Facts to know before you travel to Kenya

Entry Requirements for Kenya. Visas, embassies, consulates and customs information.

Following is some practical information that may be useful when planning your Kenya travel and good to know during your stay in Kenya.

Basic Kenya facts

Currency Kenya shilling (KES). See more information on Kenya currency and conversion.
Electric Voltage Current is 220/240AC 50HZ. See a photo of the plug adapter you need in Kenya.
Language Swahili and English are the official languages in Kenya. Swahili is the national language while English is the business language. Kenyans speak other local languages as well.
Holidays & Business Hours In addition to Christmas and Easter holidays, Kenya celebrates nine public holidays. See Kenyan Holidays for more information on holidays celebrated in Kenya, including business/shopping hours. Most businesses, banks, schools and government offices remain closed during Kenyan public holidays.
Kenya Newspapers There are eight major local newspapers. See Kenya Newspapers for more information.
Temperature 45 - 93°F on average. More about the climate and weather in Kenya
Time Zone GMT +3
Topography Low-lying coastal region fringed with coral reefs and islands; some dry regions covered with savannah and thorn bush; rich plateaus (highlands) as high as 10,000 ft.; and arid and semi-arid northern Kenya.


About alcohol and drugs in Kenya

The permitted drinking age in Kenya is 18 years. Drinking culture in Kenya is more relaxed and not as strict as in the United States and other areas of the western world. There is no law restricting a driver's blood alcohol level. However, it is illegal to drink out of a bottle on the streets. Drugs and narcotics are illegal in Kenya - this is strictly enforced.


Use of ATM machines in Kenya

ATM machines are available 24 hrs at all major banks in every city and county, and you can use your ATM debit card on Kenya's ATM machines to withdraw money from your bank at home. Depending on the bank and or machine you use, you may incur a small international transaction fee when you use your ATM debit/credit card.

What to wear in Kenya - dress code and etiquette

If you are going to Kenya for a vacation, holiday, safari or leisure, bring light-to-moderate casual wear such as cargo pants, jeans, cotton shirts and the like. The dress code in Kenyan culture is conservative. Also, many Kenyans adhere to different cultural, religious and customary dress styles. Jeans and decent tops/blouses for ladies are perfect. If you are going for business, you can keep it business-casual, however, business suits, tie and formal wear are preferred. Swimsuits are acceptable at the beach but not in public places.

Evening Wear: Kenyans dress up for special occasions, especially when going out clubbing/dancing, to church, to sporting and other events or out to dinner. In some restaurants and clubs, you will probably be fine wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but if you are considering dining at one of the more up-scale restaurants or having a social night out, you may want to show off your nicer clothing and join the party!

Etiquette: Kenyans are very humble, friendly and social people. Hand-shaking is a cultural greeting gesture and you are always welcome to strike a conversation with the person next to you. Just remember to respect Kenya's customs and culture in whatever you do and you will enjoy a pleasant relationship with its people.


Emergency services and phone numbers

For information on emergency phone numbers, police stations, fire departments, ambulances and hospitals, visit our Emergency Services page.

Kenya tourist information office

Kenya Tourist Board
Kenya-Re Towers, Ragati Road
PO BOX 30630 - 00100 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 271 1262
Fax: +254 20 271 9925 http://www.magicalkenya.com/

Driving permit or license in Kenya

You can use your current permit/driver's license from your country for as long as it is valid and you have held it for a minimum of two years. International driver's permits and licenses are also acceptable. If you do drive in Kenya, please drive on the left side of the road. Kenyan drivers are very rough so be cautious while driving.


Internet access in Kenya

Internet access is available in all major hotels, lodges and post offices in Kenya. Business centers and internet cybercafés are popular in most cities throughout the country. Simply walk into a cybercafé or business center and pay per use.

If you are going to be spending a lot of time in Kenya, in the remote areas or camping sites and don’t have satellite access system, you can always count on the broadband internet services offered by Kenya telecommunication providers.

To enjoy broadband services, you’ll need to acquire a data modem. Depending on your needs, you can either choose pre-paid or post paid plans. The leading telecommunication providers offering broadband internet services include Safaricom, Orange, Airtel, Yu among others. You can cheaply purchase a modem from the electronic stores and phone provider’s retail shop across the country. Kenya is ranked second in terms of internet speeds and accessibility in Africa. Another option is using a Wi-Fi enabled smartphone or tablet in various hotspots around the country.


Phone Services

Kenya has a very accessible GSM cellular network. You can purchase a cheap handset in Kenya and buy local calling cards to make your international calls. Alternatively, if you own a handset that accepts SIM cards, you can buy local cards from Kenya's telephone providers - Safaricom, Orange, Yu and others and save money, as long as you have "unlocked" your phone for international use.

Before you travel to Kenya, call your carrier to ask for unlock codes or search the internet for instructions. If you're already in Kenya without a usable handset, you can purchase a cheap unlocked handset and prepaid calling cards to make your international calls. On the other hand, you can settle for a post-paid service package that requires you to make monthly payments.

When you convert your phone to a Kenyan phone, you do not pay for incoming calls, only the calls you originate. You can also make international phone calls from your hotel, cybercafés, phone booths and other places that offer international calling services.


Money matters in Kenya

The currency in Kenya is the Kenya shilling (KSHS) or KES. Most major currencies are accepted and you can convert to Kenya shillings at the nearest bank or Forex Bureau. Although the Kenya shilling often fluctuates, it is always much lower in value compared to other major currencies such as the US dollar, the sterling pound or the Euro. Use the currency converter to get an up-to-date currency value.

Credits Cards are widely accepted in all major hotels and establishments, with the most recognized being Master Card, Visa and American Express. However, you will need some cash handy because smaller shops will only accept cash.

Traveler's checks are also accepted at restaurants, stores and major hotels. American Express and Visa are the most recognized brands of traveler's checks in Kenya. Always have a photo ID, and never sign the checks until you are ready to use them. If they are lost or stolen, contact the company that issued them. It may be wise to also contact the police as some companies that issue traveler's checks require a police report.

Major banks are widely available throughout Kenya. They operate business hours of 8am - 5pm, Monday to Friday and every Saturday morning hours. Kenya's banks are closed on weekends and during Kenya's public holidays. See more information on major banks available in Kenya.

Tipping: Most major hotels and restaurants include a service charge in their bill. Although tipping is not mandatory, you may tip porters and taxi drivers at your discretion. Ten percent is customary in restaurants, clubs and bars where a service charge is not included.

If there is any other information that you feel would be useful on this Kenya travel page, please send us an e-mail. Your feedback is very much appreciated.


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