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Vanuatu Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +11.

Electricity

Electrical current is 220-240 volts, 50Hz; plugs are flat three pins.

Language

The three official languages of Vanuatu are English, French and Bislama (a pidgin language). A further 113 indigenous languages are used by local people in the islands.

Travel Health

There has been an increase in the number of dengue fever cases in Vanuatu. Malaria prophylaxis is highly recommended because malaria is also common in the region. It is vital to take precautions against mosquito bites because dengue fever is prevalent. Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended, as well as typhoid immunisation for those planning to consume food outside of the better hotels and restaurants. Urban tap water is safe to drink, but elsewhere drink only bottled or purified water, and ensure food is well-prepared and well-cooked, and served piping hot. Medical facilities on the islands are basic but adequate for routine treatment. More serious cases require evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. Scuba divers should be aware there is one decompression chamber on the islands, at Port Vila, and sea rescue services are not comprehensive. Comprehensive travel health insurance with evacuation cover is strongly recommended.

Tipping

Tipping is not expected in Vanuatu as it is traditionally unacceptable. A smiling thank you is sufficient gratuity.

Safety Information

Most visits to Vanuatu are trouble-free; the greatest threat to a visitors' safety comes from nature in the form of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The islands have experienced more than 40 earthquakes in the past two years, some measuring over seven on the Richter scale. Tourists have been injured, even fatally, by volcanic activity on the islands, and visitors are advised to be cautious and heed the advice of local guides when making expeditions to view active volcanoes. The tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to April. The crime rate is low, but is increasing. Take precautions against burglary and street crime, especially at night. Foreigners, especially women, have been attacked in isolated locations and it is advisable not to visit remote areas or beaches alone.

Local Customs

Local traditions and customs should be respected, and this includes not wearing very revealing clothing away from the beaches and hotels. Ask permission before taking photographs of local people. Be aware that land-ownership is a sensitive issue in Vanuatu, and those who venture onto someone's land may be asked to pay a 'visitor fee'. The Polynesian herbal 'feel-good' drink, kava, is widely drunk by the locals, particularly at cultural ceremonies.

Business

Vanuatu has no personal income tax, capital gains tax or company restrictions, so it is a popular haven for international offshore investment companies. Business attire is smart-casual, and meetings are usually held in French or Bislama (the local pidgin English). Office hours are generally 7.30am to 11.30am, and then 1.30pm to 5pm on weekdays.

Communications

The international direct dialling code for Vanuatu is +678. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). No city codes are required. There are public telephones near the post office and near the Telecom office in Port Vila, with phone cards available at both these offices. There is GSM mobile phone coverage of the islands (contact your service provider to ascertain whether your phone is compatible) and local pay-as-you-go SIM cards are available from the local network provider, Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL). There are Internet cafes in Port Vila and Luganville, and most hotels and resorts have Internet access.

Duty Free

Travellers arriving in Vanuatu may bring in the following goods without paying customs duty: 250 cigarettes or 250g tobacco or 50 cigars or 100 cigarillos; 1.5 litres of spirits and 2 litres of wine; 250g of eau de toilette and 10g of perfume; new items up to a value of Vt50,000; personal effects and sporting goods for personal use.

Become our Vanuatu Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Vanuatu travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Vanuatu or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.