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). 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 2230 per US$ (May 2017). You get the best rates for notes of $ 50 and $ 100. NB: US$ notes printed before 2004 are not valid in Tanzania/ Zanzibar! 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 bigger hotels and restaurants have credit card facilities but be aware that at many places credit cards are not accepted. A surcharge of 5% is charged. 

Please do visit the villages, the locals do not regard you as an intruder, to the contrary, they welcome you as a guest to their home village. Try to support them by buying their craft, fabrics, bags etc. And do haggle – Zanzibaris are disappointed if you agree immediately with the price they are asking.

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. The ATMs usually 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.

NB: ATMs are only in Stone Town. There are NO ATMs for Visa/Mastercard outside of Stone Town!

Travellers cheques are not valid here.

Petrol costs Tzs 2110 per liter for Super (mid June 2017) 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:

Daily:
300MB for Tzs 500 / 600MB for Tzs 1000 / 1GB for Tzs 2000

Weekly:
700MB for Tzs 3000 / 1.2GB for Tzs 5000 / 3GB for Tzs 8000 /
10GB for Tzs 12000

Monthly:
1.5GB for Tzs 10000 / 3GB for Tzs 15000 / 8GB for Tzs 25000

To sign up: dial *149*07#, dial 3 for mobile services, chose daily, weekly or monthly and then your choice of bundle. You will shortly receive a 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.

To register, dial *149*09# and follow the prompts to “Epiq300”. Choose 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 run 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.

44 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

    Thanks,

    Ron

    Like

    • 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.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  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 🙂

    Like

    • 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,
      Gaby

      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

    Like

    • 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

      Like

  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!!

    Like

    • 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.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  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?

    Like

  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.

    Thanks

    Like

    • 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.
      Cheers

      Like

      • 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 🙂
        Thx

        Like

      • 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.
        Cheers

        Like

  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 🙂

    Like

  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,
    Maria

    Like

    • 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.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  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?

    Like

  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!)

    Like

  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….

    Like

    • 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.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  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 ?

    Like

    • 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.

      Like

  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

    Terje

    Like

  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?

    Like

    • Hi, Zantel does cover the south east coast, but the service fluctuates depending in where you are. I personally use Halotel (www.halotel.co.tz) 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

      Like

      • 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 ?

        Like

      • 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.

        Like

  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.

    Like

  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.

    Like

    • 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.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  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?

    Like

    • 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 http://www.worldremit.com 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.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

      • 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.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s