If you are flying out of Bole International Airport you will need to show your receipt(s) if you want to change Birr back to your chosen currency. Make sure you keep your receipts from anywhere you have bought Birr as they will ask to see them. If you go over the amount of currency they allow to be changed back – do not panic. Just find ANYONE with a passport and they can change the rest for you. I had a fellow traveller ask me for help and the man in the exchange office took note of my passport and then exchanged a further amount for my now grateful fellow traveller.
If you are thinking about sending someone in Ethiopia items by the post – watch out! The official duty rates in Ethiopia for the importation of goods is generally 100%! Be careful what you send or the person receiving any goods or gifts may not be able to afford to receive it! If it is a used item, declare this clearly on the Customs Declaration. They pay less tax. It is often better to send cash and let your friends source the item locally. You can use Western Union for larger money transfers.
I would suggest that you travel with some of those baby wipes and/or toilet tissue or just plain paper tissue. All too often you will find modern flush toilets, but no paper! You will see all sorts of substitutes that have been used by your fellow humans in the waste basket. Be prepared and you will never be caught out.
Despite having a burgeoning Tourist Market and having a capital city with 3+ million people and a huge international airport, you will be unable to find Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet 7-Up or any diet soda drinks. Why? I have no idea. I have been to Ethiopia twice now and have NEVER found diet drinks in any bar, restaurant, supermarket or corner shop.
Bring your own supply of diet drinks or switch to fruit juice. That can be found cheaply and easily everywhere!
It may only be a minor convenience, but the Foreign Exchange desks at all the banks close for lunch from 12pm-1pm. That’s 6pm-7pm using an Ethiopian clock. Plan accordingly as it may mess up any scheduled activities you have.
The zoo is not nice. It is sad to see the lions are kept inside cages and being disturbed by people all the time. The security is also very bad. You can touch the lion with your hand between the iron pipes on the fence. And if you lean into the fence the lions grab you.
Please note that you have to pay for taking your own camera into the zoo. I heard 150 Birr for a videocamera. The reason is because the workers are taking pictures themselves and sell it. If you don't want to take pictures of the lions there, you can leave your camera at the entrance for free. I left my videocamera, but smuggled my camera inside.
You will probably get overcharged sooner or later. You are a foreigner, and many people will use it to their advantage. Ask if the price you get is a "faranji- or habesha price" (foreigner- og Ethiopian price). Always bargain the price.
The best thing about Ethiopia is that there are no sophisticated tourist traps. Of course, they may try to charge to extra for everything but you can bargain and generally it is not that expensive anyway.
There are lots of Internet Cafes is Addis, but the service in most is painfully slow. They take you back to the days of the 2400 baud modem.
Unique Suggestions: Be prepared to be there a very long time.
Fun Alternatives: After several frustrating efforts to accomplish something, I gave in and went to the business center in the Hilton. The price is high, but the service was good and the service fast. Borderline backpacker type that I am, I 'm always a bit uncomfortable in these luxury hotels, but it was worth it to get some work done and enjoy an ice cream sundae in the restaurant.
see all Addis Ababa member meetings