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First Time Visitor To Nigeria - Travel - Nairaland

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First Time Visitor To Nigeria by ToddTerry: 3:39pm On Jul 27, 2006
To all the dear Naira readers in Lagos, I have some questions about visiting your country for the first time. I am planning to travel from Canada and will arrive in Lagos at MMA. Please let me know the following:

1. As a white person traveling to Lagos, what should I know?
2. What percentage of people at MMA, or in Lagos, are white? are there many racists in lagos?
3. What difficulties should I expect at MMA?
4. I have heard that immigration authorities sometimes ask for bribes. Is that common and how should I pay them?
5. If immigrations asks for a bribe, what should I do?
6. How does one safely exit MMA without being followed by criminals or pestered by people seeking handouts?
7. How dangerous is MMA? how often do white people get pulled over by criminals with guns?
8. I will have a pre-arranged driver, but should he carry a gun?
9. How often are white people targeted coming out of MMA?
10. Does VI have the best hotels in Lagos?
11. Is VI the best place to stay in Lagos?
12. How far is VI from MMA? by time?
13. What is the price of gas per litre?
14. Where is it best to exchange CD$ for naira?
15. What should I see and do in Lagos?
16. What are the best restaurants? Best food?
17. How dangerous is it to walk around Lagos centre during the day as a white person with Nigerian friends?
18. What is the average tip in naira one should offer a doorman? or a waiter? or a baggage handler?
19. Should one give beggars money? how much naira?
20. How does one respond to beggars if it is not wise to give handouts?
21. I assume it is best to fly to AB, Calabar, and other sites? where is it not safe to drive in lagos?
22. besides malaria, what other diseases shoudl one be concerned about in lagos?
23. how available is bottled water? what are the safe brands?
24. how much does a good hotel in VI cost per night?
25. what is a good price to pay a driver per hour?
26. how likely is it that i will be stopped at a police check point if they see a white person and what is a good payoff for the boys to keep going? do they expect mopre naira becuase your white or the same?
27. any other info would be helpful

Thanks, looking forward to visiting nairaland!
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by nairamar(m): 4:22pm On Jul 27, 2006
If you are white then I'm Queen of Sheba!
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by Genial(m): 4:27pm On Jul 27, 2006

I beg your pardon, sir, but I find your reaction quite uncalled-for.

If you have any reason to suppose Todd Terry isn't being straightforward, why don't you point it out - at least for the benefit of others who may not have your unique insight?

@Todd Terry

I'm sure you'll get some helpful info here. Just hang on!
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by NSNA: 4:50pm On Jul 27, 2006
With all this questions about destination Nigeria, one would likely settle to cancel the trip. I would answer your first questions and let other users answer the rest.

You need to know as much as you've asked. As it seems you've got a Nigerian friend travelling with you then all you really need is chill and enjoy your discoveries. Nigeria is full of surprises. Pleasant ones
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by naijadiva2(f): 4:51pm On Jul 27, 2006
i'll try to answer your answer accordingly, in order
1. be careful because you are now a minority in the country and don't trust every nigerian in that country especially if they request money up front.
2. i don't know
3.don't know
4. i wouldn't pay them because it could be fraud, but atlease make sure if you pay anyone, make sure it is for real but you could also ask people around you.
5. like i said before, make sure it is for real and its worth it.
6. look around to make sure no one is following you. check to make sure all that you have. when coming and when leaving.
7. anybody could be pulled over buy crinimals. if you are in some kind of tourist group or something like that, try not to leave the group.
8.  he probably will but if it is pre aranged, he shouldn't.
9. i don't know
10. don't know
11. don't know. but cousin says its okay.
12. don' t know
13.don't know
14. the bank
15. have fun and eat good food. take lots of picture and try not to preoccupied with the thought that somebody is going to rob you every 10 mins.
16. don't know
17. if youre in group with nigerian friends, it shouldn't be a problem
18. don't know
19. i guess if you want to but not a ot because they might be fake.
20. i guess ignore them or say you have anythng to give.
21. don't know
22. don't know
23. don't know but just boil your water. it'll still be safe to drink.
24. don;t know
25. don't know
26. don't know
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by naijadiva2(f): 4:52pm On Jul 27, 2006
With all this questions about destination Nigeria, one would likely settle to cancel the trip. I would answer your first questions and let other users answer the rest.

You need to know as much as you've asked. As it seems you've got a Nigerian friend travelling with you then all you really need is chill and enjoy your discoveries. Nigeria is full of surprises. Pleasant ones

i totally agree. if you are going to fear for your life, then there's no point in going. being white has nothng to with it.
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by ToddTerry: 5:09pm On Jul 27, 2006
dont confuse curiosity with fear. i lived in nairobi for 2 years but west africa is not east africa!!!
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by LiquidMind(m): 5:29pm On Jul 27, 2006
There is noting to worry yourself about.

Just dress like a normal citizen and bribe police and immigration when necessary,
don't let most people around you to know you just came from Canada,
keep your mouth shut is you don't want Ahmed-robber and pocket-picker to visit you,

Go to well know restaurant for food,

You wont get sick easily. since you are familiar with the weather and environment
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by my2cents(m): 5:48pm On Jul 27, 2006

I always advice first-timers to go with someone u know at your present location, even if it means paying their way. How much is peace of mind worth? I bet more than the $1,500 - $1,800 (depending on when u travel - higher in summer and from dec cool u will fork out for a round-trip ticket. That person cd then act as a buffer b/w u and the Nigerian environment which could even have a tendency not to be the kindest of places for Nigerians in the diaspora, many of which were born and raised there.

With that in mind, y not try that approach? In general, as far as MMIA is concerned, I have learnt to carry at least $30 in $1 bills, grouped in $2 bunches. When approached, I immediately stash a bundle in the officer's hands. If he opens, then I tell him, I am only here on biz and that I have pple hosting me. That has worked like a charm for the times I have been there (2000-2004). You will need I think $1 or so to gain access to the carts. There is only one functioning carousel per arriving int'l flight. Get ready to sweat it out. Even most "civilized only wen abroad" Nigerians in the diaspora will act worse than a wounded lion at that place. The line to get processed is also long for non-citizen entry. Finally, you may have to return to MMIA in the event your bags don't arrive. Most of us have a tendency, even at $150 per extra luggage, to take home with them 10+ extra boxes. I hv personally counted 13 (and u wonder y KLM et al will continue over-charging us for tickets and extra luggage?). For the most part, try not to pack ordinary necessities. We hv pretty much what you have wherever you may be. I once ran into a Nigerian lady who took bubble gum back there, cos she didnt trust the Nigerian variety shocked shocked

Sorry for going off-point a bit. Sorry if I am too brash. I blv in telling the absolute truth. No need masking it for ya. One false move, and you could be a part of the statistics.

Good luck!!
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by walel: 6:24pm On Jul 27, 2006
It grieves me when Nigeirans talk about their country in such negative light sure things are different in Naija but are they worse than the street gangs in mexican neigbourhood or the "egbons" in the Ghetto? Everyplace has its own peculiarities bottom line to the man going to Lagos as long as you have a local contact who will help you find your way around you should be fine just go ahead and have a blast anf greet my people oh tell them say i miss them and i will see them all in December, thk God for Credit Card LOL
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by Hotstepper(f): 6:27pm On Jul 27, 2006
lol@crdit card,

as for the question, they are too much and I don't know but Nigerians are very friendly people, play along, as for police and bribes, go how much you want to. Ask as a normal citizen and open your eyes well ohhhhhhhhhh, you will def. have fun, safe journey, all of una for Naija, see una for dec, I can't wait, damn, dat country dey sweet me
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by naijaflyer(m): 6:27pm On Jul 27, 2006
@Todd Terry, though I'm based in Abuja, I fly into Lagos frequently on assignments, so I'll reply to the best of my knowledge.
1. Nigerians are basically very friendly and accomodating, though Lagosians are usually very harried. Nigerians place great importance on showing respect to people older than you, and for survival, just utilise the same street knowledge you'll use in either NY, Rio, Jo'burg, London, etc. to safeguard your valuables and you'll be just fine.
2.There are several white people in Lagos so you wouldn't look out of place. You'll hardly encounter any display of racism, and people would actually go out of their way to assist you, though they'll teasingly refer to you as 'oyibo'.
3.4.&5. MMA isn't that difficult to get out of. The immigration guys are pretty okay, but the ones to watch out for are the snotty nosed customs, NDLEA and SSS dudes, though I rarely have difficulties with them (maybe due to where I work and my social status). If they ask for 'something for the weekend', 'anything for the boys' etc, you can oblige them if they were nice (but never more than the equivalent of $20). If they get too belligerent, start taking down their names and serial numbers.BTW, if anyone approaches you and tries to sound officious, DEMAND for identification and request to know what his agency does from one of your fellow passengers.
6.7,8 &9. Since there'll be a driver waiting to pick you, there shouldn't be much fear of that. It's not as commonplace as people make it out to be. In all my years of flying into Nigeria through LOS/MMA, I never experienced such, and now I prefer going thru ABV (Abuja) b/c it's more relaxed and organised. However, to ensure that it's really the guy sent to pick you, there should be some form of code. Unless your driver is licensed, forget about the  gun, because it wouldn't be much use if you come across robbers b/c their weapons are pretty sophisticated and if they know you're armed, they're shooting you guys outright, and if the cops carry out a routine search, see the gun and your driver isn't in the armed forces, then DAMN!! You guys are in for it. It is also advised that the car used in picking you up is a bland, everyday car like a peugeot 504(with an A/C for the heat).
10 & 11. Yup!! VI has the best hotels in Lagos, and it's location is very central to whatever you have to do in Lagos. Try the Protea Hotel, Sofitel Moorhouse, Eko Hotel. There are also some nice classy small hotels. I'm sure that Nairalanders can recommend more. VI is roughly 40mins from MMA when there's no traffic. But that's the caveat, because Lagos traffic can be excruciatingly horrible and make that distance at least 2-3 hrs.
13. Petrol is N65/litre (roughly 55cents).
14.Try your hotel BDC (Bureau de Change) or any of the commercial banks that abound in VI. At least you wouldn't get stiffed of your money and you're sure of getting genuine Naira notes.
15&16. I guess that the real Lagosians here can answer that.
17.No, you guys would look perfectly normal, and if there's any wahala (problem), your friends can use 'ogboju' (chutzpah) to extricate yourselves.
18. Average tip ranges from 50 to 100 bucks, 200 naira if the service was exceptional. NEVER tip taxi drivers.
19&20. The beggars in Lagos swarm like flies. If you have to give, it shouldn't exceed 20 naira. And it's not all beggars you must be sympathetic to. If you're not in the mood, simply ignore them. Same with the ubiquitous street hawkers. A 'talk to the hand' expression is sufficient. DONT make eye contact with them, or you'll end up buying what you didn't set out for.
21.Of course its best to fly to Calabar from Lagos. Aero Contractors has one daily flight and are the best option on that route. ADC airlines has a greater frequency on that route but use a 737-200. Is AB referring to Aba or Abia? Or is it Abeokuta?
22. Considering that you're coming from Canada, be weary about typhoid, meningitis, and the heat and horrible stench that is endemic to Lagos. When you get to Calabar, the difference would be too visible. Very clean, peaceful and orderly place, with warm friendly people and beautiful cuisine.
23. Bottled water is everywhere, and most of them are from springs apart from Eva and Aquadana. Always ask for Swan and Ragolis first, before the others.
24. Budget roughly $100 per night for a room in a very good hotel.
25.Most  hotel Car hires ask for roughly N1,500.00 per hour.
26. For police checkpoints, when they refuse to pass you guys on immediately, slip the driver N20 - N50 to pass on to them. He'll know how to talk to them if they're being too belligerent.
27. I guess that others can fill in this part. But as a parting shot, don't criticise Nigeria in the presence of Nigerians, but allow them do so themselves. If possible, try visit other parts of the country to really appreciate Nigeria and Nigerians. I recommend Abuja,PH, Jos and KD. And if you're flying (which is preferable for journeys above 3.5 hours, I recommend Aero-Contractors, Virgin Nigeria and Bellview Airlines. Pity I can't fly you on one of my equipment though.
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by Hotstepper(f): 6:33pm On Jul 27, 2006
@naijaflyer , good one
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by naijaflyer(m): 6:40pm On Jul 27, 2006
@hotstepper, Nagode. Why wait till December before coming home to see your folks?
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by Hotstepper(f): 6:44pm On Jul 27, 2006
oh, just ma dad is dere and he comes often and only dec. is actually da only time i enjoy 9ja as I have been away for long now and I attend alot of occassions here like picnic (which am going 2morrow in ohio from toronto) and others, so dec. is alwayz fun and good time to see friends in one place etc and run away 4rom da cold, lol
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by naijaflyer(m): 6:52pm On Jul 27, 2006
@hotstepper, really envy you. At least you can plan your holidays ahead. By virtue of my having willingly assigned my life to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I'm at the mercy of the whims of 'you know who'. On the upside, I can see the world and i'm guaranteed an entree to anywhere on the continent.
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by Hotstepper(f): 6:54pm On Jul 27, 2006
oh, thats good, Can you hook me up with federal gov't job cuz datz my dream to work and live in Nigeria, infact, I wanna volunteer for 4 months 1st at any organization etccccccccccccccccccccccc, itz good to travel around though if you have the opportunity and sum1 like moi, that's what I enjoy tongue
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by ToddTerry: 7:11pm On Jul 27, 2006
thanks naijaflyer.  that was very helpful.  one last question though, doesnt a CD$20 tip/bribe to custosm/ndlea/sss at the airport seem a bit much?   100 naira for the police at a checkpoint seems fine, i have np with that, but CD$20 seems high.

also, about the stench? r u saying lagos smells everywhere? even on vi? does the smell make u sick, give u headaches? cheers!

god bless nairaland!
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by chidexy(m): 8:39pm On Jul 27, 2006
Nigeria isn't as terrible as people are meant to believe. The immigration and other security agencies at the port of entry aren't bold to tell you to bribe them - those days are gone. However, you may experience some "problems" before getting a trolley to use - that may mean parting with some money - that's acceptable. A friend of mine went home last year December and was later visited by 2 German friends of his - they really had a nice time there and you can read up their experience here http://www.meckerossi.de/iboland

Of course, Lagos stinks due to several factors. People pee almost at every corner and the fumes from thousands of buses without catalysators.

Just have an open mind, and you'll be surprised at the friendship you'll be offered and don't go with any biases. Form your opinions based on your experience there.

One last note, white skinned people are not singled out for attack by either the police or armed robbers. There is every likelihood that because of your skin color, the police may allow your car pass without requesting for anything. I have many people attest to this fact.

And don't forget to try out "Isiewu and Nkwobi pepper soup", Akara for your breakfast, Plantain (fried or roasted) and of course the mercurial "Edi ka Ikong" and Egusi soup with Akpu (fufu) if you get to Calabar.
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by Eastcoast(f): 8:54pm On Jul 27, 2006
To be frank, i don't think we have really painted the right picture. Speaking from the last time i visited, it could be tough to get out of the airport not to talk about finding your host/driver or whoever. I remember covering myself with all those blankets while in the plane but unfortunately, as i stepped into the airport, i was stung by the heat. i was lucky enough to quickly get thru' immigration but had my problem when it came to picking up my luggage. There were no carts to help, and then when i had a hard time getting out of the airport coz i couldn't find my uncle that was to pick me up. He is very tall but due to the number of people that would be struggling at the exit door, you would need to be extra careful. i would advice you to take a flash light with you because the parking lot will be very dark and you will have to walk a mile to get there.
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by my2cents(m): 8:58pm On Jul 27, 2006
There are those of us who will post what u will actually see, and those who will post a glossed over picture. As much as I love my country, I must say I would choose the former. Cos if our august visitor has a bad experience, he will multiply his hardship by a factor of 100 and make it worse than it was wink
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by jacq(f): 9:04pm On Jul 27, 2006
All i can say is hope you have a nice time in nigeria and keep us updated to see if u experienced any of the things posted in here.
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by hayprof(m): 9:12pm On Jul 27, 2006
@Todd Terry :Just be urself wink
cool That's the most important thing u need cool
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by ZuluNation(m): 9:15pm On Jul 27, 2006
@ Todd Terry,

If you don't mind me asking, why did you change your identity from white to Nigerian. Dude you don't fool me for a sec OK. It's people like you that think it's cool to come on here and say you white and have folks kiss up to you because you know some Nigerian like to worship white folks. Get a life dude.
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by symple: 9:25pm On Jul 27, 2006
Nigeria is a nice and peaceful place.

Hell yeah White folks do walk around.
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by hayprof(m): 9:41pm On Jul 27, 2006
@All :Abi dem dey teach Black man how him go do for Oyinbo man Land?
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by ToddTerry: 11:00pm On Jul 27, 2006
r all nigerians as suspicious as zulunation?  i am not nigerian!

also, please tell em more about the stench? does it smell on vi? i dont want to get a headache from the smells. also, no one has responded with anything one shoudl see in lagos? is there nothing but stench? what about the beaches? is badagry nice? bar beach? what about museums? what is there to see and do in the city centre? how far are the national parks from vi? how far is it to ogun state?
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by classiqkid(f): 11:23pm On Jul 27, 2006
[b]1 Nigeria ain't nothing like london or america except if your staying on the island is somewhat similar
2 I dont think their are any rascist ppl in nigeria i seen alot of Philippines and whites there too
3 them Hassling u about ur passport dont b surprise if they say its fake.lol.
4.And no you shouldnt pay them.But you can if they really start gettin annoyin.I normally dont.
5.Walk away
6.uurggh dont dress to fancy and maybe u can order back up u know Protocol officers
7.like neva
8.No what for? You may end up in jail.
9.I dunno
10.Yes my family is there i should know
11.umm yeah i guess but there other places like ikeja u know apapa,yaba,magodo
12.1 hour it depends on the hold up
13.i dunno
14.go to them hausa men ikoyi hotel
15.silver bird,Shop rite,Lekki,fantasy land,golden gate
16.hoppers,mr biggs,munchies,chicken republic and etc
17.its not dangerous at all
18.20 naira
19.50 to 100 naira
20.walk away
21.united states of ajegunle
22.i have no idea
23.eva is the best but in generally any type of bottle water
24.i dunno
25.1000 naira pair hour
26.It depends on what time and area ur goin out
27.make sure u take a fan to wherever your going cuz its pretty hut,dont take clothes like jumpers and stuff and ummm, [/b]
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by classiqkid(f): 11:26pm On Jul 27, 2006
VI doesnt smell and go to akodo beach in epe
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by ToddTerry: 11:37pm On Jul 27, 2006
thanks. are the beaches clean? any shark attacks ever? now i heard the delta is the most dangerous place, so why is calabar and ph safer than lagos? isnt ph and calabar in the delta region?

jos looks nice but it is far man. peace out! cool cool cool
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by classiqkid(f): 11:41pm On Jul 27, 2006
Yes akodo is clean most Especially. And nope there No shark attacks.lol.well im not to sure about ph and etc its all in eastern part of nigeria sha
Re: First Time Visitor To Nigeria by waleleader(m): 11:56pm On Jul 27, 2006
Todd terry, i know uve recieved lots of advice but you need to listen to me as someone who grew up in Lagos. LAGOS IS NOT A JUNGLE . you need to forget all your fears and roll with the rhythm of Lagos.

being white, youll actually be treated like God. there are so many white folks in Nigeria and no one hurts them
Even if there is local crisis, ull be protected by the people cos ur not a local.

no one is gonna mug you, theylll only praise you so much that ull be tempted to tip them

you dont need any weapon in Lagos, i can assure you u'll be safe. Go out with people u know and take all necessary precaution cos youre in a new environment. Beware of malaria . thats all.

if you need more evidence, check out this blog by Aaron Rowe www.aaron-rowe.co.uk/blog . hes a white guy who works in Lagos.cheers

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