Money / ATMs / internet on phone

The local currency is Tanzanian Shilling (Tzs). Many hotels require payment in US$, in particular for accommodation, but also for food and drink and for tours. Taxis and car rentals are also paid in US$. You do need Tzs for petrol in case you hire a car, and if you go shopping in the villages (you get better prices when you pay in Tzs). Tzs come in notes of 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000 shillings. Coins used here are 500, 200, 100 and 50 Shilling.

Best place and rates to exchange US$ to Tzs are the EXCHANGE BUREAUS in Stone Town, the banks offer bad exchange rates, the exchange rates at hotels are even worse. Currently the exchange rate is Tzs 2250 per US$ (mid April 2018). You get the best rates for notes of $ 50 and $ 100, don’t exchange smaller notes. You can also exchange Euro, GDP, ZAR and other currencies at the exchange bureaus. NB: US$ notes printed before 2006 are not valid in Tanzania/Zanzibar!

The bigger hotels, restaurants and car rentals have credit card facilities. A surcharge of 5% is applicable. Be aware that at many places credit cards are not accepted.

ATMs: You can only draw Tzs against your credit card or a card with a Visa or Mastercard logo. An ATM is at the airport just outside the arrivals hall, there are a few other ATMs in Stone Town. Most ATMs have a maximum payout of Tzs 400,000 per withdrawal. You can use your credit card multiple times though until your daily withdrawal limit on your credit card is reached. You might have to visit different ATMs though.

New ATM from CRDB Bank in the airport parking lot: you can withdraw up to Tzs 600,000.

If you need to draw larger amounts of Tzs rather go to Barclays in town, you can withdraw up to Tzs 1.2 million (no charge if you are a Barclays customer).

NB: ATMs are only in Stone Town. There are NO ATMs outside of Stone Town, with the exception of Paje (to my knowledge – please email me in case you find other ATMs on the island while you are here!):

A Barclays ATM was opened at the Paje Petrol Station in February 2018.  Not sure though if it will be regularly maintained, i.e. if cash (Tzs) will be available on a continuous basis. It is a very good and much welcome step in the right direction though.

Petrol costs Tzs 2344 per liter for Super (mid April 2018) and is paid in Tzs.  You can also pay in US$ but you’ll get a really bad exchange rate.

Mobile phone/internet
: You can buy a simcard from a choice of service providers at a small kiosk outside the airport arrivals hall, or in Stone Town.  The service provider with the most coverage on Zanzibar is “Zantel”, a simcard costs Tzs 1000 (incl. Tzs 500 airtime). I suggest that you buy a minimum of Tzs 5000 airtime and load it (*104*vouchernumber#).

Zantel offers prepaid deals for internet, calls and sms:

Mobile INTERNET ONLY packages (as per October 2017):

75MB for Tzs 250 / 250MB for Tzs 500 / 600MB for Tzs 1000 / 1.5 GB for Tzs 2000

1.2 GB for Tzs 5000 / 3GB for Tzs 8000 / 12GB for Tzs 12000

1.5GB for Tzs 10000 / 3GB for Tzs 15000 / 7GB for Tzs 25000

To sign up: dial *149*15#, dial 4 for mobile services, chose daily, weekly or monthly and then your choice of bundle. You will receive a confirmation sms starting with “hongera” (congratulations – for signing up).

Mobile internet plus airtime for calls and text messages, for example:

Epiq 300: Every day, Tzs 300 are deducted automatically from your airtime and you get 10MB internet, 50 free sms and 6 minutes talk time (local) per day.

Epiq 500: Tzs 500 deduction daily off your credit, you get 10MB internet, 60 free sms and 50 MMS and 12 minutes talk time (local) per day

Epiq 999: Tzs 999 deduction daily off your credit, you get 16MB internet, 500 free sms and 100 MMS and 25 minutes talk time (local) per day

To register, dial *149*15#, dial 6 for Epiq, choose your package, your language and then “register”. If you registered successfully, you will receive a sms starting with “hongera”

You can buy airtime (“Zantel crediti”) everywhere you see the green Zantel sign hanging outside the small shops lining the streets all over the island. Be careful, if you ran out of airtime, you need to register again with Epiq.

Wi-Fi hotspots in Stone Town are at the airport, ferry port, at Forodhani Gardens, Mercury’s Restaurant and La Taverna restaurant. Most hotels and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi for their guests.


64 thoughts on “Money / ATMs / internet on phone

  1. had a general question of you can help me.

    I understand we should bring USD’s in good condition.

    Are small denominations better and say 10’s and twenty’s?

    Arriving in about 2 weeks




    • Hi Ron,
      As mentioned on my page “money/ATMs/internet on phone” you get best exchange rates for $ 50 and $ 100. If you are asking about paying with $ you might want to bring also some smaller notes.


  2. Hi Gaby! Thank you for a quite informative and very useful website. I have been dreaming of visiting Zanzibar for over 3 years now and I am really excited that I am finally doing this. I have one question, I usually exchange USD to local currency at the airports upon my arrival, is there a place to exchange at the airport for a good rate rather than the higher rates at hotels as you mentioned?
    Also, I asked the hotel for airport pick up and they will charge 15 USD, would it be cheaper if I just grab a cab from the airport?
    Thanks again 🙂


    • Hi there, glad to hear you are fulfilling your dream, you will for sure like it here.
      The best exchange rates you get at the exchange bureaus in Stone Town. Bring $50 and $100 notes for best rates.
      I suppose your hotel is in Stone Town? Transfer cost from the airport to a Stone Town hotel are between $15 and $20. The taxis at the airport can only be booked via the tourism desk outside the arrivals hall, they get a commission on the fares. So I guess the transfer cost of your hotel is fair.
      Sunny greetings,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Gaby,
    Great blog, sounds like you have loads of fun leaving in Zanzibar 🙂
    A quick question, you mentioned that you can only withdraw money from an ATM with a credit card.
    Does it mean you can’t do it using just a debit card?


    • Thanks Marta, yes I am very happy here and enjoying myself thoroughly.
      You can draw cash at the ATMs in Stone Town with any card that has the Visa or Mastercard logo, or American Express and at some ATMS Diners. Just make sure that you register your debit card at your bank for withdrawals in foreign countries before you leave.
      Sunny greetings, Gaby


  4. Hi Gaby, Great info. Thanks.
    My four year old and I are visiting Zanzibar in 2 weeks.. My options are bringing South African ZAR and exchanging at an exchange bureau in Stone Town or using my US Debit Card at a bank machine. Which do you think has the better exchange rate? Important to note, to get the rands I am withdrawing from US bank account in Swaziland where I live so am already paying one foreign transaction fee…
    Also, I will be applying for our visas at the Zanzibar airport. Can I pay in ZAR for that, do you know?
    Thank you!!


    • Hi Mari,
      You can exchange Rand into USD at the local exchange bureaus. They don’t charge any exchange fees. With your credit card, you can only draw Tanzanian Shilling (Tzs), no US$, which you then can exchange into US$. Don’t know which is better. Please note that ATMs/bank machines are only in Stone Town. In the coastal areas, there are no ATMs.
      Visa is paid in US$ only, either cash or via credit card. Rand is not accepted here to pay with.


  5. Thanks Gaby! Totally different subject but what’s the appropriate dress code there for women? Skirts and tank tops okay or should I cover my shoulders?


  6. Hi Gaby!
    Such a great blog! Really useful! But i wanted to ask you sth, where exactly can i buy the sim cards? And another question, maybe offtopic, but do you know if theres is any place where i can buy photographic accessories? Cuz i have a gopro camera and mines waterproof case just broke, so i was wondering if you know any place where i could buy one.



    • Hi there,
      Great to hear that you like my blog.
      You can buy simcards at any kiosk in Stone Town that has the green logo of Zantel displayed, or any other service providers like Tigo etc. If you need a Nano or Micro simcard you need to go to Zantel’s sales office in Vuga, around the corner from the High Court. In coastal areas, look for the kiosks at the roadside.
      Re your camera, maybe speak to Rohit of the Capital Art Studio, he has the oldest shop in Stone Town, worth while a visit in any case. He is a photographer. His shop is in the same building block where the Shangani Post Office is (opposite Memories of Africa), next to the internet cafe in the same building. He might be able to help.


      • Hi again,
        Thanks for the info, it was really helpful, but unfortunately I could not get the case for the camera.
        I am going to spend a month in here, so thanks to ur labour with ur blog, yesterday I visited Cheetahsrock and its awesome what Jenny and her staff do there 🙂


      • Hi Maribel, you are most welcome.
        Indeed, Cheetah’s Rock is an amazing experience. Glad you enjoyed it too.
        Sorry to hear that you didn’t get the case for the camera. Maybe check in Dar es Salaam? I wouldn’t know where though.


  7. Hello Gaby,

    I will be in Sansibar for 3 months and so I am looking for :::: It is possible to by a Nano Sim of Zantel at the airport or only in the city? Do you know maybe if the shop Zantel is also open on saturday or sunday?

    Greetings from Italy 🙂


  8. Hello Gaby,

    I will be for 3 months in Sansibar and so I am Looking for an internet provider for my smartphone. Zantel looks as a good option. So, my question is: Can a buy a nano sim still in the city or also at the airport? Do you know if the Zantel shop in Vulga has open also on saturday or sunday?

    Greeting from Italy,


    • Hi Maria,
      Zantel seems to have the best coverage as well as packages on the island.
      At the airport you can only buy a regular sized simcard. You need to go to the Zantel shop in Vuga to have it cut down to nano size. They are open on Saturdays as much as I know. Not sure about Sundays though.


  9. Hi there can you please tell me whether or not RANDS can be exchanged for shillings?
    Or can rand only be exchanged for dollars?


  10. Thank you, I’m just about to travel to Zanzibar and this information will be SO helpful! (Particularly the tip on bringing US cash, I was going to leave most of mine home!)


  11. Hi Gaby, can I pay with credit card at the Airport Shop for buying a SIM ?
    I will bring a sim card cutter with me for nano. A cutter is cheap at Germany . Maybe I will leave it at the airport shop at the end of the travel….


    • Hi, as I mentioned on this page, only the bigger hotels and restaurants on the island have credit card facilities. Please be aware that this is a tiny tropical island, you will not find the same amenities here that you might be used to. You mostly pay in cash when you leave your hotel. There is no airport shop, just a small kiosk outside the arrivals hall. Simcards must be paid for in the local currency Tanzanian Shillings (TZS). The outlets usually have those little machines to cut the simcard to micro or nano size. Nevertheless, if you want to you can always leave yours there as a welcome donation.


  12. Hi, How much TZS I need for one week ? Can I change rest of money at the airport on departure or I need to go to Stone Town before flight ?


    • Hi, I cannot possibly say how much Tzs you will need in one week, that entirely depends on you, e.g. if you eat out or if you booked all inclusive etc. You can exchange Tzs to US$ or Euro at any Exchange Bureau in Stone Town or at the airport.


  13. Hi,

    Do you know what are the opening hours of currency exchange in Stone Town?
    Is it opened on Sundays as well?

    With best regards



  14. Hi. Really great blog and at most useful.
    I intend to came on Zanzibar next week (if I got the plane from Munich).
    As I look on Zantel website there is no coverage on Zanzibar east coast. Is this right?

    Which middle class hotel with all inclusive could you recommended there?


    • Hi, Zantel does cover the south east coast, but the service fluctuates depending in where you are. I personally use Halotel ( which has excellent coverage from Michamvi to Bwejuu, but not so good in Paje apparently.
      Please consult Tripadvisor for a suitable hotel. If you are looking for something authentic/Zanzibari/Rasta I recommend Mustapha’s Place in Bwejuu, pls check their website. I don’t think they offer all inclusive though – which I don’t recommend anyway, you surely would want to eat at different places, there is a good choice at the south east coast.
      Cheers Gaby


      • Thank you very much. Did I see that correct: Halotel 1 week internet 3G, 1.33 MB = 5.000 Tshs = less than 2,5 $
        Plus Halo SIM = 500 Tshs ?


      • Hi, not sure what a simcard costs, I think it is Tzs 1000.
        I use the weekly package for all networks: Tzs 1999 = 32 min calls to all networks, 21 halotel calls + 350 sms + 150 MB 3.5 GB. That’s less than $1.


  15. Update abouth ATMs – there is one in Makunduchi in place of The people’s Bank of Zanzibar.
    I also find an ATM without surcharge on withdraw. If I remember right it was from Bank of Africa.

    And the exchange rate for $ or € cash in exchange office (which are all-around) is a little better than those on ATMs.


  16. Hi Gaby,

    The ATM located in Makunduchi is NOT for VISA use. According to our Hotel (La Madrugada) it’s for local use only.
    If expected to dine, drink etc on a Hotel, I’ll recommend USD only.
    We brought USD, exchanged in Stone Town to TZS and went south.
    Down here though (on the hotel), all prizes are in USD, and since we had to pay in TZS it gave us a small loss due to their exchange rate (2200 to the USD) .
    If renting a Vehicle, ensure to get a 4WD, some roads are in REALLY bad condition.


    • Hi Thomas,
      Thank you for your valuable input. I will amend the section re Makunduchi ATM.
      As to US$ versus Tzs: This entirely depends on the individual choices and in which area you staying. As mentioned in my blog “Many hotels require payment in US$, in particular for accommodation, but also for food and drink and for tours.”. If one however visits local restaurants (which is highly recommended), the prices are in Tzs. Same applies for shopping in curio shops, small supermarkets, fruit stalls etc. Also, if you rent a car petrol is paid in Tzs. Makunduchi is a bit secluded, however there are some local eateries there.


  17. Hello, Gaby!
    Could you please tell me, was there any surcharge (commission) on withdrawal from ATM?
    And is it possible to withdraw USD or TZS only?


    • Hello, you can only withdraw in Tzs, as explained on the page Money matters / ATMs on my blog. There are charges, depending on who you got your credit card from; you will only see the amount of charges on your bank statement.
      Please check out It works out much cheaper than an ATM withdrawal. You can send yourself money to Tanzania, in Tzs, from your credit card or bank account, to be paid out in cash at Diamond Trust Bank.


      • Hello Ekaterina.

        Check with your bank what commission they charge for withdraw. My Bank take 3,5€ per withdraw with Visa Electron and thats its. I only mentioned that exchange rate for USD cash change are better than withdraw.


  18. Thank you so much for this info! Very helpful. I can’t believe how cheap the phone plans are! I am now thinking I should unlock my phone before our trip and get a sim card on arrival now that I know how inexpensive it is.


  19. Hi Gaby
    Is there a forex bureau at the airport?
    Is there a limit as to how much USD you can change into TZS per person in one day?


    • Hi, yes there are exchange bureaus in the arrivals hall, but you get better rates at the exchange bureaus in Stone Town. As much as I know there are no limits of the amount of foreign currency one can exchange.


  20. When you come out from airport building, there is a “restaurant” on the right side, behind that there are few exchange bureaus with practically same exchange rate as in Stone Town (local rent a car company use them to change money).


    • Hi JuriB,

      Thanks for the tip; indeed in our recent trip to Zanzi, we used one of those bureaus and had no problems. I negotiated a better rate and got a receipt for my transaction. In fact the rate I got was even better than what I noticed in Stone Town.



  21. Hi Gaby,

    thanks for the very informative blog. I do have a question, I have read somewhere that officially the import/export of the Shilling is prohibited. I have a few 100 thousands accumulated from collections and was hoping to bring them over to spend it. In your experience can I expect any trouble from customs upon arrival for having local money with me? Many thanks


    • Hi Danny,
      I don’t know if there are limitations to import TZS. All hand luggage and suitcases go through an x-ray machine which is monitored by customs officials. Not sure how they will treat a suitcase full of TZS.
      Cheers, Gaby


  22. Hi Gaby,

    I had a quick question about ATM withdrawals. I have bought a preloaded travel cash card and have loaded $600 USD on it. I wondered whether the ATM’s provide the option to withdraw in USD or only in TZS? I wanted to withdraw some USD in Tanzania as i’ll be heading straight on to Kenya after that so only wanted to carry half my spends in cash and half on card!



  23. Hallo Gaby, wir reisen am kommenden Dienstag nach Zanzibar und haben leider durch deinen Blog festgestellt, dass mehrere der von uns eingetauschten Dollarnoten vor 2006 gedruckt wurden. Leider bleibt zum Umtausch keine Zeit mehr. Werden diese auch in den Hotels nicht akzeptiert? Lieben Dank, Brigitte


  24. Hi Gaby
    Can I pay the tours with euro to? Or much better with dollars? If I book the tours on the hotel reception, it’s more expensive like the others? Thank you for your help!
    Greetings from Vienna :Gabor


    • Hi Gabor,
      The currencies accepted on the island are US Dollars and Tanzanian Shillings. Hotels usually add a surcharge if you book via them, if possible book the tours directly.
      Cheers, Gaby


      • Dear Gaby!
        Thank you! Do you have any must have tour, or tour guide recommendations in Stone town?
        Thanks again : Gabor


      • Kindly read the “discover” sections on my homepage and choose whatever suits your interests.
        There are many registered tour guides (please ask for their badge!), they all had to pay a lot of money – in most cases borrowed from family members – that they have to get back in earnings. I think it would be unfair if I recommend a particular tour guide, they are all good. Many of them also speak German.


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