The pestering of tourists, irritatingly widespread on the north coast, is refreshingly uncommon in Kingston. Nevertheless, Kingston’s crime statistics are undeniably ugly and, as with any big city, there are some places that you should steer clear of. There is serious poverty in the eastern and western residential areas of downtown Kingston – these ghettos are not places for casual sightseeing and, with the exception of visiting the Trench Town Culture Yard for example, there is no reason to venture into them. If you are unlucky enough to be the victim of an attempted robbery, do not, under any circumstances, resist your assailant – hand over whatever they’re asking for, and get away as quickly as possible.
The more central part of downtown, covered in this guide, has its share of impoverished enclaves, and violence occasionally spills over from the surrounding ghettos to the core commercial streets described in this book, but if you use your common sense and don’t flash cash, jewellery or fancy cameras, you’re unlikely to have any problems during the day. However, once the area’s office workers have departed – around 5.30pm – there is little reason to linger.
During the day, the uptown area feels fine, particularly once you’re familiar with the main roads. At night, you’re best off getting a taxi if you’re travelling any distance. If you’re driving late at night, be aware that some local drivers may not stop at traffic lights to prevent potential robberies; whether or not you choose to follow suit, it’s wise to slow down and look each way at junctions even when you have a green light.