Money / ATMs / simcard

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 if you go shopping in the villages or eat at local restaurants (recommended!) and for petrol if you rent a car. 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.

The Government recently closed all exchange bureaus in Stone Town. At present, one can only exchange money at the local banks, their new exchange bureau outlets and at the Post Office in Shangani. Apparently new regulations for exchange bureaus are being formulated as well as a proper registration process.

The exchange bureaus inside the airport arrivals and departures halls are still open 24/7, as well as outside the airport at the parking lot where you get better rates. Bring $100 and $50 notes for best rates. NB: latest news is that only US$ notes printed after 2013 will be exchanged!

For an indication on current exchange rates check

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 parking lot, 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 until your daily withdrawal limit on your credit card is reached. You might have to visit different ATMs though.

The majority of ATMs are in Stone Town, these are the ONLY locations of ATMs outside of Stone Town (beware, they frequently run out of money!):

Paje:  A Barclays ATM is at the UP petrol station close to the police checkpoint

Nungwi:  A Barclays ATM is close to the UP petrol station just outside Nungwi on the main road

Dunga: A NMB ATM is between Dunga and Koani (central Zanzibar)


Petrol costs Tzs 2263 per liter for Super (October 2019) and is paid in Tzs.  You can also pay in US$ but you’ll get a really bad exchange rate.

Simcard/internet: You can buy a simcard at the airport or in the villages (cheaper). A Zantel simcard with 12 GB costs US$ 20 at the airport. Zantel has the best coverage on the island.

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.


27 thoughts on “Money / ATMs / simcard

  1. 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?


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


  3. 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.


  4. 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!



  5. 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


  6. Morning, So glad a stumbled onto your page. So much information. We are visiting Zanzibar in November. I visited Zanzibar over 20 years ago as a young backpacker and have decided to bring my son to this lovely island. So looking forward to this trip. Take care.


  7. Hi Gaby,
    wir kommen Ende August auf deine traumhafte Insel.
    Vielen Dank für deinen sehr informativen Blog.
    Eine Frage hätte ich noch.
    Hälst du es für sinnvoller € mitzubringen und diese in den EXCHANGE BUREAUS in TZs zu tauschen, oder nur wenig Bargeld mitzunehmen und direkt vom ATM zu ziehen?
    Vielen Dank für Rückmeldung
    Beste Grüße aus der Heimat.


    • Hi Martin,
      ich würde Euro mitbringen und in Stone Town in Tzs umtauschen. Solltet ihr mehr Tzs brauchen könnt ihr sie bei einer ATM ziehen (der Kurs ist schlechter).
      Sofern ihr nicht Vollpension gebucht habt braucht ihr auch US$ – ihr könnt hier nur in US$ oder Tzs bezahlen, nicht in Euro.
      Sonnige Grüße


      • Hi Gaby,
        vielen Dank für die Info.
        Wir haben bereits ein Appartment gemietet und sind aktuell auf der Suche nach einem Mietwagen.
        US$ sollten wir daher nicht benötigen.
        Einzige was ich nicht so gerne mag, ist dann direkt so viel Bargeld in der Tasche zu haben und dann erst damit in die Stadt zu müssen.
        liebe Grüße


      • Hi Martin,
        Euer Apartment sollte einen Safe haben!? Wenn nicht dann würde ich den schlechteren Kurs bei der ATM in Kauf nehmen, d.h. keine Euro umtauschen.
        Beim Mietwagen bitte unbedingt eine Firma wählen die aktuelle Reviews hat. Es gibt sehr viele unprofessionelle Anbieter hier. Auch 24/7 Pannenhilfe ist wichtig.
        Cheers, Gaby


  8. Hi Gaby,
    danke für den Hinweis.
    Wir haben nochmal bei unserem Vermieter nachgefragt. Ein Safe ist vorhanden.
    Mietwagen werden wir wahrscheinlich bei Kibabu anmieten.
    Freuen uns schon sehr, bald das bezaubernde Tanzania besuchen zu dürfen.


  9. This is the most amazing information found thus far! Thanks to everyone for amazing questions and to Gaby for wealth of information! So we are traveling to Jambiani next year, staying at the Uzuri Village – I know you are not on that side of Zanzibar, however, would you have information regarding managing doing some work (ugh) will vacationing? I know the resort has wifi but I also know it is not 100% reliable/strong. Additionally, if I need to fax/scan/print something – is there somewhere to do that nearby? I dislike the thought of working while there, but it is a necessary evil so I can afford the trip.
    Many thanks in advance for your help.


    • Thank you, I am thrilled that my info and the questions of all my wonderful readers help.
      Please check with Uzuri Villa regarding WiFi, it very much depends on which system they use and also on how much access each guest gets.
      You might want to get additionally a local simcard for internet. I use Halotel 3G. Check for internet packages. It works very well in Bwejuu (close to the Halotel transmitter, about 10 km from Jambiani). Not sure how it works in Jambiani, rather check with Uzuri.
      Fax machines are very uncommon on the island. To my knowledge you can only scan/print documents in Stone Town. Check with Uzuri, they might have a scanner/printer.
      Hope this helps.
      Sunny greetings, Gaby


  10. Hi Gaby,

    So thrilled to have found your website. I’m sure you’ve heard it enough that the information you’ve put together has been sooo helpful. But I want to thank you for making it so easy. My husband and I are travelling to Zanzibar post Eid for 8 days in June. After reading your blog we feel like we should have booked for more days! There’s so much to do! We’re also considering staying at the South East coast as compared to nungwi/kendwa but we also do love sunsets actually which we might miss on the east coast!
    We have a couple of questions:
    1. We are landing at 1.30am. is it safe to take a taxi at that hour to stone town? Or should we wait till 6am at day break to get a cab. We’re concerned that in case our flight is delayed and we take time for visa the prebooked cabbie might leave or we won’t be able to get in touch since we won’t have a working number.
    2. While visa on arrival is available. My travel agent recommended doing it in advance since getting it at Zanzibar airport apparently is a hassle and they ask too many questions and it takes long. Is it true?
    3. Also is there any other cheaper SIM card option available at the airport or stone town?
    And again your blog is reallllyyy good!


    • Hello Mrinal,
      Thank you. I am always thrilled to hear that my blog helps.
      As to missing sunsets at the south east coast: You could stay at Michamvi. Due to the shape of the peninsula you can enjoy sunsets even at the south east coast, for example at Michamvi Sunset Beach hotel.
      Regarding your questions:
      1) Rather book a taxi with your hotel. They know that planes can be delayed. No need to wait at the airport till daybreak.
      2) Usually you get forms to complete on the plane. There might be long queues at the visa counters but as you get to the front it is a quick process. You can also apply for the visa online:
      3) You can buy a simcard package at the exchange bureau on the airport parking lot, they are open 24/7. For other simcard options best check with your hotel.


      • Thank you so much Gaby! We feel more at ease to now take the cab at night! Could you help us with another question: Which snorkelling trip would you recommend the one from Stone town to Prison Island or the one at Mnemba Atoll? Which one is better? Also to go Mnemba Atoll, does safari blue operate from Paje or Jambiani?



      • You are welcome. Snorkelling at Mnemba atoll got very good reviews.
        Safari Blue starts from south of Stone Town, please check There are cheap copycats that start from Paje/Jambiani, they call themselves Blue Safari. Please be careful, there is a huge difference between those two.


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