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Planning a trip to Ethiopia? Got a ton of questions? Here’s some basic info for pre-travel planning. And as always, we’re here for your questions.

Visa

  • Most travelers can receive a visa upon arrival.
  • The visa is $50 USD for a 1-month tourist visa or $70 USD for a 3-month tourist visa. Both are single entry visas. They now accept credit cards (when the network is working).

 

Money

  • Ethiopia is a cash economy. Credit cards are very rarely accepted.
  • The most reliable place to withdraw birr is from the ATMs in a hotel lobby — there are usually several which means you’ll have options when one inevitably doesn’t work. You can only withdraw 4,000 birr (about $200 USD) per transaction and can withdraw up to 10,000 birr from each ATM machine, if you have the patience to do three transactions, and if they have enough money.
  • If you bring USD to exchange make sure all bills are newer than 2006.
  • Most hotels exchange dollars for birr at competitive rates.

Phone & Internet

  • GSM phones don’t always work in Ethiopia.
  • You can purchase a local sim card: 60 birr for 3g (about $3 USD) and 300 birr for 4g (about $15 USD).
  • You can buy sim cards from Ethiotelecom offices which are in most commercial areas. You may need a photocopy of your passport and two passport photos.
  • You can also buy them at a bit of a markup from resellers at “phone suks” (these are the small shops selling phones – but not all have sim cards) to save the hassle and the time spent getting a sim card at Ethiotelecom.
  • You can load usage credit by purchasing a scratch card for 100 birr (about $5 USD). Scratch cards can be purchased just about anywhere – grocery stores, men on the street etc.
  • A reasonable usage assumption would be 50-100 birr/day if you use data.
  • To check your credit dial *804#.
  • Most hotels will have wifi, but it is not always reliable. The sim cards are usually reliable for making mobile hotspots but data is costly.

 

Health

  • Addis Ababa is above the malaria line. Therefore, antimalarials are not necessary.
  • Tap water is not safe to drink. Make sure glasses at restaurants are dry before you use them. It is common for restaurants to rinse out glasses with water right before serving them, as Addis is very dusty.
  • It is best to travel with all of the medicines you need. You can buy some basic medications over the counter at pharmacies.

 

Safety

  • Addis is a safe city but it is best to take some precautions, mainly to be aware of your belongings, especially when in public transportation or in areas such as Meskel, Piazza and Bole.
  • Be aware of pickpockets – mostly children “selling” gum and tissues off trays and using their second hand to pick your pocket.
  • We strongly recommend using a trusted taxi driver in the evenings. Look out for drivers who have a big wad of khat (a narcotic leaf) in their mouths.

Weather

  • The weather in Addis is fairly constant throughout the year. Days range from mid 60s to high 70s (15 to 25 Celsius) and nights cool down to mid 40s to mid 50s (7 to 13 Celsius).
  • The city is inundated in heavy rains from the end of June to the end of September, with July and August being the rainiest. That said, the rainy seasons have not been constant in the past years due to global warming and El Niño. There are sporadic rains for 2 weeks between January and April.

Clothing

  • Locals in Addis Ababa wear pants, no matter what the temperature is. As a foreigner you can wear shorts or a skirt, but nothing too revealing — that means no short shorts or very low cut tops for women. The rules for men are much more relaxed.
  • Because Addis is at such a high altitude, temperatures vary throughout the day so it is best to carry a light sweater during the day and a warmer sweater at night.

Getting Around

  • It is essential to negotiate a taxi fare before you get in the taxi. Taxi fares average 150 – 250 birr (about $7.50 to $12.50 USD), but very rarely exceed that. Expect the drivers to start negotiations at much higher rates!
  • There are metered taxis, although they frequently run late.
  • If you are taking more than one ride, we strongly recommend having the taxi wait for you as they charge roundtrip fares no matter what.

 

Basic Facts

  • Addis is at an altitude of roughly 2,300 meters (7,560 feet) above sea level.
  • The national language is Amharic. However, many people also speak a second language depending on where in the country they are from.
  • The capital city of Addis was established in the late 1800s.
  • Ethiopia is Africa’s second largest country with a population between 95 to 100 million.

Travel

  • If you are planning to fly throughout Ethiopia, you will receive significant discounts on domestic flights if you fly in to Ethiopia using Ethiopian Airlines. In most cases, it is best to book your domestic tickets at an Ethiopian Airlines office once you arrive in Ethiopia.
  • Addis Eats offers bespoke trip planning services. Get in touch with us to plan your trip!

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