Yes. A single three-month entry tourist visa for your Zanzibar holiday can be applied for at Tanzanian embassies and high commissions. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous state within Tanzania, so although visitors won’t need a separate visa to enter, you will need to show your passport on arrival. Visitors flying directly to Zanzibar are able to purchase a visa on arrival at the airport, where the price is USD 50. If you are considering travelling to Kenya, you will also need a Kenyan visa which will cost a further USD 50. Your passport must be valid at least 6 months after your stay.
A local tax of USD 1 per person per night (including children) is payable, usually upon departure and by cash to the hotel/resort.
Zanzibaris are a rich mixture of backrounds and religions from right across the Indian Ocean, originating from Africa, to Persia, Oman and Asia, all merged into one cosmopolitan culture. The population is around 1 million.
Advice should be sought from a doctor at home prior to your Zanzibar holiday, but vaccinations for typhoid, tetanus, diphteria, polio, meningitis and hepatitis A are usually recommended. The Tanzanian government requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are traveling from a country with a risk of yellow fever (this does not include the US – see the complete list: countries with a risk of the yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission.) Malaria is not common in Zanzibar, however it is possible. For this reason it is best to cover up after sunset, and use mosquito repellent on exposed all skin. Drinking water should be boiled and filtered or bought in sealed bottles. Please note the medical facilities in Zanzibar are limited. Complete information about required/suggested vaccinations is available HERE.
Clothes are recommended to be light and loose and ideally from natural fabrics. The best shoes are flip-flops or sandals, however a firm pair of walking shoes is recommended for trips to the forest. To protect yourself from the tropical sun, sunscreen and a hat are essential. Most hotels and resorts provide mosquito nets, however if you decide to choose budget accommodation, it might be best to bring your own.
Important information for all travellers:
As of 1st June, 2019, travellers heading for Tanzania are banned from bringing any plastic carrier bags on board or in their luggage. However, plastic packaging for medical services, industrial products, the construction industry, foodstuff, and sanitary and ziploc bags that are specifically used to carry toiletries, are not prohibited. Please keep this rule in mind and pack accordingly in order to avoid penalties on arrival.
If you are travelling to Zanzibar during the Ramadan celebration, you should know some do’s and don’t. Do not eat, drink or smoke in public during Ramadan. It is not against the law to eat in public, but it is considered impolite when so many people are fasting. Some Muslim-owned restaurants are closed during Ramadan, some only during daytime.
Please bear in mind that Zanzibar is a highly religious country and almost 95% of its inhabitants are Muslims. Women, in particular, should dress modestly, with shoulders and knees covered. Bikinis and minis are fine at hotels’ and resorts’ premises, but Zanzibaris appreciate modest dressing in the villages and towns. Likewise, men should not go shirtless and should dress conservatively. Nudity on the beach is not acceptable.
Currently there are no direct flights between London and Zanzibar or Dar es Salaam. International airlines offer flights via Istanbul, Nairobi, Dubai or Doha. Those via Dar es Salaam require an additional 20 minute local flight. Qatar Airways also fly to Kilimanjaro or Dar es Salaam, whilst Kenya Airways fly via Nairobi.
It is also possible to fly from other Tanzanian places such as Arusha, Ruaha, Selous, Manyara, Pemba or Serengeti.
Local taxis are available upon landing at the airport.
Renting a car is not expensive, around USD 50 per day. Drivers need to hold an international driving licence and must pay for a daily police permit that costs USD 3. Driving is on the left. There are a number of police check-points but these are usually just a formality, although they may want to see your licence.
The cheapest form of local transport is the daladala truck. Fares are very low (around a few hundred shillings), but this is in exchange for quite an uncomfortable and rather a dangerous trip.
Nungwi daladala - No 116 - is the main route from Stone Town to Nungwi.
The Pongwe No 209 does not operate daily, therefore its easier to take a taxi.
The Matemwe daladala is No 118, but please be aware that this is a very uncomfortable road.
The Kiwengwa is frequently served by the No 117.
The Jambiani area is reachable by the No 309.
The Kizimkazi journey is operated by the No 326.
Hiring a bike during your Zanzibar holiday is also possible, but note that the roads are not always very safe.
You are more than welcome to take photographs of the beauty of the Zanzibari Islands, however taking photographs of residents and their children without asking their permission is considered offensive. The same applies for religious sites, sacred places or special events. Please bear in mind military and security sensitive areas cannot be photographed.
Due to the religion there are certain rules visitors should follow during their visit in order to respect the local norms. It is not recommended to consume alcohol in public areas. Kissing or display of affection is also not customary to Zanzibar. If there is an opportunity to participate in religious or cultural ceremony, tourists should ask for the corresponding permission to be able to participate or observed it, and show the required respect.
The local communities are not wealthy and the living conditions of many of them are very basic. Income levels are low and many families lack many basic essentials. Instead of giving money to individuals, or food and sweets to children, visitors are encouraged to bring specific in-kind donations to support the people in a positive way, without promoting begging or skipping school in the hope of receiving gifts from tourists. You can find a full list here. Visitors should be sensible of the use of limited resources such as water, electrical energy and fuel.