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Tahiti Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT -10 (The Marquesas Islands are half an hour ahead of the rest of French Polynesia).

Electricity

The electric current in most hotels is 220 volts, 60Hz. American-style two-pin flat blade plugs, with a round pin plug, as well as two-pin flat blade plugs are in use.

Language

French and Tahitian are the official languages; English is widely spoken.

Travel Health

A yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers to French Polynesia arriving from an infected area. Vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are recommended, and those staying long-term and eating outside of major hotels and restaurants may also want to consider a vaccination for typhoid. Malaria is not a concern but cases of dengue fever are on the rise so precautions against mosquito bites should be taken.

Tap water in hotels and resorts should be safe to drink, but bottled water is also freely available throughout the islands. Tahiti has decent medical facilities and there are a few private doctors and clinics in the outer islands but health care options are limited outside of major cities. The only decompression chamber is at Papeete. Comprehensive medical insurance is recommended for all travellers.

Tipping

Tipping in Tahiti and the islands is not required or expected - it is seen as contrary to the local custom of hospitality. Generally prices quoted are all-inclusive.

Safety Information

Visits to French Polynesia are usually trouble-free. The crime rate is low, but sensible precautions should be taken with valuables. Tropical storms and cyclones can occur between November and April.

Local Customs

The culture in Tahiti and French Polynesia is relaxed and welcoming, with hospitality and generosity considered important values. People greet each other with a handshake or kiss on the cheek, and it is considered impolite not to greet everyone in the room unless there is a large group. Guests should remove their shoes when entering someone's home.

Business

Business etiquette is relatively informal in Tahiti and French Polynesia. French is the main language of trade, however English is often understood in more touristy areas and main urban centres. Business hours are generally 8am to 12pm and 1.30pm to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Communications

The international dialling code for French Polynesia is +689 and the outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). City/area codes are not in use. There are public phone booths on all the islands, most operated with phone cards called 'Telecartes', available from the airport, some bars, magazine stands and the post offices. A GSM 900 mobile network provides limited coverage on Tahiti. Internet access is available in the larger hotels and resorts and the main tourist islands all have internet cafes.

Duty Free

Travellers aged 18 or over do not have to pay customs duty on 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 2 litres of wine, beer or cider and 2 litres of alcoholic spirits; a reasonable amount of perfume and eau de toilette for personal use; and items valued up to XPF 30,000 (for adults) or XPF 15,000 (children under 15 years) for gifts or personal use.

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