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June 2000 Vol. 15, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Vanuatu Insider Travel Tips

from the June, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Money: While U.S. currency is accepted at most locations, carrying some local currency (Vatu) is always advantageous. The country has one ATM and the ANZ Bank in Vila. Otherwise, get some Vatu at the airport bank upon arrival. Exchange shops charge commissions. The current rate is around V137 to US$1, but dont exchange too much as you cant exchange them back anywhere else.

Air: Circle Pacific fares allowing several island stops are reasonably priced. Air Vanuatu Discovery Passes can be economical for local island traveling. Air Vanuatu/Qantas codeshares fly to Vila from Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, with Air New Zealand from Auckland, with Air Solomons from Honiara and with Air Pacific from Nadi. Buying Air Vanuatu direct requires sending a cashiers check to a Los Angeles office (no credit cards), whereas the codeshares can be purchased through most agents and airlines. (I paid US$440 round trip from Auckland in addition to my US Auckland fare, and $75 per local flight.)

Language: There are 115 dialects spoken in Vanuatu. Bislama (pidgin) is the lingua franca, and French and English are widely spoken. We had no trouble with just English.

Visa and departure requirements: Americans are issued visas for 30 days upon arrival. 2,500 Vatus in local currency must be paid on departure.

Health: Chloroquine-resistant falciparum malaria is present. Medical facilities are limited; you should be in good health and carry your own medications. Local expats say, when in pain, take the plane. Intestinally, stick to restaurant and hotel foods and bottled water, and you should be OK.

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