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Suriname

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Eco Resort Inn - dream vacation

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Suriname (pronounced in English like the common English spelling of its name: surinam) is a small republic on the northeast coast of South America. It prides itself on its thoroughly multi-ethnic culture, a colourful blend of indigenous Indian traditions and those of its former Dutch colonisers and the African, Javanese and Hindustan workers they once brought with them. It's a country with a fabulous and largely untouched Amazon inland, slowly discovering its chances as an eco-tourism destination. International visitors are steadily following Dutch travellers who have long been drawn to this friendly, tropical country to explore its spectacular nature, captivating cultural heritage and meet its ever smiling people.

Formerly called Dutch Guiana, Suriname is tucked in between French Guiana in the east and Guyana (formerly British Guiana) in the west. In the south the country is bordered by Brazil and in the north by the Atlantic Ocean. At just under 165,000 km², Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in South America. It has 530,000 inhabitants, half of whom live in the exuberant capital, Paramaribo.

Regions

Cities

  • Paramaribo - The capital and only city of the country
  • Albina - Hub to French Guiana
  • Apoera - Indian village in West Suriname
  • Domburg - Sunday's meeting point for Paramaribo people
  • Groningen - Relaxed place on the Saramacca River
  • Lelydorp - The second largest city of Suriname
  • Moengo - The former bauxite mining centre
  • Nieuw Amsterdam - Best known for it's fort
  • Nieuw Nickerie - Most western city protected by a sea wall
  • Santigron - A Maroon village along the Saramacca river

Other destinations

  • Bigi Pan Nature Reserve - A large area of open water, mudflats and mangrove forest
  • Brownsberg Nature Park - A nature park close to Paramaribo
  • Central Suriname Nature Reserve - one of the most remote, ancient, and pristine wildernesses on Earth
  • Colakreek - A Cola colored swimming place in the midst of the savannah
  • Galibi nature reserve - Beaches where sea turtles lay their eggs
  • Jodensavanne - A ruined, historic settlement of Sephardic Jews
  • Nature Resort Kabalebo - Flora and fauna in the untouched nature of the splendid Amazon rain forest
  • Old plantations in Commewijne - Best place to visit plantations as they were once
  • Raleighvallen Nature Reserve - An extensive set of rapids in the upper Coppename River
  • Upper Suriname - Authentic Maroon villages along the Upper Suriname River

Understand

History

Dutch from the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands colonized Suriname in the 17th century but periods of British administration did not finally cease until 1816. The colony was mainly used for sugar, coffee and cocoa plantations where many African slaves were worked to death.

In 1863 slavery came to an end and contract workers were recruited from British India (until 1916) and Java (until 1936). Many stayed after their contract had ended.

Independence from the Netherlands was granted in 1975 and to retain their Dutch nationality many Surinamese left for the Netherlands. Five years later the civilian government was replaced by a military regime that soon declared a socialist republic characterized by a high level of government corruption and the summary executions of political opponents. It continued to rule through a succession of nominally civilian administrations until 1987, when international pressure finally forced a democratic election. In 1989, the military overthrew the civilian government again, but a democratically-elected government returned to power in 1991.

People

Due to its colonial past, the country has an ethnically diverse population with Hindus whose ancestors came from the Indian subcontinent comprising the largest percentage at 27%, followed by Creoles with 18%, and Maroons and Javanese each with 15%. The remaining 25% consist of Moksi (people of mixed ethnicity), Chinese, Jews, Lebanese, Brazilians and white Europeans. Suriname is known for its tolerance between different ethnic groups and this is illustrated in the Keizerstraat in Paramaribo where a mosque and a synagogue are built right beside each other.

Climate

Suriname has a tropical rainy climate, hot and humid. It has two rainy seasons per year. The long rainy season runs from late April to mid-August. The short rainy season runs from mid-December to mid-February. Usually it does not rain all day but there are heavy tropical showers mainly in the afternoon. The temperature is about 30°C but in the dry period from mid-August to mid-December it can rise to 35-40°C. Humidity is about 80% year-round and can exacerbate temperature extremes. It feels clammy and sticky.

Terrain

Mostly rolling hills, rising towards a maximum of around 1,000 m in the south; narrow coastal plain with mangrove swamps. Mostly tropical rain forest with a great diversity of flora and fauna that is in excellent condition, although increasingly threatened by new development, logging and gold mining. Suriname is crossed by numerous rivers. Major rivers are the Maroni (border river with French Guiana), Suriname, the Commewijne (running from east to west), the Coppename, the Tapanahony (tributary of the Maroni), the Saramacca and the Corentyne, which forms the border with Guyana. By heavy rainfall rivers burst their banks which can result in heavy floodings. In southern Suriname are mountain ranges. These include the Oranjegebergte, Van Asch van Wijckgebergte, Wilhelminagebergte, Eilerts de Haangebergte, Grensgebergte and the Toemoek-Hoemakgebergte. With 1,280 m, Julianatop is the highest point of Suriname.

Flora and fauna

Suriname has a vast variety of flora and fauna. Most of Suriname, about 80%, is covered with jungle. This forest is part of the largest tropical rainforest on earth, the Amazon rainforest, which is mostly on Brazilian territory. A large number of species of birds, reptiles and mammals inhabit these forests and the coast area. Leatherback turtles lay their eggs on the beach at Galibi. Other species in Suriname include the endangered and protected jaguar, sloth, giant anteater, cayman, squirrel and howler monkeys, tapirs and the scarlet ibis (especially in Bigi Pan in the Nickerie district. In 2005 Suriname hit world news when 25 new species were discovered in Eastern Suriname (Nassau and Lely Mountains).

Music

Suriname is well known for its kaseko music in the Indo-Caribbean tradition. Kaseko's a fusion of many styles and folklore from Europe, Africa, and the Americas that is rhythmically complex. Percussion instruments include the skratji (big drum) and trap drums. Saxophones, trumpets and the occasional trombone join with solo or chorus voices with the songs typically structured to "say and answer" in a similar styles to the natives of the region, as winti and kawina. The Kaseko evolved in the thirties during festivities that used large bands, particularly bands of wind instruments, and were called Bigi Pokoe (big drum music). Following World War II, jazz, calypso, and other important genres became popular, while the rock music of the US soon left its own influence in the form of electric instruments. You will much enjoy the entertainment there like music and watching Association Football. Surinamese songs are called "pokoes" in Sranang Tongo. They have a great variety of music, because of the different cultures.

Get in

If you want to visit Suriname and you are not a citizen of one of the following countries, you have to ensure that your visa papers are in order. If you want to apply for a visa please contact one of the Suriname Consulates listed in Contact.

Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Suriname:

Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica (for holders of diplomatic and official passports only), Colombia (for holders of diplomatic and official passports only), Cuba (for holders of diplomatic and official passports only), Dominica, Philippines, Gambia, Guyana, Grenada, Hong Kong, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela (for holders of diplomatic and official passports only).

In most cases you will receive a single-entry visa/tourist card. So you only will be able to enter Suriname one time. If you want to combine your trip to Suriname with a visit to for instance Guyana or French Guiana, you'll need to request a multiple entry visa (higher cost). In Cayenne (Feb 2017) a tourist card costs €30, single and multi-entry visas both cost €40

Entering by land (river) crossing: - Visas/tourist cards are not available at the border. - The Suriname Consulate in Cayenne, French Guiana now offers tourist cards for €31 which can be obtained in an hour. No need to fill out any forms just hand over your passport and cash/card. Open 9am-2pm weekdays. - The Embassy of Suriname in Georgetown, Guyana offers the tourist card also, but tend to make you come back in the afternoon to pick it up. Price is US$35. Two important things to note, the Suriname embassies/consulate are often closed without prior/much notice and there is no website to check ahead of schedule. Don't be surprised that the embassy/consulate is closed when you arrive with a note stating closure on Wed, Fri and Mon without explanation, but still thanking you for your understanding. N.B. For those with EU passports (i.e. freedom of movement) you may not need to be stamped into French Guiana, but you must DEFINITELY be stamped out of French Guiana before crossing to Suriname. Otherwise, you'll be sent back over the river again (paying twice more) to get your French exit stamp!

The ATM in Albina does NOT accept international cards so you will have to change over (preferably) Euros.

Even though the tourist card is valid for 90 days, the usual entry stamp only allows for 30 days which may be extended when in Suriname. Overstaying can lead to a one-year ban from entering the country which is marked in your passport.

When you arrive in Suriname it is important that you inform the authorities where you are staying. Therefore you must go to the foreigners registration office in the 'Nieuwe Haven' within a week after your arrival. The customs-official will remind you of this. (this no longer appears to be necessary).

See the Suriname Embassy in The Hague website for more details.

By plane

Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport

(IATA:PBM) Formerly called Zanderij International Airport, it is located 45 km south of Paramaribo.

From Amsterdam you can get the daily KLM flight. Surinam Airways also offers flights from Amsterdam and various parts of the Caribbean destinations.

From the United States, airline service is available via Surinam Airways and Caribbean Airlines, with a stopover in Trinidad. Besides the daily connection to the Netherlands, there are weekly direct flights to Suriname from Trinidad, Brazil (Belem), and Curacao.

From Johan Adolf Pengel International you can take the taxi or bus into town. A taxi (if private one) will cost around SRD80. However, prices will vary between drivers. Make sure to arrange and set a price with the driver before going anywhere.

Zorg-en-Hoop Airfield

(ORG IATA) A small airfield located further from Paramaribo which has a few private charter companies and primarily local and domestic flights. The following companies have a few daily flights from/to Ogle Aerodome in Georgetown (Guyana):

  • Gum Air, Doekhieweg 03, Zorg-en-Hoop Airport, Paramaribo, ? +597 433830, fax: +597 491740, e-mail: info@gumair.com. M-Sa.
  • Trans Guyana Airways (TGA), Ogle Aerodome, Ogle, East Coast Demerara, Guyana, ? +1 592 222-2525, e-mail: commercial@transguyana.net. M-Sa.

By train

There are no trains in Suriname.

By car

Guyana has road access to Suriname. In Guyana, Georgetown inquire in for mini-buses travelling to Suriname. Note that entering SurinameNieuw Nickerie by water travel from in Guyana is illegal. Buses leave Georgetown for the Surinamese border daily. Ask for Berbice car park. In the west (Guyana-Suriname border) there's a regular river ferry between Guyana and Suriname.

There's a possibility of travelling from French Guiana by car (there a small car ferry between Suriname and Guyana). In the east there are small boats and small ferry between Albina (Suriname) and St. Laurent (French Guiana) The price is usually around SRD10 or €5 p.p.

By bus

For around SRD30 or €10 you can take the bus from Albina (bordering French Guiana) to Paramaribo.

From Georgetown, Guyana, take mini bus #63a to Molson Creek in eastern Guyana just across the river from Suriname. The trip takes at least 3h. From there, you will go through customs on the Guyanese side. Then take the 11:00 daily ferry across the river to South Drain. The actual ferry ride takes about 30 minutes.

By boat

In the west there's a regular river ferry between Guyana and Suriname. The ferry from Guyana is USD10 and runs only once a day at 11:00. The ferry departs the Suriname side for Guyana also at 11:00 (Suriname is one hour ahead of Guyana). As of December 2010 there's an additional ferry two hours later. Check for details.

From French Guiana boats cross the river to Albina at the port the price is €4 however exiting the port area and walking along the river many boats will take you for €2.

Get around

Since not many tourists visit Suriname yet and the inner-land is not within easy reach, the expenses of travel are higher than you might expect. Tourist attractions can be more expensive than in Europe or the United States. It is expected that this will change in the near future since there is an annual increase visible in foreign tourists, creating the necessity of working on better roads as well as other ways of cheaper transportation.

By car

If you’re not intending to go deep inland, rent a car but on dirt roads, always rent a four-wheel drive vehicle. The rental company will ask you where you are heading. Some don't allow you to go into the forest with their cars unless you rent a SUV.

  • Suriname traffic drives on the left side of the road.
  • There are a lot of speed bumps which are signed as drempel. These can be very high to force you to reduce your speed to nearly zero. Most bumps are constructed as twins at the entrance and exit of communities and junctions.
  • Most roads are not marked with traffic lines.
  • There are few bridges but those that you encounter may be in bad condition. Drive slowly. If you want to drive to Jodensavanne keep in mind that the bridge across the Suriname River at Carolina is closed as it is partly collapsed. There is a car ferry for about six vehicles.
  • There are plenty of gas stations but fill up your tank if you leave the paved roads.

By boat

At every riverbank you can charter boats at reasonable prices. It is wise to always travel with a tour guide.

By plane

There are two local airlines providing private connections with the innerland. Bluewing Airlines and Gumair.

Talk

Dutch is the official language of Suriname. English is widely spoken.

The creole language Sranang Tongo was suppressed by the Dutch for many years but is now the most widely used language in Suriname. It is used as a lingua franca between all the different ethnic groups and is the native language of most Surinamese people. It is sometimes referred to as Taki-Taki in French Guiana and was previously called nengre or negerengels (Dutch for "Negro English"). It is English-based because slaves were forbidden from speaking Dutch. Although there is very little written material in Sranang Tongo, it has had its own officially codified spelling since 1986.

Other languages spoken in Suriname include Sarnami (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese, Chinese (Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese), Spanish and Portuguese.

See

With almost a third of the country being declared national reserves, Suriname's main tourist attraction are its vast natural lands and the diversity of flora and fauna in them. Head to the beaches of Galibi and Albina to witness the impressive breeding process of large Leatherback sea turtles, or book a helicopter ride to one of the more remote beaches to see the same, with fewer people around. Spot river dolphins on the way and see the typical mangrove forests between the ocean and the rain forests. The Amazon rain forests cover most of the Surinam surface and is home to thousands of birds, reptiles, monkeys and even a handful of jaguars. As tourism develops, guided tours and resorts in the heart of the jungle are popping up and make a comfortable option if you want to spend a few days spotting wildlife or plants, including the rubber tree, spike-footed palms, plenty of orchids and cactuses. Day trips are an option too. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve is the most popular of the reserves and is home to the Raleigh waterfalls and mount Voltzberg. Brownsberg Nature Park is home to one of the largest man-made lakes in the world: the Brokopondo Reservoir. Visit Tonka Island to see the eco-tourism project that Saramaccaner Maroons have set up there.

Maroon and Amerindian villages are found deep in the forests, but many of them also lie on the riverbanks. A boat trip down the Marowijne river, with French Guyana just on the other side, is a great way to see the best of the forest, visit some villages and do some border hopping on the go. For a less adventurous day, try swimming in Cola Creek, a black water (Blaka Watra) recreational park some 50 km from Paramaribo and popular with Suriname families. On the way back, make sure to stop at the Jodensavanne (Jews savanna), where the Jews were allowed to settle in the 17th century. Now, only the ruins at this important historic place remind of those days.

Paramaribo itself is a pleasant place and its historic inner centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The capital has many characteristics of a large village community and although there are few real landmarks and sights, is a nice place to spend some time. Linger on the Waterkant, the water side street with its old wooden, colonial houses and grab a bite from one of the food stands there. Go shopping at the Central Market and gaze at the Jules Wijdenboschbrug. Stroll to Fort Zeelandia, through the Palm tree garden and the Independence square. Make sure to include the Roman Catholic Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral in your walk, since it is the largest wooden building in South America.

Former plantations will take you back to colonial times, when coffee and sugar where produced here. Some of the plantation houses have been renovated, and a few are even in use to make coffee and dry shrimp. Bike through the quiet and green area, between the banana plants, to visit former plantations with names like Einde Rust (End of Rest), Worsteling Jacobs (Struggle Jacobs), Zorgvliet and Zeldenrust (Rarely Rest).

Do

Although most if not all visitors will probably visit Paramaribo it is well worth getting out to explore other regions that are all in great contrast with the capital.

This can be arranged by a tour operator so you do not have to worry about transportation and accommodations. For the more adventurous Suriname is challenging but certainly not with insurmountable obstacles.

Holidays

  • 1 January - New Year's Day
  • 25 February - Revolution Day
  • 1 May - Workers' Day
  • 5 June - Indian Arrival Day
  • 1 July - Keti-koti (Sranantongo creole for "the chains are cut"). This day is also known as (Prisiri) Maspasi, meaning "Emancipation (Festival)".
  • 9 August - Day of Amerindians and Javanese Arrival Day
  • 10 October - Day of the Marroons
  • 25 November - Independence Day
  • 25 December - Christmas Day
  • 26 December - Boxing Day

Festivals

  • Owru Jari (New Year celebration) - Three days of festival to celebrate the old and new years with lots of fireworks.
  • Carnival (Feb) - Colourful carnival parades.
  • Avondvierdaagse (Apr) - Walking and dancing four days long in the streets of Paramaribo. The event starts at 17:00. The route varies and holds a different surprise every day. It meanders through the various neighbourhoods, each with its own characteristics.
  • Bodo (End of the Javanese fasting period) - Bodo is the Javanese name of the Eid al-Fitr (Sugar Feast) festival in Suriname.
  • Divali - This Hindu festival of light is a national day in Suriname since 2010
  • Jaran Kepang - Jaran Kepang is a traditional Javanese dance accompanied by gamelan music. This spectacular folk-dance is very popular in Suriname.
  • Keti Koti (Sranantongo creole for "the chains are cut") is marked on 1 July. This day is also known as (Prisiri) Maspasi, meaning "Emancipation (Festival)". (Although slavery had been abolished by the British during their early 1800's re-occupation, the Netherlands re-introduced it to Suriname in 1817, only to "abolish" it 46 years later in 1863. Slaves did not become fully free until 1873, after a mandatory 10 year transition period during which time slaves were required to work on the plantations for minimal pay and without state sanctioned torture.)
  • Winti Pré - This Creole worship is a dance ritual for gods and ghosts.

Buy

Accommodation and food is relatively cheap. Retail prices for clothing, gifts, etc, are similar to the US.

Things which are well worth buying are:

  • Handcrafted jewellery
  • handcrafted woodcarvings
  • art
  • Tropical flowers
  • Perfumes

Money

The local currency is the Suriname dollar, denoted by the symbol "$". The notation SRD (which is also the ISO 4217 international currency code) is commonly used to distinguish it from the US dollar. The currency is freely convertible (but nearly impossible to get rid of outside Suriname except for the neighbouring countries and one exchange bureau in Amsterdam airport).

You can exchange currency at all banks and at most cambio's. Automatic teller machines (ATM) are available in Paramaribo and in the most larger municipalities in the north. The ATMs of the RBTT bank accept most international bank cards. Paying by credit card in shops, hotels and restaurants is not very common. Expect 2-6% extra charge.

Business hours

The usual opening times of shops in Suriname are Mon-Thu 08:00-16:30. On Fridays there's usually late opening until 19:00 and on Saturday most establishments close at 14:00. Chinese supermarkets pop up throughout the country, even in the smallest hamlets. They are open until late in the evening.

Banks and post offices are opened Mon-Fri 07:30-14:00.

Government services are available Mon-Fri 07:00-14:00.

Eat

Because of the ethnic diversity there is a variety of exotic food available. Indian (specially roti with chicken), Chinese, Javanese (Indonesian), Creole.

Javanese

Although Indonesian food might seem the appropriate name, the Indonesian people in Suriname are mostly if not all from the island of Java. And Java has its own cuisine, distinct from other styles of Indonesian food. Furthermore, the food has evolved to a more Surinamese culture and is thus very different from food you'd find in Java. Nevertheless it tastes great and you should try it. The most popular places where you would find such food is in 'warungs' in Lelydorp on your way from the airport to Paramaribo, or Blauwgrond in Paramaribo, and since recently near the bridge in Commewijne. Bami (noodles) and nasi (fried rice) can be ordered in every warung. It is accompanied with spicy chicken or satay with peanut sauce. Vegetarian dishes are baka bana (fried banana) and petjil (vegetables with peanut sauce). Telo is fried cassava with salt fish. Popular among Javanese people is soato, a stock with strips of chicken, bean sprouts, egg and sliced ??peppers.

Chinese

Chinese food tastes great in Suriname. Good restaurants can be found in Paramaribo. Also, try visiting the Chinese market on Sunday and many of the dim sum restaurants.

East Indian

East Indian food is less spicy compared to original Indian food, but still a well appreciated meal. Very popular is roti, pancakes filled with chicken, potato and kouseband (long beans) prepared with masala. Bara is a fried cake of beans, like a donut, dripping from fat.

Creole

This type of food can be found everywhere in Suriname, with dishes like cassava soup, pom (an oven dish with milled tajer-tuber and salt meat), pastei (an oven dish in puff pastry) and brownbeans or peanut soup with tom tom (dumplings of cooked bananas).

Other

International menus are available in the more expensive downtown restaurant and hotels in Paramaribo.

Drink

Suriname wouldn't be the tropical paradise it is without its wide variety of great fruit juices. Even the well known orange juice is a sensational taste, but do not hesitate to try great tropical fruits like passion fruit (known locally as 'markoesa') or soursap, better known as Guanábana (locally known as 'zuurzak'). Since locals have an appetite for sweetness, sugar is added to most juices you buy in bottles. For pure juice it is best to ask for fresh made juice.

In the city it's also possible to get shaved ice in different flavours from the local vendors, which is very refreshing in the tropical climate.

The Javanese have a pink (and occasionally green) coloured drink called dawet, which consists of coconut milk.

Try to get a local 'east-Indian' to make you a glass of lassi if you have the chance.

Alcohol

Beer: Try the local 'Parbo-beer', which, when it comes in one litre bottles, is called a 'djogo'. In 2008, Suriname finally got Parbo beer in a can, which was somewhat of a major event in the country. Guinness is a popular import beer, and for that reason Parbo also brews a very decent own stout variant: Parbo Stout and their own rums: Borgoe and Black Cat. Of course imported beers, whiskeys and rums are also available.

Sleep

There are several good hostels and guest-houses available in Paramaribo and Nickerie. See the appropriate page for more information. When going into the rainforest it is best to buy a hammock in Paramaribo. Some guest houses in the forest provide hammocks, but these tend to be less hygienic, since washing machines are not that available in the forest. Bring mosquito repellent and sunblock when going into the forest.

Learn

The Universiteit van Suriname

Students wishing to obtain an education here must have a working knowledge of Dutch as classes are only instructed in Dutch.

Work

Working as a foreigner in Suriname without a work permit is illegal, though granted, there is not much of a force to stop you. However, relations do exist between the Netherlands and Suriname for work exchange programs and extra labour, especially those of skilled classes.

Stay safe

If you are concerned about safety try to avoid venturing at night alone. Try using a bike when possible. When in Paramaribo at night, avoid the Palm Garden as this is a well known crime site where much drug trade is done. The police force is only so large and can only protect you to a certain extent. Therefore, stay where you know police protection is offered. So please, use common sense when venturing outside downtown, which in itself can have problems. Do NOT venture to the bush (binnenland) alone.

Stay healthy

To enter Suriname there’s no need for any special kind of vaccination, though some are recommended (see below). If you plan a jungle-trip, which is highly recommended, it is possible that you may want to take precautions against malaria, depending on the area you are planning to visit (although since 2005 there have not been any cases of malaria reported in Suriname).

Be sure to check with BOG, or your local pharmacist or health clinic what prophylactic you should take. The bigger threat nowadays comes from dengue, also spread by mosquitoes, for which there is no prophylactic, nor any cure. Travellers diarrhoea can also potentially be a problem.

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended. (Required to get into Brazil afterwards!) Tetanus-diphtheria vaccination is recommended. Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended.

The Adult HIV/AIDS prevalence is reaching 2% or 1 in 50 adults, which is 3 times higher than the US and 9 times higher than the Netherlands. Be sure to practice safe sex.

The CDC has listed Suriname as a country affected by the Zika pandemic. Men and women planning to become pregnant, and pregnant women are advised to take extra caution.

Respect

Be respectful when taking photographs. Like everywhere else, one should respect the environment and the culture. For example the inland-people consider certain trees and spots holy and it is likely you need consent before taking a photograph. Your local guide will usually also indicate so. Ask for consent when you think it is appropriate as you would anywhere else.

Connect

  • Emergencies:, ? 115.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Violent and petty crime such as pickpocketing and robbery are common in the capital, Paramaribo, and outlying areas, especially in the major business and shopping districts. Foreigners are particularly targeted. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and travel documents are secure at all times. Do not show signs of affluence. Avoid walking alone after dark outside the immediate vicinity of major hotels. Theft from vehicles also occurs.

Banditry and lawlessness are a problem in the cities of Albina and Moengo, and along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina. The Palm Garden (“Palmentuin”) in the Dutch area of Paramaribo should be avoided after dark due to illicit activities and the lack of police presence.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations, protests, marches and strikes may occur at any time in the capital, throughout the country and on main highways; sometimes they become violent. Local transportation services can be disrupted. Roadblocks may occur on main roads at any time, causing traffic disruptions. Do not attempt to cross blockades, even if they appear unattended. Because of the unpredictable nature of these demonstrations and the potential for violence, avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, and monitor local news reports.

Road travel

Traffic drives on the left. Road conditions are different from those in Canada. Many thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians and bicycles to share the road. In Paramaribo, most roads are paved but not well maintained. Poor road conditions, inadequate lighting, dangerous driving and poorly maintained vehicles pose hazards. Road conditions are worst during and after the rainy seasons. In the interior, some roads are impassable and some bridges are in disrepair.

Because of the possibility of theft or banditry, drive with windows closed and doors locked.

Check the latest conditions with the Foundation for Nature Conservation at:

Stichting Natuurbehoud Suriname (STINASU)
Tel: 597-421-683 or 597-421-579
Email: stinasu@sr.net

Car rentals are available. Vehicles with foreign plates are required to undergo a vehicle overhaul test to ensure that the vehicle meets Surinamese traffic standards. The owner will then be granted a Surinamese licence plate. Avoid driving motorcycles or scooters.

Public transportation

Avoid using public minibuses. Taxis are available at major hotels. Agree on a fare prior to departure. Air-conditioned taxis will charge more. Do not hail taxis on the street, as they tend to overcharge foreigners.

Domestic flights are subject to delays.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Trekking

The dense jungle and local fauna can be hazardous. Contact local authorities for the latest security and travel information.

If you intend to trek:

a) never trek alone;
b) always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable;
c) buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
d) ensure that you are in top physical condition;
e) advise a family member or friend of your itinerary;
f) know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;
g) register with the Consulate of Canada in Paramaribo; and
h) obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out.

General security information

Telecommunication services are poor, especially during heavy rains.

Emergency services

Police response, especially at night, is rare for all but the most serious crimes. Police presence outside Paramaribo is scarce.

Dial 115 for local police, 110 for fire fighters, and 113 for ambulance services.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness)West Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

HIV

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Outside the capital, medical facilities are limited. There is only one public emergency room with ambulance services. There is also a helicopter medical emergency service, HI-JET, which can be reached at 110.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Possession or trafficking of illegal drugs is considered a serious offence. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and/or heavy fines. Pack your luggage yourself and do not carry items that do not belong to you.

Laws

If you have a Canadian driver’s licence, you may obtain a local driver’s permit, which is valid for one year. To do so, you must first deposit 150 Surinamese dollars with the head office of the Suriname Postal Service at Kerkplein 1 in Paramaribo, and then present that deposit slip together with your passport to the local police.

Money

The official currency is the Surinamese dollar (SRD). Use only hotels, local banks or official money exchanges (“cambios”) to exchange currency, as it is illegal and dangerous to do so elsewhere. Credit cards are not accepted outside major hotels.

Climate

The rainy seasons extend from May to August and from November to February. Heavy rains and flooding can occur. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.

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