So you’ve made the decision to travel to the heart of Nigeria, but you aren’t sure what to expect. Where do you stay, and what do you need to know before landing?
Fear not, the Godfather of the Passport Mafia went for his first trip in October – and figured it out first-hand, so you don’t have to! The mob is here to help you!
The first thing you must know is that in Nigeria, CASH is KING. This applies to hotels as well as everything else – so bring enough cash to pay for whatever you intend to do, because credit cards may not work or even be accepted at all. Even at high-end hotels and name-brand resorts… your card may not be an option. Be prepared with cash.
Now, on to the important stuff: For your first trip, you’ll want to stay on LAGOS ISLAND, not the mainland. Both Victoria Island and Ikoyi are areas with a good selection of reputable hotels. Once you get situated and learn the lay of the land, you may choose to head over to the mainland – but, for starters, book a hotel on the island.
A.K. chose to stay at the Eko Hotel on Victoria Island, and highly recommends it to you. The rooms are up to par with what you’d expect anywhere else, and the property itself has lots of cool stuff like restaurants, bars, and a beautiful swimming pool. You don’t even need to leave the hotel if you don’t want to, theoretically – but, you didn’t fly all the way to Lagos to lounge at the pool bar. You can make your reservation online through major websites such as Booking.com, to secure and confirm the price ahead of time.
Lagos is a busy, crazy, and beautifully chaotic metropolis which you will witness along every road – but, for the sake of safety and comfort – don’t stay there until you’ve familiarized yourself with the city. Start on Victoria Island, and plan out what you’d like to do from there. Then make moves accordingly.
Their currency, the Nigerian Naira, is what you’ll need to convert your US Dollars into… but, don’t exchange more than you need. The Naira is essentially useless outside of Nigeria, and it’s nearly impossible to convert it back if you don’t use it. Also, the exchange rate fluctuates quite a bit… so, keep your eyes open and know what your dollars are worth on each particular day. When I was there, the going rate was 350 Naira to 1 USD. But it can change quickly.
When gathering your US Dollars to bring, make sure they are new bills in good condition – because nobody will want to accept or convert those old notes or the raggedy bills. And as I mentioned before, it’s best to just convert more as you go along – at every hotel and most major areas, there are people ready and willing to convert the cash. So don’t jump the gun and change every penny you have at the airport booth.
In summary, book a hotel on Victoria Island and bring enough cash to carry you through the trip. Arrange your transportation from the airport to the hotel ahead of time, so you won’t get subjected to the hustlers at the airport. At the time I went, 7,000 Naira to get from the airport to the Eko Hotel was considered a fair price from a good driver. Even though prices can fluctuate… there you have it, as a benchmark.