A practical foreign exchange and currency guide on sending money and travel to Benin
What's in this Benin currency guide?
The official language of Bénin is French, but there are several other indigenous languages which are spoken in various regions of the country. Bénin is the birthplace of Vodun (Voodoo) and all that goes with it—to this day Vodun remains the official religion of the country, and an important part of the life of ordinary Beninese. While more and more Bénin nationals are starting to use English, it is not yet widely accepted. But Bénin will also thrill visitors with its palm-fringed beaches of the Atlantic coast, the rugged scenery of the north and the Parc National de la Pendjari, one of the best wildlife parks in West Africa. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants and hundreds of other species thrive here.
In Bénin the currency is the West African CFA. Credit cards are accepted in the major centers and ATMs are available in the cities, as well. You can generally change Euros, US dollars and the British pound in Cotonou. ATMs in Cotonou are also widespread (though mostly visa only) and you’ll also find Western Union in operation in Bénin. The best foreign currency to carry with you in Brenin is the euros, which are easily exchanged at banks, hotels or bureaux de change.
There is an extremely timely and reliable bus system that runs your average tour-style bus through every major city in Bénin everyday, and even some in and out of Bénin. There are many major lines with a range of quality of buses. Bush Taxi is possible between most cities, every day in major cities, periodically for the more remote ones. The total price for long distances will be a little higher than by bus, and comfort and security are significantly lower. Drivers are often trying to maximize the number of people in the car so one can expect an intimate experience with the local population. Traffic is insane and the rules on the road are almost never enforced. If you are planning on driving yourself in Bénin, an International Driver’s license is required. The cheapest way to travel within a city or village is by motorcycle taxi (moto, zemidjan or zem). They are cheap and the drivers usually know the city well.
There is a train route that goes halfway up the country, from Cotonou to Parakou, run by L’Organisation Commune Bénin-Niger des Chemins de Fer et Transports. While the train takes longer than a bush taxi, its a much more relaxing way of traveling.
The below comparison table makes it easy to find the best exchange rates and lowest fees when you want to make a Transfer or Spend West African franc.
In several central African states the Central African CFA franc (currency code XAF) is in circulation, such as Cameroon – Central African CFA franc. The Central African CFA franc is of equal value to the West African franc. Both XAF and XOF currencies are referred to as the CFA franc.
24 Nov 2021
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