Is Georgia Safe to Visit?

a view of Tbilisi from one side of the river bank, with homes and a church at the bank's edge

a view of Tbilisi from one side of the river bank, with homes and a church at the bank's edge

Posted: 11/3/19 | November 3rd, 2019

In recent years, there have been a handful of countries that have emerged as exciting up-and-coming travel destinations. These are destinations that are affordable, interesting, unique, and most importantly, free from the hordes of tourists that have clogged the cultural arteries of cities like Barcelona, Reykjavik, and Venice.

One of those countries is Georgia.

Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Georgia has become a popular destination in region for both backpackers and digital nomads alike. Tourist numbers are climbing fast, with nearly nine million foreigners visiting Georgia in 2018. While the majority of them come from neighboring countries, it’s also a destination that is quickly becoming popular with western tourists, too.

Tbilisi, the country’s capital, sees the most visitors — and for good reason. It’s a stunning city with a picturesque Old Town that has been colorfully restored in recent years. There is also lots to see and do in and around the city, like exploring the Narikala fort ruins, seeing the Jvari Monastery on the nearby mountain top, and visiting the many beautiful cathedrals and churches that dot the city.

Outside of Tbilisi, travelers can explore the mountains and caves of Georgia’s picturesque landscapes and if you like wine, you’ll be happy to learn that Georgia is actually one of the oldest wine regions in the world!

Best of all, Georgia is super cheap (a huge plus in my book)!

But is Georgia safe?

While there was some danger a decade back during the Russo-Georgian War, Georgia is now a safe country to visit. In fact, the International Crime Index rated Georgia as the seventh safest country in the world in 2017!

But because many people don’t know much about Georgia, I still get some messages from people asking about the safety concerns there.

So, what do you need to think about before you go to Georgia? Are there any places you shouldn’t go?

The eight safety tips below will tell you all about the risks in Georgia and how to deal with them so that you can enjoy your trip safely.

1. Avoid South Ossetia and Abkhazia – The regions of South Ossetia (on the Russian border, north of Tbilisi) and Abkhazia (bordering Russia and the Black Sea in the far west of Georgia) are not safe to visit. These are breakaway regions of Georgia which have experienced high conflict in recent years.

There are still car bombs and other terrorist attacks reported periodically in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and there are unexploded landmines too.

Just don’t visit the areas, and you’ll be fine.

Also, don’t try to travel through them into Georgia from Russia, as that’s illegal under Georgian law.

2. Stay alert – Like in any country where the locals see the tourists as being wealthier, petty theft can happen. It’s a lower risk than in many countries but it’s still important to take precautions.

Don’t wear flashy jewelry or watches or flaunt large amounts of cash. Keep an eye on your bags at all times too. The most common incidents occur in busy tourist areas or on crowded public transportation. If you can keep your guard up in these places, you’ll be fine.

3. Beware of the bar scam – There are been reports of tourists in Tbilisi being scammed by locals who invite them into a bar for food and drinks and then force them to pay a really high bill. It’s not common here but it’s something to be aware of.

4. Be wary of demonstrations or protests – It’s quite common for political demonstrations to take place in Tbilisi and sometimes other parts of Georgia, though they most commonly happen outside the parliament on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi.

While the most likely problem is just an interruption to public transport you should always be aware that protests can turn violent and it’s probably safer to stay away.

5. Be careful when driving – Unfortunately the road conditions in much of Georgia aren’t great. When combined with reckless driving from the locals, traffic accidents are pretty common. Sometimes road markings are lacking and there is often confusion about which driver has right of way.

When in a car, always wear a seatbelt. Additionally, avoid driving after dark as well as the lack of good lighting makes it even more dangerous.

6. Learn a few words or have a translation app ready – Georgians are usually really friendly, but not many of them speak English. If something goes wrong they are always happy to help you out, but you might need a few words of the local language or a good translation app to help you explain what you need.

The Georgian language is pretty special – it’s one of the oldest in the world and it has a unique script. If you can learn a few words before you go. There are lots of free resources online and you can download Google Translate just in case you need to translate on the go.

7. Be cautious in the mountains – Georgia’s beautiful alps are making it a popular destination for skiing and mountaineering. But at the moment, it’s still hard to get up-to-date, accurate information about the weather conditions there, so you need to be cautious. If in doubt, skip the adventure for the day.

Also, although they’re improving, the safety standards for adventure sports in the mountains in Georgia are still lower than you might expect. If you’re having doubts about an activity, try using a specialist guide and check reviews for safety levels before you go.

8. Buy travel insurance – I never leave home without travel insurance. While most trips are uneventful, it’s important to be prepared just in case. Travel insurance can save you hundreds and thousands of dollars and provide critical assistance in an emergency. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

We recommend World Nomads for travelers under 70, while Insure My Trip is the best choice for travelers over 70.

For more information on tarvel insurance, check out these posts:

FAQ’s on Safety in Georgia

To help you stay safe and make the most out of your visit, here are some answers to the most common questions I get about traveling to Georgia:

Is Georgia dangerous to visit?

Most parts of Georgia are extremely safe to visit. However, you should definitely avoid the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions on the border with Russia. You should also be aware that the Pankisi Gorge area (north-east of Tbilisi) has been known for terrorist training and activity in the past, although recent reports seem to suggest that it is currently safe to visit.

Is Tbilisi a safe city?

The Georgian capital, Tbilisi, is generally a very safe place to visit. Be aware that the drivers can be a little erratic so you need to have your wits about you as a pedestrian. There are also some reports of petty crime against tourists like pickpocketing in the main tourist areas, so keep an eye on your belongings, but the risk is lower than in many other European cities.

Is the tap water safe in Georgia?

While it can be reasonably safe to drink the tap water in some parts of Georgia, and it’s sourced from freshwater sources in the mountains, there have been incidents of travelers picking up giardia during their travels. Unfortunately, this means it’s best to avoid the tap water while you’re here.

The best way to make sure your drinking water is safe is to bring a SteriPen or LifeStraw for your reusable water bottle. This way you’ll be able to purify the tap water so you don’t get sick — and avoid using single-use plastic bottles in the process.

Are the taxis safe in Georgia?

Taxis are a common way to get around in Georgia and are usually quite. Just make sure you wear your seatbelt as drivers here can be aggressive and the rules of the road are interpreted more as suggestions than law.

Be aware that taxis here don’t have meters, so you’ll need to agree on a price in advance. Ask your hostel or hotel staff for advice about how much you should expect to pay before you catch a ride. That way, you can avoid getting overcharged.

If you’re a solo female traveler, I’d avoid taking taxis alone at night (but that’s my advice for pretty much every city).

Is Georgia safe for solo female travelers?

Given how safe Georgia is in general, it’s probably no surprise to hear that yes, Georgia is safe for solo female travelers. The usual rules apply, though: don’t walk alone at night, beware of strangers offering your drinks or food (especially in bars in Tbilisi), and never leave your drink unattended. While it’s rare, there have been incidents of drink spiking in Georgia.

In short, as long as you use the common-sense practices you use at home you should have no problems here.

Here are helpful posts on safety written by our solo female travel experts:

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So, should you visit Georgia? You can consider yourself very safe in Georgia. It might be a relatively unknown destination to travelers but that doesn’t mean it’s dangerous. Be aware of lower driving and road standards and take the usual precautions with your belongings — especially when you’re in a more crowded tourist area.

Do that, and you’ll have a safe trip to Georgia!

Book Your Trip to Georgia: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
To find the best budget accommodation, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most comprehensive inventory. Some of my favorite places to stay in Costa Rica:

  • Fabrika (Tblisi) – This hostel is also a bar and co-working space housed in an old Soviet warehouse. It’s got a cool vibe and the people here are wonderful. This is the best place to stay in the country if you ask me.
  • Temi Hostel (Kutaisi) – This hostel is small but the staff are great and it’s clean and cozy. It’s in a great location too.
  • Boutique Hotel and Medusa Hostel (Batumi) – This place is relatively new so the beds are comfy and have curtains and the place is well maintained. The staff are super helpful and will make sure you have an amazing visit to Batumi.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

Want More Information on Georgia?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Georgia for even more planning tips!

Article source: Nomadicmatt

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