There’s no way around this: Banjul kind of sucks. The downtown area is a mess of streets flooded with poorly drained rain water and waste. Nearly every corner has someone trying to “show you around”, Albert Market might as well have a sign on it saying “we will hassle you”, and taking a picture anywhere turns into a national security threat. However, I met some good people, and perhaps the combination of being sick and the heavy rains while I was there dampened my spirits. However, if I were a tourist, I wouldn’t bother spending a night or two in the city, I’d head right for Serekunda or the Sene-Gambia Strip. If you’re really curious about Banjul itself, you can always do a day trip from the quieter, cleaner areas nearby.
Time Needed: 1 Day
Backpacker’s Budget: 30USD a Day
Things to Do and See in Banjul
There actually are a couple things to do in Banjul itself and if you want the experience you’ll find a couple things to do and see in town itself. Honestly, a wander around town can be done in about 3 hours and is worth it.
- Albert Market: You might just want to hire a bumster to take you around here. I didn’t and spent the entire time fighting off merchants, bumsters, and phony security guards. That being said, it’s an awesome place if you like markets. Like most of The Gambia, without the hassles, it is incredible. There is a craft and souvenir market section as well if you’re looking for gifts to take with you.
- The Statehouse: You can look at the president’s house through the fence, just don’t take a picture.
- The Arch: Tyipcal African iconic architecture, the arch is actually quite cool and worth the small entry fee to climb up inside. You’ll get cool views from the top.
Where to Eat in Banjul
There is some decent food in Banjul, but I didn’t eat much of it as I get very sick my first night in town. On independence street there’s a decent restaurant with a red awning that has good food and a very friendly owner. Just don’t eat the salad; I don’t know what I was thinking.
Where to Stay in Banjul
If you’re really on a budget then the Princess Diana Hotel is the place to stay. It right next to the arch, has a small restaurant, and the rooms although are quite bland and stale all have their own bathrooms. The price for a single was about $10, a double was $15 and a room with A/C rather than a fan was $20.
Getting out of Town
Most everything moves in taxis. The shared taxis are very cheap. For a private taxi, you’ll have to negotiate.
- Serrekunda and Sene-Gambia: I got from Banjul to Serrekunda in a private taxi for 150 Dalasi (5USD) but I think I got a good deal. Around the Sene-Gambia strip taxis are famous for over-charging. One driver tried to get 500 ($15) from me for a short drive. Beware.
- Dakar: You’ll have to cross the ferry from town (insanely slow crossing) then catch a shared taxi to the border (15minutes). From the border there will be shared sept-place taxis waiting to take you to Dakar.
- Ziguinchor: You’ll likely find sept-place taxis making the run to the border all day. You can also catch one of the mini-buses although it’s slower. At the border you’ll switch cars and continue to Ziguinchor.
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