Central Africa Time (GMT/UTC + 2 hours)
Public offices are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Business hours are typically 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. On weekends, businesses are open from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Some supermarkets and shopping malls work 24 hours. Banking hours are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Certain branches are open on Sundays.
The Rwandan franc (Rwf) is the principal currency, although US dollars are widely accepted. For local services, you will need to have some cash in Rwandan franc on you.
Cash can be exchanged at banks and private forex bureaux (bureau de change; both are closed on Sundays and public holidays). Western Union facilities are common. However, it may be impossible to exchange traveller’s cheques away from the capital.
ATMs can be found in Kigali and nearly all major cities and work 24 hours and 7 days. However, if you travel to other provinces, ATMs are generally found at the banks. Many banks feature cash dispensers that take Visa and MasterCard.
A growing number of places accept credit and debit cards, with Visa being more widely accepted than Mastercard. It’s best to check when making a booking.
In Rwanda, three official languages are spoken: Kinyarwanda, French and English. However, some people speak Swahili. Most of the people speak Kinyarwanda. However, at the hotels and big shopping malls, there are people who can help in both English and French.
Murakaza neza: You are welcome.
Muraho (formal) or Bite (informal): Hello (General greeting)
Mwiriwe: Good day (kind of greeting)
Mwaramutse: Good morning
Do’s and don’ts
Tipping in the hotel? Tipping in general. Tipping is discretionary and appreciated. Cash is usually preferred. As a rough guide, tip professional guides and drivers 10 USD per day, trekking porters 2 USD.
DON’T use disposable plastics. DO bring reusable things instead – a water bottle for example.
Plastic bags have been outlawed in Rwanda since 2008 as part of its environmental policy. Plastic bags must be discarded by passengers entering the country. They will be given a cost-effective, ecologically friendly alternative. More information can be found at Practical Information – Visit Rwanda.
Dress codes are informal yet respectful. Men tend to wear trousers, but shorts are fine, although walking around without a shirt is frowned upon. Women will feel more comfortable in knee-length clothes, or longer.
For those who wear contact lenses, cleaning fluid is not readily available, and dust or sun could prove an irritation, so it’s best to bring a pair of glasses along for peace of mind.
Smoking, including electronic cigarettes, is prohibited indoors and in public places including transportation.
To fly drones recreationally or commercially a permit is required in Rwanda. Permits are issued by the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority. It’s best to leave them at home.