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I had the opportunity to visit Zanzibar, which is a semi-autonomous region in the country of Tanzania.  It is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.  Stone Town is in Zanzibar city and it is a Unesco protected site.  Zanzibar is unique because it is so different from the mainland and because of its history of Persian influence.  It is also known as the “Spice Island”.  I went there because I wanted to have some rest and relaxation and some beach time.  Zanzibar is known for its turquoise water and white sand beaches in Tanzania.

Unfortunately, Zanzibar is not a cheap travel destination (not compared to South East Asia, anyway).  Most budget places cost at least $30 per person per night, even if you are in Stone Town or on the beach.

Here are some ways to visit Zanzibar on a budget, it is definitely worth a visit if you are in Africa.

Getting Around

We took the plane into Zanzibar so obviously not the most cheap option.  Many people arrive from Dar Es Salaam and take the ferry into town.

Car travel is expensive on the island, especially if you are on the beaches.  Expect to pay between $25 to $50 US dollars for transfer from the airport to the beach area (depending on if you are in the north, south or eastern part of the island).

The cheapest way to travel around is by Dalla-dalla and it costs around $1.50 US dollars per trip.  However, I didn’t try this out myself.

I found Stone Town very easily walkable once you are in Stone Town and no transportation is needed then.

Related: How To Get Cheap Airfare

Things to Do

House of Wonders

The Lonely Planet recommended checking the House of Wonders out.  The cost was only $3 US dollars for admission.  The House of Wonders has what is thought to be the largest wooden doors in East Africa and was originally built as a palace for the sultan.  It was the first building in Stone Town to have water, electricity and an elevator.  It was built in the 1880’s.  I found it quite dusty but it was interesting to see the history of Zanzibar.  It is a museum now.

Spice Tours

The Spice Tour was great.  Zanzibar is one of the only places in the world to produce saffron (aka the world’s most expensive spice).  Everyone you talk to will offer a spice tour for cheap, some hotels/ lodges will offer cheap spice tour prices as well.  I paid $13 US dollars and it includes lunch. It was pretty interesting you can see what cardamom, ginger, cinammon, and cocoa beans look like as plants!

Prison Island

I personally didn’t go to this but it is an island off Zanzibar where there are 100+ year old giant tortoises given as a gift from the Seychelle islands.  And lots and lots of these tortoises too.  If I had more time I would have definitely gone, it is about $25 USD.

Where to Eat

Forodhani Gardens

This is a nightly thing down by the water where vendors have their seafood for sale.  Most stalls are the same.  You can try from a plethora of seafood, but make sure you bargain and agree on a price first if you are ordering many items.  You can get shrimp on a stick or octopus on a stick for a few dollars.


I ate a Mercury’s and had a personal pizza which cost about $8 US.  It wasn’t very delicious but the view of the water was great.  The menu has a short biography of Freddie Mercury which was nice to read.

 zanzwaterWhere to Stay

Beach Hut

I stayed on the most amazing, tranquil beach hut near the southern area of Zanzibar.  I have heard beaches are more busy int he north.  The beach hut I stayed at cost about $30 US dollars per night but I thought it was worth it.  It was very relaxing.

In Stone Town I stayed in an Inn with a rooftop area for delicious morning breakfast for about $30 US dollars a night as well.  The staff were very friendly and the best part was there was a fan and air conditioning in the room!  It was certainly unbearably hot in Zanzibar in the afternoons.


Readers have you been to Zanzibar?  What was your favourite part of it?

Article comments

1 comment

That’s funny. I just finished watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown Tanzania episode a few minutes before opening my RSS feeds. Hope you had some great street food because that’s the best part about travelling to these kinds of destinations.