The border between Rwanda and Burundi is at Kayanaza Haut. There is a ‘No-Man’s Land’ on the river bridge between the 2 border posts. This is where the money changers operate as well as on the Burundi side. The ones in the middle are fairly calm and will offer you a not so great rate. The guys on the Burundi side are all crooked hustlers who will hassle you and cheat you out of money – guaranteed.. Never hand over money to them until you agree a rate of exchange. If they try and hurry you, walk away. Also try not to accept tragically old notes.
There are 2 Bureau de Change places on the Rwandan side across and slightly downhill from the Border Control. They will give you a fair rate and reasonable notes. If you are headed to Bujumbura you will find plenty of good currency exchange places, so only change a few dollars at the border if you really need to.
The Bureau de Change places in larger towns are plentiful and give you a good rate of exchange. I really cannot fault theses guys. Even the exchange guys who stand in street outside of their businesses are very polite and will take a polite ‘No’ without any hassle. Also, they do not make you queue up to get a form to fill out like the banks. (In fact, avoid the banks here.) Also their buy-back rates are excellent, so do not worry too much about having left over Rwandan Francs right before you leave.
So what’s the trick? They like BIG MONEY in Rwanda. The rates you see on their boards are for crisp, new, $100 and $50 notes. Some may try to offer you a lower rate for $50, but do not accept that. I obtained the top rate for some $20 with my favourite exchange place in Kigali because I had already done business with him for some hundreds. Smaller notes like $1, $5 and $10 will always come with a lower rate than on the outside boards. Of course the boards NEVER tell you this. Forget trying to exchange old small notes. Also U.S. Dollars are king here with Euros second and Pound Sterling/Japanese Yen taking a 3rd place finish for best rate.
The rate for smaller notes is generally decent and can be negotiable. If you feel the rate is too low tell them you will go to a competitor. Starting to walk out the door always improves the rate.
With the still reasonable exchange rate and cost of living in Rwanda – you will be fine.
Locals may in rare cases try to overcharge muzungus (whites) a little, however the amounts are very small.
When I took a minibus from Ruhengeri to Kidaho, I didn't know the price, and the busboy demanded 400 Francs ($0,80). After I paid the other passengers started to argue with him, I didn't know what was going on but 5 minutes later he returned me a 100!
Boulevard de la Revolution, Central Kigali, P.O. Box 7469, Kigali, Rwanda
Good for: Solo
The hotel has beautiful views of the park, and is close to the start point for the mountain gorilla...more
Avenue Kamuzinzi, no. 8, Kigali, Rwanda
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families
More Regions in Rwanda