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is it really necessary to change dollars to shillings?

is it really necessary to change dollars to shillings?

Oct 31st, 2007, 03:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2007
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is it really necessary to change dollars to shillings?

I have read everywhere that all forms of currency are acceptable, as far paying for service, shopping, tipping, etc.

Can I get away with not changing ANY dollars into Shillings & just use dollars? Would there be an occasion where only Shillings are acceptable? thank you
jeanettehere is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 03:17 PM
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Kenya or Tanzania? If Kenya, then you'll probably want to exchange some dollars. In Tanzania, you shouldn't have to. Even Maasai villagers and other vendors will accept dollars in Tanzania.
ShayTay is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 03:19 PM
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In Tanzania some smaller shops only took shillings but if you're spending only at the safari lodges you'll be OK with dollars.

Sometimes something was cheaper with dollars, sometimes cheaper with shillings so I thought it wise to convert a couple hundred dollars into shillings to cover all contingencies. If you have extra shillings at the end just include them with the guide's tip (in some countries, like Tz, you can't exchange shillings back to dollars).

Bill_H is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 03:42 PM
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If you don't care about the exchange rate given and you're spending all or most of your time on safari, you could probably get away with dollars in Kenya too. Camps, lodges, curio shops and even roadside vendors will take dollars and no one turn down a tip in dollars. In Nairobi, you might have a hard time paying for things like taxi rides with dollars. I don't know as I've never tried it.
Patty is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 04:15 PM
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I managed perfectly well in Kenya without shillings. My travel included all ground transfers, and my stays in Nairobi included only an overnight on arrival and a day room on my way home.

I actually ran out of dollars at my last camp (having tipped more than expected at the first camp), and euros were absolutely welcomed as tips and at Nairobi airport.
DonTopaz is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 04:41 PM
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Thanks everyone for your advice. I should've specified that my trip will be to Kenya.

I asked this question because sometimes the bank/airport service fee to change dollars to shillings, and then shillings back to dollars, is so much that it might be worth it to just stick with dollars.

Thanks again for your time

jeanettehere is offline  
Nov 1st, 2007, 11:16 AM
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It's a good idea to have some Kenyan Shillings, especially for local expenses in NBO... taxi, grocery, entry fees. At one time USD were gladly accepted, but nowadays, they'd all prefer KSH. At lodges/camps and on the road, I've found that USD are accepted.

As to the conversion, it won't amount to much as the best way to get KSH is at the ATM at JKIA airport while waiting for your bags. It's the best you'll get and only if your bank charges for foreign ATM withdrawals will you incur a charge. Call you bank and check. There is no fee assessed by the Kenyan ATM/Bank. Current exchange is about 65Ksh/USD$1 (dollar is soft here also... a shame). You can withdraw anywhere from USD$50-100, for use in NBO or at the lodges/camps as tips.

Should the ATM not be working, the Currency Exchange window here is open 24/7 and is competitive to what you'd get from the ATM. If this is the only transaction you have, even with an ATM fee from your bank... in the scheme of your entire trip, what's $2-$5? We're not talking big bucks here!

As to KSH back to USD? Can't do this. Ksh is not reconvertible, so suggest you use whatever you might have left over towards end of trip as tips at lodges/camps and/or your guide.

sandi is offline  
Nov 1st, 2007, 08:11 PM
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hills27 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2007, 05:49 AM
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The problem with ATMs is that you will not get any small notes. Our tour operator told us to expect to tip something like 40 Ksh per bag, per drink or whatever and you will be surprised at how many people there are who want to carry your bags, even short distances, or other people who all seem to expect a tip. 50 Ksh notes seem to be hard to find so we ended up overtipping to a ridiculous extent. I would advise you to take a pocket full of dollar bills and just use them for tips. Enjoy your trip.
paysatge is offline  
Nov 9th, 2007, 07:54 AM
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The ATMs I've used in Kenya dispense 1000 KES notes. I usually leave a pooled tip for camp staff so don't need a lot of small bills. When necessary, I've asked the camp to break a 1000 note into smaller bills.

Patty is offline  
Nov 9th, 2007, 03:10 PM
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There's a regular currency exchange window in close proximity to the ATM. If you get large KSh notes, just ask (with a smile and please) the currency exchange to break a few of them.

1000 Ksh note is about USD$15+/- depending on rate of exchange.
sandi is offline  
Dec 1st, 2007, 07:46 AM
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Hi, I just got back from an unbelievable trip. My findings on the shillings question were that although a couple shillings are definitely more convenient for the merchants, they would accept dollars too, but at a much higher conversion rate. Even when we visited a village in Samburu, dollars were acceptable.
my main recommendation is to bring at least 100 in singles.
jeanettehere is offline  
Dec 1st, 2007, 04:38 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
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I agree with Jeanette...I brought lots of $1 bills to Kenya and it worked fine. I think sometimes things might have been cheaper in shillings but it wasn't a big enough difference for me to worry about.

Jeanette, did you get all new bills or did you bring old ones? I ordered some all new bills because I was worried about old ones being accepted but I saw some people using old ones. No one turned down my new bills but I'm just curious if this was really necessary.

MoiraS is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2007, 07:20 PM
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In Kenya?


Shillings shillings shillings.

You can spend dollars as people have stated, at hotels, lodges, hotel shops even most of the roadside calving shops. But I can assure you you are paying an exchange rate.... and a higher one than you would pay over the counter before you leave.

For everyday use, the shilling!

Pumbavu is offline  
Dec 4th, 2007, 09:52 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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The best option is to trade in kenyan shillings. For example while shopping, fueling you need to use the kenyan shilling. As per now the USD is no longer the favourable foreign exchange since its losing its value day by day. Very soon people will start trading in Euros.

africana is offline  
Dec 11th, 2007, 06:13 AM
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Africana! Some already do!

For example www.buccaneerdiving.com

Prices in euros.

Pumbavu is offline  
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