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Travel Advice For Gambia

Bargaining Health
   
Bumsters Money
   
Crime Packing List
   
Culture / Traditions Safety
   
Do's & Don'ts Shopping
   
Dress Code Swimming
   
Electrical Voltage Travelling With Kids
   
Food & Drink Vaccinations
   
Getting Around Visas / Entry
   
Greetings  

Bargaining:
Prices tend to be fixed in supermarkets, restaurants, bars and malls. However, when shopping around in craft markets and small goods stores you can expect shop keepers to ask for a higher price for their goods than they would for a local.

Bumsters:
These are generally unemployed young men who hassle tourists for money, gifts or a free meal. There are generally 4 types of bumster in Gambia, most of whom operate in the Senegambia Strip area of
Kololi. The first type  will hassle you until you get so fed up that you just relent and give him some money just to go away. Don't ever be tempted to do this.

Crime:
The Gambia has one of the lowest crime rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Serious crime is even lower than most industrialized nations, and some tourists say they feel safer here than in their own countries. Physical assaults against tourists are rare, as well as muggings and bag snatchings. However, there are certain urban areas where they tend to be more common. The sort of crime you are likely to encounter, if you are not on your guard, is sneak-thieving. This might take the form of pick pocketing, stealing unattended items, cheating you of change, and other petty thievery. The one serious crime that is rampant are scams committed by conmen and bumsters. You are only likely to encounter these people if you spend much time here, and have financial and personal dealings with certain people.

Culture & Traditions:
If you intend on going out and about, meeting and interacting with local people then there are quite a few unwritten rules of etiquette and local customs you need to brush up on. Among these are how you greet people, the local dress code, food etiquette when eating with a family, do's & don'ts of society and the family structure. For example you need to take your shoes off when visiting someone's house, bikinis in public, away from the beach, are a no no, drinking an alcoholic beverage in a non-resort street, especially while walking, is offensive to many, as this is a Muslim country and is best avoided.

Currency:
Legal tender in The Gambia is the Dalasi. It is made up of 100 Bututs. Coin denominations are in 25, 50 and the 1 Dalasi. Paper money is in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100 & the 200 Dalasi note.

Do's & Don'ts:
There are a number of pitfalls, issues and products, both cultural and travel to consider. Some of the advice relates to things to buy before your arrival to Gambia, while others are things to look out for, avoid or to carry on your person during your stay. It is easy to forget certain things, which can cause you hassle, stress and embarrassment. Have you taken out your holiday insurance? Did you buy that money belt?

Dress Code:
It is advisable to take along two lightweight woollen jumpers, or a jacket, for the cool evenings during the months of November to March. It can bet a bit cold by the Atlantic ocean side, especially when there's a bit of a breeze.

There are two kinds of rules on how to dress. The first is within the grounds of your hotel. You can wear a bikini on the beach, maybe sunbath topless, and wear the kind of clothing you would wear on a hot summer's day in your own country. However, when outside in public there are certain types of clothing to avoid. Women should cover their legs at least down to the knees, short sleeves are fine, uncovered torso not so.

Electrical Voltage:
Most of the electrical sockets in The Gambia are the 3 pin British type 'G' socket. However, in hotels you will often see variable plug types, so it's a good idea to bring along a travel adaptor. The electrical supply is not always a steady current, and can be variable, so think about bringing along a surge protection plug.

Getting Around:
This section provides advice on the various car rentals firms, driving, bicycling, quad bikes, green tourist taxis, yellow cabs, ferry crossings, river boats, microlight and light aircraft, walking, hitch hiking and rickshaws.

Greetings Etiquette:
If while on vacation you plan to go sightseeing then it is worthwhile learning a few simple greetings and other phrases, as well as well as simple rules when entering someone's house.



If you want to take some pictures of people and attractions then you need to know about the local etiquette of taking photos.

Heatstroke & Sunburn:
Rub on sunblock with as SP of at least 30 when needed and try to go sunbathing before 10am or after 4pm. Long exposure to the hot sun, especially if you are drinking alcoholic beverages, can lead to dehydration and possible health problems.

Health:

Food & Drink


Malaria Prevention


Vaccinations


Money:
This section has information on the Dalasi currency denominations, average room costs in hotels, exchange rates, credit card acceptance, taxi fares, tipping, how much things cost, travellers' cheques, ATM machines, banks and bargaining.

Safety:  See also  Crime
When out and about on holiday, always be aware of various hazards posed to your wellbeing and safety. Nature, and the urban environment, can have some potentially harmful elements which you might not be well attuned to. Among these are various animal diseases, biting insects, heatstroke, roadside pedestrian care and internal transport. For example, as cute as some dogs and cats may be, they are mostly feral, and many have all kinds of diseases, and a few may even have rabies.


Shopping:


Swimming:
Bathing in pools, the Atlantic Ocean, the river, and streams in Gambia come with certain risks that may not be the same as in your own country. You need to understand the system of flags used on the beaches, the potential dangers of swimming in creeks and what to look out for in hotel pools.

Travellers' Diarrhoea:
Where ever you go on holiday in the world it's always advisable to take certain precautions about where, and what you eat and drink, especially in a developing country with a sub-tropical or tropical climate. Food and water standards are not all the same, and microbes can proliferate in warm humid climes.  Don't assume if someone at a lodge serves you 'bottled' water in a glass, that it's actually bottled water.

Travelling With Children:
Going on vacation with small kids and babies can often be very stressful at the best of times. There are matters involving airline travel, the hotel facilities available, and your child's health that you should take into account before your departure, while en-route, and during your stay in The Gambia.

Vaccinations:
If you are a foreign visitor travelling from the EU or the USA there are no required vaccinations by the Gambian authorities. If you are a visitor from another country then you should check with your physician. If you intend to stay in a deprived area, or for a long period in situations where you may be more easily exposed to diseases, then it is recommended you take a number of immunisations.

Entry Requirements:
Whether or not visas are required to gain entry into The Gambia depends on the citizens of the country concerned. Citizens of some countries don't require an entry visa in their passport, whereas some do. Some travellers who are required to get a visa prior to entry, but don't, may be given 2 days to get one from the Immigration Department in Banjul.

What To Pack:
Depending on where you are staying, and for how long, will determine a few travel essentials. If you are staying for a month, or a short 2 week vacation, then consider packing your preferred hygiene products (though many are available locally), a small pocket torchlight, mosquito repellent spray, anti-diarrhoea tablets etc.

Other Travel Tips:
• Parcels
It is not wise to carry gifts, parcels or letters for anyone on your return flight back to your country. Do not carry any gifts, parcels or letters on your departure to The Gambia's Banjul Airport either. If you feel obliged to do so, then do open the item first, inspect it, then reseal it yourself.
 
 
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