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Top Ten Travel Tips for first time visitors to Lagos, Nigeria
Home > News > Top Ten Travel Tips for first time visitors to Lagos, Nigeria
Top Ten Travel Tips for first time visitors to Lagos, Nigeria

For one reason or the other, you have got the call saying that you are visiting Lagos possibly for work or to visit family and friends; maybe even attend a social function in the process. Its highly likely your first sensation is one of trepidation especially when you consider the amount of negative publicity Nigeria as a country receives year round; some of which are untrue and most of which are exaggerated.  Nigeria’s main city, is bursting at the seams: with burgeoning technology and modern consumer service industries, lush restaurants and exotic clubs, and a truly innovative music and arts scene, this megacity is truly the face of modern Africa. It may no longer be Nigeria’s capital but Lagos remains the country’s commercial and nightlife capital as well as one of Africa’s largest and fastest-growing cities. As a tourist you can experience some of the spirit of Lagos by enjoying live music, dancing the night away or paying tribute to an African music legend at one of the city’s many performance venues. In villages and towns outside Gidi (a nickname Lagosians have bestowed on their city), you may feel as if true explorer discovering its deep and layered cultures, histories, and surroundings – from the ancient Muslim cities of the north to the river deltas in the south, from Yoruba kingdoms and spiritual shrines to the legacy of tribal conflict and the slave ports, and among simply stunning natural scenery.

  1. If you are visiting Lagos for the 1st time then the first thing you needs to go is get up to date with your government’s travel guidance.  However to be honest to the average Lagosian would not relate to the near hysteria on many western travel advice sites. We understand that the most informed, grounded, comprehensive and up to date info on travel safety to Nigeria is published by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office – https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice .The truth of the matter is that Lagos is actually safer than many cities frequented by tourists worldwide. All tourists require when visiting Lagos is simply common sense and good judgement. So we say why not go to a site like http://www.lagosstate.gov.ng/ to get grounded uplifting views on Lagos
  2. Get the relevant jabs and shots before you go – For a comprehensive list see http://www.nathnac.org/UpdatesListForm.aspx?levelone=pro&leveltwo=clinical_updates&disease=ebola&display=all&title=Ebola%20haemorrhagic%20fever – Yellow fever vaccination are mandatory for all travellers. Even though it is a requirement for the VISA application process, you still need to have your yellow fever form with you passing through immigration. An international vaccination certificate against yellow fever (10 years) is required whilst 6 months certificate for Cholera (6 months) is also required if coming from an infected area. Anti-malaria prophylaxi and TB inoculation are recommended. However if you are the hypochondriac  type, then go ahead and get shots for tuberculosis, typhoid etc”

    Pop quiz – mention the one hotel in Lagos, Nigeria that does it all? Need a clue – watch this video……… pic.twitter.com/i6Lwvokven

    — Welcome Centre Hotel (@WelCenHotels) April 22, 2017

    A good tip is to simply buy travel insect and mosquito body repellents which will help you relax and enjoy drinking in outdoor bars in the evening. Make sure you carry enough of any prescription medication to last your entire visit and get your medical and travel insurance sorted out before you leave, Lagos hospitals can be quite pricey especially when the client is an expat or foreigner.

  3. Get all VISA paperwork done – All foreign nationals who are not citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) need to apply for a visa to enter Nigeria. This can be obtained at Nigerian embassies, high commissions and consulates worldwide. Visa applications should be supported by a letter of invitation and a return ticket for the journey. Processing will take at least two days.
  4. Book a convenient, comfortable and safe hotel – Lagos has seem an explosion in business tourism in recent years. Hence quite a few branded international names have set up in Lagos. However these hotels cater for mostly corporate travel and executive accounts from oil, gas, commercial industries etc so makes for pricey room rates, meals and service charges for many internationally branded hotels. You can save a bundle by booking an independent indigenous hotel in the city. Check out the hotel review websites such as tripadivisor.com Many local owned hotels are lauded well above their international counterparts. A good tip is to either book a hotel close to the airport or hotel near where you will do business. For tips on finding a good hotel in Lagos check out 1) http://traveltips.usatoday.com/four-star-hotels-lagos-nigeria-63170.html 2) http://www.timeout.com/travel/features/683/lagos  or 3) http://www.travelstart.com.ng/blog/15-best-lagos-hotels/
  5. Arrange for transportation from airport to hotel – I don’t care how bad driving is in your home country. If you do not live in Nigeria, do not attempt to drive yourself in Lagos. Arrange to have either your friend or car hire rental meet and greet you at the airport. Lagos is perhaps the most intimidating airport you will ever flown into and getting through the airport is likely to be the most stressful experience you will have during your visit to Lagos unless you run into Lagos world famous traffic congestion, called “Go Slow” by Nigerians. Otherwise book your airport transit in advance because picking up a car hire on arrival can be very stressful. There is no orderly taxi queue as random taxi drives walk up to you offering their services. If possible also organise a car hire to drive to all your meetings whilst in Lagos. Your car hire will come with car and driver. If you still insist on driving yourself then know Nigeria is not part of the most standard international Road Traffic Convention and as such will require a special international driving permit.
  6. Bring the right equipment – Hit the ground running and be sure you are fully functional. You need to able to communicate with loved ones back home or colleagues in Lagos.  Know that to power your laptop or recharge your mobile phones Nigeria uses type D (“Old British plug” with three round, large pins in a triangular formation) and type G (British three-pin rectangular blade plug, also known as the 13-amp plug) electrical outlets. Electrical outlet: voltage: 240 V, frequency: 50Hz. Otherwise bring your universal travel adaptor and voltage step down with you. When its comes to actually using the telephone, you have a choice of roaming your mobile phone or  acquiring a local SIM card and inserting it into a locally purchased phone or your ‘unlocked’ phone, thus operating with a local number with is much cheaper. When you arrive in Lagos, you will be able to purchase a SIM card at the airport, hotel, or nearby mall. The cost of a SIM card is usually less than $10. At the same time you purchase your SIM card, you can buy a scratch card that will allow you to load your card with a certain monetary value of talk time. For international calls to the US, Europe, etc, we highly recommend using Skype or Google voice. You should ideally set up and fund these accounts before you leave for Lagos.
  7. Get ready and psyched for Lagos Nightlife – Lagos really comes alive when the sun goes down. Lagos offers excellent restaurants, nightclubs, film houses and hotels for visitors. The city offers excellent restaurants serving a diversity of cuisines. The finest restaurants are in big hotels but other pleasant places can be found all over the city. Classic Nigeria cuisines, such as Amala, Pounded yam and Foofoo with vegetable soup such as Efo, Egusi, Okro, Bitterleaf etc. Well treated ‘goat head’, Isi-ewu, and catfish pepper soup are special delicacies. Continental dishes are also available across Lagos. Several steak and seafood houses has opened in recent years however Chinese cuisine remains the most popular in Nigeria and several oriental restaurants are found in many locations in Lagos. There are also popular ‘joints’ where you can kick back and enjoy our world famous grilled beef called ‘suya’ washed down with traditional drinks like palm wine, bitters or kunu. So if your hosts is willing to take you out, by all means accept and go enjoy yourself. See – http://wikitravel.org/en/Lagos – for a list of fun activities to do whilst in Lagos.
  8. Bring the VISA or Mastercard – The federal movement has made significant strides in moving Nigeria towards a cash-lite economy. Despite their efforts, cash is still king so you will need to carry more cash than you would usually do on other foreign trips. You can change hard currency i.e. Pounds sterling, US dollar and Euro at the Bureau D’change at the airport and at most  hotels. So if necessary change your home currency to one of these three even before you arrive in Nigeria. Changing large bills of US dollars or Euros will give a better rate with professional money changers. You can even change currency with many ‘Mallam’ traders based near hotels but just make sure you double count you money before leaving. Remember that these are not formal bureaux de change and you will need to negotiate the exchange rate.

    If you do not want to carry too much cash, most quality hotels with international clientele will accept travellers cheque albeit with a small process fee. You can use your VISA or Mastercards at most hotel receptions and restaurants. Take note AMEX and Dinner clubs cards are not used widely in the city and as many international credit card processors block transactions from Nigeria, it is best to inform your credit card company before you travel that you will be in Nigeria. Finally plan to spend all your Naira cash before you leave the country as you will not find a decent rate to change your small amount of Naira back into hard currency.

  9. Culture Shock – Nigerians are officially rated as some of the happiest people on the planet. Their warm and social vibes will definitely rub off on you. The official language is English, and most people, including cab drivers, hotel staff, etc. speak English. Nigeria’s idiosyncratic working culture is friendly between colleagues and yet formal in approach.  Nigerian companies operate like small families, taking in newbies with open arms and avoiding the rigidness that often stereotype the Western professional work environment. For example arriving at the workplace without greeting each of your colleagues is not done.  You can bet that they make an effort to greet you and make pleasantries.  Eight-hour days  are the norm but people often stay late into the night and even come in for a few hours on weekends. Depending on the organization, a foreigner may be able to avoid this, but be prepared to go beyond the standard 35-40 hr work week. Those used to the strict North American conception of political correctness at the office may be shocked by the more liberal inter-sexual relations in the Nigerian workplace. Mild sexual jokes are common in meetings and in the office in general, though usually good natured and harmless.

    Whilst the notion of “African time” applies as meetings are regularly held later than scheduled and often take longer than necessary. Business attire in Nigeria is western and formal, as it often indicative of relative importance. Unless your business meetings are in a sector that has a clear informal dress policy, like the internet industry. The use of professional titles in written and verbal form is very common in Nigeria. Expect to address your boss as Sir, Doctor, Colonel, etc., and avoid using the first name of a superior unless given permission to do so.

  10. Aim to get back to the airport early – If you learn anything in Lagos, it will be how unpredictable and chaotic the Lagos traffic can become. A 20 minute jaunt can easily become 2 hour journey so allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport especially if your departure flight is in the evening. Unless you are flying business or 1st class, you also need to allow 2 hours minimum for security check, luggage check in and customs check. There’s not much to do at the airport so if you can afford the fees consider paying to access one of the private airport lounges.


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