Lagos, Nigeria is always a surprise to visitors for the first time considering the reputation of commotion and confusion that seemed to have gained popularity over the years. While the airport can be a bit chaotic, it too is not as bad as what you may have been told. Yes, you may have to slip a few naira (local currency) to someone here or there, but if you “act right” (i.e. being friendly and respectful) – it will be no more than the tips you dole out at Dulles or LAX and probably much better than a number of other cities elsewhere places.
If you can handle North Philly or Southeast DC you’ll be more than okay here! Lagos is the commercial and industrial hub of West Africa and it lives and breathes commerce. Internet access is quite cheap and available and a huge volume of transactions are through a cashless economy. You will find the people to be friendly and quite expressive which some may see as aggressive. Lagos is infused with a good number of world standard malls and shopping centers including Shoprite, Palms, and other international franchises. The Lagos City Mall, the National Museum and the Musical Society of Nigeria center are at the heart of Lagos Island
Lagos is full of surprises, too. Visitors can find themselves dancing the night away at a Nigerian wedding party, sipping champagne with supermodels, haggling for art in Lagos’ hipster district, like Victoria Island , Ikoyi or the more adventurous will head for the mainland to Ikeja to visit the ‘African Shrine’ a musical arts venue creation of the Legendary late Fela Kuti and now run by his son, the world renown and severally Grammy-nominated musician, Femi Kuti playing the Afro Beats. If you need to remain on the Island, the place to go is the Freedom Park – this was a former colonial prison, converted in 2007 to an entertainment hub, with live music, poetry recitals in a fairly well secured environment on Lagos Island, the traditional home of indigenous Lagosians.
Though Nigeria is a loud and brash destination, it also has a quieter, more reflective side that deserves to be seen in the remote beaches of Badagry with its Slave trade history, the sleepy ocean front town of Epe east of Lagos and along the Lekki Penninsula . In fact it has so many faces that at times it feels more like a continent than a country.
- Check you immigration stamp in your passport! As soon as you get to immigration your passport would be called for stamping. Please check immediately your stamp has been issued before you leave the officials. This is to determine the specific duration of the entry permit
- Currency Exchange: The current exchange rate is about N320 to the US Dollar on a parallel market upon which a number of Bureaus De Change are licensed to operate including several at the airport and a number at the Hotels.
- Health: Malaria has been prevalent in West Africa and especially in Lagos for centuries and so it has become quite easy to treat and or prevent with the right prophylactics. The Lagos State Ministry of Health mandates a mobile clinic and ambulance at the venue of all its conferences and government events. The facilities are usually manned by a team of medical personnel including doctors, nurses, radiographers and pharmacists.
- Taking Photos: Be careful taking photos in Nigeria! It is not advisable to take pictures in some designated areas and around certain banks and government facilities. Wherever there is a policeman around it would be wise to ask first.
- Never leave your passport at the hotel:
- SCAMSS!! – There are all sorts of scammers as is the case with may fast paced cities. There are also several legitimate business opportunities that can always be verifiable. It is advisable to note offers with ridiculous rewards and incredible bargains, as this is the bait.
- Personal Security: You are advised to go out in groups or at least pairs.Carry your mobile phone around and numbers which your travel organizers (Mothergold) would provide.