Where is Ghana located, is it a safe country, is Ghana a great travel destination at all for my vacation in 2023? These and many more questions I am going to answer for you in this blog. And if your question is not among them, be sure to let me know via email or in the comments.
Hi, my name is Patricia and I have been living in Ghana for 13 years. My first visit to this beautiful West African country was over 20 years ago.
I have been answering questions about Ghana for 20 years. First mostly to friends and acquaintances. And since my emigration I assist all kinds of travelers. From volunteers to expats of all ages.
It may be clear that I am a big fan of this part of Africa, but I can also be critical and realistic.
- Table of contents (Click on the question to quickly go to the answer)
- Where is Ghana located?
- Is there a time difference?
- Is Ghana safe?
- What is the official language?
- Is a Ghana vacation worthwhile?
- How do I get money in Ghana?
- Can you tell me more about (domestic) flights?
- Do I need a visa to travel to Ghana?
- What vaccinations are recommended for travel to Ghana?
- Is there malaria?
- What the medical facilities and pharmacies are in case of an emergency?
- When is the best time to go to Ghana?
- What is the best way to go online in Ghana? WiFi?
- What sights and places shouldn’t I miss?
- Are there opportunities for wildlife spotting and safari tours?
- Which beaches in Ghana are recommended for relaxation and possibly water sports?
- Can I visit local markets to buy souvenirs or explore artisan villages?
- Can I enjoy hiking and trekking in nature? Where are the best spots?
- How can I get around easily within Ghana? Are there reliable transportation options?
- How do I find the best places to lodge?
- Which local dishes should I definitely try?
- If I follow a special diet, such as vegetarian or vegan, are there options available?
- What are some local customs and habits I should bear in mind?
- Should I dress specifically for certain places or occasions?
- Promoting sustainable tourism and supporting local projects, how do I do it?
Where is Ghana located?
Ghana is located on the coast of West Africa. It lies just above the equator. Ghana’s neighbors are Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo, respectively. Travel time with a direct flight from Amsterdam (KLM) to the capital Accra is over 6 hours.
How many hours of time difference is there between Ghana and the Netherlands?
Ghana uses Greenwich Main Time(GMT). The difference with the Netherlands is 1 hour during winter time and Ghana is 2 hours behind during summer time. So a trip from Europe to Ghana will not give you jet lag.
Is Ghana a safe destination to explore? Should I be concerned about my safety there?
The people of Ghana are very friendly and hospitable.
Politically, the country has been democratic and stable for years, the Ghanaians are very proud of this and that makes the country safe to travel through. Of course, it is good to use common sense anywhere in the world and listen to advice from local people.
According to the 2022 Global peace index, Ghana along with a number of other African countries, including Malawi, rank very well in terms of safety.
What languages do they speak in Ghana? Can I easily communicate in English over there?
Unlike the Francophone countries around us, Ghana’s official language is English.
But local language is mostly spoken. There are some 75 different languages and dialects, the most widely spoken language being Twi.
Language Café Accra organizes several language cafes in the capital. Should you stay there for a while you may be able to attend a Twi Cafe. At the same time, this is a very fun way to meet new people
What makes Ghana such a cool place to travel to? Why should I visit Ghana?
I have already written down the answer to this question in the following blog, but I will also make an attempt to share in 1 sentence why you should come to Ghana.
If you are looking for the highest mountain on the continent, the big 5 and stereotypical Africa, then definitely don’t come. But when you are open to people, to culture, to nature, when you can enjoy small moments, beautiful landscapes and rich history. Then definitely come to Ghana, and to Moon&Star guesthouse;)
WHAT ABOUT THE CURRENCY IN GHANA? CAN I EASILY EXCHANGE MONEY THERE?
In most larger towns you will find ATMs that also accept foreign cards.
GCB (Ghana Commercial Bank) is the most widespread. There are also, for example, Stanbic and Absa bank.
You don’t need a credit card. Just don’t forget to set your bank card to worldwide active!
It is useful to think a bit in advance about what you are going to do and the approximate cost, since sometimes there are breakdowns or empty ATMs and the next ATM is usually not around the corner. Also keep in mind that you can withdraw a maximum of the equivalent of €500 per day. You can also bring some cash and it may just be Euros. In the larger towns and at the airport there are Forex bureaus where you can exchange money.
WHICH AIRLINES FLY TO GHANA AND ARE THERE DOMESTIC FLIGHTS?
Accra, the capital of Ghana, is a popular destination and almost all European airlines, such as KLM, Air France, Brussels Airways, British Airways and Lufthansa, offer flights to Accra. Use an online ticket finder, directly with the airline or with a travel agent to find a suitable ticket.
Yes, there are domestic flights in Ghana. To get to Moon&Star, you can fly to Kumasi and we will gladly arrange an airport transfer to Banko for your convenience. For online reservations and more information about domestic flights, click here
Do I need a visa to travel to Ghana?
In most cases, you have to apply for a visa to visit Ghana. Contact or check the website of the Ghanaian embassy in your home country for the requirements.
What vaccinations do I need?
The yellow fever vaccine is mandatory when traveling to Ghana. By June 2023, all Covid restrictions will be lifted. In addition to the yellow fever vaccine, vaccinations against hepatitis and meningitis, for example, are regularly recommended. It is advisable to visit a tropical institute several months before traveling.
Can I get malaria while traveling in Ghana?
Yes, you certainly can. Ghana is in a malaria area. I wrote about my malaria story before.
What do I do when I get sick?
When you are not feeling well, it is good to keep a close eye on yourself. Drink a lot because the heat causes you to lose a lot of fluids anyway.There are many hospitals and pharmacies in Ghana and you can go to any hospital for tests and to see a doctor.
When you are in Ghana and really don’t feel well, contact me! Moon&Star guesthouse is a very nice place to recover.
What is the best time to travel to Ghana? Does it rain all day during the rainy season?
You don’t always have a choice of when you can take time off for your trip to Ghana.
In my opinion, each season in Ghana has advantages and disadvantages. Also, as the climate changes, you cannot set your clock to when the dry season starts.
Ghana has 2 rainy seasons, the first from April to July and the second in September and October. I sometimes read that you should avoid Ghana during the first season because your trip would literally fall into the water. I absolutely disagree with this. It doesn’t rain every day or all day. Between showers the sun shines and there are beautiful blue skies. During the dry season there is a period of desert wind, the harmattan. Because of all the dust, you don’t have nearly as good a view as during other times of the year. Also, Ghana is a little less green because of the drought.
My advice, every season has pros and cons, so don’t let the weather hold you back.
What is the best way to go online in Ghana? Is there WiFi?
WiFi is not yet very widespread in Ghana, the easiest way is to purchase a local SIM card and put an internet bundle on it. Read all about internet in Ghana in the article I wrote earlier; All about internet and WiFi in Ghana.
WHERE SHOULD I DEFINITELY GO DURING MY GHANA VACATION OR TRIP?
I find this a very difficult question to answer. First of all, not everyone likes the same thing. And there are so many beautiful and fun things to see in Ghana that it is almost impossible to see everything in one Ghana experience….
Keep in mind that traveling itself in Ghana is “part of the experience. And that there are few huge highlights, but it is the experience and the little things that make your trip immensely special and beautiful.
Because of the gruesome history, I think a visit to Cape Coast and Elmina cannot be skipped. But other than that, the best itinerary depends very much on the amount of time and your interests. Some of my favorite destinations are the Kwahu region and Lake Bosumtwi. The Volta is also beautiful.
CAN I GO ON SAFARI IN GHANA?
Yes you can!!! Keep in mind that we are not in Malawi or Tanzania but in West Africa. Going on safari in mole NP almost certainly means you will come face to face with elephants! Also, the forestry department is very busy with the population of predators, so these are also spotted more often during evening safaris. A nice bonus is that a safari in Mole is very affordable.
what are the best beaches?
Ghana has some beautiful beaches. Unfortunately, not all beaches are very nice to lie on. They are also often residential areas of people and sometimes serve as public toilets.
The most popular beaches are Busua, where you can also surf, and in the Volta region Ada Foah. Closer to the capital is Kokrobite, where you can also surf. And because of its location, this is a popular place to spend the first or last few days of the trip.
Can I visit local markets to buy souvenirs or discover craft villages?
Yes, it is a lot of fun to visit local markets. You can choose the very big markets in Accra and Kumasi, such as Makola and Kejetia market. But sometimes it is more fun to walk around the markets in smaller towns, because the atmosphere is often more relaxed.
For souvenirs, you can also visit the cultural centers in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale.
Several regions are known for certain crafts. Think wicker baskets from Bolgatanga in the north. Pottery in Tonga and Kente and Adinkra fabric near Moon&Star guesthouse.
Where is the best place to hike?
Once you pull out of the cities you can do very fine hiking here. Our area is great for hiking, both with and without a guide. I have written a blog with hiking tips before.
What is the easiest way to travel? Do I use local transportation or is renting a car preferable?
Without a doubt, the easiest way to travel is by car and driver. It is almost impossible to rent a car without a driver here. But renting a car is also the most expensive way to travel and it deprives you of a chance to interact with local people during the trip. In public transport, very nice conversations can take place.
What is wisest depends entirely on your wishes. If you want to see a lot in a limited time or can’t stand the heat very well, it is more convenient to rent a car. If you have more time, a more limited budget, luxury is not very important to you or you do not have the ambition to see all of Ghana in 3 weeks, then I would go for local transport. You can also alternate local transport with occasionally hiring a cab for a day or so.
Not surprisingly, I have also written extensively about transportation: Click here to read it.
Are there many lodging options? Do you have tips for great accommodations?
It may surprise you, but there are guesthouses and hotels in almost every town in Ghana. You won’t always find these on the Internet and the quality and cleanliness varies. When you have to mind your budget, these hotels and guesthouses are highly recommended! These accommodations are not necessarily built for tourists, but more for Ghanaians who have emigrated and for local people traveling for (family) business. It’s helpful to know, though, that you won’t get stranded very easily.
Of course, I also have my favorite spots that I like to share with you. Near Accra; Kokrobite gardens. Near Aburi; Sweet mother eco resort. In the Volta region; The Emo guesthouse in Kpando. Near Lake Bosumtwi; The green ranch. In Kumasi; Tumi hostel and when going on safari in Mole park; Belgha hostel.
What do people eat in Ghana?
Local Ghanaian food is often quite spicy and looks different from what we are used to. There are all kinds of “dough balls” that are commonly eaten, such as fufu and banku. But there are also many rice dishes, such as jollof and waakye. I wrote a blog about street food. Click here to read it.
By eating locally, you really get to know a country! It is something I am very sure of.
what can i eat in ghana as a vegetarian or vegan?
If you are very strict with your vegetarian diet, it is quite difficult in Ghana because most food vendors think food is vegetarian when it no longer contains meat. But most stew (sauce) is cooked with meat/fish in it and people use meat/fish-based stock cubes.
Still, there are definitely options which you can read about in the blog about street food. And when you stay with us we have lots of vegetarian and vegan options. We love cooking with local produce and our veggie burgers are yummy!
What local customs can I take into account as a traveler?
There are several courtesies that are important, but in this blog I will stick to 3 tips.
Ghanaians consider greetings very important, whether you know the person or not doesn’t matter. And not with a spontaneous “Hi” or “Hello”, but really with a Good morning or afternoon.
In Ghana people use the left hand for “dirty” things like wiping your bottom. Eating and waving and pointing are therefore done with your right hand!
We Westerners often get very happy to wear flip flops. They are almost synonymous with summer and being free. Here people wear flip flops in the shower, where they also urinate…. In other words, you can’t wear flip flops everywhere you go, and when you go into someone’s house, you leave them outside.
Do you have any specific clothing advice for me?
Traveling without negative impact also means respecting the culture and people of the country/region you are visiting.
When traveling in the north as a woman, you can take into account that most people are Muslim.So clothes should not be too short and too tight and too bare at the top.
The same of course applies when you go to church or to a funeral or something similar.Also, people in the cities are a little more used to less covering clothing.This does not mean that as a woman you cannot wear shorts or skirts, just make sure they are a decent length or bring leggings that you can put on underneath.
During the evening/night the temperature can drop and the mosquitoes will come, so also bring some long pants (also for hiking in nature parks) and long-sleeved clothes.
Then we come to shoes, flip flops are fine for normal occasions.Try to pack some nicer slippers or sandals as well.Don’t forget to bring (closed) shoes/sneakers, you will need them when you are hiking and in the natural parks.
Can I promote Sustainable Tourism and support local projects?
Yes, you always can! Sustainable tourism is a very broad concept, but you can start by buying and staying with local entrepreneurs rather than larger chains. In doing so, you can choose to travel slower and not take domestic flights.
When you go to visit something you can check for community-based projects. An example is the Kente villages in our region. Many tour guides say you “must” go to Bonwire to see how Kente weaving is done. And indeed you can. But we always send our guests to Adanwomase, not only because you get a super good explanation there, but also because it’s a great community project that actually makes an impact.
You can also stay in accommodations that are part of a local charity. For example, Tumi hostel, the EMO guesthouse and ourselves, Moon&Star guesthouse.