Traveler's Guide for Budgeting and Shopping in Ghana
We get a lot of questions regarding the price levels and shopping culture in Ghana so in this post we’ll share some useful info and tips about the topic based on our own experiences in the country.
Ghana has faced strong inflation for some years now. Higher and higher prices hit the poor, low-income groups the hardest while for tourists the country is quite an affordable travel destination. For example euro has been very strong against the Ghana cedi for long (the current exchange rate: €1 = GHS5.3).
If you need to exchange money in Ghana it’s good to do some comparison between a few money exchange points around. At least the airport might not offer the best exchange rate and we therefore recommend rather withdrawing cash from ATM there. There’s actually ATMs everywhere in the medium and large size cities, so withdrawing cash wont be a problem at all!
What do I pay for living in Ghana?
Now this has a lot to do with the purpose of your traveling; are you going as tourist, for volunteering, business or maybe to meet relatives and friends? What kind of comfort level are you looking for; what kind of living standars do you require? For how long are you staying?
Rental apartments and rooms are usually rent out for a minimum of 2 years and everything must be paid in advance. As hotel rooms of good quality are usually quite costly, it might be challenging to find a suitable place when staying in the country for some months.
When looking for rental rooms it’s better to rely on trustworthy locals who can help in finding available options, in negotiations and payments. You can also do your own research e.g. on Tonaton but bear in mind that the announcements there are not always up to date.
In Accra, there’s a wide range of room standards starting from €80 up to €1000 and above per month. If you are volunteering, most work places usually arrange the basic living.
Hotels and guesthouses are often surprisingly expensive compared to their standards. Very simple, modest rooms range from €8 to €15 per night and self-contained basic rooms can be found between €15 and €40. International hotels charge hundreds of euros per night but they offer all the luxury and services with modern environments and fancy facilities. Don’t also forget to check what Airbnb has got to offer!
The cost of traveling in Ghana
Cost of transportation in Ghana has increased a lot during the past couple of years. Traveling expenses within the country are quite sensitive to fuel prices and this can be seen especially in the taxi fares.
Taxi fares should always be negotiated before starting the trip. There’s usually also shared taxis available with fixed destinations and fares (€0,50-€1,50). Shared taxis don’t move until the car is full so do not try this option when in hurry. Travelers can get down anywhere along the way (with a lower fare) when new passengers can also join the ride.
In places like airports and popular tourist attractions the taxi fares are often fixed.
"Where you dey go?"
You can also move around Accra with Uber! Actually we really recommend this option as it offers very competitive prices (and no need for negotiations!! Big up!), from door to door rides and a safe and secure feeling as you can follow the route on the Uber app... Way less hustle! (Just make sure you have enough mobile credit for internet connection.)
Another great way to move around is by trotro! Trotros have fixed (and low) prices and routes (co-passengers always take care of this!). Taking a trotro is fun and lively experience but make sure you know where to get down. Other travelers will always help you with this. Prices vary from €0.3 to €1.5. There’s a bit better minibuses (= Fords) with a.c. for longer distances (from Accra to Cape Coast, Takoradi, Kumasi...) with prices between €5 and €10 per direction.
Rice for "2 ghana", please!
You can buy street food from food kiosks or ”chop bars” buy ordering each dish / ingredient for certain cost. How many cedis worth of jollof rice or beans, salad (=leaves) or spaghetti; how many pieces of meat or chicken, how many balls of banku? Average meal portions are big, so a good way to get started with ordering food is to ask for the smallest portion available. Local food prices are around €1-4.
Restaurants and international kitchens serve a wide range of food from €5 to €40. Non-alcoholic drinks cost €0.40-1, beers and ciders (large; 600 ml) €1-2. Don’t forget to leave a tip for good food and service.
"I dey go chop"
If you have a chance to cook at home you can get fresh, affordable ingredients from local markets and supermarkets. Ghanaian mamas will always be more than glad to advise you on how to cook the local dishes. Import foods and ingredients are quite expensive but yes, you can find surprisingly many foreign products from supermarkets especially in Accra.
Shopping with good vibes
We have hardly had experiences of ruthless overpricing in Ghana. Of course it’s good to be careful and sharp especially with taxi fares. There’s been less and less chaffering over the past years and more vendors keep setting fixed prices for goods, but you can still come across chaffering e.g. in market places like Makola Market.
It’s also good to remember that many vendors live from hand to mouth, feeding huge families with the small money they make every day. There’s skills, great talents, sweat, long hours and increasing costs behind local handcrafts and arts. By following the easy-going and friendly Ghanaian negotiation culture you’ll for sure end up with a cool win-win deal!
"I beg make you give me good price oh"
A few more tips:
When withdrawing money consider the bank charges. It’s better to take more money at once than paying extra charges for many little withdrawals
It’s good to check hand-written receipts at restaurants and hotels.
Favor local entrepreneurs, restaurants, and hotels! Locals will offer you a helping hand in return and you’ll explore way different aspects of Ghanaian life.
Carry smaller notes with you when moving around the city. Drivers and vendors don’t usually have much change available.
Take it easy, ask questions and have time for chatting. Shopping in Ghana goes far beyond simply exchanging money for goods.
Maria and Hanna