Money in Zanzibar is a tricky business, since almost no one accepts credit cards, and if they do – they’ll charge you a high commission of 10%. So you’ll have to rely mainly on cash. The local restaurants accept local currency of TSH, and many hotels only accept dollars. So sometimes the check was divided to 2 –food was in TSH, and the room in dollars.
In general - You can bargain on practically anything. We were able to cut the costs of the accommodation (a bit) and fruits on the beach, massage and souvenirs (a lot, sometimes by a third of the original price). Be patient and it will be worth your time.
ATM: There are no ATM machines near the beaches, so make sure to bring money with you. The minimum daily amount you’ll spend is 30000 TSH (assuming you will eat in restaurants and not at the beach), not including accommodation.
A ticket for an adult will cost you 39€, and for a kid (4-11) - 34€. Children under 4 get in for free, as well as birthday kids – so you might want to schedule your visit accordingly… I recommend you bring with you water and lots of it – the prices inside the park tend to be very high.
The next day we decided to exchange some cash, do shopping, and fill up our gas tank. Tasks which seem very simple in any trip, turn out to be hard ones. A day earlier we saw in Sortland port a shopping center, a bank, and a gas station and we assumed all tasks could be completed there.
We went for the first bank and they told us they didn't have cash. We searched for another bank - none. Shopping was easy - we spent 400 krone in a few minutes. We wanted to fill gas with a credit so we wouldn't waste the little cash we had in our pocket. After entering the gas station and a thorough explanation from the girl at the counter we finally managed to fill the gas tank. It was also difficult drinking coffee from machines. You get change in gas stations and super markets only from special machines.
We drove south toward Melbu and got into a place with a bank looking for cash. On one of the places they told us that we won't get cash in any bank in the area because it's a well known problem existing from last year - banks don't hold cash money. All transactions are done using credit cards.
So, if you come to Norway better bring with you local money for the entire stay, in addition to credit cards with an electronic chip. They were willing to accept signature but with chip it was simpler.
We got on another Hurtigruten ferry at 13:00 as planned for another cruise toward Svolvær. I remembered on the first cruise they mentioned that they exchange money. So I went to the clerks on the third floor and wanted to exchange. At first the cashier was willing to exchange only 500 Euros, but then she called her superior cause I wanted to change 3000 Euros. After I explained to him my problem he was willing to change 1000 Euros. I sent my husband after half an hour so he could exchange too. Of course this guy knew the connection, but was willing to exchange him 1000 Euros also. Overall, it was enough for the rest of the trip.
3 Tips for reducing your London attractions expenses:
The following two passes must be purchased in advance and cannot be purchased anywhere within the UK.
National Trust Tourist Pass
For those who spend more than a week in London we recommend buying NT Pass - available online (throught the Internet) only. You can purchase a 7 consecutive days pass (24 GBP) or 14 consecuitve days (29 GBP). It allows entry to over 300 historic houses and gardens in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The NT holdings include the large-scale gardens and country homes for the most part.
After providing your payment details - you get a printed order confirmation that should be confirmed and stamped (with your first visit date) in one of the following (London and South-East England) NT sites: Bodiam Castle, Chartwell, Ham House and Garden, Knole, Mottisfont, Nymans, Osterley Park and House, Petworth House and Park, Sissinghurst Castle, Stowe, Waddesdon Manor, the White Cliffs of Dover. There are a small number of properties where you cannot use your pass for free entry. These are: Ascott, Chastleton House, Red House, Wakehurst Place.
London NT sites:
CARLYLE'S HOUSE 24 Cheyne Row, Chelsea
FENTON HOUSE Hampstead Grove, Hampstead NW3 6RT
HAM HOUSE Ham Street, Richmond TW10 7RS
OSTERLEY PARK & HOUSE Jersey Road, Isleworth TW7 4RB
RED HOUSE Red House Lane, Bexleyheath DA6 8JF
2 WILLOW ROAD Hampstead NW3 1TH
Chartwell House and Quebec House (on the same ride).
English Heritage Pass
Almost the same scheme holds for English Heritage sites. You buy EH pass (online only) for 9 sites in 23 GBP. English Heritage focuses on Britain's built heritage.
London EH sites: Apsley House, Chiswick House, Eltham Palace and Gardens, Jewel Tower, Marble Hill House,Ranger’s House - The Wernher Collection, Wellington Arch. BTW, the Stonhenge site is included in this pass.
Note: The Heritage Pass lets you in certain National Trust properties as well.
The English Heritage Pass looks to me like a bit better deal for overseas tourists !
Another option for reducing your expenses in visiting sites in or around London is printing the 2FOR1 coupons (for Travelcard holders only). With your valid Travelcard you can buy two tickets in many sites (including several NT and EH famous sites) in a price of one.
In stone Town there is an ATM which is operated by NBC Company, but for some reason it never worked for us. Then, we found out there's a local branch of Barclay bank in the city, 20 minutes away from Stone Town. The owner of the hotel offered me a ride if I would pay him for the full tank gas fill but I declined the offer, instead, on our way to the beach, I asked the driver to make a stop there.
In "Amman" in Kendwa beach you can change dollars to TSH, but the rate isn’t that good.
A ticket for the whole week is €229 (with camping), whereas a ticket for 5 days (7-12 August, without camping) will cost €199. A one day ticket is €49, and to get into the camping area (includes a swimming pool) you will need to add €130. There is also an alternative, cheaper camping site for €45.