Arrival

Pre-Departure
A valid passport, a Ghana visa and an international health card with a current yellow fever vaccination stamp are required for entry. Secure a visa from a Ghanaian Embassy or High Commission before departing your home country.

Getting There
Many major international airlines have direct flights from major cities to Ghana, arriving at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

The low season (with corresponding lower fares) is from January to June, October and November. The high season (with higher fares) is July to September and December. Book flights to Ghana well in advance for the high season, as most flights fill up completely.

Time Zone
Ghana is situated in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and does not apply daylight savings time.

Climate
Ghana has a tropical climate with an average daily temperature of 30°C (86°F). During the cooler rainy season, generally between June and September, the minimum daily temperature is around 21°C (73°F). In March to May, the hottest months, daytime temperatures frequently reach 40°C or higher.

During the early dry season from December to February, suspended sand carried south from the Sahara Desert on Harmattan winds reduces visibility and scenic views, makes photography difficult, and brings cooler 17°C night-time temperatures in the North.

Exchanging Money
Ghana’s currency is the Cedi (see´ • dee), abbreviated ¢. Current exchange rates for the can be found at www.ghana.com. Carry travellers cheques or cash in US Dollars, British Pounds, Euros, or Japanese Yen, and they can be exchanged at most banks and foreign exchange (forex) bureaus. Other currencies are difficult to exchange. Physical cash transactions dominate – major credit cards or bank cards can be used to draw cash at major banks. Credit cards are only accepted at top-range hotels and restaurants.

Communication
Efficient mail, telephone, fax, telex and Internet facilities are available in the capital, Accra, and most of the regional capitals. Post offices are found in all cities and larger towns, as are private communication centres offering phone and fax services.

From Ghana, call overseas by dialing 001, followed by the country and city codes. To call Ghana from overseas, dial 001 (or the international code) followed by 233 (Ghana’s country code), then the city code (without the initial zero), then the specific number.

Greetings
Greetings are important in Ghana, and failing to greet another person may indicate that you harbour ill-will or do not care for the other’s welfare. However, smiling is also a form of greeting. When greeting a group of people, start from the right and proceed to the left. When shaking hands, especially among males, the Western handshake extends into a snapping of each other’s fingers. Practice away – most Ghanaians are understanding and appreciate efforts to learn.

Use of Left Hand
Avoid receiving or giving, gesticulating in speech, waving at a person, handling food, or pointing with the left hand. If you are naturally left-handed, it is generally understood. Avoid embarrassment by keeping something (guide book or camera) in your left hand.

Dressing
Ghanaians consider it disrespectful for either gender to attend social functions, especially visits to a chief’s palace, in rumpled or untidy clothes, or shorts and t-shirts. Please also remove your hat when talking to older persons. Visitors are held in very high regard and Ghanaians expect tourists to exhibit acceptable dress and decorum.

Palace Etiquette
Chiefs enjoy receiving foreigners, but please, observe the customs. Always dress tidily, and avoid shorts or t-shirts. When you are invited to greet a chief or the king, stop short at a distance from his seat and bow. He may invite you for a handshake. When sitting in the presence of eminent people (chiefs, queen mothers, elders) do not cross your legs or ankles.

On formal occasions people do not speak directly to the king or chief. A spokesman known as a linguist translates all communications into the local language and back into English. Palace visitors are required to present customary offerings of friendship of drinks, money or cola depending on the circumstances and location.