Palau travel guide

About Palau

An untamed paradise for divers and snorkellers, Paula is an archipelago of more than 500 islands, which sprout like giant mushrooms from the crystalline waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The island of Koror is the beating heart of the country and the entry point for most visitors. Home to most of Palau’s inhabitants, it is far from the prettiest island in the archipelago and few choose to linger here. Those who do, however, can grab a slice of Micronesian life in the local bars and restaurants, where charismatic natives take pleasure convincing foreigners to try the local delicacy: fruit bat soup.

Palau is also home to some of the world’s healthiest and most impressive UNESCO-listed reefs. Iridescent corals swirl around the islands, their marine populations teeming with a bounty few other places can match. Indeed, not a list exists that doesn’t rank Palau’s Blue Corner amongst the planet’s top dive sites.

It isn’t just in the tropical seas where strange creatures thrive, for Palau is also home to one of the most ecologically sensitive and unique evolutionary phenomena: Jellyfish Lake. Cut off from the sea millions of years ago, the lake’s predator-free inhabitants have evolved to lose their poisonous sting. To snorkel slowly amongst these gentle creatures is to float through an alien world.

While it’s easy to see Palau's beauty, a closer look will reveal scars from ferocious battles that took place on these shores during WWII. Ship and plane wrecks remain buried in dark lagoons, while long-forgotten bunkers and rusted machine guns are peppered across the islands. This is testament to Palau’s tumultuous modern history, which saw it swap hands from Germany to Japan and, finally, the Untied States, before achieving independence in 1994.

While Palau may be remote and untamed, it is precisely these attributes that make it one of the world’s last unspoiled natural beauties. The archipelago endures as a marvel of Mother Nature, stands proud as a centre for Micronesian culture and offers a haunting memorial to battles once fought in its turquoise waters.

Key facts


459 sq km (177 sq miles).


21,501 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

46.3 per sq km.




Republic in free association with the USA.

Head of state:

President Surangel Whipps, Jr. since 2021.

Head of government:

President Surangel Whipps, Jr. since 2021.

Travel Advice

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

About FCDO travel advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Palau set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Palau Consulate in Batley in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Palau, although the entry form will ask whether you are vaccinated.

Passport validity requirements

Your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive in Palau and at least 2 blank pages.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements

You can visit Palau for up to 30 days without a pre-arranged visa.

Border officials will issue a 30-day tourist visa on arrival. You may need to show proof of onward or return travel.

Contact the Bureau of Immigration before you travel if you’re likely to seek an extension of your stay.

Telephone: (+680) 488 2498 or 2678 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm)


Border control

You must sign the Palau Pledge which is stamped in your passport on arrival.

You must also complete the Palau entry form within 72 hours of your arrival.

Entry by sea

If you arrive by sea, you must give at least 48 hours’ notice of your arrival so that immigration formalities can be arranged.

You must complete the Palau entry form within 72 hours of your arrival.

Vaccine requirements

For details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Palau guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Palau. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty on the Palau entry form.

Declare personal items worth more than 400 US dollars and cash or travellers cheques if the value is 10,000 US dollars or more.

It’s illegal to bring reef-toxic sunscreen into Palau. You’ll see disposal bins for banned sunscreens. If customs officials find reef-toxic sunscreen in your baggage, they will confiscate it. Permitted sunscreens generally have an active ingredient of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.    

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Palau

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Palau, attacks cannot be ruled out.


Protecting your belongings

Crime levels are low, and you’re more likely to experience theft of unattended items than confrontational crime. Take sensible precautions to protect your belongings and keep your accommodation secure.


There has been an increase in credit card fraud. This may include credit card skimming devices or other types of data theft. Take care when paying with credit cards or withdrawing money from ATMs.

Laws and cultural differences

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

There are heavy penalties for all drug offences. If you’re convicted of possessing even a small amount of an illegal drug, you could get a fine or a prison sentence.

Alcohol laws

The legal drinking age in Palau is 21 years. It is illegal to drink alcohol in public, except on licensed premises.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Unexploded bombs and weapons

There are unexploded World War 2 bombs and weapons in Palau. There is a higher risk on the islands of Peleliu and Angaur, where there were major battles in the Pacific campaign.

Be alert to the risk if exploring caves or hiking off main routes. Do not touch anything that appears to be made of metal. Take pictures and report anything out of the ordinary to the authorities. 

Swimming and diving safety

Take local advice before swimming or diving from high rocks. There are over 60 vertical drop-offs in the diving areas and some are for experienced divers only.

Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance that includes medical evacuation and covers your planned activities.

See water safety on holiday from the Royal Life Saving Society.

Scuba diving

Diving school standards are not always as high as in the UK. You should:

  • check a dive operator’s credentials
  • make sure you’re covered by insurance
  • make sure safety equipment is available on the boat, particularly oxygen
  • ask about safety precautions, including the ability to transfer divers to Palau’s only hyperbaric chamber

The hyperbaric chamber is at the Belau National Hospital in Koror, less than 2 hours from most locations. 

If you have not had any previous diving experience:

  • ask your dive instructor to explain what cover they offer before signing up
  • check what to do if something goes wrong, including how to call for help while at sea

Reef-toxic sunscreen

It’s illegal to use reef-toxic sunscreen in Palau. Permitted sunscreens generally have an active ingredient of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

There are penalties for selling reef-toxic sunscreen.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Palau, see information on driving abroad.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Palau for up to 30 days. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well. After 30 days you must apply for a Palauan driving licence.

Road conditions

Main roads are in reasonable condition. Inland roads may be narrow and damaged by flooding during the summer months. It’s illegal to overtake on Palauan roads, but drivers often overtake with poor safety awareness.

In rural areas roads have limited signage and hazard warnings. Avoid driving after dark, as roads are unlit and you could hit people or livestock.

Drink-driving is a common cause of accidents. Watch out for erratic driving, particularly at night and weekends.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Rainy season and flooding

Palau is vulnerable to tropical cyclones and floods. There is higher rainfall from April to November, peaking in July and August. Severe downpours can cause floods and damage roads. 

Monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organization and the Japanese Meteorological Agency and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities.

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to tropical cyclones.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 911 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccine recommendations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:

See what health risks you’ll face in Palau, including:

  • Zika virus
  • dengue


The Belau National Hospital in Koror has a pharmacy that dispenses basic medicines.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Palau

Health facilities in Palau are adequate for routine medical care. The only national hospital is Belau National Hospital in Koror, which is less than 2 hours from most locations. The hospital has a hyperbaric chamber to treat patients in diving accidents and can carry out operations.

There are small number of private clinics and community health centres that offer basic primary and urgent care services. Doctors and medical centres often expect immediate cash payment.

Emergency treatment or treatment for serious conditions is limited so may require medical evacuation. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Palau

Telephone: 911   (ambulance, fire, police)

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are in Palau and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Manila, Philippines, who provide consular assistance for Palau.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

A digital image at

Book a Hotel