Benin

As the birthplace of voodoo, Benin oozes the exotic. With its glittering palaces, floating villages and python-filled temples, this is a country that has always moved to its own beat. From filling your belly with fried beans and yams, to paddling across a lagoon or following in the footsteps of slaves, Benin is filled with engaging, curious and amazing experiences.

Benin Tours & Travel

All our Benin trips

Clay homes of the Ditamari people, Boukoumbe, Benin

West African Kingdoms

21 days from
USD $5,980.00
CAD $6,060.00
AUD $6,295.00
EUR €4,380.00
GBP £3,765.00
NZD $7,465.00
ZAR R57,300.00
CHF FR5,395.00

Head off the beaten track and uncover the fascinating customs of West Africa. Explore Burkina Faso's famous Bobo-...

View trip details
Clay homes of the Ditamari people, Boukoumbe, Benin

Ghana, Togo & Benin

21 days from
USD $2,025.00*
CAD $2,087.01*
AUD $2,019.31*
EUR €1,548.01*
GBP £1,278.25*
NZD $2,535.41*
ZAR R19,436.04*
CHF FR1,833.18*

Explore an unspoilt region of West Africa on a tour departing from Ghana that travels west on an exciting journey...

View trip details
Palm trees under blue skies, Benin

West Africa Overland

70 days from
USD $7,305.00*
CAD $7,439.60*
AUD $7,166.23*
EUR €5,575.47*
GBP £4,627.25*
NZD $9,167.53*
ZAR R70,355.32*
CHF FR6,628.35*

Travel from Dakar to Ghana on a road trip across this unspoilt and fascinating region of Africa, discovering the...

View trip details

About Benin

At a glance

Trips Available: 3
Capital city: Porto Novo (population 223,600)
Population: 9.6 million
Language: French, Fon, Yoruba, Dendi, Bariba, Ge
Currency: XOF
Time zone: (GMT+01:00) West Central Africa
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type E (French 2-pin, female earth)
Dialing code: +229

Best time to visit Benin

The most pleasant months to visit Benin are between November and February when temperatures drop along with the humidity. From April to July and September to October expect heavy rains. The dry and dusty harmattan winds from the Sahara blow between December and March, and this period (particularly February to April) can be uncomfortably hot, with temperatures in the mid-40s (Celsius).

Benin weather chart

Geography and environment

Boat on a lagoon, Benin
This relatively small slice of Africa has a beautiful coastline dotted with palm trees and beaches. Behind the coast is a network of lagoons which flood during the rainy months. Further inland the plateau gradually rises into the highlands and the Atakora Mountains. Benin shares a border with Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso and Nigeria to the north and Togo to the west.

Top Picks

Voodoo ceremony

Top 5 Distinctly Beninese Moments

1. Paddle a Pirogue

A good chunk of Benin is under, over, or around water and when the roads disappear, there’s only one way to travel – by pirogue! These dugout canoes have serviced the Beninese for centuries.

2. Step in the Footsteps of Slaves

Ouidah was often the last bit of Africa slaves saw as they were sent around the world to be traded and worked. The Portuguese, English and French all constructed forts here to protect their trading interests, one of which now houses a museum that gives you a unique glimpse into the terror and destruction that the slave trade wreaked on this part of the world.

3. Stay in a Stilt City

Over 10,000 people call the waters of Ganvie home. Perched up above the lagoon in stilted houses, they eat, sleep, fish and live miles away from dry land. Stay in an auberge for a taste of life on the water.

4. Learn Voodoo

Over 60% of Beninese practice voodoo. Dive right into the traditions and everyday rituals as you travel through villages. The Musée d'histoire d'Ouidah gives an interesting insight into voodoo history and culture in the area.

5. Tuck Into Yams

They’re the favourite, number one food of the Beninese. Mashed, fried, as chips or slathered in peanut sauce - it’s not a meal until it’s been yammed.

FAQs on Benin

Tipping 10% is customary in most touristy places.
Internet access is fairly sparse outside of the largest city, Cotonou.
Mobile phone coverage is limited outside of major centres. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your carrier if you wish to use your phone.
Benin’s toilets may be basic. Be prepared for squat toilets, even in major centres.
Tap water isn’t safe to drink in Benin. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, bring water purification tablets or ask your leader where filtered water can be found.
Credit cards aren’t commonly accepted outside major tourist areas.
ATMs are very uncommon and cannot be relied upon to work. Payment in cash is always preferred.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Jan 10 Traditional Day
Jan 24 Milad un Nabi (Birth of the Prophet Muhammed)
Apr 1 Easter Monday
May 1 Labour Day
May 9 Ascension Day
May 20 Whit Monday
Aug 1 Independence Day
Aug 8 Eid al-Fitr
Aug 15 Assumption
Oct 15 Tabaski (Feast of Sacrifice)
Oct 26 Armed Forces Day
Nov 1 All Saints Day
Nov 30 National Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to:
http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Benin/public-holidays
BENIN:
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance

Please obtain your Benin visa in advance. We advise you to check current visa requirements with your nearest Embassy or Consulate. Australians & New Zealanders will need to apply through the Embassy in London.

It may also be possible for most nationalities to obtain a visa for Benin in Accra, Ghana. An express visa in Accra takes 1-3 working days but may be subject to additional fees.

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Benin Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Benin

1. Be considerate of Benin’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.

3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
To Benin and Back Chris Starace
The Viceroy of Ouidah Bruce Chatwin

Show Me The Magic Annie Caulfield