Houston

Houston is the largest city in Texas, and its multiculturalism and diversity has made it home to many large nations like Latino, African American, and Asian American populations. Although the city is an urban sprawl, the districts closest to Downtown offer visitors a vast array of choices in a relatively small area like an eclectic museum and arts scene, and vibrant shopping. Moreover, it has become a growing destination for food lovers. Houston is a noteworthy tourist destination, but like all large cities there are some areas to avoid. Below, you will find what you need to know when visiting Houston.

SAFETY INDEX

Crime in Houston is high, and the city has a reputation among Texans as a high crime city. Travelers to Houston should follow common safety procedures such as staying away from deserted areas after dark, keeping purses/wallets in a secure location, and putting valuables out-of-sight in parked vehicles. However, it is important to always keep an eye on your belongings and remain alert for any suspicious activity. Some areas recommended to avoid are Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood near the University of Houston and Sunnyside south of Downtown Houston. These areas have a very high crime rate, especially for violent crimes. There is gang related activity in the Southwest side of Houston, so it is best to not visit, especially at night. We recommend to visit the tourist areas of Houston like Downtown Houston, Memorial City, the Galleria area, and the Medical Center.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Houston is overall a safe city; However, we recommend you take normal safety precautions and exercise common sense as you would in any other major city. Watch out for pickpockets in tourist areas and protect your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

Pickpocket and bag and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : LOW

Houston is an averagely safe city regarding the chances of being mugged or kidnapped. Though most victims are not physically injured, criminals usually do not hesitate to use force if the target does not cooperate; in case of being robbed, do not resist and hand over your valuables.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : HIGH

As in any touristic place, there may be people trying to scam you in Houston. Homeless people can be aggressive towards you if you don’t hand them money. Be aware of “gold ring” tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage. Credit card scams are also common. Never leave your card out of sight, and withdraw money from reputable banks or hotels.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Transports and are generally very safe in Houston.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

The chance of a natural disaster happening in Houston is higher than other cities across the country. Disaster types are hurricanes, major flooding, catastrophic hail and earthquakes.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

Terrorist attacks are unlikely in Houston. However, they cannot be ruled out. Remain vigilant and take advice from authorities, hotels and tour operators.

Mid Priority-96 WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW

Many women travel safely without any issues.

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WHAT TO DO?

Downtown

Here, Downtown caters to every taste, budget, and age. You can select any kind of entertainment from a rich nightlife at a bar like La Carafa (which occupies the oldest commercial building in Houston), to movie screenings and blanket bingo at Market Square Park. Many of the major sporting arenas like Toyota Center, Minute Maid Park, and BBVA Compass Stadium are found here as well.

River Oaks

This is the Beverly Hills of Houston. Here, you’ll find landmarks like the River Oaks Theater and gorgeous old money homes. River Oaks District recently opened its doors, which is the Rodeo Drive for Houston's fashion lovers.

Montrose

This charming district has murals that decorate the sides of cafés; art galleries where you can find the work of Houston artists. Moreover, Montrose is the culinary hub where you’ll find the best food in the city.

Museum District

The Museum District is home to Houston’s finest museums like The MFAH (Museum of Fine Art Houston) and the CAMH (Contemporary Art Museum Houston). The Holocaust Museum and The Menil Collection are also located in this district. Houston is overall a safe city; However, we recommend you take normal safety precautions and exercise common sense as you would in any other major city. Watch out for pickpockets in tourist areas and protect your valuables.

Useful Information

The US has one of the harshest entry policy, sometimes asking for an interview even for a tourist visa. Prepare to pay fees up to USD 160 for your application. Some countries like the ones from the EU or Australia have a visa waiver program (ESTA) which can be filled online. See https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html for more information. Strong custom regulations also apply (see the CPB website for more details), and the Travel Safety Administration can open your luggage without your presence. www.doyouneedvisa.com is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in the United States is the US Dollar. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted countrywide, and ATMs are found nearly in every city. The costs can vary widely between the states, but it is fair to assume a $100 budget per day on average, $150 if you rent a car and around $300 for top end accomodation. A 10% service tipping is customary in many sectors such as airport and hotel bag porters, bartenders , hotel maids, restaurant servers and taxi drivers.
The weather in the US varies greatly between the states : from the mediterranean weather of California to the Glaciers of Alaska or the subtropical Florida, each region has its best time to visit; although major cities can be visited all year round. This graph can be useful for finding the best time to travel.
The main international airports are in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Denver and San Francisco. If you’re looking fore cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page