Located in the heart of South America sharing its borders with Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, Paraguay offers travelers a very unique South American experience. The main safety concerns for visitors are corrupt police and petty (sometimes violent) crime. The best way to stay safe is to be informed, so here's what you need to know to stay safe in Paraguay.
Residents from the UK and EU can enter Paraguay for up to 90 days without a visa as long as they have a valid passport. For others who do need a visa, they have to be obtained before arrival or on arrival into Paraguay's Asuncion International Airport, so you will need to check with your country's travel advisory organisation for more infomation. If you are planning to enter Paraguay by land or boat, you must organise a visa prior to departure. Prices and conditions for visas vary depending on nationality and you can only pay for your visa with US dollars.
The border regions can have drug trafficking and illegal border crossing issues. Take care in areas such as Concepción, San Pedro, Amambay and Canindeyú as things can go pear shaped and get violent.
Paraguay is reasonably safe for women travelers, but like in any country, solo female travelers should take care as the local men may try to hit on you especially if you are out having a few drinks. Dress modestly and be firm but polite to any guy who tries his Mr Smooth act on you.
Use a licensed taxi if you are traveling at night and like anywhere; avoid empty streets, alleys and poorly lit areas.
Paraguay is a conservative country and in some ways, old fashioned. Homosexuality is legal however LGBTI people in Paraguay do not have equal rights or the right to marry and displays of public affection are frowned upon. Despite all this, there is a growing gay scene in the capital, Asuncion.
There are several diseases in Paraguay so it's a good idea to get the necessary vaccinations (if available), update those routine ones and take precautionary measures against being bitten by mosquitos.
Yellow fever is present in Paraguay and it's recommended to get vaccinated prior to departure. It's also important if you plan to travel to other South American destinations where yellow fever is present as you will likely need proof of vaccination for re-entry into your home country.
Dengue Fever is another major health risk which extends throughout the country. Take the necessary precautions so you don't get chewed alive by mosquitos.
Zika virus is widespread in Paraguay. The only solution is bite prevention as there is no vaccine currently available.
Malaria outbreaks occasionally happen in Paraguay. Although there is no known effective Malaria vaccine, the use of a malaria prophylaxis is recommended.
Leishmaniasis, another common health problem is a disease caused by protozoan parasites. The disease is transmitted by the bite of certain species of sand fly (subfamily Phlebotominae). Prevent those bites in the same way you would for mosquitos.
Typhoid and Hepatitis A are also present in Paraguay. It's recommended to get those vaccinations and take other preventative measures such as only drinking boiled or treated water, avoiding iced drinks and eating undercooked or raw foods.
Good personal hygiene is a must while traveling to avoid traveler's diarrhea, unless you plan to spend several days worshipping the porcelain idol. Water quality is ok in the major cities but avoid it in the Chaco where apparently it's salty as the sea. If you plan to travel into rural areas, use only treated or boiled water.
Don't forget about the effects of the sun by hydrating regularly, using sunscreen and covering up to prevent sunburn.
Medical treatment is available in the capital, Asuncion and also in Ciudad del Este and Encarnación. Private clinics are better than the public ones, but be aware they may ask for payment up front. Medical services in rural areas may be limited to non existent.
Take all the necessary medications and other supplies you need with you to Paraguay plus a letter from your doctor outlining what they are for as some medications are considered illegal. Because you don't want to waste time trying to find medications or being stuck in hospital.
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