First off I had a great time in Kingston. That being said, it is definitely for the adventurous traveler only. It can be very tense at times especially in the downtown vicinity but this applies to pretty much 90% of the city. Uptown is a little more forgiving but not by much. If you do not feel or look confident of yourself I would not recommend it. If you are not black you will get a lot of looks, a mix of friendly, curious & sometimes hostile. I walked around on foot Uptown & Downtown & I never had any problems & I didn't show it but I was nervous at times. I walked from Uptown towards downtown and when i reached Crossroads station area it was so crowded that you could hardly move, most people were just standing around it seemed and people were randomly coming up to me, it was a bit overwhelming. I continued southwards on Slipe Rd. towards the downtown core & the situation grew more & more tense before I decided to turn around. There are holes in the ground, exposed power lines hanging at face level (LOL), no crosswalks, people standing dangerously close to live traffic, etc. Marijuana is everywhere & will be offered to you constantly, it is ok to smoke as long as you dont flaunt it. Be confident, do not try to look tough, be aware of your surroundings & you will be ok. Exploring at night can be very dangerous. I went to Trenchtown, Coronation / Jubilee Market areas, even right by the entrance to Tivoli Gardens slum, strolled thru a side street in the Swallowfield section & ate street food amongst the locals, drank at couple bars & basically winged it. Can't wait to go back.
Kingston is not dangerous. I'm a white 27 year old woman and I walked there alone maby 40 times.
But it depends on your vibes, if you're nice and friendly as a person.
I know people in Kingston, and that helps. Before you go to an area like Rema and Cassava Piece you have to make sure that you know someone there.
But if you're in the center it's cool and full of friendly people...
Stear clear of Spanish Town! It's just as easy to get lost there as in Kingston and as potentially dangerous as going to Trenchtown. Just not worth it unless escorted by a well-known local...and even then...
Kingston is probably one of the most unsafe places I have ever visit. You can feel the tension anywhere, specially if you are a foreing white guy.
The city is divided in two areas, uptown and downtown.
Uptown is quite save during the day, but I wouldn't recomend to walk around there at night.
The downtown is crazy, we went there twice and the dirt and the poverty were everywhere, it seems more to be in Africa than in the caribean sea, for first time in a long time I felt fear. Anyway, now I remember that like a great experience, it's up to you!
If you are thinking about going downtown go ALWAYS with a Kingstonian. If the people see you with a local they won't try to sell you anything, because they know that you guide is doing bussiness with you. They won't respect you too much, but they respect each other. ;-]
As almost everywhere else in the world, there are prostitutes in Jamaica, although they are not a particular problem. There are some that hang about the pool bar and the Jonkanoo club in the Hilton Hotel in Kingston, although they are not terribly pushy. The main street at the side of the Hilton where the Quad club is also seems to be a favourite haunt. Farther from the centre, the area round Braemar Avenue / Comlin Bank Road seems to be another haunt. One evening, whilst returning home, my friends and I were greeted by the sight of one of the ladies sitting completely naked on a stool by the side of the road - not, I have to say, an attractive sight.
When we were entering the Devon House parking lot, there were guards handing out parking cards that you were supposed to take with and not leave it in the vehicle. On the way out, you hand the card back to the guard, the system obviously in effect to deter car theft. I imagine car theft is a problem in Kingston so lock your car up when you leave it and make sure you don't leave valuables in the car, especially not in plain sight.
There are possibly a total of two designated crosswalks in the whole of Kingston, so you will have to cross somewhere. When you do, remember to look right and then left, not left then right as we (well I) learned when growing up. Jamaicans drive on the left side of the road, and VERY fast I might add. I almost got killed a few times making this simple mistake.
I almost fell in this hole, wich was about a meter deep, on a downtown sidewalk. Watch where you walk.