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Published: October 27th 2019
Whether you are coming to the Gambia for the first time, or you have been visiting for a while now, these tips would be helpful. The easiest way to have a full Gambia experience is to adopt a Gambian lifestyle and live like a local. Eat street food, take local buses, drink local beer.
Try avoid being friends with every person you meet especially at the beach; not everyone is friendly some are willing to be friends with your money, not you as a person.
In Kombo area use Vans for transportation, they are slow and not too comfortable but less expensive, walk if the distance is short. Taxi’s charges more money than other transportation if they pick you up alone and drive you to your destination (we called them town-trip).
Most transportation Vans, Mini Vans and Taxi’s it’s better to travel with people around you than travelling alone is much safer. Here taxis and vans are a bit choked up.
Use guidebooks and maps they are available in popular bookstores like Timbooktoo Bookshop at Bakau instead having a guy (bumpsters) guiding you day and night in every place you have to visit because you will have to feed them and they also persistently ask you for extra money.
Look both ways when crossing highways for traffic flow and not every Gambian can drive other drivers do not hold a genuine license with them.
Be money smart you should, by all means, know the exchange rate of your currency online before you can change your money and do not pay in hard currency always change it first.
There are so many beautiful things you will see on the road and historical places in the Gambia you may visit, and you will need a digital camera or perhaps if you don’t have one use your smartphone camera to take beautiful pictures.
The Gambia is called the smiling coast because most of the people are friendly, calm and nice that doesn’t mean we don’t have troublemakers like any other country, pickpockets are everywhere more likely in the marketplaces you have to be careful.
For safety, the purpose has small padlocks on your bag packs if you carry one when going out.
At all cost avoid fake products or food being sold to you at inflated prices in the streets.
If you own a car make sure it is a full tank because in the rural areas is hard to see a petrol station nearby. If you want to take a taxi, you have to negotiate the price of your fare before getting in. chartered cars are also available with negotiable prices.
Do not leave your television, your computers or any electrical machines on while being plugged into wall sockets.
When going out from your apartment switch off all-electric machines, electric power is not stable in the Gambia unless you are staying in a fancy 5 (Five) Star Hotel then you are safe from being a blackout of electricity every 6-7 hours a day.
During weekends banks are close use a debit card on ATMs if you have one or else you will have to wait till Monday.
Banks and office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m Friday is a half-day 8:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m Banks and Offices are closed during weekends.
Always carry some change you will need it for transportation and things you may need to buy on the road to avoid looking for change every time you want to buy something.
In The Gambia, banks offer better exchange rate than Exchange bureaus in the streets, search online for an exchange rate of your currency first.
Carry a small amount of money in your bag for emergency banks are not found in some places in the Gambia and many restaurants and shops do not take credit cards for payments.
Be Patient; time is not something every Gambian respect. Expect dalliance when it comes to appointments and slow services in workplaces.
Here you will encounter poor customer services in certain areas, but if you are patient you will surely have what you are seeking.
Eat at local restaurants during lunchtime; they cook good African healthy foods. Don’t mind people looking at you as a stranger, search for a better place and enjoy the hot food. One of the best Gambian meals served daily is Benachin, Super, Fufu and Jollof Rice.
Have a two or more bottle of water with you in your backpack for drinking. Beers are not sold everywhere In the Gambia except in some restaurants or hotels, and they are also expensive.
Local shops at the corners are cheaper than big stores or supermarkets only they have less food and products you may need compare to the big stores and supermarkets.
Avoid staying out late at night time or use mosquitoes coil to avoid mosquito bites; it causes skin rashes and malaria. Remember to bring along mosquito repellent, it is useful when going out late.
The Gambia is an English country yet half of the population speak two of the most spoken local language in the country Wolof and Mandinka. The easiest way to understand the local language is to make a genuine local friend or better still search in local stores for a book on that topic.
The Gambia is a Muslim dominated country. Christians and Muslims co-exist peacefully.
On Fridays, the streets are flooded with Muslims observing the Friday prayers.
Churches can be seen in most corners of The Gambia as well.
Written by Samuel Samura
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