Practicalities

Know before you go to Madagascar

Practical things you should know before you go to Madagascar

Currency:

The national currency of Madagascar since December 2004 is the “Ariary”, replacing the old currency “Malagasy Franc (Fmg)”. When buying something in Madagascar specifically ask the sales person if they are charging you in the old Malagasy Francs or the new Ariary as the exchange rates differ. If you’re not careful of the Madagascar exchange rate you could end up paying more!
A 10 000 Ariary note is approximately 4 Euros, 1€ = around AR 2500.
You can only obtain Ariary while in Madagascar so travellers are advised to change their currency according to their needs. The best currency rates in Madagascar come from bureau de change offices located in Ivato airport. You will normally receive a better exchange rate for Euros than Pound Sterling.
On arrival at Antananarivo-Ivato airport steer clear of people who approach you to exchange your currency. They will propose a more attractive rate than the change offices but more often than not they are scams, which leave you with less money.
Make sure you carry lots of smaller currency denominations for your everyday purchases, as people won’t always have change (especially in more remote areas).

Tipping:

Tips are usually expected for some services: restaurant services, small purchases, taxis etc.

Credit card:

If you have a credit card be aware that the Visa sign is better known than Maestro for example. And even if you have a Visa card, the use of credit/debit cards are generally limited to upscale hotels and restaurants frequented by tourists. The better option is to carry enough cash and only use your card for bigger value purchases or for ATM/cash point withdrawals.

Entry requirements to Madagascar :

Most nationalities require a visa to enter Madagascar. There are two ways of obtaining a tourist visa: either in advance from your country’s Malagasy diplomatic representation or by at the airport on arrival. For both methods you should check in advance the fees and documents required from your country’s Malagasy diplomatic representation and your passport should be valid after 6 months from the departure date.

Madagascar Health precautions:

Travellers to Madagascar require no vaccination if coming from countries with low risk of Malaria and other tropical diseases. However it is wise to check with your local Madagascar embassy for a comprehensive list of health requirements from different destinations. We advise travellers to consult with their doctor about precautions against malaria, cholera, yellow fever and hepatitis 6-8 weeks before departure.

Do not forget :

  • Your normal medication and the prescription for renewal (in case you run out of supplies)
  • A first aid kit containing medicines in case of:
  • Diarrhoea, intestinal infection, vomiting (antispasmodic, gastric dressing)
  • Pain or antipyretic fever and analgesic (paracetamol is good)
  • Allergy (antihistamine)
  • Anti mosquito sprays etc.

Time difference :

+2 during Winter

Electricity:

220V standard european. Some Madagascar regions have no electric network. Take battery powered appliances and dispose of them environmentally.

Out and about in Madagascar:

Madagascar Food and Drink:

International and exotic cuisine is available in most of the big hotels’ restaurant. Or you can sample authentic Malagasy cuisine with the locals in cafes or “Hotelys”. Malagasy gastronomy turns centres around rice, an emblematic product of Madagascar. The country even holds the world record in rice consumption. This obsession with rice has created proverbs like “love is like rice’s seedling: transplanted, it shoots again elsewhere”, and “don’t sing your own merit like rice boiling in a pan”.
In regards to beverages it is advisable to avoid tap water and stick to bottled mineral water, sodas, coffee, tea or you can sample the local “rano vola” (rice water).

Daily papers and magazines:

All daily papers are owned by private groups. Amongst the French language papers are: “Le Quotidien”, “Midi Madagasikara”, “La Gazette de la Grande Ile”, « Les Nouvelles », « Madagascar Tribune », and « L’Express de Madagascar ». All of them provide information like addresses and telephone numbers for emergency services (hospitals, chemist shops, other SOS services) as well as cultural interest contact details like theatres and events, air flights, and foreign exchange.

Photos and videos:

Madagascar has the basic photography materials to please both amateur and professional photographers (cameras, films, video camera etc), classic or digital, available in most photo laboratories and specialized shops in the big towns.

Telecommunications:

The landline telephony network in Madagascar is managed by TELMA (Malagasy Telecom), and mobile phone services by AIRTEL, ORANGE, and TELMA. There are telephone booths in all big towns.

Post offices:

Each city in Madagascar has its own post office, equipped with a public phone booth. Phone cards are easy to buy at any small shop. For letters and postcards, do not forget to write “by air mail” on the envelope. You should ask within for information on postage.

Working hours:

Most offices and services (post offices, banks etc) are open from 9am to 5pm. Post and Telecommunications services are open on Saturday mornings. Most shops are closed during lunch time (noon to 2 pm), except big stores who are open Monday through Saturdays from 9.30am to 7 pm, and sometimes on Sunday morning. are closed during lunch time (noon to 2 pm), except big stores who are open Monday through