Oakland

Oakland is the 8th largest city in California, the largest city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, and a major West Coast port city. The city is located 12 minutes from San Francisco, 1 hour from Napa and Sonoma, and 40 minutes from Silicon Valley. It is home to the oldest wildlife sanctuary in the nation (at Lake Merritt) and has over 100 activities to offer year-round like walking the labyrinth at Sibley Volcanic Preserve in the Oakland Hills, walking tours to enjoy Oakland’s architecture, and listening to live music at Yoshi’s Jazz Club Oakland among others! It is important, however, to take precautions to fully enjoy your stay in Oakland. Bellow, you will find what you need to know when visiting the city.

SAFETY INDEX

As in any other major city, crime is a concern; therefore, it’s important to take precautions and avoid dangerous areas. Crime is a serious issue in the eastern and western Oakland neighbourhoods. We recommend that you avoid West and East Oakland and Lake Merritt unless you have family or friends or business in these districts; otherwise, there are not many tourist attractions. If you decide to walk, please note that there are issues with homelessness and substance abuse, so you may be asked for change in an aggressive way. In conclusion, some areas that we recommend using extra caution: North Oakland, Telegraph to San Pablo (East to West). West Oakland bordered by West Mac to 5th Street (North to South).

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

Unsafe areas are generally far away from any tourist attractions and have little to no interest for visitors. Most crime occurs between individuals who know each other or in high crime-ridden areas of the city. 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 : MEDIUM

Muggings are the crime for tourists to be concerned with. 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 : MEDIUM

As in any touristic place, there may be people trying to scam you. 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. 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 : MEDIUM

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is reliable and safe. At a reasonable price, you can travel between San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. Once you are on the platform, be sure of where you want to go. The bus system, however, can leave you waiting for a while. If you are driving, take note that autos are often broken into, so don’t leave valuables in your car.

Mid Priority-96 NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

There can be some occasional earthquakes and floods.

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : LOW

Terrorist attacks are unlikely. 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.

Carte

WHAT TO DO?

China Town

This is one of the oldest Chinatowns in the country; it was settled in the 1850s. Now, it is not only just Chinese, this area is Pan Asian, with Koreans, Vietnamese and Japanese. This neighborhood is the foodie paradise where you can find from the hand-pulled Chinese noodles at Shan Dong to boba tea at Sweet Booth. You can see products displayed on the sidewalks or in the windows. You may also want to check out the colorful murals in most blocks like the Chinese Zodiac dragon on 10th and Jackson. Make sure you visit the Fortune Cookie Factory, which is inside a storefront on 12th Street. The owners offer tours of the factory for just $1!

Lake Merritt/Grand Lake

Lake Merritt was the first official wildlife refuge (in 1870) in the United States. If you are looking for a peaceful place to relax, this may be your spot! There are also the options to have a BBQ, salsa dancing and sun bathing at Lakeside Park. Not sold yet? Check out the Grand Lake Theater, which lights up the neighborhood.

Downtown Oakland

This district is considered a safe area to enjoy the culture, shopping, cafes, and nightclubs, especially during the day. At night, we recommend that you stick to well-lit and populated streets and use common sense. This vibrant melting pot is peppered with beautiful architecture like the the African American Museum and Library in a 1902 Carnegie, the Pardee Home (which dates back to 1868), and the Rotunda Building. Many of the murals that you’ll see around the streets tell the stories of its people and their difficulties. If you are a gamer, you will feel at home at the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE).

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