Nairobi isn’t nearly as bad as its “Nairobbery” reputation would suggest. The city has cleaned up considerably over the past few years: the city centre is less threatening, there are fewer street children, beggars and touts, and a dedicated tourist police force patrols the streets. That said, it pays to take some precautions against crime. It helps to memorize any route you’re walking, as lost-looking tourists are easier targets. Keep your hands out of reach, as a handshake can sometimes throw you off guard, and be – rationally – suspicious of everyone until you’ve caught your breath. It doesn’t take long to get a little streetwise. Every rural Kenyan coming to the city for the first time goes through exactly the same process.
At night, be extra vigilant if you’re walking in the city centre and don’t wander outside the CBD unless you’re really clued-up. Be especially wary in the River Road district, which in practical terms means anything east of Moi Avenue, and indeed sometimes including the avenue. Even some locals avoid walking there and taxi drivers are quite often reluctant to venture into certain parts of the district. Obviously don’t walk through the parks at night.
All the main bus and matatu stations are somewhat chaotic and ideal for pickpockets and snatch-and-run robberies. If you’re driving or being driven, avoid displaying phones and cameras and laptops, and keep your windows rolled up, especially at traffic lights.