Money and Costs
West African Franc (CFA)
Budget: Less than CFA22,000
- Hotel room: CFA15,000
- Rice, fish and spicy okra sauce: CFA2000
- Imported Cristal beer: CFA600
- Shared taxi ride in Bissau: CFA350
- Hotel room: CFA35,000
- Bowl of grilled oysters for two: CFA7000
- Gin and tonic in a bar: CFA2500
- Private taxi ride in Bissau: CFA1000
Top End: More than CFA80,000
- Hotel room: CFA76,000
- Steak in upmarket restaurant: CFA7000
- Glass of wine: CFA3000
- 4WD with driver, per day outside Bissau: CFA70,000
Haggling for goods in markets, crafts shops and goods sold by street vendors is expected. It's done good-naturedly and not aggressively. You can also bargain for accommodation rates on longer-term stays and prices quoted to you by guides and drivers.
Bring a supply of euros (preferred over US dollars). Some ATMs accept international cards. Banks and hotels in the capital can organise changing money.
ATMs that accept international MasterCard and Visa cards can be found at a handful of banks in Bissau, as well as several hotels, including the Malaika and Ledger Plaza. There is also an ATM immediately outside the arrivals hall of the airport in Bissau. Some ATMs work; others don't.
The unit of currency is the West African CFA franc. This currency is also used by its neighbours in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Mali, Niger and Côte d'Ivoire. CFA stands for 'Communauté Financière d'Afrique' (Financial Community of Africa). It was adopted in 1997 when the country abandoned the Guinea-Bissau peso.
It's best to change money in Bissau at Ecobank, BAO or Casa Cambio Nacional, one of the moneychangers. You can also ask your hotel, though these tend to have the worst exchange rates. It's probably best to arrive in Guinea-Bissau with a bundle of francs already on hand.
MasterCard and Visa are accepted at top-end hotels in Bissau. Cards are mostly useless elsewhere else, including in the Arquipélago dos Bijagós.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
You'll often be asked for a cadeau (gift), whether you've been helped or not. It's up to you to decide whether it's appropriate in return for services rendered.
- Hotels At top-end hotels, one gratuity for cleaning staff, completely at your discretion.
- Restaurants None expected at basic places; upscale, with decent service, 10% to 15%.
- Taxis Loose change appreciated.
- Guide & Driver Always expected, around 10% or more if especially good and for multiday trips.