Sierra Leone in detail

Money and Costs


As with most West African countries, bargaining is a way of life in Sierra Leone and most prices, from souvenirs in the marketplace to taxi fares, are negotiable.


Prices in many midrange to top-end hotels are quoted in US dollars. ATMs and moneychangers are found throughout Freetown and all major towns have ATMs.

Exchange Rates

USAUS$1Le 5500
UKUK£1Le 6800
Europe€1Le 5800
CanadaC$1Le 4100
AustraliaA$1Le 4000
La FrancophonieCFA 1Le 9000

For current exchange rates, see


  • Hotels Tipping is at your discretion. Staff at top end hotels are more likely to expect a tip.
  • Restaurants Tips are not expected, but always welcome.
  • Tours It is common practice to tip guides and drivers at the end of a trip or tour.
  • Village visits When visiting a village it's polite to make a cash offering to the local chief.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are not widely accepted in Sierra Leone – you can generally only use them at top end hotels – but some Rokel Commercial Bank branches give cash advances on Visa cards.


Ecobank and UBA ATMs in Freetown spit out up to Le400,000 per day for those with Visa credit and debit cards. Don't rely on them too heavily, however, as they sometimes don't work. If leaving Freetown (to head down to the peninsula, for example), it pays to take all the cash you think you'll need with you, and then some.

Changing Money

The most easily exchangeable currencies in Sierra Leone are US dollars, UK pounds and euros, in that order. Large denominations get the best rates. Forex bureaus (and street traders, though avoid them unless somebody you trust makes the introduction) invariably offer better rates than banks.


Sierra Leonean Leone

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than US$50

  • Simple room up-country: US$15
  • Rice and sauce lunch: US$2
  • Bottle of Star beer: US$1.20
  • Shared taxi ride: US$1.50

Midrange: US$50-100

  • Hotel room with fan: US$30
  • Sandwich in a cafe: US$7
  • Glass of wine: US$6
  • Private taxi hire, per hour: US$6

Top End: More than US$100

  • Hotel room with air-con and TV: US$100
  • Two-course meal in Freetown: US$25
  • Cocktail in Freetown beach bar: US$7
  • 4x4 hire, per day: US$150 plus petrol