Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport is located in the western side of Cotonou. It is an old and small airport terminal with both arrival and departures in the ground floor.
The check-in procedure and the security was fast in african terms the evening I left for Paris. Air France had its own computerized passport control which made a small queue before the check-in counter. The local Air France staff at the check-in counter were skilfull and worked fast. The immigration service was just behind the wall on the right side. No question was asked, and they stamped the passport.
It all stopped at the queue right in front of the Xray machine when a policeman walked around and asked all white passengers to show their Benin visa. This was a weird situation, since the immigration service had already checked and stamped the passports. Was it just a greedy policeman searching for a bribe on potential passengers who had exceeded their legal time of stay in Benin? It is well known that some tourists have only a 48 hours transit visa and take the chance of exceed the time with some hours. (I had many days left). Checking the passengers took so long time that it was no time left for a duty-free shopping.
GPS location is 6°21'11.42" N 2°23'6.54" E
CTI (Central Transport International) is a bus company operating from the Gare Station, just opposite the cathedral. GPS location is 6°21'19.37" N 2°26'23.91" E.
Buses are departing to Mali/Bukina Faso, Nigeria, Togo and Ghana.
A lot of Zemijan motorcycle taxis are cruising around with their yellow waistcoat. Just make a "psst sound", and the nearest one will stop. Just say where you are going and settle the price. To ride them expect to pay anything from 200 to 500 CFA (less than 1 USD). But make sure you have the exact amount of money. Most of them will not change. To be a passenger on a motorcycle without a helmet is a safety consideration, but the mode of transport is very quick and easy. Only one passenger is allowed on the bike.
Air France flies to Cotonou. If you have a short connection in Paris your luggage won't make it.
We took Royal Air Maroc last time--much better fare, but on the way back to europe it's a very long layover in Casablanca. The service was great and our luggage made it
Friends have flown through Libya which is a pretty good connection
Zimmedjans! (moto-taxis) They're great! Fast and very unsave. In night the drivers can be drunk, but forget about that and use them. Nearby Marche Dantokpa it can be very hard to bargaining. Walk to a less special place and try again. Stay also alert. Very sometimes the guys don't speak french or have problems in their head, but they won't bring you to the right place. Let them stop and take another one. You can play saver by using only the guys with clean cloths and to talk a little to check their language skills. If you're with another person it's sometimes cheaper to go with two on one zimme.
If you stay for a long time, you can get your own zimme.
Very slower, but cheaper and saver are the taxicars. But they aren't very useful for citycrossing.
Don't use a bike in Cotonou.
For short distances you can take a walk. Cotonou is save to walk. Not much criminality and often trottoirs, but don't fall into the riols (they're open at some places).
The cheapest, fastest, easiest – and most common – way to travel around Cotonou is the Taximoto. You can get a ride form one side of the city to the other for 250 CFA (49 US Cents or 38 Euro Cents). You can get shorter rides cheaper by really haggling. Some Taximotos – being Taxi Drivers – will try and explain about the Official Rates. Apparently it’s official to rip you off and charge you 3-5 times too much because you did not read this tip and also rate it.
Yes, it is the Law in Benin – passed by the Government – that you get a cheaper Taximoto fare after reading this tip!!! Just print it off and show them.
So ignore the prices of 2000 CFA (pronounced ‘see-fah’) and also the ones that reduce the price to 500. Walk away! Some will immediately offer 300. Offer either 200 or 250. You can tip later and then if they see you again, you have a friend.
The first 2 guys I met offered me 3000 CFA and 2000 CFA. No way. I walked around the corner and was offered 500, then 300. I walked another 10 meters and stood in the busy road. The next guy was only too happy to take 250. There are thousands of these guys in Cotonou!
After I checked into my hotel, I flagged down a mototaxi and he tried the 500 – 300 trick. I said no. The next guy, Jonas, looked at me. He must have thought I looked honest as he said 250 first offer. I imagine locals pay 150-200, but that was a fair offer. Jonas took me clear across the city for that. Then I offered him 2000 CFA ($3.94, €3.05) for an hour and a tour of the city. Jonas smiled very widely and I knew I had just offered to overpay. No worries. Jonas showed me around for about an hour and a half past my first ride. I saw the whole city. And cheaply and safely.
In some cases, especially as you get into less travelled areas, they will wait for you and you just pay another 250 to go back. If they do not know your destination, they will ask other drivers. You may be expected to get onto another Taximoto that knows instead. It’s ok as they look out after each other and you get to where you want to go. They all have yellow jerseys or vests. Most have numbers. If you do have an issue, tell the Police the number, but I don’t think you will have any problems. These guys (the ones with honest prices) were just excellent. There is a Union of Taxi-Moto Drivers you can complain to and their contact details are below.
OK – one big safety notice here. There are NO helmets on any Taximoto. Having said that they were generally safe, not too fast and were always very observant of traffic. Also, due to their numbers, the cars take notice of them as well.
Bush taxis (taxi-brousse) departs all time of the day from Gare de Dantokpa to Nigeria, or from Gare Jonquet to Lomé. It is ordinary private cars packed with passengers.
Agence de voyages et de tourisme.
Sai Tours is a good travel agency in the busy Boulevard Steinmetz. Ask for Olivia, the french speaking woman.
The traffic on the main drag is CRAZY and I don't think it would be pleasant on the side roads when there's rain. My husband doesn't want me to take a scooter taxi, but everyone rides them.