your while.
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Need To Know
- Benin is known for its somber slave trade history – the capital city of Porto-Novo was developed in the 16th century to promote slave trade.
- Benin is home to “The Venice of Africa,” a group of villages floating in a lake.
- Benin is the birthplace of voodoo culture. It is the official religion of Benin and Vodun believers coexist peacefully with the country’s Christians and Muslims.
- Along the voodoo lines, some Benin residents believe photography can steal a piece of the soul, so always ask permission before taking a photo.
- Cotton makes up 80 percent of the country’s exports.
Benin’s official language is French.
When To Go
The best time to go to Benin is December to March.
Passport must be valid at time of entry.
Visa Required By US Citizen?
The CDC recommends the following vaccine for all travelers when visiting Benin: Measles, routine vaccinations, Yellow Fever and Polio. Most travelers should receive the Hepatitis A, Malaria and Typhoid vaccines. Some travelers should receive the Cholera, Hepatitis B, Meningitis and Rabies vaccines.
Power plugs and sockets: type E. Standard voltage: 220V. Frequency: 50Hz.
West African CFA Franc
The roads in Benin are generally in poor conditions. Dirt roads are impassable during the rainy season from mid-June to mid-September. Motorbikes and motorcycles are prevalent on the roads.
Limited public transportation is available in Cotonou. Buses and private taxis are also available. The Beninese mainly use bicycles, mopeds and motorbikes (or zemidjans) for hire. Avoid riding on a zemidjan at night.
An international driving permit is required.
US Embassy Info
U.S. Embassy Cotonou
01 BP 2012 Cotonou, Benin
Telephone: +(229) 21-30-75-00
Emergency after-hours telephone: +(229) 21-30-75-00
Fax: +(229) 21-30-66-82
ConsularCotonou@state.gov (for American Citizen Services)
Local Visitor Info
Local Emergency Phone Numbers
Safety and Security
The crime rate is high in Benin. Street crime is common, including robbery and muggings. Travelers should avoid the Dantokpa Market between dusk and dawn.
Keep in mind that swimming conditions along Benin’s beaches are dangerous due to strong tides, waves and rip currents.
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