Money and Costs
Bargaining over prices is still very much a way of life in Sudan, although to a lesser extent than in, say, Egypt and some Middle Eastern countries – in Sudan, aggressive bargaining may offend. Vendors in Sudan won't necessarily quote you prices higher than those that the locals pay, particularly for local produce, so don't go around expecting everybody to charge high prices just, or particularly, because you're a foreigner.
ATMs and credit cards are not accepted in Sudan because of the US sanctions. Bring US dollars or euros in cash.
- The official currency is the Sudanese pound (S£/SDG), which is divided into 100 piastres.
- In the last couple of years the Sudanese pound has started to lose value against the US dollar at a steady rate, and with inflation increasing an exchange black market has sprung up. Official rates massively overvalue the Sudanese pound (up to triple!). If you use the black market be very discreet. Hotels and shops are good places to enquire. You can also ask your driver if you're on a tour.
- To curb the black market, the government has allowed a few private exchange offices which offer much better rates than the banks, and longer working hours. The rates offered by these offices is generally only a little lower than the black-market rate. The exchange office in the arrival hall at the airport in Khartoum is the best one.
- You can't pay with a foreign credit card in Sudan and ATMs don't accept foreign cards.
- Cash is king. Euros and US dollars are the easiest to change (outside Khartoum you'll be hard-pressed to change anything else). Bring clean, uncreased notes, preferably in denominations of US$50 or US$100 printed since 2006.The only way to change Egyptian pounds and Ethiopian birr is on the black market, which is easy at the borders.
- Money can be wired to Khartoum and Port Sudan (even from the US and UK, though this could always change because of sanctions) with Western Union and Travelex.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com. Note that these rates are the official rates.
Service charges in Sudan are generally included in the bill and tipping is not normally expected.
Guides and drivers of safari vehicles will expect a tip, especially if you’ve spent a number of days under their care – US$5 to US$10 per day should suffice.
Budget: Less than US$50
- Budget hotel room: US$10–25
- Shwarma: US$1.50
- Four-hour bus ride: US$5
- Museum ticket: US$0.30
- Double room in a midrange hotel: US$25–50
- Lunch in a midrange restaurant: US$10–15
- Entry to historic site: US$25
- Chartered taxi ride (one hour): US$8
Top end: More than US$100
- Luxury hotel room: US$100–200
- Dinner in top-end restaurant: from US$20
- 4WD rental: from US$130
- Live-aboard dive boat (per day). US$120
Sudanese pound (S£)