Rwanda - Money & Costs
Money & Costs in RwandaCurrency: Rwandan Franc
Budget travellers to Rwanda are caught between an unpalatable rock and a hard place to sleep when it comes to costs - staying in accommodation established for the numerous expatriates and NGO staff, or consuming the food and drink imported for them mainly via expensive air routes, means having money flee enthusiastically from your money belt. There's just no way to stretch the budget that served you well in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to cover costs in Rwanda, so be realistic and plan to fork out about US$30 per day (US$20 if sharing daily bills with a companion). Bus fares are much more expensive than they were a year ago because of soaring petrol costs - to potentially save yourself some cash, get into the habit of finding out what the locals are paying before you buy your ticket.
You're better off bringing US dollars in cash rather than other currencies or travellers cheques. There are a number of options for exchanging money, including foreign-exchange bureaux in Kigali and moneychangers in shops or on the street, though the latter are only really advantageous for non-US currencies. When it comes to banks, try to stick to those in Kigali or, if exchanging cash outside the capital, the branches of Banque Commerciale in other main centres such as Butare - avoid Banque de Kigali branches in regional towns as they tend toward the more extreme commissions for financial transactions.
The presence of large numbers of foreigners in the country has in turn led to the growing presence of tipping, particularly in the cities. For good service, a non-skimpy tip would be in the order of US$0.15-0.30. Bargaining is a useful ability to have if you want to avoid getting overcharged for the ubiquitous tourist trinkets in Kigali, particularly those sold on the street, but most shops apply fixed prices to their goods.