Banks and foreign exchange bureaus will usually offer the best exchange rate. Whatever the case, to avoid scams, never exchange money on the street.MasterCard, (Visa, etc.) are only accepted at more upscale locations, so carry at least some cash with you at all times. ATMs are fairly common in major cities, but it has been warned that some machines will “eat” user cards, so use them with caution. Also beware of the steep $2-4 service charge for each transaction.
Swahili is the official language of the social and political sphere in Tanzania, and is the primary language used in primary education. Still, English is used in secondary schools and universities; though less prevalent than it used to be, you may find that English is widely spoken. Indian, Portuguese and French are also commonly heard throughout the country.
While in Tanzania, drink only bottled water, or purified water, to avoid infection.
The following vaccinations are recommended when traveling in Tanzania:
- Yellow fever
- Hepatitis A and B
Visitors may also consider getting a booster for tetanus, polio, and measles. Talk to your travel doctor before going on your trip to ensure you have all of the shots you need, and always check your home country’s Center for Disease Control website for any last-minute outbreaks or updates.
Though public hospitals in Tanzania tend to be under-sourced, private hospitals do offer quality care if you should become sick during your trip. To be on the safe side, talk to your insurance carrier before your trip to make sure you fully understand your coverage while overseas, and always take preventative measures to stay safe and healthy throughout your stay. For instance, always wear insect repellent, always wash your hands before eating, stay hydrated, and carry a first aid kit if traveling to remote areas. These simple measures will go a long way in helping you avoid common ailments throughout your journey.
Malaria is a common concern in Tanzania. In addition to wearing repellent, always take special cautions, such as sleeping under a net, and wearing long pants and closed shoes. You might also consider taking anti-malarial medicine, before, during and after your trip, just to be safe.
Also worth noting is that HIV/AIDS infection is prevalent in Tanzania, as in other countries throughout Africa. Do not have unprotected sex or share needles during your trip.
Public telephones are available in most major cities, and can usually be accessed at the local post office in more rural areas. The country code in Tanzania is 255. Pay-as-you-go cell service might also be available if you are staying in an urban area.
In general, gratuities are expected in Tanzania, especially for safari, hotel, and restaurant staff. In high-end hotels, you might find a tip box at the main reception desk. You can tip the staff individually, via tip box, or both if you’re feeling generous. For trekking tips, it’s generally recommended that you budget 10-15 percent of your climb cost for tips. Sample tips would be $5-20 per day for a personal driver or guide; $5 to $20 per day for a personal chef or cook; and $5 to $10 per day for a porter. In general, tips are per day, not per person.
If taking pictures of locals, you might also consider paying them for the opportunity.
Tanzanians drive on the left side of the road, and car rentals can be organized through some hotels. Be aware of aggressive taxi drivers, potholes and uncovered man holes. Though car-jacking is not a common problem, thievery is. Beware that thieves may stop your car when at traffic lights. Keep your windows closed and doors locked at all times.
Especially in the primarily Muslim island of Zanzibar, wear conservative or modest attire. “Kangas,” or wrapping cloths, are available throughout the region and can help travelers stay discreet during their journey.