Nigeria Visitors Guide
Leisure In Lagos
Our Nigeria Visitors Guide is full of first-time visitor tips and traveller basics to make sure your visit is safe and successful. Stories about Nigeria and Lagos are plentiful, and while it’s good to be cautious, Nigeria is best enjoyed by the open-minded and well-prepared. Even though it is a developing nation, it also has one of the biggest economies on the continent, is home to one of the largest and fastest growing cities on the planet, a one-of-a-kind entrepreneurial spirit, a unique take on fashion, food and technology, and an infrastructure that is a work-in-progress – unsurprisingly Nigeria is full of surprises. Here’s how to make the most of your Nigeria visit.
Money – the official currency of Nigeria is naira (₦) and subdivided into kobo (coins of varying denominations). At the time of writing, one USD was equivalent to 360 Nigerian Naira.
While ATM’s can be found throughout the city (you’ll find one next to our hotel) and generally accept Visa and MasterCard, it isn’t uncommon for an ATM to be out of cash, for the queues to be very long or for it to be not working. So, while it is advisable to not carry a lot of cash for the sake of safety, carrying some notes with you might help when the ATM queue looks too daunting.
On paper Nigeria has a strong economy, but in reality, the wealth is centered around Lagos and only a small percentage of the population. As such, it means daily costs can vary significantly depending on what you want to do and where you are visiting. So, while a ride on a local bus might cost the equivalent of $2, taxi rides can cost $30+, and depending on where you are eating, dinner can cost as little as $5 or more than $50. That said, Nigeria is generally very affordable.
Tipping is appreciated at restaurants, but often not expected in other situations, such as taking a taxi.
Electricity – electricity supply is 220v and the standard plug type is the British (rectangular) three pin plug. Guests staying at Southern Sun Ikoyi will also find rooms with euro-style two pin sockets and plug adaptors with guest services in case you forgot to pack yours.
Health & Safety – firstly, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended as Nigeria has some high-risk areas and medical care can be limited in some places. Northern Nigeria can be very dangerous for foreign travellers especially. It is also strongly recommended to check with your local foreign office for current safety advice before making travel arrangements. Many foreign offices recommend not travelling to certain districts (especially in Northern Nigeria) at all.
In Lagos, crime such as mugging and theft as well as car jackings are not uncommon depending on where you are travelling and when. Avoid dangerous areas and don’t show off your valuables. Make use of the safe in your hotel room and be ‘street smart’ when out and about. Most visitors leave Nigeria entirely without incident, so while being aware and cautious is recommended, Nigerians are in general warm and welcoming.
You will need a yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter the country, and you should consider tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and typhoid boosters or courses of medicine. Consult a doctor before you leave, and check with your local foreign office for the current vaccination requirements and recommendations.
Language – in a country with more than 500 languages, you might worry about not being understood. Don’t worry too much, as most people speak English, the country’s official language. Other languages you’ll likely come across are Igbo, Yoruba and Nigerian Pidgin English.
Why not try out one of these typical greetings for some of the major languages:
- how far – Pidgin
- bawo Ni – Yoruba
- mesiere – Efik
- sannu - Hausa
- kedu – Igbo
- koyo – Edo
Getting Around – most visitors arrive into Nigeria at Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Arrange with Southern Sun Ikoyi in advance for a quick, convenient and affordable airport transfer. Alternatively agree a price (before you ride) and choose a licenced taxi outside the airport.
The quickest way to get between major cities is by air, with Arik Air offering one of the largest internal routes.
Driving in Nigeria can be stressful for first-time visitors especially. Road conditions in Lagos are generally good but can deteriorate considerably outside of major cities and better developed areas. Traffic is also not for the faint hearted. That being said, getting around by car is often the least stressful way of navigating from A to B in larger metropolises like Lagos. If you are going to be driving a lot within the city, talk to us about hiring a driver for the day, or recommended taxi operators.
For visitors looking for an authentic Lagos experience there is a choice of local transport, from riding in a keke (tuk-tuk motorbike), or in a danfo (VW kombi), a molue (an old Mercedes Benz truck), or even riding on the back of an okada (motorbike), you are guaranteed a memorable transport experience. However, it is very important to remember that road rules in Nigeria are not always followed, and the roadworthiness of your transport choice might not be up to the standards you would like. As such, a degree of caution is recommended before opting for some transport choices.
Nigeria Weather – as the country is very large, the weather can vary. And in a city like Lagos, where some areas are reclaimed land from the ocean, the rainy season can have a large impact on your ease of getting around. Below is a rough guide to typical seasonal weather patterns in Nigeria.
November to February – the dry season. Humidity decreases and the dry and dusty Harmattan wind blows in from the north.
March to October – Lagos starts its rainy season in March, while some areas of the north will remain in dry season. Throughout April to September especially the south can receive heavy rainfall. If you are travelling outside of the city on unpaved roads, beware of how the weather can impact your journey.
Travel Documents – entering Nigeria can be a costly and complicated process. As such it is recommended to consult an experience travel agent as well as the Nigerian immigration service to limit the chances of errors and needless delays to paperwork. You can find out more here:
In general, wherever you’re arriving from, you’ll need a visa. Especially if you are visiting for work. The process often involves applying at your nearest Nigerian embassy, supplying forms in triplicate, proof of hotel reservations, proof of a return air ticket, proof of finances to cover the cost of your stay, a letter of invitation and of course the fees to pay for the visa.
While no doubt, Nigeria has its complications and downsides, there is also no doubt that Nigeria is as unique as it is vibrant, and exciting as it is colourful. A visit to Nigeria, when well planned, can be stress free, safe and the start of a love for all things Naija.