Save on Ghana’s famous artisan handicrafts by skipping the government-run Arts Centers and bargaining at local markets instead © Danilo Marocchi / Shutterstock
Favorable currency exchange rates make Ghana a generally budget-friendly destination – but, as everywhere, the costs of traveling solo here can add up.
Thankfully, your trip to Ghana does not have to leave a big dent in your wallet, and there are many ways to save money while traveling around this vibrant West African country. Here are some ways to make the most of your trip to Ghana on a budget.
Hostels are not commonly advertised in Ghana, but they do exist
An average hotel stay in Ghana is about US$40 to US$60 per night – but can go north of US$100 per night in popular cities like Accra. Though not so widely known, Ghana has several hostels with rates starting as low as US$20 per night. Somewhere Nice in Accra offers wi-fi, breakfast and pool access for a modest sum. Though many hostels can be booked upon arrival, we advise booking in advance.
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Ghanaians use tro-tros to get around and between cities for less © Merten Snijders / Getty Images
Ditch the Uber and Bolt rides
Uber and Bolt are popular ways to get around Ghana – and though the cost of each ride seems low, the cost of many rides quickly adds up. Instead, do as locals do and take minibuses (“tro-tros”) within and between cities in Ghana. Tro-tros operate at almost all times of the day, have set fares and can be as cheap as C3 (US$0.42) for a 30-minute ride.
Join group tours to visit regions beyond Accra
Group tours are common in Ghana, and they allow travelers to explore different regions at a total price that’s lower than the sum of the separate components. Popular destinations include Cape Coast, where the appalling fortresses that once imprisoned enslaved people remain, and Eastern Ghana, where Boti Waterfall and Aburi Botanical Gardens are prime attractions.
These tours usually include accommodations, transportation, food and a photographer who will take pictures during the trip. Joining a group tour is also a great way to meet Ghanaians and other visitors. Reputable tour companies include Travel Time Africa, Cytravel Consult and Abusua Travels.
Casual restaurants, called chop bars, offer some of the tastiest food in Ghana at extremely reasonable prices © Tim White / Getty Images
Eat at local chop bars and street food joints
Some of the best food in Ghana can be found on the street – and it’s often unbelievably inexpensive. Local spots serving delicious freshly cooked meals, chop bars are no exception. (In Ghana, the term “chop” means to eat, and bars are common places where Ghanaians gather to eat, hence the term “chop bar.”)
A medium-sized portion of Ghana’s delicious tomato-based jollof rice with meat ranges from C10 to C20 (US$1.43 to US$2.85) – this is the standard cost of street meals with meat. Ordering meatless, soup-based dishes can reduce the price to around US$0.40. Eating at chop bars also means dodging expensive taxes from restaurant bills.
There’s lots to do in Ghana in December, but you’ll pay a premium
December is one of the best times to travel to Ghana because of the nonstop festivities occurring around the country. The Ghanaian diaspora and other visitors from around the world flock to the country at the end of the year in December to partake in the night-long parties, seasonal festivals and themed daytime events. Many vendors and organizers are aware of this and take advantage by spiking up prices for the season. Budget travelers should time their visit for less busy times of the year, such as February to April.
Don’t wait to book your flight
Since flights to Ghana are expensive no matter what time of year it is, it’s best to buy your ticket to Ghana three to six months in advance to get the best deals.
Use the STC bus to travel to different regions
The STC bus allows visitors to travel around Ghana safely and for a quarter of the price of flights with domestic airlines. A flight to Tamale from Accra with PassionAir, for example, can cost US$150 round trip but is only C310 (US$44) with STC. Riding the bus does take longer than a quick flight, but the views you’ll get from your bus seat are much more engaging than what you’ll see from the air.
Take out more money in a single ATM transaction
Cash is king in Ghana, which means you will need a lot of it as you travel around. C100 (US$14) may sound like a lot, but it can be quickly spent on a medium-distance Uber ride. To avoid multiple ATM trips, which can come with high withdrawal fees, withdraw C700 (US$100) at a time.
Many notable attractions in Ghana, such as the Black Star Gate in Accra, are free to visit © rosn123 / Shutterstock
Balance paid attractions with free ones
Attractions in Ghana are either free, have set low fares or are tip-based. Black Star Square is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ghana and is completely free to visit. Most attractions in Ghana have set visitor fees, yet these are modest: a ticket to Kakum National Park costs just C60 (US$8.57) for non-Ghanaians.
Some attractions have free tours but welcome tips for the tour guide or facility. The Pikworo Slave Camp in the North is a registered attraction site with knowledgeable guides from the area who will take you on a tour through the site; at the end, you’re asked to give what you want. In this case, have a set budget for what you would like to tip. C20 to C50 (US$2.86 to US$7.14) is a fair range for most tips.
Stroll the markets for great deals on souvenirs
Art Centers are known as some of the best sites to shop for local crafts and other keepsakes in Ghana. Located throughout the country, these marketplaces are composed of stalls overflowing with clothes, keychains, purses, wall art, decor and more. The merchants know that visitors are here to buy – and will accordingly quote prices at three times the market rate.
At Ghana’s many unofficial markets, you can find many of the same goods for less. Ghana has a lively bargaining culture, so be prepared to test your skills. Never accept the first quoted price given to you; instead, make your first counteroffer half of the merchant’s first offer. You’ll almost surely haggle up from there – but you’ll align on a price satisfactory to both parties soon enough, and enjoy a fun cultural exchange to boot.
Daily costs in Ghana
- Hostel room: US$12–$25 (dormitory bed)
- Basic room for two: US$30–$120
- Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): US$30–$120
- Public transport ticket: US$0.50–$1.43, depending on distance
- Coffee: US$0.26–$1.42
- Sandwich: US$4–$7
- Dinner for two: US$20–$42
- Beer/pint at the bar: US$1–$2