Dalasi is the currency in circulation. It is subdivided
into 100 Bututs. Coin denominations come in 25, 50 and
1 Dalasi. Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 25, 50,
100 and 200 Dalasis. The 1 Butut is no longer legal tender in
the economy. More...
TRAVELLERS' MONEY ADVICE:
you are visiting The Gambia on a flights
plus self-catering accommodation
holiday package, and want to minimise expenses by cooking your
own food or eating out at local
restaurants, using local joint
taxis, and maybe going on a few nights
away from your accommodation either staying with local families,
camping near the beach, or in budget
hotels, it should be possible to survive on about £125 per
week. With two or more people your budget can be stretched further.
It's obviously much more difficult to keep costs down in the coastal
resorts such as the Kololi,
or Brufut where enticing conveniences
and products are available such as tourist restaurants, large
supermarkets, salons, massage
parlours, night clubs, spas
etc. If you travel on a flight-only package to Banjul
Airport and decide to reside in one of the tourist
the cost of lodgings is likely to be your largest single expense.
You will find more competitively priced lodgings just a little
further south of Kololi, in Kerr
Serign, which is still within short walking distance to the
tourist hotspot of the
Senegambia Strip area. If you want to stay somewhere up market
and in the resorts there are some good value for money and
luxury hotels on the beach.
If you want to see more than just the coastal resorts of The Gambia,
an excellent way to keep monetary costs down is by hitch hiking
or bicycling, which not only saves
on taxi fares but also enables you
to look for budget priced rooms or tent pitching space. More...
If you have opted for a self-catering apartment then there are
several ways to save money. The first is to shop at one of the
local village markets for fresh vegetables and fruits. The cost
of basic produce in markets is much lower than you will find in
supermarkets. Fresh fish can be purchased at the Bakau
fish jetty or if you're staying further south along the coast,
in Tanji. If this sounds
like too much hassle then most supermarkets have a frozen meats
section which also stocks local produce which is not only cheaper
than the imports but helps the local economy too. For other staples
try the larger Mauritanian stores which sell bags to cups of rice,
tomato paste, cooking oil, spices and other foods at lower prices.
You can combine a sightseeing and shopping
trip by visiting Serrekunda
Market where you will find a wide range of foods for sale.
for eating out in restaurants
you can get a satisfactory meal for as little as £1.50 at street
food stands and takeaways. At realistically priced tourist restaurants
you can get a main meal from £2.50 to £6 and a bottle of purified
water for about £0.50. A bottle of soft drink will set you back
around £0.40 while a bottle of the local beer, called Julbrew,
is about £0.60 and a glass of white wine is around £1.30. These
are only rough guides as prices for food and drink vary greatly
between local side-street restaurants in the tourist areas and
those near the tourist-class hotels.
Prices are even lower the further you move away from the tourist
and Credit Cards
Gambia is a largely cash based economy.
Credit and debit card acceptance, such as Visa, MasterCard
and American Express, is not yet widespread but is increasing
among top to mid-range establishments. Some of the tourist-class
top restaurants and service providers such as car
rentals, take debit and cards. Visa cards can be a handy
way of getting money from some ATMs such as those belonging to
Standard Bank which has a branch on the
Senegambia Strip in Kololi. Please note that transactions
charges and commissions are usually payable for their use in hotels,
restaurants and banks. There is usually
a maximum limit of cash per ATM withdrawal (about D3,000), but
you can often withdraw multiple times. TIP: the crispest Gambian
Dalasi notes are often dispensed by ATM
cash machines usually in D100, D200 and sometimes D50 notes.
(4) Travellers' Cheques
As a general rule you will bet a better rate of exchange by changing
cash than using travellers' cheques. On the other hand it is advisable
to carry some funds in the form of travellers'
cheques as they offer greater security and can be replaced
if lost or stolen. If possible try and buy your cheques from your
own bank as it maybe possible to bypass the one or two per cent
charge. Thomas Cook and American Express travellers' cheques are
the mostly widely recognised names, and are often the quickest
to re-issue cheques. More...
(5) Foreign Exchange Services
there are some banks and exchange bureaux in Europe that handle
the Dalasi, you will get a better rate of exchange in The Gambia,
and it will reduce the amount of bulky cash you need to carry
around as there are no large denominations like in more developed
countries. If you do get the chance then consider obtaining about
D2,000 to cover initial expenses after coming out of Banjul Airport
such as your taxi fare and tips - there are exchange bureaus and
a bank at the airport. Much of the time the largest banknote (D200)
is worth less than £4. The other thing to remember is to
try and get a good mix of banknote denominations so you can change
as close to what you need in the local currency. If you are travelling
solo then small denominational notes will sometimes be accepted
by a taxi driver as well as some lodges. Even the Airport Tax
can be paid in UK Pound Sterling, US Dollars, Euro, Danish Kroner
or Swedish Kronor.
There are many foreign exchange
bureaus near and within the resorts such as Kotu, Bijilo,
Kololi and Fajara. Though rates of exchange are fixed by
the Central Bank they are free to offer discounts for customers
changing bulk cash, and usually with zero commission. Bureaux
tend to offer a more personalised and faster service than the
banks as they tend to handle less paperwork. Tourists are strongly
advised to stay away from those offering to change your money
on the parallel black market as it is illegal to use them.
If you are travelling up-country then it is advisable to change
as much as you think you'll need, then some more. This is because
exchange facilities in the up-river regions of The Gambia are
few and far between, though you will find them in various towns
such as Farafenni, Soma, Janjanbureh,
Basse Santa Su, and Mansa Konko.
(6) Tipping Advice
you are booked into a tourist hotel or lodge, and join organised
trips, you should normally tip staff, but it can be difficult
to know how much to tip at the end. Many hotel staff make less
than £1.50 per day, while self employed, such as bird guides can
make considerably more. For most small services the equivalent
of about £0.40 should suffice. For waiters and waitresses working
in independent private restaurants, about 7.5% of the bill is
recommended. For room staff and hotel waiters who are taking care
of your needs on a daily basis consider giving up to £1 twice
a week. The other option is to look out for a gratuity box which
is quite common now in hotels and restaurants. This way tips are
gathered at the end of each day and shared out equally.
This avoids the situation where waiters get the bulk of tips while
kitchen staff and doormen see far less money, if any at all. Tips
are an essential part of staff income and often pay for things
like fares home and back to work, and some essential daily family
Don't tip taxi drivers who simply pick you up and drop you off
at your destination. Tipping is not expected so don't feel obliged
to do this at all as locals don't. However, if your driver helps
you out in other ways such as carries your luggage to your room
etc. then a small note gift should be enough. If you go on an
organised ground tour, the trip's drivers and guides see tips
as an essential part of their daily income, as they would normally
struggle on their basic pay. The staff may hand out a collection
hat at the end of the trip so each guest should tip say £2.
(7) How Much
Do Things Cost?
is difficult to pin down in the local Dalasi currency due to the
variable exchange rate and inflation, therefore the following
gives you a range of prices for a given commodity or service in
UK Pound Sterling. Generally some items can cost less than in
Europe while other items can cost more, while at other times a
big price difference in The Gambia is as a result of where you
acquire your goods and services. Buying anything from inside hotels
is generally costlier than outside, and again prices inside and
in the vicinity of the resorts tend to be higher than further
(8) Money By Wire
for any reason you find yourself short of funds during your trip
then money transfer
is one option open to you. However, the recipient can only receive
money in the local Dalasi currency. Some of the best known and
widespread remittances companies are Western Union and Moneygram.
You are better off bringing all the funds you need for your vacation
in foreign money and travellers' cheques, and extra as a back-up,
as remittances are a costly way of sending funds to you. More...
(9) Taxi Fares
hops in shared taxis and vans is about
£0.11 and these prices are regulated. Exclusive use for say a
trip from Kololi to Kotu is just under £1 while a trip to Serrekunda
Market is almost double that - these fares are negotiable. Taxi
fares from the airport to the holiday resorts of Kotu,
Kololi and other destinations are posted on the right hand side
of the exit and are fixed. Make sure you have the equivalent of
at least £10 ready after collecting your luggage. For all other
fares from your accommodation it is best to get advice from your
receptionist. It is important to note that just outside most of
the large hotels there are green
tourist taxis. These tend to be more expensive than the yellow
cabs and your receptionist can advise you; prices for certain
locations are sometimes posted just outside the main entrance.
you are taking a short flight or overland trip into neighbouring
Senegal then you will need some CFA francs (pronounced 'sefaa').
This is a common currency in 7 other West African countries. The
CFA is also accepted by some stores near the ports
in Banjul, across the river
at Barra as well as upriver in
the easternmost town of Basse Santa
Su. In the future The Gambia may join a regional monetary
union and adopt a new common currency called the ECO to be legal
tender in a West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ).
back your change (called 'wechit') might not seem such a problem
at first but over one or two days you may find your purse or wallet
amassing a bundle of floppy, dirty notes which are difficult to
keep aligned straight. As a general guideline the smaller the
banknote the worse its condition. Small corner shops tend to give
back the tattiest notes, many have adhesive tape or staples holding
them together, and some are almost unrecognisable. Try and visit
one of the banks and ask them to change say D500 for some good
condition D5, D10 and D25 notes. New notes are usually channelled
through banks and supermarkets first, with supermarkets often
having the best in the smallest notes; this can be a bit of a
hit and miss affair though. If you simply want small change quickly
then kindly ask at one of the petrol stations. Try opening a tab
at your hotel's bar so you don't have to handle cash so much.
(12) Duty Free
Travellers aged 18 or over arriving or departing from The Gambia
may import or purchase the following products at Banjul International
Airport duty free zone which are tax exempt.
• 1 litre of beer, wine or spirits.
• 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or or 250g of tobacco (or combination
up to 250g).
• Goods with a value not in excess of D1,000. More...
all your valuables such as jewellery, passport, travellers' cheques
and reserve cash etc. in your in-room safe or at the reception.
When travelling out and about use a money belt or similar holder
and don't inadvertently display wads of cash when out in the general
public. Pickpockets are quite active in busy markets and other
crowded public places.
If you are to receive large amounts of Dalasis from a bank in
packets then ask for it to be given to you in 'sealed packets'.
This saves you time in having to count it and if you are going
to make a payment in bulk cash the recipient may accept it without
counting if he/she has an account at the same bank.
(15) Currency Restrictions
time to time foreign currency trading restrictions may be announced.
For example in August, 2013, it was announced by the Gambian authorities
that "Shipments of foreign currency have to be done through
banks and with the approval of the Central Bank of The Gambia,"
with individuals departing from the country being restricted to
taking $9,000 in foreign currency. In that same year the authorities
also pegged the Gambian Dalasi against the US Dollar as well.
The situation is fluid and subject to change. For the latest announcements
on currency restrictions see the Central
*NB: Any of the above advice is subject to change without notice,
and does not represent the final word on monetary matters. Please
check details with the relevant airlines,
agents, tour operators,
relevant public bodies etc.
OTHER MONEY RELATED INFORMATION:
|ISO 4217 Code
Bank of Gambia
| Coin Units
||5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 200 Dalasis
100 Dalasi banknote
Obverse & reverse
50 Dalasi banknote
Obverse & reverse
25 Dalasi banknote
Obverse & reverse
10 Dalasi banknote
Obverse & reverse
5 Dalasi banknote
Obverse & reverse