Eid holidays is definitely the sought-after holiday of most residents in Qatar. It means long week off. And long week off means, off to another adventure! Pondered between Bali and Zanzibar, we chose the latter due to shorter travel time, limited days and we haven’t been there. Here’s our Zanzibar travel guide, basic information you need to know before you travel.
Where is Zanzibar?
This Tanzanian archipelago is located off the coast of East Africa, six hours flight away from Doha, Qatar via Qatar Airways. Zanzibar is not only known for its spices plantations and wildlife but also for its wide stretch of pristine white sand beach, amongst the finest in the world.
Zanzibar Travel guide: What you need to know.
Most natives speak Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili), which is spoken extensively in East Africa. Many believe that the purest form is spoken in Zanzibar as it is the birth place of the language. Many local residents also speak Arabic, French and/or Italian.
Islam is the most prominent religion on the island of Zanzibar, 90% of the locals are Muslims.
Zanzibar uses Tanzanian Shilling (TZS). See conversion as of 04/10/17:
1 QAR = 598.16 TZS
1 USD = 2,223.20 TZS
1 PHP = 43.42 TZS
- Cash and Cards
Many smaller spots don’t accept cards, so it’s good to have cash with you. Besides the local currency, US Dollars or Euros are widely accepted. Some establishments have additional charges (3-4%) when credit card is used.
Avoid the months of mid-March to late May as it's monsoon season, and short rains come around again in November. Dry seasons are from December to March and June to October.
- Internet Access
Free public Wi-Fi isn’t in Zanzibar. Save yourself time and cash by activating your roaming with your service provider before you go.
- Tanzanian visa can be obtained for a single entry upon arrival at any of the four main entry points to Tanzania. Check the visa and passport requirements before you book your flight.
- As for Philippines passport holders, we are eligible for a visa on arrival. Yey! That’s another addition to our visa on arrival list of countries.
- Here’s what you need to do upon arriving Abeid Amani Karume Int’l Airport:
- Fill-up the application form and arrival card. These were given during our flight.
- Passport must be valid for at least the next 6 months.
- Visa fee is $50, to be paid upon arrival at the airport. They accept cash or card, but I suggest you pay in cash.
- Here are some friendly tips before you embark on Tanzania:
- For travelers over 1 year old arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission, a Yellow fever vaccination is required. We, Qatar residents, weren't asked for one.
- Bring a mosquito spray. Malaria transmitting mosquitoes bite at late nights so its best to spray before heading out. Most accommodations have mosquito nets fixed on your beds and the rooms are sprayed with mosquito repellents.
- When picked up or dropped off at the airport, some will try to insist to carry your luggage and expect you to give a tip in return.
- It is safe to walk around the city but it's always best to have a companion.
- Carrying around a DSLR camera is normally fine, just always be attentive with your surroundings just like everywhere else.
- Be sure to lock your valuables, even your laptop or camera lens, in your room's safebox before heading out.
- Getting to Nungwi
- You can arrange with your resort or hotel to pick you up from the airport or Stone Town (if that's your first stop). It'll cost more though if you use the hotel's transportation.
- It’s easy to get a private taxi at the airport. Many are just waiting outside to provide the service. You can easily spot the "Men in gray" hahaha! The private taxis are vans. It costs around $40 - $50 which is three times less than the hotel's transportation.
- Travel time takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Getting to/around Stone Town
- Same as returning to Stone town, private taxi costs around $40. We gave $50 with tip.
- Around the center, most are accessible by foot.
- Going to the airport cost $10.
- Stayed 3 nights at Nungwi, the northern area of Zanzibar. It has one of the best white sand beach and turquoise blue waters.
- Then spent a night at Stone town, due to missing our flight. haha! More on that later. 😛
- Visa: $100
- Accommodation: $947
- Transportation: $200
- Food and Beverages: $174
- Tours: $60
- TOTAL: US$1,481= QAR 5,406 ($741 / QAR 2,703 per pax)
(Prices are for 2 pax and excludes airfare for 5 days and 4 nights stay. Click this for the detailed breakdown.)
- Could it be cheaper?
Yes, definitely. Due to reading articles about the warnings and safety precautions, we chose to book hotels and pre-arrange our pickup from the airport. So a large portion of our budget went to that. Knowing that Zanzibar is relatively safe and stable, our expenses could have lessened approximately up to QAR 500 - QAR 800 savings per person.