Money and Costs
Bargaining is perfectly acceptable at any market or stall and is essential with taxi and moto-taxi drivers, who will often put the prices up for foreigners. Forearmed is forewarned – do check what the going rate is for any journey before starting to haggle. Of course, there are many drivers who do not put prices up for foreigners, so consider this before entering into outraged negotiation.
Most banks in larger towns have international ATMs. Credit cards are accepted at most tourist hotels. Bring US dollars or euros.
The unit of currency is the Rwandan franc (RFr). It is divided into 100 centimes. Notes come in RFr100, RFr500, RFr1000, RFr5000 and RFr10,000 denominations. Coins come in RFr10, RFr20 and RFr50.
Banks in all towns and cities have ATMs, but not all work with foreign credit cards. The notable exceptions are the Bank of Kigali, GT Bank and Ecobank, which work with both Visa and MasterCard.
Banks throughout the country can exchange US dollars or euros, although they can be very slow to do so. Most people use the foreign-exchange bureaus in Kigali and other larger towns instead, and this is quite safe. Foreign-exchange bureaus also offer slightly better rates.
Rwanda, like other African countries, is very particular on which notes it will or will not accept. Anything older than 2006 or deemed too dirty, crinkled or tatty will not be accepted. Denominations of US$50 or US$100 are preferred.
If you bring US dollars, note that you won't really need to change them, as most activities can be paid in US dollars and almost all hotels accept US dollars.
Credit cards are increasingly accepted at midrange and top-end tourist hotels and restaurants. The Rwanda Tourism Information Centre (RDB) office in Kigali also accepts them, as do most national park offices (though lines are sometimes down at these).
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com
Although service charges are generally included in the bill, tipping is common in the cities these days due to the large international presence.
- Hotels RFr500 per bag is standard.
- Restaurants For decent service 5% to 10%.
- Guides/drivers US$10 per person per day.
- Car parks It's a good idea to tip the men who watch (and sometimes clean) your car. A tip of around RFr1000 is appropriate.
Travellers cheques are not accepted in Rwanda.
Rwandan franc (RFr)
Budget: Less than US$50
- Dorm bed: US$17–20
- Cheap meal: US$3–6
- Moto-taxi ride: US$1
- Double room in a hotel: US$40–70
- Meal in a restaurant: US$10–15
- Short taxi trip: US$3
Top end: More than US$100
- Double room in a top-end hotel: US$150
- Meal in a smart restaurant US$25
- 4WD hire per day US$170