I only stayed in Stone town when I was in Zanzibar, so I can’t really tell you if I highly recommend this place or not. I was suppose to take a freediving class there, but got cancel not long before I departure. Otherwise, I don’t think I would go Zanzibar. What I can tell you is this is a pretty touristy island, many people might not been to Tanzania mainland, but they just flew into Zanzibar then fly out back to their country. But I can tell you that if you have other choice, don’t stay in Stone town, other places in Zanzibar would probably better than here. Because both ferry and flight are arrive/departure from here. Therefore, everything is rather expensive in Stone town.
Here are some heads up that if you want to travel in Zanzibar (Mainly if you’ll be stone town)
1.Ask the price first at Forodhani market (or anywhere in Tanzania)
Basically this is something you must do wherever you travel to. My experience was one night I decide to go for Forodhani Market for dinner. There’re many food stalls here, just on the way from stone town beach to the harbour. Once when you walk into the market, all the vendors will just come and surround you to invite you to try their food. And try to recommend you to order as many food as you can.
At the beginning I supposed that the price won’t that expensive since it’s a night market (how expensive it can be?) So I ordered a plate of food (shrimp, lamb and chapati)with lemon juice. Guess how much it is? Well, food for 55,000 TSZ and juice for 25,000 TSZ. This must be the most expensive meal that I have in Tanzania. I msg my Tanzanian friend Nicas about it, even him said that’s way too expensive.
One thing about travelling in Tanzania is in many places, they charge tourist different price than local people. (I know it happened in many countries as well). The best is if you couchsurfing at local’s house, you can hang out with them then you can pay the same price as they’re. That’s what I did when I travelled in mainland Tanzania.
All in all, always ask price first, if you can’t accept the price then don’t order/buy!!
2.Don’t trust it when people offer you free tour
Yep, don’t trust anyone when you’re travelling, not that I’m being paranoid, but it’s always good to be more careful. Be prepare that there will be so many people on the street try to talk to you and offer you the free tour all the time. Maybe some of them will hand over a price list for what each tour cost. But always be aware of those “free offer”.
My Airbnb host in Dar es Salaam Kibe told me that when they went Zanzibar for an event with his Swedish female friends. When they arrived, there’s a guy came approach them, seems very hospitality to want to show them around. Kibe’s guts feeling told him that this guy is not worth to trust, he told his friends but they think he’s just being too suspicious and jealous about this guy.
Then two Swedish girls hang out with this Zanzibar guy whole day for 2 days. In the end this sneaky guy ask girls for the money, said it’s for showing them around. Both of them were furious, but still gave this guy money.
So what happened on me is when I was in the night market, the guy who took me to their stall and recommend me their food, after he charge me the food money, he told me “ what’s your plan for tonight? I can show you around for free”. All I think about is how expensive they charge me for that food. So I mocked and say to him “ Oh free tour, seriously? Free stuff is always the most expensive thing in the end, No, thank you!!” And he still keep on want to take me out, so I said “ well, i just want to relax and enjoy my own time”
3.Ignore beach boys on the stone town beach
“Beach boys” this word was one of people who been work in local told me.
Expect that when you go to the beach at stone town, that’s also the places that many local people would hang out to. They’re not only will try to talk to you when you walk along the beach, even when you lay on the beach trying to take a sunbath(even you obviously looks like you’re take a nap, they still keep on bothering you).
My case was when I lay on the beach put the earphone on and take a sunbath. Some of beach boys who walk pass by will just keep on saying “ hey, hello…” even you didn’t reply at all. Or someone swimming in the beach and saw you will ask if you wanna swim with them? lol
When I close my eyes and relaxed and enjoy the music, someone approach me and talk to me. Ask about where am I come from? Do I have a boyfriend at home? And ask if I like strong African man? (bloody hell) Even I already pretend and saying that I have a boyfriend in Taiwan. He just wouldn’t leave it. Still keep on saying:” Oh that’s ok. I have a house on the water over there, we can have some fun, then when you go home you still have your boyfriend in Taiwan. You like strong African man?? (Just for the record, he’s definitely far from “STRONG”) Even though I already told him that I want to be alone and enjoy my own time, he still there wouldn’t leave. Eventually I just lay down and say no word (also making an angry face) Finally he left.
I’m not saying all the people on the beach are annoying, I had met a guy who’s from Dar es Salaam and teach Yoga in Zanzibar. He’s very polite just ask if he can talk to me as he want to improving his English which can help his career. Then we just sit on the beach and talk for a bit, that’s it!
4.If you take business class on ferry, don’t let the staff carry your suitcase to storage location, take it by yourself instead.
Ferry between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, for economic class is USD 30, and business class is USD 40. For me I don’t mind to spend extra USD10 to get myself comfortable. Business class can use the VIP waiting room which have Air conditions, not a bad idea at all.
But one thing I need to remind you is, they’ll ask you to write your name on the suitcase tag then stick on your suitcase/backpack. After that, make sure you carry your own suitcase to where they storage passengers’ suitcase. At the beginning I was told to leave my backpack on the floor after I stick the tag. Then I saw one of staff take my backpack. When they starting to check our ticket, one of the guy saw my ticket then show me which trolly they put my backpack in, told me to remember the number of the trolly. You think that’s it? Of course not!!! Then this guy starting to say to me “ You know I work here I don’t have much money, can you give me money??” I was like “are you seriously??” I hate to being ask like this. I was bit of piss off so I just told him” you know what? I’m leaving Tanzania as well, so I don’t have any money left” (give him a look of “ what can do to me?”) then turn around walk away. I have admit that I was kind of worry about he would do something about my backpack. But anyways, my backpack is fine still in one piece when I arrived in Dar es Salaam. So next time when you have chance to take ferry, make sure you place your suitcase in the trolly by yourself, if you want to let the local ask the money from you!!