Everything you Need to Know about Vacationing in Ghana

Are you considering vacationing in Ghana? Ghana, located in West Africa and formerly known as the Gold Coast was the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence post-colonialism. There are many reasons to visit Ghana— from experiencing the lively coastal cities to indulging in the culinary and arts scene, and the opportunity to engage with its emotional, yet important history.

I spent 9 days in Ghana, living my best life exploring Accra and the Cape Coast. Planning a trip to Ghana is no easy feat, there’s a lot of preparation that goes into the trip.

Here’s everything you need to know to prepare for your vacation in Ghana:

Flight to Ghana

The majority of the international flights to Ghana arrive in and depart from its capital, Accra at Kotoka International Airport (ACC).

Ghana Travel Requirements

Yellow Fever Vaccine

The Yellow Fever vaccine is the only required vaccination for entry into Ghana. Yellow fever is a serious disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The vaccine does provide lifetime protection for most. After receiving the vaccine, you should receive a stamped and signed “International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis” (Yellow Card).

This certificate becomes valid 10 days after vaccination, so plan accordingly. When I arrived at ACC, airport officials were asking people at random for their Yellow Card. If you don’t have your vaccination proof, they will make you get the vaccine at the airport. However, because the vaccine takes a couple of days to work, I would advise against this. 

There are other vaccinations for Ghana that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Check out their list and consult with your health care provider or local travel clinic before you travel.

Pro-tip: Typically nurses monitor you for 20 minutes after a vaccine injection, however, I suggest you ask for 30 minutes. I had an anaphylactic reaction to the Yellow Fever vaccine that happened 30 minutes post-vaccination while I was driving back home alone. I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else.

Health Declaration Form

All visitors (including children aged 5-12 years old) must complete the Health Declaration Form no more than three days before traveling to Ghana.

Ghana Travel Visa

Residents of most countries are required to have a visa to enter Ghana as a tourist. You need to obtain your Ghana visa prior to travel to the country.

If you live near a consulate, I recommend you submit your application in person for a quicker turnaround time. The Ghana visa application consists of the following:

  • Printed requisite forms filled out

  • Two Passport-sized photos

  • Copy of your Flight Itinerary

  • Proof of accommodations

  • Passport

I went in person to the Ghanaian consulate office in Manhattan to submit my documents and paid a $70 fee for a single-entry tourist visa. My visa was ready for pick-up in 2 weeks. If you decide to mail your visa application, allow for a month to get your visa back to you.

Pro Tips: If you are submitting your application in person, make sure to bring your confirmation certificate. I left mine at home thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it actually caused me to wait an hour and a half longer for the staff to find my passport.

Traveler’s Health

Malaria medications (highly recommended): During my first visit to Ghana, I didn’t take any antimalarial medications, but instead relied heavily on mosquito bite prevention. I treated my clothes with Permethrin and religiously applied mosquito repellent with DEET and that worked well for me. For my second visit, I decided to not risk it and instead took antimalarial pills. There are several antimalarial medication options, I was prescribed Atovaquone-proguaniL (MALARONE) and tolerated them pretty well. Talk to your provider about which malaria medication is best for you. 

Pro Tips: Many antimalarial meds require you to start taking the pills days or even weeks before your trip, so avoid waiting until the last minute to see your healthcare provider.

Antibiotics (suggested): It’s common to get traveler’s gut while traveling in Ghana. I was prescribed Ciprofloxacin to treat bacterial infections if I needed it.

Allergy medicine (suggested): During late December to early February, Ghana is impacted by the Harmattan, a dry, dusty wind that blows from the Sahara Desert. This may trigger allergies for some, so be sure to bring allergy medicines if you’re traveling during this time

Ghana Packing List

Clothing

  • What to wear in Ghana: It is incredibly hot in Ghana! It is best to pack clothing that is light weight and made with natural fibers to help keep you cool and dry. It sometimes gets cool at night, so pack a sweater just in case.

Electrical Appliances

  • Power plug adapter/voltage converter: The power plugs used in Ghana differ from those used in the U.S., so you will need a power plug adapter. The standard voltage in Ghana (230 V) is much higher than in the United States of America (120 V). If you are visiting Ghana from the U.S., you shouldn’t use your electronic appliances in Ghana without a voltage converter because you can seriously damage them.

  • Power bank: Necessary to charge your appliances when you’re exploring with no electricity around

  • Portable fan: Helpful to have while exploring in Ghana’s heat

Health

  • Compression socks- Depending on where you’re flying from, getting to Ghana may be 6+hour flight or more. Compression socks help reduce swelling and the risk of blood clots developing during long flights.

  • DEET- based insect repellent: A number of diseases in Ghana are spread through bugs like mosquitoes, fleas, or ticks. You can reduce your risk of getting bite with insect repellent.

  • Permethrin spray: As an extra precaution, treat your clothes with Permethrin spray before you arrive.

  • Sunscreen with SPF: Protect your skin from the the sun with sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15. Apply the sunscreen first and then the DEET on top of it.

  • Hydration packets- Sometimes when traveling it’s hard to drink as much water as you should. Hydration packets help with this because they provide the same hydration as drinking 2-3 bottles of water.

Ghana Currency

Ghana’s currency is the Ghanaian Cedi. At the time of publication, the exchange rate was 1 USD to 5.40 GHS. I exchanged $100 at the airport to get started on the trip and I later exchanged money at the Kempiski Hotel. It’s always good to have cash because not all restaurants/vendors accept debit and credit cards. There are also ATMs widely available in Accra if you choose to withdraw money that way.

Internet Access

Local SIM cards and data are available at almost every street corner in Ghana. MTN and Vodafone are the major mobile internet providers. You can expect to pay around 40 cedis for 2.5 GB of internet data for your phone. Wi-Fi is also available at some restaurants and hotels, but the speed varies.

Where to Stay in Ghana?

We stayed in a 2 bedroom/ 2 bathroom AirBnB (gated building with 24-hour security) in Osu. Our AirBnB was the perfect location as it was only 10 minutes from the airport and close to nightlife, attractions, and festival grounds. The owner Ensy was phenomenal and extremely accommodating. We checked-into our apartment and the fridge was stocked with some groceries to get us through the beginning of our stay. Admittedly, one of my favorite features of our Air BnB was our patio which had the best natural light to take pre-going out pictures.

Getting Around Ghana

We primarily used Uber to get around because rides were insanely cheap. For example, a 20 minute ride varied from 7 to 25 cedis. When calling an Uber, you have the option to “pay in cash” or ‘“use card on file” within the app. You should opt for pay in cash because a lot of uber drivers will cancel your ride if you select pay with card. We also occasionally caught taxis on the street.

If you find a taxi driver that you are comfortable with collect their numbers. It will come in handy during busy nights where it’s difficult to get an uber.

Pro Tips: Make sure to agree on the price with the driver before getting into the car.

What to do in Ghana

Ghana in December

#decemberinGhana is a whole vibe. It’s the most festive time to visit Ghana as there are an endless amount of events and parties to attend. Here are some of the can’t-miss events that only happen during this time:

Festivals in Ghana

We spent several days enjoying some of the major festivals in Ghana.

Afrochella

Afrochella is a celebration of black excellence! The festival brings together millennial African talent from around the world.

Afronation

Afronation is the biggest urban music festival in Europe that recently made its way to the African continent. It’s a 4-day festival on the beautiful Labadi beach.

Detty Rave

Detty Rave is an annual star-studded music experience hosted by Mr. Eazi. It’s the biggest rave in Accra. It’s a very popular event that music fans look forward to every year.

Pro-Tip: This was Afronation’s first time in Ghana and Afrochella is relatively new to Ghana as well. With that in mind, they are still working out some administrative kinks to making sure festivals run efficiently. I recommend purchasing VIP tickets for these events to make your experience a little more comfortable.

Accra Ghana Nightlife

There are endless opportunities to experience the magic of Accra nightlife. Here are some of the popular places we visited ranging from chill to lit:

Chill— If you’re looking for low-key experiences

  • The Woods— This is a really cute bar with great music, drinks, and some of the best kelewele (plantains) I’ve had in Ghana

  • Polo Beach Club– This was a 10 day pop up beach club at the Labadi Beach Hotel in December. There were a lot of events happening at the beach club. Go earlier in the day if you want a more chill vibe.

  • Purple Pub- This is a local’s favorite and a great place to pre-game with affordable drinks or for an after-hours spot to get food.

Lit— If you want something more lively try these best bars and nightclubs in Accra

Pro Tip: To stay up to date on the best of Accra Ghana nightlife, follow BlacVolta.

Experiences in Ghana (what to do when you’re sober!)

For a detailed look into what you should do during your visit to Ghana, read my 7 Top Tourist Attractions in Ghana blog post. Below is a photo diary of my most recent experience:

Accra

Independence Square

Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum

Centre for National Culture (Accra Arts Center)

Batik Fabric Making

I booked this experience through Tastemakers Africa. It was a fun 2 hour experience where we learned the batik fabric technique and was able to make our own.

Cape Coast & Surrounding Area

Kakum National Park

Cape Coast Castle & Elmina Castle

Eastern Region

Akaa Waterfalls

There are many lovely waterfalls in Ghana, but the water flow can vary by season. Initially, I was concerned that the waterfalls would be parched because December is a dry season. But my visit to Akaa Waterfalls did not disappoint! It’s a lesser-known waterfall in the Eastern region and truly one of the most beautiful places in Ghana I’ve visited. I connected with a local travel consultant, Cycy to book this unique experience. You can easily add a stop at the Aburi Gardens to this day trip.

Food in Accra

Jollof is the one thing you shouldn’t leave Ghana without trying. It’s a popular West African rice dish. There’s a huge debate whether Nigerian Jollof or Ghanaian Jollof is better. Expect to eat a lot of chicken and rice dishes, plantains, fish, and stews in Ghana

Bush Canteen

Honestly, it’s hard to have a bad meal in Ghana. But when in doubt, always ask the locals. That’s what we did and we were directed to Bush Canteen, where I enjoyed a delicious meal of fufu, goat, and plantains for $4!

Where to get your hair braided in Accra?

I got my knotless braids done in NYC before my trip. But a few of my friends went to the Hair Rack to get knotless medium sized waist-length braids for $80! This included wash, condition, and blow dry. This type of service would have easily been $400 in any high-quality salon in the U.S.

One thing that made my trip to Ghana so special was experiencing it with people who visited the African continent for the first time. Ghana is the perfect introduction to Africa because of its historical richness, dynamic culture, and amazing food.

Have you been to Ghana? What was your favorite experience? Let me know in my comments.

Watch my vlog of my Ghana experience below:

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Jewels Rhode

Frequent Flyer. Chief Enjoyment Officer. Helping you make your travel dreams a reality!