Key information about Ghana

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By Desmond Dorvlo
Published on , viewed 548 times
Category: Travel Insights
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General

LAT/LONG CURRENCY CAPITAL POPULATION AREA
7°57'18"N / 1°1'54"W CEDI (GHS) ACCRA 27 M [2010] 239,460 KM2

Business Hours

  • Administrative buildings, including embassies: 08:00 - 15:00.
  • Banks: 08:00 - 17:00, Monday to Friday.
  • Markets: Mostly 07:00 – 17:00 on working days. In Christian areas on Sundays and in Muslim areas on Fridays markets are less crowded.
  • Shops: From 09:00 until 17:00 or 18:00, Monday - Saturday. Sundays many shops are closed, only larger ones stay open.

Public Holidays

  • New Year’s Day - 1 January
  • Independence Day - 6 March
  • Good Friday - March/April
  • Easter Monday - March/April
  • Labour Day - 1 May
  • May Bank Holiday - 1st Monday in May
  • Africa Unity Day - 25 May
  • Republic Day - 1 July
  • Founders Day - 21 September
  • Christmas Day - 25 December
  • Boxing Day - 26 December
  • Ghana also celebrates Muslim holidays, with changing dates every year.

Tipping

Tipping is allowed in places like hotels, restaurants, tours etc. Rarely tips are added to bills as a service charge. Feel free to express your generosity and gratitude for the service received.

Drinking Water

It is advisable to use sealed bottled drinking water. You can buy bottled water in hotels and supermarkets.

Packing Tips

Ghana can enjoy warm and tropical climate all year round. There are a few useful things you might want to consider adding to your travel packing list:

  • Sunglasses
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Light, easy to maintain cotton clothing
  • Casual wear
  • Sleeping bag liner (some budget hotels do not provide a top sheet, so a sleeping liner can be handy)
Read more about What to pack when travelling to Ghana!

Accommodations

Ghana's economy and tourism industry is steadily growing, and there is a wide range of hotel accommodations in the country. You will find accommodations of various comforts, budget, convenience, and type across the country. Hotels follow the international star-system rating with 5-stars being the highest and 1-star being the minimum quality, respectively. There are quite a few local budget guest houses and hotels available with various standards of sanitation and comfort. Ghana Tourism Board issues Hotel Licenses in Ghana. Normally you can find it displayed somewhere at the hotel reception.

Some budget hotels do not provide the top sheet. Consider taking a sleeping liner with you, just in case. Not all hotels provide mosquito nets, even despite the high malaria concerns. Make sure you find the most suitable repellent options for you.

'En-suite' rooms are often called 'self-contained' rooms.

Restricted Areas for Photography and Filming

There are a few restricted areas that forbid taking photos or filming:

  • The Christianborg Castle
  • Osu Flagstaff House(i.e seat of Government)
  • High Commissions / Embassies
  • Military areas

Internet Access

Internet in Ghana is widely available nowadays. Many hotels do offer wi-fi. There are also internet cafes in major towns and cities.

 

Do's and Don'ts

  • In Ghana greetings are of great importance. Ghana is well known to be one of the most welcoming countries in Africa. You will always be warmly greeted and welcomed, and you are expected to do the same.
  • Always greet people from right to left and always with your right hand, properly aligned. Regardless of the age, gender or status, always this order. The only exception is when greeting a chief in a formal setting. You should greet the chief first. And yes, it may seem awkward, especially when entering a room where everyone is lined up on the left wall - you will have to walk past everyone to start greeting from the furthest person on the right.
  • Always use your right hand to give or receive items. (This is very important to always use your right hand to greet, receive or give out things and in showing directions, the left hand is considered 'impure' as it is used for toilet visits).
  • Treat people with respect and dignity.
  • Respect the fact that you are a guest in Ghana. Act like one! Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in your country!
  • Do respect local customs and traditions. They may differ from the ones you are used to. Read on about some basic cultural etiquette in Ghana to help you avoid awkward situations.
  • If you have specific desires or issues that need to be dealt with, always be specific but under no circumstances rude. Being specific will help find a solution, much easier.
  • Patience and flexibility! Some things might not seem as ‘organised’ as you may be used to. There are things that can be beyond the control of your guide, hotel staff or waiter etc. Weather conditions change, power outages happen frequently, and it may cause unanticipated delays and inconvenience. Be polite and understanding!
  • Do not be insulting, rude, or disrespectful in any way! Speak slower, rather than louder. Do not curse.
  • Don’t flash your wealth and valuable belongings, it may seem insulting in certain situations and will attract unnecessary attention.
  • Feel free to tip your guide, staff members or any other service providers.
  • Try to avoid smoking in public. Ghana is considered as a smoke-free country. Foreigners and tourists are mostly forgiven; however, if you really want to have a smoke, do it in your room [if it is a smoking room of course] or any other private place.
  • Don’t excessively use alcohol. It is considered as shameful behaviour.
  • Do not spit or throw waste on streets. No one would ever appreciate a foreigner littering in their country.
  • Do not get involved in local politics.
  • Do not take photos of people without their permission.
  • Follow photography restrictions in government buildings and military areas.
  • To call somebody or get attention, locals often use hissing (‘tsss’) sound. It is remarkable how audible it is, even from a distance. This is not meant as an insult as it would be in some western countries.
  • When visiting villages and towns it is common for visitors to pay their respects to the local Chief upon the visit. Be respectful! Do not intrude without confirming your visit first.
  • Don’t be wasteful! Not everything that you consider as waste, might be seen the same way here. If there is something that is of no use to you, offer it to someone who might find it useful.
  • Do not react in an odd manner if you see Ghanaian men holding hands in public - that is a sign of a good friendship. Note: Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana.
  • You will hardly ever see people kissing in public. Public displays of affection go against the local etiquette. It’s not against the law though.

 

Getting around

Air

Most major airlines in Europe fly to Accra, there are also easy connections available to Asia-Pacific to the US East Coast, and to most neighbouring countries and other parts of Africa. Via Egypt or Morocco you can fly to South Africa.  

There are 2 international airports and several domestic air traffic airports. Kotoka International Airport (KIA) is the major entry point to Ghana. It runs flights to over 36 international destinations.

The [local] airports are:

LocationICAO IATAAirport name 
Accra DGAAACCKotoka International Airport
HoDGAH
Ho Airport
Kumasi DGSIKMSKumasi International Airport 
PagaDGLN Navrongo Airport 
Sekondi-TakoradiDGTK TKD Takoradi Airport 
SunyaniDGSNNYI Sunyani Airport
TamaleDGLETML Tamale Airport 
WaDGLWWZA Wa Airport 
YendiDGYL  Yendi Airport 

There are multiple daily local flights from Accra to: 
  • Kumasi (45 min)
  • Takoradi (35 min)
  • Tamale (~1 h 15 min) 
Local flights are relatively cheap and can be a massive time saver when across the country.

Transport To and From international airports

Taxis and rental cars are available at the airport.

Bus

For longer journeys busses might be a more convenient and reliable choice than tro-tros. It is advisable to book tickets in advance, as the popular routes often are overcrowded. On Sundays the busses may go less frequently than during the week. 

Thanks to the invention of Uber you can now just book an Uber Drive and get to wherever you want. 

Keep in mind that at the bus stations, there is always an additional charge for luggage and the luggage handlers will expect a tip.

Driving

In Ghana driving is on the right side of the road.

Main roads are relatively well maintained. Secondary roads are often unsealed. 

To drive in Ghana, it is required to have an international driver’s license.  

A good alternative is to hire a driver if you have limited time or are not keen on driving in foreign countries yourself. Driver services can be arranged and usually are available in local Travel Agencies. Pricing depends on various factors, like distance, rented cars, driver experience etc. Price can range anywhere from US$100 to US$150 per day with additional charge for fuel.

Taxis

In towns, and for some shorter routes between towns, shared taxis are convenient and a rather normal form of transport. They run on fixed routes, along which they stop to pick up and drop off passengers. Fares are cheap (C 10.00 to C 30.00). 

Private taxis don’t have meters and rates are negotiable. Make enquiries in advance about average costs between two points. 

 Taxis do charters for and agreed price and time. It can be 1h or whole day. Prices are negotiable and can vary.

Cycling

Cycling around Ghana can be tricky but is possible. There are few bicycle lanes around the country but if you feel like cycling you can definitely ride around the towns but if you’re trying to get somewhere in particular cycling might not be your best [and safest] option.

Boat

River and ferry transport is still under development in Ghana. However, the Akosombo-Yeji cargo ferry accepts a limited number of passengers on its once-weekly service and is an adventurous way of reaching Tamale (you can pick up transport to Tamale from Yeji). 

The journey is a relatively long one. It leaves Akosombo Port on Mondays and Yeji on Wednesdays. Standard seats cost about 20 cedis, while an air-conditioned double cabin goes for about 90 cedis per person.

Uber

Since 2016 Uber is operating in Accra.

Tro-Tro

Tro-tros are minibuses that could best be described as something between taxi and public transport. They usually cover all major travel routes and many minor routes. There are mainly fixed charges for tro-tros, however, sometimes the price may vary, depending on the size or comfort (think AC, for example) of the vehicle. 

Look for tro-tros in places like ‘lorry parks’, ‘motor parks’ or ‘stations’. 

Note: Tro-tros have no set timetable and they will leave if full. There is an additional luggage charge.

Motor Bikes

One means of transportation you can get is Motorbikes, locally known as "Okada". With this sort of transportation someone (mostly men) who own motor bikes will take you to where you want to go. This is only done for short distances. Our advice is unless you have ridden a bike before or you would want to ride for pleasure or adventure... DO NOT take motor bikes or Okada. The riders are neither professional nor certified and they provide no sort of security or insurance in case something goes wrong.

Street Signs & Name Changes

Street naming in Ghana is still under development. Therefore, always verify the addresses of your destinations with someone local or at the hotel that you are staying in.

Crossing borders

Ghana neighbours with Côte d’Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the North and West, and Togo to the East. 

Border crossings with Côte d’Ivoire : 

  • Elubo
  • Sunyani- Agnibilékrou
  • Bole-Ferkessédougou 
Border crossings with Burkina Faso: 
  • Paga
  • Tamale 
Border crossings with Togo: 
  • Aflao
  • Wli 
In general border crossings work from 06:00 to 18:00, with exception of the crossing in Aflao which closes at 22:00.

Travelling to Burkina Faso

There are frequent tro-tros driving from Paga to Bolgatanga. Once you are in Burkina, there are various transports available to travel onwards.

Travelling to Côte d'Ivoire

There are a couple of options available: 

  • Daily busses from Accra to Abidjan (~12h)  
  • Tro-tros from Takoradi and Elubo (~3h). At Elubo you cross the border to Côte d’Ivoire and from there take an onward transport to Abidjan.

Travelling to Togo

The easiest way to get to Togo is to take a bus or a tro-tro going to Aflao. There you can cross the border walking and catch a taxi on the other side to central Lomé. 

The Wli border post near Hohoe normally is not as busy as the Aflao crossing.

 

Health

You need to get a yellow-fever vaccination and a certificate before going to Ghana. The certificate is required to enter Ghana and is checked at immigration.

Consult your doctor well in advance before you visit Ghana to undergo the anti-malaria treatment (This is very necessary because Malaria is a major cause of death in Ghana and the mosquito bites can range from annoying to quite painful too).

Additionally you can buy a mosquito repellent and Mosquito nets on your way.

Medical Facilities in Ghana

There are various medical facilities in cities and big towns - from modern private and public hospitals to clinics. Consult your medical insurance company about covering medical expenses while travelling abroad.

 

Security

Ghana is very welcoming and in general a peaceful country. There are still the main safety tips that help keep you safe while travelling to any country in the world:  

  • When arriving at the airport, stick to registered taxis. 
  • Always keep an eye on your personal belongings, especially in crowded places like airports, markets, full transports, bus stations, underground stations etc.
  • When in public try to avoid exposing large cash notes not to attract unnecessary attention.
  • Consider taking smaller amounts of cash with you for daily expenses.
  • If you have more than one credit card, take only one with you. In case it gets stolen or lost, at least you have another card to use.
  • Make sure you have the credit card provider's number available, in case something goes wrong and you have to cancel the card. Keeping a copy of the front of the card in an online mail account may help when asked for numbers etc.
  • Always keep an eye on your passport or keep it in the safe of the hotel if they provide one.
  • Keep a copy of your passport somewhere in a mail account online so you can always get a copy in case your passport gets stolen.
  • Don’t keep your phone in the back pockets, especially when you are in crowded places.
  • Keep an eye on your valuables and do not leave them unattended on beaches.
  • If going swimming, beware of strong currents and always ask locals if the waters are safe to swim in.
  • Avoid walking alone at night in suspicious areas, especially certain areas that local residents have indicated as dangerous. This is especially important when travelling solo.
  • Be highly wary of people offering a ride in a non-registered cab, at the airport or in any other location.
  • If you rent a car, don’t leave any luggage or valuables visible. If possible, try to park in a safe / guarded place.

 

Visa and Documents

Obtaining a Visa

All non-residents are requested to obtain Visa at the nearest embassy in advance of travelling to Ghana.

Most embassies require: fill application form and hand it in the embassy with your passport, a copy of paid tickets (including return ticket). Letter of invitation from someone in Ghana and the copy of their passport, 2 passport photos and the fee, depending on the type of Visa.

Note: some countries issue Visas only to their nationals and residents of the country.

Business visitors need to provide a letter of invitation and proof of funds to cover the expenses of their stay.

The only exceptions that do not require Visa and nationals can stay in Ghana for up to 90 days are citizens of 21 countries and territories - Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) nationals, excluding Morocco.

Single-entry Visa are valid for 3 months. 1-year visas can be granted for specific purposes. You may be asked to provide proof of funds to cover your stay, return ticket and credit or debit card.

When in Ghana Visa extension can be granted by Ghana Immigration Service. They may ask for proof of funds to fully support your stay.

Every traveller must carry yellow fever vaccination certificate!

Transit

Transit passengers do not require a Visa as long as they do not leave the international transit area.

Entry with children

Visa applicants under the age of 18 are required to submit a letter of consent from a parent or legal guardian with their application form.

Travelling to other countries

When travelling to other countries from Ghana, check with the embassies or high commission of your destination countries for travel visa requirements! Also make sure that, if you want to return to Ghana again, you have a multiple-entry Visa.

Verify travel information specific to your trip with the relevant embassy well before your travel dates!

 

Money and Currency

Cash

Currency used in Ghana is the Ghana Cedi [GH₵]. 

Cedi Notes comes in following denominations: 

  • Banknotes: GH₵ 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 
  • Coins: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50Gp, GH₵1, GH₵2  
Foreign currency can be exchanged at any currency exchange offices and banks in the bigger towns of country. If you are lucky you might find a local person who is willing to exchange your foreign notes to local notes for you. Do make sure to check the exchange rates and/or to have a trustworthy guide to accompany you.  

Note: Exchange rates for small USD denominations can be lower, so you might want to bring more $50 and $100 notes. (You can always check estimated value of the currency online.)

Credit Cards

Credit Cards are accepted in major hotels, banks, restaurants, most airlines, major supermarkets and other businesses. Transactions fees may apply. 

ATMs are widely available across towns. Almost all banks accept Visa. Also MasterCard and Maestro are accepted everywhere. 

 Always be cautious when using your credit cards abroad to avoid frauds.

Traveller’s Cheques

Currency exchange offices do accept Traveller’s Cheques. Barclays Bank is the only bank that accepts travel cheques for exchange. The maximum amount per transaction is US$250.

 

Emergency Numbers

Emergency Response Centre - 112 (as of 29th January, 2020)

Anyone requiring emergency services from the Police, Fire Service and the Ambulance Service is required to dial 112 on all networks.

 

Electricity

Electrical appliances: 220 - 240 volts.

Electric outlets: 3-pin British or Continental European sockets.

When travelling to Ghana we strongly advise you to buy a quality portable power bank to charge your phones with. It might also be a good idea to buy a chargeable and portable fan too. Power cuts and outages are frequent.

Some places may have stand-by generators, but when staying in lower end accommodations, this is often not the case.

 

Weather

In general Ghana is a tropical country. The weather conditions change by season (rain season or dry season) and region. 

Accra lies more within the dry equatorial zone. Kumasi is in the wet savanna zone.  

In the South-West of the country you will find the wet forest zone (very similar to Amazon).

Rainy season

Northern Ghana
April – October The rest of the year is hot and dry with temperatures about 38°C. 

Southern Ghana In Southern Ghana there are two ‘rain seasons’ – April – June and then again in September-October.  Temperature range from 20 – 30°C. During the rainy season it rains on specific times every day.

 

Telecommunications

Ghana’s country code is +233. Local SIM cards can be purchased in shopping centres and communication centres. 

City/Area Codes: 

ACCRA           +233-21 
BOLGATANGA +233-72
CAPE COAST +233-42
KOFORIDUA +233-81
KUMASI +233-51
TAKORADI +233-31
TAMALE  +233-71
TEMA +233-22


Ghana Toll Free dial code: +233-708 

Most major hotels also have business centres which also provide secretarial and courier services

 

Language

Ghana is a highly multilingual country with about 80 spoken languages and dialects. Though English is the official language. 

The major local languages in Ghana are Twi, Ewe and Ga though Hausa and Arabic are spoken in every Muslim populated community.

Learning the basic phrases of the local language will always be highly appreciated. Ask you guide to teach you a few or learn basic phrases before travelling.  

A link that you may find useful to help you learn some of the phrases: https://www.easytrackghana.com/cultural-overview-ghana_language-videos.php

Important links

Useful links

Other useful links

Radio Local Ghanaian stations include the excellent Joy FM (news and music; 99.7FM), Choice FM (102.3) and Gold FM (90.5). 

TV Ghana’s biggest TV stations are TV3, GTV and Metro TV. 

NCRC (www.ncrc-ghana.org

No Worries Ghana (www.noworriesghana.com)

Posted by Desmond Dorvlo
Desmond Dorvlo
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