Money and Costs
Budget: Less than €60
- Basic double (shared facilities): €7–12
- Meal at hotely (local restaurant): €2.50–4
- Taxi-brousse ticket: €4–12
- National park admission and guide: €25
- Double room (mostly en suite): €12–25
- Meal in good restaurant: €10
- Car and driver, per day: €35–50
- Half-day excursion or activity: €35
Top End: More than €150
- Accommodation in boutique hotel: €100
- Private 4WD, per day: €60
- Internal flight: €120
- Half-day diving: €65
Bargaining is commonplace in markets, when buying souvenirs and when negotiating taxi fares. It isn't in restaurants, bars or hotels.
When haggling, try to get a reference price from locals as a guide but bear in mind that many Malagasy think it is fair that foreigners should be charged more than locals for the same good or service.
ATMs (Visa and MasterCard) are widely available in large towns and cities. In rural areas, cash rules. Euros are the easiest foreign currency to exchange.
Madagascar changed its currency from the Malagasy franc (FMG) to the ariary (Ar) in 2005. But despite having had several years to get used to the new currency, many Malagasies still count in FMG (one ariary is worth five FMG), so it is essential you clarify which currency a price is being quoted in, particularly in rural areas.
The highest denomination is Ar20,000; for travellers, it means that changing just €300 will produce a hefty wad.
There seems to be a national shortage of change, so make you sure you always have small denominations handy.
Some hotels (often at the higher end of the range) will accept payments in foreign currency.
You’ll find ATMs in all major towns and cities. All will accept Visa. BNI Madagascar and Société Générale (BFV-SG) ATMs also accept MasterCard. Withdrawals from ATMs are capped at Ar300,000.
Visa credit cards are accepted at all upmarket hotels, restaurants and shops and many mid-range establishments, as well as Air Madagascar/Tsaradia offices.
MasterCard can be used at some ATMs, but only a small number of outfits will accept payments with it.
Some places levy a commission of about 5% to 8% for credit-card payments.
Visa and MasterCard can be used at most banks to obtain cash advances of up to Ar10 million; commission rates go as high as 5%, depending on the bank.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
The main banks are Bank of Africa (BOA), BNI Madagascar, Banky Fampandrosoana’ny Varotra-Société Générale (BFV-SG) and Banque Malgache de l’Océan Indien (BMOI).
All banks will readily exchange euros; US dollars are generally accepted, too. Other currencies will be harder to exchange outside major cities.
Most banks will refuse €100 or US$100 notes (for fear of counterfeit), so bring small denominations only. The opposite is true of money-changers and on the black market.
Upmarket hotels often have currency-exchange facilities, but check how competitive their rates are.
Restaurants For decent service, 10% to 15%.
Driver/guide It is customary to tip your driver at the end of your trip; Ar10,000 per day is a good guide. Adjust depending on the quality of the service.
National park/local guides For short two-hour walk tip around Ar2000; for a whole day, Ar5000 to Ar8000. Adjust depending on the quality of the service.
Porters/cooks/spotters Per day Ar2000 to Ar5000.