Caribbean Tourism

Local Information – Port-au-Prince


Shantytown dwellers don’t welcome obvious sightseers and people with cameras. The area between the Champs de Mars and the waterfront is deserted after dark and should be avoided. It is safe to go to most places by car or taxi at night, but don’t go about on foot except in Pétionville’s restaurant and bar district. Remember that frequent power cuts plunge entire neighbourhoods into darkness. Drivers must always carry a licence as police blocks are common at night.

Watch out for pickpockets in markets and bus terminal areas and inside buses.

Be careful of traffic when walking around town. Street vendors crowd the pavements, forcing pedestrians into the path of vehicles. Many people have been knocked down and injured.

Street Names

Several major Port-au-Prince thoroughfares have two names, the official one used for maps and the telephone book, and the one commonly used in speech. Often the taxi drivers only know the second. Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines is also known as Grand’ Rue (Créole: Gran Ri); Avenue Lamartinière is Bois Verna (Cr: Bwa Vèna); ave Jean Paul II is Turgeau (Cr: Tijo); ave John Brown is Lalue (Cr: Lali); ave Paul VI is rue des Casernes (Cr: Ridekazèn); ave Martin Luther King is Nazon (Cr: Nazon).

Banks & Money Changers

Promobank, corner of Lamarre and ave John Brown, also a branch at Blvd du Quai and rue Eden; Banque de Boston, rue des Miracles (place Geffrard); Scotiabank, route de Delmas (beneath Canadian embassy) and branch on rue des Miracles nr corner of Blvd Dessalines; Citibank, route de Delmas. Also several small Haitian banks such as Sogebank and Banque de L'Union Haïtienne. There are long queues in most banks for any kind of service.

Exchange: banks offer a slightly higher rate of exchange than street changers and you are less likely to receive forged notes. Counterfeit 250-gourde notes are reported to be in circulation. Street money changers (Fr: cambistes) can be found on rue Pavée, at the airport, or nr the market in Pétionville. wIt is perfectly legal but they will try and make as much as possible out of you. Check the rate on page 2 of the daily Le Nouvelliste newspaper. You may prefer to go in a car and do it through the window. The cambiste hands over the agreed sum in gourdes for you to count before you surrender the equivalent US dollar amount. They take only cash. If possible, use a cambiste you have seen regularly at a particular spot; never allow yourself to be steered to a cambiste by an informal guide.

Currency dealers working out of offices give almost as good a rate. They also take TCs. Try Daniel Fouchard (T 23-1739) 14 rue des Miracles, Banque de Boston Bldg. Many importers and big retailers give a good rate for cash, TCs and even personal cheques on US bank accounts. Try Didier Rossard (T 22-5163), upstairs at 115 Place Geffrard; M or Mme Handal at Express Market, ave John Brown, six blocks down from Villa St-Louis. (See also Currency in Information for travellers.)


Institut Haitiano-Americain (T 22-3715/2947) corner of rue Capois and rue St-Cyr, next to Holiday Inn, 0800-1200, 1300-1700 Mon to Fri. The director is helpful to visiting travellers. Institut Français (T 22-3720), corner of Blvd Harry Truman and rue des Casernes, Bicentenaire, 1000-1600 Tues to Fri, 0900-1700 Sat; also has art exhibitions, concerts and plays.

Tour Companies & Travel Agents

Agence Citadelle (T 23-5900) place du Marron Inconnu, sightseeing tours in a/c buses, travel to Dominican Republic and Cuba (owner Bobby Chauvet is a leading Haitian ecologist); Horizons Tours, 192B ave John Brown, T 45-8208, tours to Cuba; Agence Martine, 17 rue de Miracles, flights to Miami; ABC Tours, rue Pavée, nr Sainte-Trinité, courteous, helpful; Chatelain Tours (T 23-2400/22-5664) rue Geffrard, handles Terra Bus to Santo Domingo inc immigration formalities; Continental Travel (T 22-0604) 105 rue Pavée; Magic Island Tours, 82 rue Pavée, corner of Rue du Centre, unhelpful; Southerland Tours (T 22-1600) 30 ave Marie Jeanne. Because of the collapse of tourism, sightseeing tours are set up only on request.

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