Ghana Travel Information
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Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Both round and flat three-pronged plugs are commonly used.
English is the official language, but many other African languages are spoken including Twi, Fante, Ga, Ewe, Hausa and Dagbani. French is spoken in the north.
Health regulations in Ghana require that visitors be in possession of a current medical vaccination certificate for yellow fever. Prophylactics against malaria are recommended for all regions of Ghana and travellers should protect against waterborne diseases including cholera, especially during the rainy season. Visitors are advised to buy bottled drinking water, which is widely available. Vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid when travelling to Ghana. A meningococcus vaccination is also recommended if you are there in the dry season (November to June). If you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors and may be at risk of animal bites then a rabies vaccination may also be a good idea.
Decent medical facilities can be found in major cities and towns, but facilities outside main urban areas are poor and emergency services are limited. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised and should cover medical evacuation. If you need certain prescription medication, it is advised that you take it with you, along with a signed and dated note from your doctor explaining what it is and why you need it.
A service charge is rarely added to restaurant bills and tipping for quality service is only expected in restaurants (usually about 10 percent). For other services tipping is discretionary but note that if someone offers to help, whether it is with directions or to carry a bag, they usually expect some kind of payment.
Safety in Ghana is generally not too much of a concern but it is wise to be vigilant in public areas, particularly in and around Accra, and to avoid walking at night and travelling in taxis alone after dark if possible. Visitors should avoid carrying large sums of cash or valuables on them and be vigilant when drawing money from ATMs. Theft of luggage and travel documents has occurred at Kotoka International Airport. Visitors should also be vigilant in and around Tamale and Kumasi where there has been an increase in crime including muggings and attacks on foreigners. There is a potential for outbreaks of violence between rival political factions, fighting between ethnic groups and civil unrest; travellers are advised to stay up to date with daily developments and to avoid protests. Visitors to the Northern Region should be alert to the possibility of renewed outbreaks of inter-ethnic fighting. When travelling along the Ghanaian coastline, please exercise caution given the occurrence of strong tidal waves striking the coast.
Ghanaians are generally a conservative people and visitors should respect local customs, traditional courtesies and dress codes, particularly in the villages. Ghanaians do most things with their right hand, including eating, touching food, taking and receiving things, waving, shaking hands etc. The left hand is used for 'dirty things' and it is regarded as rude to use the left hand for the aforementioned things. If in doubt, use the right hand. Greeting is an important social function and handshakes are common. There is no particular dress code, but women will be expected to cover up in the north of the country. No civilian may wear camouflage clothing as it is reserved for the military. Visitors to remote villages, shrines or palaces should visit the local elder or priest and take a small gift such as a bottle of local schnapps, gin or money. Always seek permission before taking photographs of people; it is not permitted to take photographs of military institutions or the airport. Homosexuality is illegal.
Ghana is a very relaxed and friendly country; however, in business, a formal dress code is expected, and punctuality is essential. The exchange of business cards is common. It is important in all meetings to greet and shake hands with each person and acknowledge their presence. The person is to be addressed as Mr, Mrs, or Ms, followed by their surnames, unless otherwise specified. Gifts are unnecessary though greatly appreciated. Business hours are generally 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken over lunch.
The international dialling code for Ghana is +233. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). Accra's area code is 21. The telephone system is relatively reliable, but most people use mobile phones. Telephone, fax and telex services are available in all main towns, and hotels. Most major hotels also have business centres, which provide secretarial and courier services. Internet cafes are on the increase throughout the country, but connection speeds are usually slow. There are several GSM cell phone operations across Ghana that have roaming agreements with most international networks, and phones can be rented in Accra.
Travellers to Ghana over 16 years do not have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 250g of tobacco, or a proportionate mix of these items; two litres of wine and one litre of spirits; and 50ml of perfume and 250ml eau de toilette. Gifts and souvenirs are subject to duty.
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