Stay safe / healthy
Hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas. Floods are common.
Police manning checkpoints will demand bribes, expect no less than USD5; there are many reports that a trip from the Cameroon border to Bangui will cost hundreds of US dollars or Euros in bribes. Police will often confiscate an item (passport, camera, watch) and demand money for it. Armed robberies on roads in the country are common. Violent crime in the capital is common even in daylight, particularly around the "kilometre 5" bus station. Alcoholism is a major problem with city-dwellers, so be weary of drunks and do not even think about drinking with locals (you will be out-drunk).
In March 2003, rebel forces took over the government of the Central African Republic, and the group's leader named himself president. Despite peaceful elections in March 2005, tourists could be at risk, particularly during public gatherings. The Christian terrorist group Anti-balaka and the Islamist group Seleka with its associated jihadists still operate in the country. For the latest on the current tense security situation, see the warningbox at the top of this page.
In theory, visitors can obtain a permis de filmer from the Ministry of Tourism in Bangui with a turnaround of a couple days. In practice, however, photography is viewed with suspicion and disliked not just with the police/army around the usual sensitive locations (government buildings, infrastructure, checkpoints), but by regular people just about everywhere. Taking photos conspicuously will draw negative attention and you should ask for permission to take anyone's photo—even in public places.
Some areas of Bangui have clean and filtered drinking water, so it is safe to drink water served at some restaurants and bars. However, the purity of the water is not reliable and thus it is safer to buy bottled water or boil/filter water. Outside the capital there is no guarantee of water purity. All food should be cooked or peeled prior to being served, particularly food purchased at local markets, where hygiene is a concern. If illness should arise, it is better to seek counsel with one of the doctors at an embassy (the French embassy and US embassy both have fine doctors) or at a clinic at an organisation like Institut Pasteur. The local clinics and hospitals sometimes have a limited supply of necessary resources such as syringes, medicine, etc.