Outside of Cotonou, you’ll find Benin to be pretty good value. Unless you spend money on a safari or two up north in Benin’s side of the W park, you shouldn’t have too much time maintaining a proper backpacker’s budget. Truth is, as long as you find someone to split the safari costs with you, you could even do the tours in the national parks on a backpacker’s budget. If you’re only spending time in Cotonou, be prepared to spend a little bit more on food than you think thanks to the temptation of Indian, Japanese, and Italian restaurants. I think a reasonable budget for Benin is about $45-50 USD a day.
- Food: $20/Day; I had a mix of foreign foods and cheap local grub in Benin. If you’re spending most of your time in Cotonou, you’ll likely spend more than this. When I was in Abomey, I spent hardly anything as meals at the maquis there were only about $3 each.
- Accommodation: $18/Day; I spent one night at a small beach hotel in Grand Popo, 3 in a dorm room all to myself in Cotonou, and 1 night in a proper hotel in Abomey.
- Transport: $2/Day; Just scooter fuel. Prices of fuel in Benin where about 550 CFA per litre when I went through.
- Activities: $2/Day; 2 museums with guides were my only activity expenses in Benin.
- Misc; $1/Day; Basically this was just internet costs.
- Total: $42/Day; Benin was good value. I think $45 is a reasonable budget, one could easily spend about $60 a day here too though.
- Local currency: In Benin you’re using the CFA. The CFA is traded at a 656 rate to the Euro which makes it about 500 francs to the USD. You can change Euros, dollars and British pounds in Cotonou without too much of an issue. You should also be able to pick up some Naira for Nigeria in the capital.
- Banks and ATMs: There are plenty of ATMs in Cotonou. You’ll mostly find visa only bank machines in Benin.
- Traveller’s Cheques: Don’t bother bringing traveller’s cheques, there are enough reliable bank machines to get by using your debit/credit cards alone. You also have Western Union branches available if you get stuck somehow.
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