Tourists are always advised to be aware of “do” and “do not” things when visiting Madagascar in the holiday season since this so-called lemur’s island still has many cultural norms and old lifestyle. Therefore, there are 10 tips you must know and prepare well for the trip in the coming 2020.
1. Money circulation
The national currency of Madagascar is Malagasy Ariary, but Euro is still widely accepted in tourism regions and big cities. Whereas, US dollars can be used in some places in Antananarivo, the capital city. ATMs are widely available in large towns and cities. In rural areas, it is hard to find any currency exchange service. Do not rely on ATMs too much to withdraw cash because this island has a cash-driven economy. Therefore, it is better to exchange your money into Ariary cash at the airport or before taking the flight. However, some hotels (often at the high-end range) may accept payment in foreign currency. Some places levy a commission of about 5% to 8% for credit-card payment.
When buying local souvenirs and negotiating taxi fares, try to get a reference price from the local guide or the Internet (from those who did travel to Madagascar). Some Malagasy people strongly believe that foreign tourists must pay higher fares than local people, so you should bargain whenever shopping in Madagascar markets.
As a traveler to Madagascar, you must pay respect to the local taboos, known as “local fadys” in the Malagasy language. A particular region may set some fadys as rules: prohibit eating porks or bathing in lakes, Therefore, before visiting any local villages, you should search for their norms or obey the local guide’s instruction to reduce the risk of disrespecting their traditions.
- Do not walk into a strange village as if you are a person living there. You need to first meet the tribal chief and ask for permission.
- Do not ignore the photo etiquette: Many tourists want to take pictures of the local people’s daily activities as documents that will be added in their travel blogs. However, many Malagasy people may consider it an impolite behavior, so do not take photos of local people when you have not asked them before.
- Do not be too kind or generous with people you meet along the way of exploring the tourist attractions: In a big city like Antananarivo and tourism regions, you may find many children who are panhandlers or beggars.
- Do not stick to the main areas of Ranomafana National Park: This is one of the most popular park of the country and home of lemurs. However, it is better to follow a tour guide who is knowledgeable of the park’s history and take you to the remote areas where you can truly enjoy the reserve’s wildlife.
The road in Madagascar is regarded to be very bad and there is only one main highway. However, even that one is often in bad shape. Madagascar offers tourists various transportation options: Renting a self-driving car, taking a taxi, bicycle or bus, … However, they do not adhere to the transportation rules you may be accustomed to in your hometown.
- Do not expect public transportation to be comfortable like in your hometown: Many buses are too old and sometimes broken down in the street. You may be lucky to get a seat, but it is not uncommon to see up to 5 people squished into one row of seats.
- If you take a taxi, remember to bargain with the driver first, because taxis there do not have a meter.
- The best way is renting a car which includes a driver. A driver knows the ways well, where to eat well and he can also become a local guide and interpreter. It will be less tiring and safer once you don’t have to drive yourself, find ways.
- Only Antananarivo has the railway hub whereas other regions on the island cannot be accessed by trains.
- Do not take your eyes off your luggage: The airport staffs always stress the importance of keeping your luggage close by your side at all times. Even when leaving the airport, be aware of pickpockets because stolen baggage is a big problem when you are in a foreign country.
- Tourists should not walk on your own after dark. Use a taxi or pulled rickshaw, known as “pousse-pousse” in Madagascar spelling, which is the cheapest vehicle transport, to get to the restaurant and back to the hotel. What a new experience!
To ensure for the trip, you should buy the travel insurance or at least take the standard vaccine before your trip to Madagascar next year, 2020. The entire island of Madagascar, as well as Africa, is a high-risk area for Malaria. In addition, personal hygiene, especially diarrhea. You can use the following precautions:
- Always wash your hands with soap.
- Never drink tap water, not even from high-end hotels.
- Dry your hands with paper, not with a towel that’s been used by many people.
- Avoid ice cubes from unclear or unknown sources of water.
- Watch out with meat or fruits from street vendors.
Your trip this year, 2020 to Madagascar will be safer and more comfortable if you follow our instructions. A visa is required for entering Madagascar. However, with the availability of Madagascar visa online and our professional service, the process to get the approval letter will be faster and easier. Check carefully whether your country is eligible for what type of visa before applying.
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