Stone Town in Zanzibar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It offers a thrilling glimpse into the world of the past, through labyrinthine lanes and ancient buildings. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you immerse yourself in this one of a kind place.
Food and water – all through Stone Town, you’ll see vendors offering you different types of food and drink. In fact, the nightly Forodhani night market on the Stone Town seafront and is a great way to taste some sumptuous Zanzibari fare. While all this is wonderful, and eating the typical dishes of the country you’re visiting is part of the whole experience, you should exercise some caution. The food may be too spicy or not cooked in the way you’re used to. This is true for anything you eat- meat, seafood, vegetables. If it’s possible to ensure the freshness of the dish, then by all means go for it. The same rule applies for water and drink too. Stick to bottled, not tap water. The key should be fresh food and clean, filtered water. Water purification tablets may not be a bad idea either.
Culture – Zanzibar has an ancient culture and is predominantly Muslim. It is conservative. Part of being a good traveller is being respectful of the culture of the country you’re visiting. Use beachwear only at the water and while away from it, cover up. Make sure that chest and shoulders are covered and clothes aren’t too short. Of course there are places where you can wear exactly what you please, that offer a more cosmopolitan atmosphere. But while at Stone Town, be mindful and enjoy the experience to its fullest.
Bargaining – the market in Stone Town is a must-visit destination where souvenirs abound and spices too. You must bargain- it’s part of the ritual of buying and selling here and makes for interesting conversation. Again, do not insult the intelligence of the seller, and keep in mind that the idea is to find a good deal, rather than to cheat. Bargain for transport too, because Zanzibar has different rates for locals and visitors.
Safety – like in most countries, hold on to your belongings in crowded areas like Darajani Market. It may also be good to not venture out too late to the beaches that are at the South and the North of Stone Town. There is safety in numbers, especially if you’re at the port part of Stone Town. Make sure that you don’t wear a lot of jewellery and bling too. Keep a look out for the street touts, known as papasi. They offer to connect you to great deals and rides or hotels, but unless it’s a reputed service provider, steer clear of all these people. Be absolutely clear of what your budget is and what you need done. Remember, if you were to book a ride or experience beforehand, you may not get your money back from an unscrupulous person.