1. Have Cash
One of the most important things you should do when travelling to Lagos is to carry cash! Quite a few of the POS systems tend to have problems reading international cards which as a result leads to your purchase being declined.
If you do not like disgrace and having to explain to everyone that you REALLY do have money in your bank account, carry cash (£/€/$) and convert it when you get to Lagos as the rates tend to be better.
TIP: If you travel to Nigeria often and you have dual-nationality (own a Nigerian Passport), open a Nigerian bank account it will make life easier.
2. Lagos Can Be Overwhelming
Man plans, Lagos laughs
Whenever I’ve been in Lagos I felt like I had no control over my plans and ended up a little overwhelmed. Lagos is overpopulated which makes it BUSY and EXTREMELY SLOW at the same time. There are a lot of cars on the road which makes the traffic ABYSMAL. A simple 30-minute journey can take 2 hours or more in Lagos . It is a HUGE inconvenience and can discourage you from making plans with more than one person in a day.
- Head out just after the morning rush and try to leave wherever you are before 4pm to beat the heavy traffic after work.
- If you’re already out or just started your day around 3pm – stay out until the traffic dies down which is after 8/9pm. If you are on the island there are loads of cute bars and restaurants you can visit to pass time.
- Be realistic and try not to make too many plans in one day. Plan your transit and timing as best as you can.
3. Purchase A Nigerian SIM Card or Mi-Fi Device
Lagos is up and coming, but we are not quite there yet when it comes to readily available wi-fi in every establishment. To stay connected I would recommend the following:
- Buy a Nigerian sim card and top it up with data* (you can buy the sim card at the airport or various shops in Lagos);
- Buy a Portable Mobile Wifi (MiFi) in Lagos or at home;
- Or buy a data plan with your provider at home (this is more expensive than the first two options)
*Ensure your phone is unlocked to ALL SIM cards before you get to Lagos – don’t be like me and find out the hard way.
4. Various Transport Options
There are various methods of transport to get you around in Lagos including:
- Keke Napep (Tuk-Tuk, pictured above)
- Local buses
- Ride-hailing services: Taxify, Uber, Bolt
- Hire your own personal driver
- Okada (Motorbike) – this is a great option when there is heavy traffic but it’s not always the safest option as drivers can be quite reckless and the roads are not that great.
If you don’t have any friends/family to drive you around, I would recommend using a ride-hailing app as it is the most convenient option.
If you prefer to have your own driver, you can arrange with your Uber/Taxify driver to be your personal driver (considering you like their service). You can set out a schedule and arrange a price for whenever you need them.
5. No-one Follows The Rules Of The Road
YOU WILL probably see drivers turning a 3-lane road into 6 lanes. YOU WILL probably see Keke drivers riding on to the pavement just to squeeze past the traffic. Again, don’t be shocked if you see a motorcycle driving in the opposite direction of the traffic – trust me you will see it all in Lagos.
We often joke and laugh about how people drive on Lagos roads – but in reality it can be quite scary. If you’re being driven around and you feel like your driver is being extremely irresponsible, not concentrating on the roads or driving too fast TELL THEM. You may not be able to control what other drivers are doing, but you can instruct your driver.
6. Light Comes, Light Goes
The National Electric Power Authority also referred to as NEPA is Nigeria’s electricity provider. At various times of the day, NEPA may cut off the power – it can be for a few minutes or a few hours. Whether you are in your house or in a restaurant, NEPA doesn’t discriminate.
If not all, most houses and establishments have back up generators and can restore power fairly quickly. It’s always good to stay prepared especially if the generator experiences any issues or you’re staying with someone who is not in a rush to put on the generator. When there is power, charge up all of your devices (including portable chargers), iron your clothes, straighten your hair and whatever you can do to be prepared “just in case”.
7. Nigerians Love Enjoyment!
Even though Lagos has its battles, this doesn’t stop Nigerians from collecting enjoyment. Nigerians (especially Yoruba’s) will look for any excuse to throw a party and we know how to do it well. One thing that is guaranteed in Lagos is a party or some sort of event, whether it is on Monday or Sunday.
If you’re looking for enjoyment – look no further. Lagos is where it’s at!
Whilst Lagos can be super crazy, it somehow always find a place in my heart. Have you been to Lagos before? What is something you wish you knew before you went?