I think it’s safe to say that Kumasi surprised me. I’m not exactly sure I knew what to expect before hand, but it wasn’t the sheer scale of chaos and business that I saw. I also wasn’t expecting to meet as many infrastructure issues. Of the 4 days I was there, I’d say we were without power and running water for about 36 hours.
I guess I had this image in my head of the city shown in all my university classes of a rich kingdom, royalty, and a little bit of controlled chaos. Instead, I tossed myself into the heart of a beating lion. On my scooter ride into the city, I spent about an hour in traffic, and then another hour trying to correct a single mistake I made. Traffic is insane in Kumasi. Well to be honest, almost everything is a little bit insane.
All that being said, you should not miss Kumasi. This region is the beating heart of Asanti history. The city is home to some beautiful museums and culture. And the truth is, once you get used to the busyness of it all, it’s kind of fun.
Time Needed: 2-4 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 40USD per day
Things to Do and See in Kumasi
There is actually quite a bit to do and see in Kumasi, and if you’re keen to see the city you’ll want a couple days to explore. Of course, it would be possible to see most of it in a day or two, but the heat can make it tough to pull off. Do yourself a favour and book an extra day here.
- Jubilee Museum: For its value, this is a great museum and one of the best in West Africa. If you’ve not heard any of the history of the Asanti people, this is a great place to learn. Guided tours are required, but very reasonable and informative.
- The Palace: This is the former resident of a former Asante king (the Asantehene). I’m not sure it has great value, but if you’re interested it’s worth a look. There are some interesting things in the household, but fairly simple. Again, it’s required to go on one of the guided tours.
- The Market: This market is insane. It’s the largest in all of West Africa and though it’s big you wont find much hassle. Get in and get lost, it’ll be fun, I promise.
- The Zoo: Don’t go! Please, don’t go to the zoo. The treatment of the animals is terrible.
Where to Eat in Kumasi
There’s decent grub in Kumasi, both Ghanaian and international. There’s a fairly substantial expat community here so you’ll find everything from shawarma to pizza to Irish pubs.
- Vic Baboo’s: This spot is famous among the backpacker and volunteer crowd and serves good lunchtime foods, and great fruit smoothies. You’ll also find things like trivia night played here. Good place to meet people.
- Vienna City Pub: This pub fills with expats constantly and for good reason. The food is good, and the atmosphere is comfortable. Get yourself a pint or a meal here if you’re in town.
- Supermarkets: There are a couple supermarkets around, and they usually serve Ghanaian fast food as well. It makes for a cheap meal. The A-Life Supermarket between Adum Road and Osei Tutu is good.
Where to Stay in Kumasi
You really don’t have that great selection in regards to accommodation in Kumasi. It’s either fairly rough or fairly expensive. I took the cheap road when I was in town and stayed at the Guestline Lodge. It had very little water or electricity when I was there. The benefits of it are that the staff is helpful, it’s got a decent location, and there is a cafe attached for you to get some decent grub. I can’t really comment on the more expensive accommodation in town since I didn’t have time to check it out.
Getting out of Town
Kumasi is connected well all of Ghana. The bus and tro tro station is an absolute zoo, but it will get you anywhere you want eventually.
I’d recommend instead to catch the STC line if you’re going somewhere like Accra. It’ll cost you only a bit more and you’ll get a more comfortable ride and maybe even a little bit of A/C on board. For shorter journeys out to some of the villages, tro tros really are the only way to go.
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