Monrovia Travel Guide
When you hear “Monrovia” images of a travel destination probably don’t come to mind, and the chances are this guide probably won’t change your mind. That being said, I really enjoyed Monrovia. Like many people, I knew very little about the capital of Liberia other than what the media, and those terrible vice guides, portrayed. However, despite the fact that it’s slightly chaotic – but really, what African capital isn’t – it’s quite agreeable. Activities for tourists are minimal, but one could easily spent a couple days in town and not find themselves too hard-pressed to leave.
Time Needed: 2-3 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: $50-65; $120-130 if you stay at a hotel
Things to do and See in Monrovia
- Masonic Temple: For me, the most interesting part of Liberia is its history and it’s connection to the United States. The masonic temple in town is a beautiful building and showcases that this connection is still very much alive today.
- The Market: Waterside market is a little rough. Actually, it’s really rough, and the part of town it stands in isn’t the best either. If you go to the market, keep your wits about you and watch your pockets. I really enjoyed the market, but I didn’t dare take out a camera or even bring my wallet with me.
- National Museum: The museum is ok, however the building is what interested me. There are parts of the building still burned out from the war, and even a chunk of a mortar that hit it which is on display.
Where to Eat in Monrovia
Thanks in part to the influx of Lebanese and Chinese in Monrovia, there is actually a fairly wide variety of food apart from the usual African dishes.
- Palm Hotel’s Bamboo Bar: On the roof of the Palm hotel, this is easily the coolest place to eat. Good food, an awesome view of the city, and free wifi make it a great choice.
- Evelyn’s: This was the best place in town for Liberian food, although much more expensive than the food stalls.
- Abi Jaoudi: There are 2 supermarkets on the same street, but Abi Jaoudi is far superior to the nearby Stop and Shop. This supermarket is massive and has almost anything you’re looking. This is also a good place to exchange big $US bills.
Where to Stay in Monrovia
The hotel scene in Monrovia is interesting. I’m convinced that the hotel owners are all together on a price fix because there is no way that the cheapest place in town should be $100! I’m not the only one who thinks so either, a number of people I’ve talked to say that room prices rise and fall all at the same exact time and never in opposing directions.
- St Theresa’s Convent: The catholic convent is the only place in town of any value. They charge $20 a night for a simple room, but they are very simple. The location, however is good, and if you can’t afford a hotel, and don’t want to sleep in a brothel, is the only budget option.
- Palm Hotel: At $125 a night you’d expect paradise, and while it’s not there’s a good chance this is still the best deal of all the hotels. Rooms are clean with a/c, cable tv and hot showers, and there is wifi throughout. Moreover, you’ll probably get a room with a balcony to hang out and watch the chaos below.
Getting out of Town
There are two taxi stands, one for traffic headed towards Sierra Leone and one for traffic heading towards Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. You’ll need a taxi or moto-taxi to get to either from downtown.
- Freetown: After crossing the border, the road is terrible to Freetown. It makes for a long day, but is possible. It will likely take you 10-12 hours and you’ll have to switch transport at the border.
- N’Zerekore, Guinea: I was told the trip is about 8-10 hours, but during the rainy season anything can happen. It took me 20 hours although wasn’t all too unpleasant as I had good travel company.
- Man, Cote d’Ivoire: Check the situation at this border because I had to go around through Guinea because it was too dangerous. If the situation is clear, you can get to Man from Monrovia in about 14 hours.
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