Place to Stay in PaP? Other Hints?
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jan 29, 2013 9:25 PM Last Post By: iliybrik
Jan 22, 2013 6:34 PM
Place to Stay in PaP? Other Hints?I am planning on going to PaP for two weeks Feb. 6-20. I am a mid-40s woman travelling alone and I am a seasoned global traveller. Although I've been to Cuba a few times solo I've never been to Haiti and my French/Creole is not good.
Any ideas on inexpensive place to stay? I'd like my money to go to Haitians rather than outside sources.
I'm also interested in hints for getting to/from the airport and around in general.
Anything I need to know about money changing? How about reliable food sources? Medecine that is good to have on hand? Safety/security concerns?
Jan 22, 2013 10:47 PM
1If you are staying in Port au Prince, there are many lower cost options, but location choices may be an issue. There are several guest-houses run by charities, but they are typically in the Delmas area, not close to downtown or Petionville. I wish the old posts were active, but if you can check out the LP guide, you will get some ideas - also go over to trip advisor - many of the guest houses are listed there and may actually have contact info. But consider location. Also - many of these places are run by either Haitians or by charities that employ and help (or try to help) Haitians.
Distances are less of an issue than the roads and traffic problems, so - getting around: if you are on a budget you will want to consider and get used to taptaps. They are the main public transport; a small pickup truck with the back roof lifted a bit and a pair of benches in the bed. The cost varies based on how long the ride is, and they run on set routes - occasionally made clear on the doors. You usually pay the driver or his guy when the ride ends. Have the change - 5 or single gourdes. Bills are a pain for them. There are usually a few helpful people around to show you the ropes at the guest houses. Hire one for a couple of days to show you how this works, and the lay of the city, where to find basics, a bit of the language to get by, change money.
Many guest houses/hotels will pick you up at the airport for a fee. Not cheap, but actually a relief for most first timers. It can be a chaotic and overwhelming experience, so getting a lift is okay. Otherwise you will want to negotiate a taxi, but w/o knowing your destination, I can't help there.
Get your shots - make sure you are up-to-date with all vaccines so you don't leave anything behind, let alone get something new. I have never needed an antibiotic, but some folks carry them. Consider anti-malarials. Only eat food that you know was cooked well or was washed and peeled, and drink/brush teeth, etc. only with good, bottled water. Cholera is still an issue, as are many other infectious diseases. Bring good bug spray and use it.
Money - there are 3 common currencies: US dollars, Haitian gourdes (40 gourdes to a US dollar), and the non-existent, but ubiquitous Haitian dollar (5 HD to a gourde - always ask what the currency is ~ Haitian dollar or US dollar, big difference!). US dollars - I don't use them, but some folks do and they will be taken by most folks. It leaves you w/o and small change, though and many things require small change. I simply change money in supermarkets - the larger ones have a change booth and the rate is fine. Some folks change on the street, but I don't like to.
Reliable food: most restos, I eat on the street, too. The guesthouses have meals, also. There are also markets and stores to shop at. In Petionville you can buy nearly anything.
Safety - don't wander at night, watch where you step, do not assume that car or moto is going to stop or see you, don't carry a lot of cash or flash and finery, don't take photos w/o permission - even of children. Hold onto your belongings at all times - do not put things down, bring 2 cameras, leave one at the room.
let me know if there is anything else...
Jan 23, 2013 5:03 PM
2Parryander ,you are our guardian Angel with al you helpful advise!!!!
Ttchick, please, if you think about visiting Cap Haitien during the Kanaval- on February 11-12 and Citadel, let me know. I am travelling alone on that days and I am from USA too. Would really be happy to have a company.
Jan 23, 2013 6:40 PM
3ha! No - just an old habit - when I started traveling to Haiti there was virtually no info and no one to answer questions, so I do this. I can't answer everything, so I love it when someone else chimes in.
Jan 24, 2013 4:20 PM
Jan 24, 2013 7:28 PM
5Beds at a guesthouse are about $50 per night and often include a breakfast and lunch. Hotels are from $60 on up and the up is far more common. Some things are expensive or equal to 'western' costs - taxi from airport about $25, dinner, foods in a store...
Everything, for the most part is imported, so everything can be expensive, so a taptap ride for 10 gourdes is a good deal.
Some places will take a credit card (hotels, nicer restos, some grocery stores, etc.) but other places will not, so cash is good. Not a good idea to track down an ATM - they are often targeted by thugs. Try to put as much as you can on a card so you have cash for when you need it, but try to plan on about $75 a day, more if you can - there may be surprises you will want to or need to afford.
Jan 29, 2013 9:25 PM
6I would second everything Perry Ander said and add just a few points. Check out the historical Olofsson Hotel. Its not low budget, their websites lists the cheapest rooms at $69 but my friends love to stay there and they have a fantastic veranda bar set up. Its a good place to use wifi, get a beverage and take in the scenePort au Prince is pretty bereft of comfortable hangout spots so the Oloffson is one of my favorites.Also the excellent Haitian fusion/ roots band RAM plays there on Thursday nights.
On the very lowest budget end you can connect with Haiti Communitere. They are a pretty rad grass roots NGO that are located near the airport and charge $20 a night for room/board/wifi in shared dormitory type set up, in a friendly, hippie camp with large scale eco building projects. They are nowhere near downtown but on a cheap and very friendly base in Port au Prince and they do a lot of amazing work very much on a solidairty model with Haitians mainly in Cite Soleil. Budget $15 to $20 a day for motos or budget time for the very cheap tap taps. I generally stay with friends but Haiti Communitere would be my fall back choice.
I'm sure you know this sort of thing but always agree on the price before you get on a moto or taxi. As far as the airport it is indeed chaotic and stressful. I work with Jakmel Ekspresyons, a community arts center in Jacmel, and I can reccomend a friend who has been occasionally picking up JE visitors at the airport to meet you at the airport and get you to where you need to go and help you change money/ get a phone or sim card etc and generally get you oriented. I've also used a driver who who is very reliable who charges $25 for an airport pick up. And come to Jacmel if you can. Its a relatively laid back and beautiful coastal town where there are more budget accomadations including the guest house of the organization I volunteered at which I believe charges $8 for a shared house/ dorm type set up. Good luck. And don't pay more than $25 if you are getting a taxi on your own. I've heard that there is a place to change money i the airport but I have never found it. My technique is to carry $5,$10,$20 so I have the right change in us dollars in case I need to get a taxi on my own .. I was able to change $20 in the parking lot while waiting for my friends but I sincerely don't recommend it . just think I got lucky that no one tried to scam me despite the fact that I was wandering about looking somewhat discombobulated. . While I have just found taxis and tap taps to get to the airport when coming into Port au Prince I avoid the hustle by having someone meet me or a pre arranged car.
You might want to check out the web site couch surfing. I stayed with a french volunteer once in the pacot neighborhood of Port au Prince . It was pretty positive but I can only speak for my own experience and my host has long since left the country.
I have been to Haiti a few times as a combination volunteer/ filmmaker/ tourist. I see pm has been disbled but you can contact me via this somewhat disposable email lilibryk at gmail dot com. Last tip is that supermarkets are useful for changing money.
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