Zanzibar information

Zanzibar general information

Do I need a visa for a Zanzibar holiday? How can I make a call from Zanzibar? What is Zanzibar's currency? And what time is it in Zanzibar? When taking a beach break on Zanzibar for the first time, these are just some of the questions travellers have; below we've tried to answer them.

Time in Zanzibar

Just like Tanzania, Zanzibar is three hours in the advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+3). It doesn't operate daylight saving time, and consequently there's no time difference between Zanzibar's summer and winter months.

Currency in Zanzibar

Zanzibar's currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS). Currently (Aug 2009) £1 = Tsh2,275 – also see www.oando.com for the most recent exchange rates. Most lodges on Zanzibar charge in US$; very few will take travellers' cheques, although most accept credit cards (they may charge an additional fee to do so). Buying Tanzanian shillings in Europe or America can be hard; most travellers will buy local currency on arrival in Tanzania or Zanzibar.

Zanzibar's International Dialling Code

The International Dialling Code for Tanzania and Zanzibar is +255, followed by the destination's phone number. Calling from Zanzibar, you dial 00 plus the relevant country code (0044 for the Great Britain, 001 for the States).

Food in Zanzibar

The food served in Zanzibar's beach lodges in generally very good, focusing on what's locally available. There are some fine restaurants in Stone Town, mainly serving local dishes, seafood and curries, seasoned with the island's exotic spices; outside of Stone Town, the choices are limited. Drinks include Tanzanian beers (Tusker, Kilimanjaro and Safari), as well as imported beer and wine from South Africa.

Health in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a tropical island and vaccines are sensible (typhoid, polio, tetanus and yellow fever). Malaria is common, so you should take anti-malarial measures. Always check the latest recommendations with your travel clinic or doctor – more travel info on Zanzibar and Tanzania is given by the Scottish NHS.

AIDS is prevalent in Zanzibar and HIV infection rates are high. This isn't usually a concern for visitors, but they should be aware of this situation, and take the same wise precautions which are sensible in most countries. We understand that blood supplies used by the private hospitals in Zanzibar and Tanzania have been carefully screened for several years.

Language in Zanzibar

English and KiSwahili are the official languages, spoken by most Zanzibari; beside this, there are many ethnic groups, who speak localised dialects and languages. Some basic KiSwahili will help you to enjoy your trip even more – and even poor attempts to speak it will be hugely appreciated by most islanders!

Laundry in Zanzibar

Practically all beach lodges have laundry services, though sometimes, due to religious taboos, women's underwear is excluded.

Taking children to Zanzibar

As a beach destination, Zanzibar is generally very good for relaxed family holidays. Please see our ideas for family holidays in Zanzibar, or call our expert team for detailed information.

Visas for Zanzibar

Currently (Aug 2009), travellers with British or US passports require visas for Tanzania – and Zanzibar is simply an area of Tanzania; there are now no separate requirements for the island.

For UK citizens, visas are currently (Aug 2009) best obtained in advance from the Tanzanian High Commission in London, and cost approximately £38 per single entry. Always check the most recent regulations with your nearest Tanzania High Commission or Embassy before travelling.

Weather and climate in Zanzibar

Zanzibar's weather tends to be more humid than the weather on the mainland – click on the following link for a detailed description of the weather and climate in Zanzibar.