Packing List

When traveling to Ethiopia, packing needs will vary by individuals or families. Yet, there are basic items that are suggested for travel to the area. Packing small items will decrease the amount of weight during air travel. Here is a simple packing list for travel to Ethiopia:

  • A variety of suitable clothing for warm days or cool nights.
  • Light Jacket
  • Comfortable walking shoes, or hiking boots
  • Small battery operated hair dryers, etc.
  • Shawl or head covering, for women (especially if visiting Ethiopian churches)
  • Sun screen with DEET
  • Necessary amounts of prescription medicine 
  • Over the counter medications including Tylenol, Anti-motion sickness, cortisone cream, antibacterial ointment, anti-diarrhea, anti-histamine, anti-malaria pills
  • Iodine tablets for water purification
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Thermometer  
  • Traveler’s Checks
  • Passport with a valid visa & traveling documents
  • Small umbrella for rainy or very hot seasons
  • Small personal toiletries & sanitizers
  • Compact photo camera, charger, batteries and digital cards
  • Small first aid kit (adhesive tape and bandages) 
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Go Visit Ethiopia tour information & accommodation brochures
  • Ethiopia travel guide information

Some traveling destinations may require climbing or longer walks. It is highly recommended to wear comfortable and breathable clothing items. Prescribed medications should be brought with a little extra. It is highly recommended not to bring “too much” prescription medication into the country. Clothing items that are “revealing” is inappropriate and discouraged when visiting Ethiopia. 


Safety in the streets

Ethiopia is not only a very safe country, but also a place where you feel very welcome. The people are polite, warm and open. Particularly, Addis Ababa is a safe place to for tourists. It is extremely rare someone will attack you from the blue. Moreover, thanks to the Ethiopian government, these days, there is more police presence, and security guards everywhere.


Of course as a traveler you should always use your common sense and take some precautions. You should never leave your bags unattended, never display a lot of money, show off your expensive jewelry or digital devices unless you are in a safe place or accompanied with friends. Also be very careful of thieves in the market and crowded areas. They might distract you to grab your items. Always take little money, and leave your passport and ticket in a safe place. 


Road Safety

Car driving is a bit unknown in Ethiopia. Most car dealers will only let you drive cars around Addis Ababa. If you do not want to miss out the good bits of the country side, you need to rent a four-while car with a driver. If you decide to drive yourself, drive defensively. When walking or driving in Ethiopia, look out for careless drivers as in some towns they drive in every direction. 


Begging Kids

Usually a lot of children can be seen begging in market areas and major tourist sites, but very less begging in smaller towns. If you give them money; more of them will come asking for more money. The society is generally unhappy about this practice; some parents even give a spank to their children for this behavior. Giving money to children encourages them to leave school. If you enjoy giving, better give things to families, schools, local charities, or the sick and elderly. In some areas, such as at church entrances, you may see many baggers in the morning hours waiting for breakfast. If you are free to give them some food or even cloth.


Plausible Stories

Some people try to scam you if you appear a stranger. Sometimes, small children and young men approach you with a sorrowful look and invented stories; trying to convince you they are telling a true story. This could be an easy way to make money from new-comers. Avoid giving money. In fact, many people are really in need; you can make your own judgment if you choose to give them something.


Street Girls

Don't trust street girls who approach you for a ride. They are not quite visible in mian streets, but you may encounter them when walking in smaller side streets. Do not always assume you can have fun with them. It is difficult to get rid of them if you fail to keep your promises. They can turn wild, and scream and attract unwanted crowd until you give them some money. If they approach you, just smile and keep walking, of course unless you have decided to have a real fun.


Keep car windows shut

Open car windows are an excellent invitation to adventures thieves. Obviously, it can get very hot in Ethiopia, but don’t leave your car windows open. If riding in shared taxis, some passengers dislike air blowing through open windows. Yet, some taxis are not too bad as the side door is always open, but large busses and small taxis can be a real problem, 


Cultural show scam

These days, especially in Addis Ababa, you may be approached by gentlemen inviting you for local cultural show or traditional dancing. This can be a complete scam. They take you somewhere to show dancing, and offer you a drink. At the end you will be asked to pay unreasonable sum, or invite you to arguments that might turn to be violent. Do not attend such shows; you can get them for free if you visit a decent local restaurant.


Fake tour guides

When you take local guides, make sure they are genuine and know the area very well. You may end up telling them more interesting info about their country than you learn from them. While walking around tourist centers, many young men will approach to you as tourist guides with an aim to earn some money. It is a good option to take a guide, as they will walk you around the city, when you are shopping in the market. Definitely they also serve as deterrent against other annoying guides. Many guides speak reasonable English or some German, Italian, French or Arabic. To be in the safe side, it is advisable to hire a licensed tour guide.


Save your currency exchange receipts

On your return at the Bole Airport you will be asked to show your receipt if you want to change your remaining Ethiopian Birr back to your preferred currency. Make sure you keep all receipts of any exchanged Birr. If you go over the permitted amount of Birr for the exchange, just ask another fellow traveler with a passport to exchange the money for you. 


Ethiopian Police

You may have been warned against the behaviors of African police. Due to their minimum salary, some are forced to be corrupt, and take advantage of strangers in their country. In contrary, the Ethiopian police displays professionalism, and do not ask you for money. They may appear dangerous carrying their Kalashnikov guns, but they are polite and extremely helpful. 


Peeing in public

Do not get shocked if you watch men peeing in the public. It is not only real homeless men who did this; a lot of men just turn their back and go for it. They do not even think about going behind the bush a few meters away.



Ethiopia lies wholly within the tropics, but its proximity to the equator is moderately influenced by the elevation of the land. As a result travelers to the country enjoy a pleasant climate. 


Sunshine is virtually guaranteed. For the most part of the year, clear skies reign. The average temperature rarely exceeding 20°C (68°F). The climate over the greater part of the country is temperate.


The climate varies greatly from region to region. On the hot and humid lowland edges of western, eastern and southern Ethiopia do temperatures creep above 30°C.  The Danakil Depressions in the Afar Region have a hot, dry climate producing semi-desert conditions. The sparsely populated lowlands typically have sub–tropical and tropical climates. 


The climate on the northern plateau is cool, and usually the atmosphere is exceedingly clear, and objects at great distance can easily be recognized. In the central highlands such as the capital city Addis Ababa the maximum temperature is 26 °C (78.8 °F) and minimum 4 °C (39.2 °F). 


Ethiopia’s weather is usually sunny and dry. In most areas, rainfall occurs in two distinct seasons: The short rain season known as “belg” occurs from February to April. The big rainy season “meher” caused by the southwest monsoon, lasts from mid-June to mid-September. It is followed by the dry hot period from October to February. The rainy season is of great importance not only to Ethiopia but to the countries of the Nile valley, as the prosperity of the eastern Sudan and Egypt is largely dependent upon the rainfall. 


Despite enjoyable climate and sunshine, there are visible effects of climate change in the country, and the average temperatures have been increasing at 0.3°C per decade. Higher temperatures in this region have serious impacts on food production, and the risk of disease such as malaria. There is also a known connection between rainfall and the increased frequency of drought in Ethiopia over the last two decades.


 Tourists who are traveling to Ethiopia must apply for a visa. It is recommended to apply for a visa before your departure. The following information is available and updated from time to time at . Embassies in each home country will also provide additional, up-to-date information for your local area.

Basic information concerning tourist visa applications:

-  Current passport valid for at least six months

-  One recent passport-size photograph

-  Copy of permanent residency card, green card, I-94 or work permit

-  A completed visa application form

-  Service fees will be paid in money order, check or certified bank check made payable to Embassy of Ethiopia (Visa Fees)

-  A self-addressed return envelope with sufficient prepaid postage

-  If all necessary requirements are met, the visa may be issued within few business days

Visa Application upon Arrival at the airport:

Tourist visa may be issued for three months on arrival at Bole International Airport for nationals and residents of the following countries:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Democratic people's Republic of Korea (North Korea), Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea (South Korea), the Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.


NOTE: Eritreans and foreign nationals of Eritrean Origin cannot be issued a visa on arrival. They must obtain an entry visa prior to their departure to Ethiopia.