Bargaining

For most transactions bargaining is not expected. Exceptions to this are any form of carving or art produced and sold by the handful of tourist-oriented craft shops. If renting a car, boat or other form of transport you should bargain, but expect the original asking price to be close to the final figure.

Dangers & Annoyances

Guinea is calm and safe, but it is a country in which things can change very fast. Guinea was declared Ebola free in June 2016, but you should of course be aware of the possibility of it returning.

Basic Tips

  • Avoid walking around Conakry and large towns at night due to the threat of muggings.
  • Carry your passport and vaccination cards with you at all times.
  • Electricity and running water are intermittent even in fairly large towns.

Driving & Roads

  • Avoid road travel at night. There has been an increase in armed car-jackings.
  • There are many police and military road blocks throughout the country and they've long had an unsavoury reputation for demanding bribes. However, in the last couple of years this problem has diminished considerably and many people now get through the country without paying a single bribe.

Photography

  • Avoid taking photos in Conakry and large towns.
  • Never photograph anyone without their express permission (in general people in Guinea do not like having their pictures taken).
  • Never point a camera at police, military or anything that could be considered 'sensitive'.

Embassies & Consulates

Emergency & Important Numbers

Guinea's country code224
International access code00
Police122
Ambulance442-020
Fire1717

Entry & Exit Formalities

Getting in and out of Guinea is generally fairly painless and fast. Everyone requires a Yellow Fever vaccination card and you should carry this, a pasport and a general vaccination card with you at all times.

Customs Regulations

You're not allowed to export more than GFr100,000 in local currency or US$5000 in foreign currency. You must have a license to export precious stones and art objects.

Visas

Visas are required by visitors of most nationalities except those of some West African nations.

Further Information

  • Visas are generally easy to get and normally require a return air-ticket, or some other ticket in and out of the country, and a hotel booking for at least the first few days.
  • Visas are usually valid for 30 days but can be extended to 90 days without much fuss.
  • Visas must be obtained in advance; they are not available at the border.

Etiquette

Guinea has a relaxed attitude to foreigners cultural misunderstandings but there are a few points to remember.

  • Shake hands with men and women on first meeting them (though note that during the Ebola epidemic people stopped shaking hands).
  • Don't wear anything too revealing.
  • When eating with your hands, only use your right hand to pick up food.
  • Guineans value patience – you should too.
  • Guineans don't like to 'lose face' so keep this in mind when negotiating.

LGBT Travellers

As in most African countries homosexuality and lesbianism is not just frowned upon but is something that is utterly incomprehensible to the huge majority of Guineans. LGBTI travellers in Guinea should be extremely discreet and careful, as situations could quickly become dangerous. Same-sex relations are prohibited by law and can attract prison terms.

Internet Access

Most hotels in Conakry offer (slow) wi-fi nowadays and there are a few internet cafes – but far fewer than in most African capitals. By and large forget using the internet once you head inland, unless you bring your own internet dongle or use your smart phone. There are currently no hotels outside of Conakry offering internet access and very few internet cafes.

Money

  • The unit of currency is the Guinea franc (GFr) and it seems to be in a slow but permanent slide against major international currencies.
  • The banking system in Guinea has improved recently and some major towns now have ATMs that work with international Visa and Mastercard (the latter though is less likely to be accepted). Most ATMs, however, only allow a very small amount to be withdrawn with each transaction.
  • Most travellers continue to bring all the money they might need with them in cash (euros are best, followed by US dollars).
  • You can change money inside a bank, with moneychangers on the street in Conakry, or with hotels. There isn't a black market as such, as street moneychangers offer the same rates as banks.
  • Guinea is a cash economy. Only the major five-star hotels in Conakry and international airline offices will accept plastic.
  • Forget travellers cheques.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1GFr6870
CanadaC$1GFr6670
Euro zone€1GFr9954
Japan¥100GFr8160
New ZealandNZ$1GFr6310
UKUK£1GFr11,768
USUS$1GFr9125
West Africa CFACFA1000GFr15,000

Tipping

Restaurants In the best restaurants in Conakry a 10% tip is normal. Elsewhere tipping is not expected.

Tourist guides and drivers A tip is expected. If you hired a guide or driver for a week expect to tip the equivalent of one extra day's work.

Opening Hours

Banks 8.30am to 12.30pm & 2.30 to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 12.30pm and 2.45 to 4.30pm Friday.

Businesses and shops 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, except Friday when they might close for an hour to go to the mosque.

Government offices 8am to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 1pm Friday.

Museums 8am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.

Post

Guinea's postal service is notoriously unreliable; packages especially often get 'lost'. Postcards should get through; for anything valuable use a private shipping firm.

Public Holidays

New Years Day 1 January

Easter March/April

Declaration of the Second Republic 3 April

Labour Day 1 May

Assumption Day 15 August

Independence Day 2 October

Christmas Day 25 December

All major Islamic holidays (dates change each year) are also observed, with Eid al-Fitr being one of the country's biggest holidays.

Smoking

  • Smoking There are no rules on smoking in public places but on the whole Guineans aren't big smokers.

Taxes & Refunds

Taxes are included in most quoted prices. The only real exception is with some of the top-end hotels in Conakry who might add 20% to your bill afterwards.

Telephone

The landline phone service in Guinea is essentially non-existent and all businesses use mobile phones.

Mobile Phones

Mobile phones are ubiquitous in Guinea and service is available in even remote villages. SIM and top-up cards are available from shops and street stalls everywhere and calls and text messages are cheap. In towns 3G service is generally available and you can purchase internet data bundles through the top-up cards.

You will likely be asked to show some form of ID when buying a SIM card, otherwise the process of buying it and getting it all set up is fast and easy.

Time

Guinea is on GMT/UTC and there is no daylight saving.

The table below shows the time in different cities around the world (outside of any daylight saving time) when it's noon in Guinea.

Delhi5.30pm
Londonnoon
New York7am
Paris1pm
Sydney11pm
Tokyo9pm

Toilets

In all but the cheapest hotels you can expect western-style sit down toilets. Everywhere else it's a squat toilet. The only public toilets are in the bigger and newer petrol stations lining main roads between towns.

Tourist Information

There are no tourist information offices. Try the following website:

Fouta Decouverte A private tourist information website.

Travel with Children

Guinea is not well-suited to travelling with children. Facilities and attractions for children are essentially non-existent, although there is a play park, Jardin 2 Octobre, in Conakry.

Journey times can be very long and on dreadful roads. You will not find any kind of baby beds, high chairs, car seats or other child equipment anywhere outside Conakry. Nappies (diapers) and baby food are available in one or two supermarkets, but outside Conakry even these can be hard to track down.

On the plus side, Guineans will be delighted to meet your children and will fuss over them endlessly.

Accessible Travel

Guinea is a very difficult place in which to travel for anyone with a disability. There are no disabled facilities at all, and even using a wheelchair in Conakry will present major problems.

If you do decide to go, then download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Volunteering

There is very little scope for volunteering in Guinea although the Centre de Conservation pour Chimpanzés based in the Parc National du Haut Niger does accept untrained, paying volunteers on six-month stints to work with orphaned chimpanzees. Conditions are very rough.

Weights & Measures

Weights & Measures Guinea uses the metric system.

Work

There are very few work opportunities open to foreigners. Try the major NGOs and aid organisations.