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.
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:
300MB for Tzs 500 / 600MB for Tzs 1000 / 1GB for Tzs 2000
700MB for Tzs 3000 / 1.2GB for Tzs 5000 / 3GB for Tzs 8000 /
10GB for Tzs 12000
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.