You'll be expected to bargain at local markets. It's best if you have a starting price in mind, and work up from that – the seller will always start with a higher price than he/she expects to get, and you'll meet somewhere in the middle.
Dangers & Annoyances
- Abidjan and other parts of the south are now entirely safe to visit.
- Avoid Bouaké: it's prone to outbreaks of political and military violence.
- If you're heading to the border with Liberia, check with locals first: tensions flare sporadically.
- Take care when walking at night – it's unwise to walk alone outside of well-populated areas.
- Beware of riding in cars without a seatbelt, and in general, if driving – there is a high rate of motor accidents here.
- People drown in the fierce currents and ripping undertow of the Atlantic every year – often strong, overly confident swimmers. Don't swim anywhere the locals won't.
The power supply is 220V. Plugs are of the European two-round-pin variety.
Embassies & Consulates
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Côte d'Ivoire's country code||225|
|International access code||00|
|Medecins Urgence (ambulance)||07-082626|
|SOS Medecins (ambulance)||185|
Entry & Exit Formalities
You will need a visa and a yellow fever certificate for hassle-free entry into the country.
Visitors are allowed to bring the following into Côte d'Ivoire:
- 200 cigarettes
- 50 cigars
- 50g of tobacco
- 250ml of perfume
- 1 bottle of wine and 1 bottle of spirits
The following are prohibited:
- Illegal drugs
- Guns, explosives and ammunition
- Plants and plant material
- Meat and meat products
- Pets and animals
- Pornographic material
Everyone except Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States) nationals must arrange a visa in advance.
Visas can be extended at La Sureté Nationale in Abidjan.
Visas for Onward Travel
If you want to travel to several countries in the area, consider the Visa de l'Entente, which allows entry to Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo. This multiple-entry visa is valid for two months and costs €120. Apply for it at the Beninese Embassy in Abidjan.
There are some rules of etiquette in Côte d'Ivoire.
- Greetings Shake hands with men, women and children when meeting for the first time and when saying goodbye. If you meet someone you have met before, and are on friendly terms, two kisses on each cheek are fine.
- Bargaining Bartering over the price at a market is de rigueur, but not in places where the price is written down and fixed (though you can always try).
Same-sex relations are not a crime in Côte d'Ivoire, but there are no legal protections for sexual minorities. Although there are several LGBT organisations (one of them suffered a mob attack in 2014), and a relatively good LGBT scene for the region, there are regular reports of violence based on sexual orientation. Caution and discretion are well advised in public.
Abidjan, and the south, have wi-fi in midrange and upmarket establishments. It's rare to find wi-fi in the north.
If arrested in Côte d'Ivoire ask to contact your embassy, who will take you through your legal rights. Although the police will generally treat foreigners well, you may be stopped if you're driving your own or a rented car and bribes may be expected.
- Newspapers Among the nearly 20 daily newspapers, all in French, Soirinfo, 24 Heures and L'Intelligent d'Abidjan steer an independent course. Gbich! is a satirical paper.
- Radio Jam (99.3FM) and Radio Nostalgie (101.1FM) play hit music. The BBC World Service broadcasts some programs in English on 94.3FM.
ATMs are available in the bigger cities, but take cash if you're going anywhere more remote. Credit cards are accepted in top-end establishments.
Visa ATMs are widespread in Abidjan, Grand Bassam, Yamoussoukro and major towns. Most SGBCI branches have ATMs that accept Visa, MasterCard and sometimes Maestro. There are no banks in Assinie but there is a branch of SGBCI (with an ATM) in Grand Bassam.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
- Guesthouses You can tip around CFA500 if the service was very good.
- Hotels Tipping the cleaning staff is at your discretion, but if you're very happy with the job they did, anything up to CFA1500 is reasonable.
- Tours Beyond the guided tour price, if your guide has been excellent, tip them from CFA500 to CFA1000.
- Taxi Since you'll mostly have to bargain down the price, tipping is not expected.
Banks 8am to 11.30am and 2.30pm to 4.30pm Monday to Friday
Bars noon to 11pm
Cafes 9am to 6pm
Clubs 11pm to 4am
Government offices 7.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday (with breaks for lunch)
Restaurants noon to 3pm (lunch) and 7pm to 11pm (dinner)
Shops 8am to 6pm
La Poste is the country's main postal service. The main La Poste branch is in Abidjan.
New Year's Day 1 January
Labour Day 1 May
Independence Day 7 August
Fête de la Paix 15 November
Christmas 25 December
- Smoking Prohibited in all indoor spaces, but allowed outdoors in restaurants and bars.
Taxes & Refunds
Restaurants and hotels always include 18% VAT in their prices. Visitors may not claim a refund of VAT paid on goods.
- Côte d'Ivoire's country code is 225.
- The international access code is 00.
If you have a GSM mobile phone, you can buy SIM cards from CFA2500. Street stalls also sell top-up vouchers from CFA550. Calls generally cost between CFA25 and CFA150 per minute.
The Orange network is reliable and accessible in most parts of the country, even some rural areas, although it can be expensive.
Côte d'Ivoire is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It's in the same time zone as London and Lisbon, and one hour behind continental European capitals, such as Rome, Paris or Madrid; New York is five hours behind and Sydney is 11 hours ahead.
- Abidjan and the south have mostly decent toilets, though you'll find the squatting variety as you travel north.
- Public toilets at bus stations will charge a small fee (around CFA200), but offer no toilet paper.
Travel with Children
There are baby-changing facilities in the more upmarket places in Abidjan. Little walking goes on in the big cities, and people are rarely seen with prams. It is easy to find nappies (diapers) in most supermarkets.
Little ones will enjoy splashing about in the hotel pools at Grand Bassam and Assinie, and teens will, too. Older children who can handle more challenging conditions (such as basic accommodation, outdoor bathrooms and forest trekking) will love watching the nut-cracking chimpanzees at Parc National de Taï.
Côte d'Ivoire is not a particularly friendly place for travellers with disabilities – there are hardly any facilities for wheelchair users in the cities, or on public transport services.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
International Citizen Service (ICS; www.volunteerics.org) is a UK-based organisation that offers volunteering projects for 18-to-25-year-olds. Websites such as African Volunteer Network (www.african-volunteer.net) list a wide range of volunteer projects available.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The metric system is used.
Individuals moving to work in Côte d'Ivoire will need a work permit, which is obtained through the employer. If you change jobs within Côte d'Ivoire, your work permit will need to be renewed with each new employer.