April 20, 2024
How to travel from Nigeria to Benin Republic on a budget

Do you know that it is possible to travel to Bènin Republic from Nigeria for a one week+ vacation, and spend less than N200,000 even after visiting several exciting places? 

I started planning for a vacation to Bènin Republic whilst on vacation in another country to celebrate Valentine’s Day and my girlfriend’s birthday. *Flips hair*. My account was probably red, *coughs*, but my visit to Bènin Republic was memorable and totally worth emptying my account for. I spent 8 days and 7 nights in Bènin Republic, and my total expenses was roughly N153,000.

If you want to know how, keep reading because in this article, I am going to give you a cost breakdown of all my expenses sequentially. 

Transportation to Seme-Krake Border

My first stop from Lagos to Bènin Republic was at the Seme-Krake border. There are different routes to get to the border but the easiest for me was through Mile 2, Lagos. 

I like to travel early, so, my friend and I arrived at Mile 2 at 6am and got a cab going to the Seme border. The cab takes 4 passengers and each person paid 7,000 to the border. If you want to drive directly to Cotonou, there’s a separate cab and that costs 20,000.

We left at 7am and arrived at the Seme border at 10am. Asides the 1,001 checkpoints on the way, it was a smooth drive. 

Stamping our Passports

We proceeded to the immigration to stamp out our passports. You have to first stamp out of Nigeria then proceed to the Bènin Republic Immigration to stamp into Bènin  Republic.

Stamping at the Nigerian immigration costs N500. But if your passport is a “virgin passport”, i.e., it has not been stamped into Bènin Republic before, you’ll pay N1,000. It was the first time for my friend and I, but we negotiated and paid 500 each to get our passport stamped.

At the Bènin Republic border, the immigration officer said we were to pay 1,000 CFA. We didn’t have CFA on us, so we requested of him to collect N1,000 for each passport instead and he agreed. We stamped our passport and crossed out of the border on foot. This was about a 3-minute walk.

Changing our Naira to CFA

The currency used in Bènin Republic’s is called West African CFA Franc (CFA for short). They have notes as high as 10,000 and still make use of coins.

Immediately we crossed out of the border, I brought out my phone and made a video. I was giddy with excitement already. After that, I proceeded to find a money changer. I was shocked at the exchange rate. See, the Naira is not falling. It has fallen. CFA is currently higher than Naira!

We checked a few money changers and found one who agreed to change N1,000 to CFA 850, with cash. But for transfer, his rate was CFA 750 for N1,000.  I changed $100 then an extra N50,000. $100 gave me 65,000 CFA, while N50,000 gave me N42,500. So in total, I had 107,500 CFA. As soon as I collected my money from the exchanger, I felt like I had finally arrived. *DJ, play Big Baller by Flavour for me!* 

I strongly advise you convert all the money you’ll need for your stay in Bènin Republic at the border. If you have any CFA left after your vacation, you can convert it back to Naira when going back to Nigeria.

Please note: This was the exchange rate when I travelled. Naira has been losing its value at an alarming rate lately. Please, before traveling, do a quick Google search to know the latest exchange rate and take even more money than you think you’ll need.

Cost of Transportation into Cotonou

After changing our money, my friend suddenly said, “Esther, I think we should start our adventures by going into Cotonou with a bike instead of a cab”. 

I agreed and we boarded separate bikes to take us to our accommodation in Cotonou. It’s good to know that their bikes come with a helmet. It was a 45 minutes ride to our accommodation and it cost us 800 CFA. If you’re not a fan of bikes, you will find cabs that go into Cotonou close to the money changers. 

Accommodations in Cotonou

The decision of where to stay, reservations and places to tour were planned ahead. I’m a budget traveller and planning ahead saves me money. So, if you’re looking to travel more in 2024, always plan ahead. Spontaneity is for the rich.

There are different types of accommodations in Cotonou. I’m a hotel and resort travel girl because there’s no way I want to be cooking on a vacation. There are hotels of different prices, ranging from 10,000 CFA to as high as 200,000 CFA. If you’re a lover of Airbnb, then check Airbnb website for options.

I stayed 6 nights at Hôtel Saint Louis. Their rooms go from 12,000 CFA ($15) to as high as 30,000 CFA ($35). But as a good negotiator, I negotiated for us to pay 10,000 CFA ($12) per night for the 12,000 CFA room. (Ask and you shall be given😊.) In total, we paid CFA 60,000 for the 6 nights.

We spent the 7th night of our stay in Bènin Republic at Azalaï Hôtel de la Plage and it cost us about $100 to lodge there. (This was the only thing we spent much on, just because we wanted to have a luxurious hotel experience). 

My accommodations were in the city centre. This gave me easy access to the beach, tourist attractions sies, food spots and lounges.

There are some beautiful hotel options in Cotonou I recommend you explore depending on your preferences. 

  • If you love beachfront hotel and you’re on a budget, try Le Hublot Hotel. 
  • Toho Cabapapa offers nature-inspired accommodation experiences worth exploring.
  • Check out Limprevu Cotonou if you love aesthetic accommodations.
  • If you want to pamper yourself and you don’t mind splurging a bit, then go for Azalaï Hôtel de la Plage.
All these accommodations come with a complimentary breakfast which saves you some money on food.

Touring Bènin Republic: Places I visited

Bènin Republic is a breathtaking country and its people are hospitable. Since after my visit, I have been wondering why people seldom talk about going there for vacation. I spent 8 days there, yet there are several beautiful places I couldn’t get to visit.

Below are some of the places I visited.

The Beach: 

The beach is the main character in this country. It is clean, calm, and almost all of them are free to access. You’ll only be asked to buy some refreshment if you want to stay there.

I visited Fidjrosse beach in the evening on the day of my arrival and I didn’t want to leave. It was breathtaking!

Other beaches you could visit are the Cali Cali Beach and Obama Beach. 

Graffiti Wall: 

Fun fact about this wall- the mural on this wall was created by 40 professional graffiti artists from different countries. 

The graffiti wall is close to the beach. So after my time at the beach, I took a walk to view all the paintings and take some pictures. You should check this wall out. 

Amazon Statue:

This statue is a historical emblem. It was raised in respect to the women of Dahomey. 

If you’ve been to Bènin Republic and you didn’t go to see the statue, I dare say your trip was incomplete. You need to go back. 

Cornetto Ice Cream: 

This is an Italian ice cream shop I completely recommend. After eating the ice cream there, I understood why DJ Cuppy sang that she’ll take someone to Italy just to have some gelato😅.

Artisanal Market:

If you want to buy beautiful souvenirs in Bènin Republic, then this place is a must visit.

Notre Dame Cathedral 

This cathedral has a peaceful ambience. If, during your vacation, you need somewhere quiet to pray or meditate, you should get on a bike/ cab and come here. 

Restaurants 

I also visited Bangkok Terrasi and Good Taste restaurants. Both restaurants are great. What I particularly liked about Bangkok Terrasi is that, although its a fine dining restaurant, the food prices were not ridiculous. 

Good Taste restaurant was a good place to get local dishes. The taste of their food and their service were commendable.

Overall, I was happy with all the places I visited and things I did during my vacation in Bènin Republic.

Cost breakdown of how much I spent to travel to Benin Republic from Nigeria

Below is a  breakdown of how much I spent during my vacation. Some of the expenses were shared with my friend that I travelled with.

S/N Expense Cost (N) Cost (CFA)
1 Transportation from Lagos to Seme border 7,000
2 Stamping my passport out of Nigeria 500
3 Stamping my passport into Bènin Republic 1,000
4 Sim card 1,500
5 T-fare from the border to Cotonou 800
6 T-fare to the different places I visited during my stay in Cotonou 5,000
6 Cost of feeding for 8 days 30,000
7 Accomodation 95,000
8 Souvenier 15,800
9 Cost of transportation from the hotel back to the border 1,000
10 Cost of transportation from the border to Mile 2 7,000
  Total 15,500 149,100
Cost breakdown of how much I spent when I travelled from Nigeria to Benin Republic for 8 days

Disclaimer: This was the total amount I spent when I travelled. Currency exchange rate isn’t stable. Like I said earlier, please check the current rate before traveling.

What You Need to Know Before Visiting Bènin Republic

Let me share a couple of things I think you need to keep in mind and prepare for before visiting Bènin Republic based on my experience.

📌 As a Nigerian passport holder, you don’t need a Visa to visit Bènin Republic. It is one of the 28 visa-free countries you can visit as a Nigerian. 

📌 Bènin Republic is a French speaking country. If you took your French classes in high school serious, bien pour vous. However, for those like me who don’t understand French, there’s something for you- Google Translate!

All I did was download Google Translate from my App Store (also available in playstore) then  download French to use offline. Super easy! Please download this before travelling. This is important because when you arrive Bènin, you won’t have access to the internet till you get a sim card.

You may meet a couple of people who speak Yoruba in Bènin Republic, but I won’t encourage you to think of this possibility as a back up to getting Google Translate.

📌 You’ll need a universal charger. The electrical sockets in Bènin are not the same as Nigerian sockets. They are European rounded two-pin sockets, so pack a universal adapter. I bought mine for N7,000 from Ajalastore on Instagram and it’s useable in over 12 countries. 

📌 The country is safe! I’m extra careful when I travel, so when I say Bènin Republic is safe, it is. I fulfilled one of my childhood dreams of going on late night walks in Bènin Republic- just to tell you how safe I felt there. I didn’t have to look over my shoulders wondering whether someone was about to snatch my phone. 

However, as much as Bènin Republic is safe, I would advise you to use these security tips: 

  • Always share your current location with a friend or family. 
  • If you’re travelling solo, don’t give out your live location to the public and don’t tell strangers where you are staying.
  • Only board bikes with the government apron that’s lemon green in colour. Bikes with this uniform have numbers assigned to them. 
  • Download an offline map: As a female traveller, I like to be extra safe when travelling. So an offline map helps me to know if we’re going to the right destination within the country.

If you have any other security tips, please share them in the comments section below.

Read also: 10 Benefits of traveling alone according to regular solo travellers.

Overall, the country is safe for solo travellers, couples and family trips. 

📌Always change your money at the border. You’ll get better rates there. Be willing to check different exchangers in order to get  the best rate. 

📌Buy a sim at the border: This costs 1,500 CFA. I got MTN and it worked well.

📌Don’t try to convert the money to Naira before spending. This would hinder you from enjoying so many beautiful things. Bènin Republic is generally affordable, the exchange rate only makes it seem expensive, so enjoy yourself.

📌It’s completely okay to negotiate prices in some locations in order to get a good deal. There’s nothing embarrassing about haggling.

What do you need to go to Bènin Republic from Nigeria?

As a Nigeria, you need the following documents to visit Bènin Republic

Passport

Nigerians need a valid Nigerian or ECOWAS passport (ECOWAS travel certificate) to cross the Bènin Republic border. You can get an ECOWAS passport at any immigration office for N25,000. Because the process is manual, you can get it within 3 hours. (I heard that if you are going by boat, they’ll only ask for a valid ID.)

Read also: How to get ECOWAS travel certificate.

I travelled to Bènin Republic with my international passport, so I didn’t need the ECOWAS passport. I recommend using your international passport instead and I’ll tell you why shortly. Meanwhile, I can feel someone is about to write, “You can visit Bènin Republic without a passport” in the comments section. That’s true. But if you are the one, please resist the urge to😂.

As a Nigerian with a Nigerian passport, I intend to visit countries outside Africa soon and to visit these countries, I’ll need to apply for a visa. To reduce my chances of getting my visa rejected and save my fragile heart, I’m building my travel history by visiting visa-free countries. 

So, if you’re like me and visiting other countries is your dream too, please, travel with your passport, and get it stamped so that when you apply for visa, the immigration officer will know you have a good travel record. Girl math.

Read also: Step-by-step guide on how to apply for your Nigerian passport.

Yellow Card

This is a compulsory travel document that shows you’ve been vaccinated for yellow fever. You can get it done at any port health centre in Nigeria. If you’re in Lagos, you can get yours at the Port Health centre along the Airport Road, right beside the tollgate. This costs N2,800 (at the time I did mine).

What to Pack When Traveling from Nigeria to Benin Republic for Vacation

Below are things I packed for my vacation. I didn’t pack much as I was going to stay for a few days and I like to pack light.

  1. Travel Documents: 

These were my passport and yellow card. 

  1. Clothes and footwear: 

I start packing for a trip at least 2 weeks ahead of the trip so I don’t forget anything. I packed some pair of trousers, t-shirt, beach dress, skirt, belt, sneakers, and flip-flops. The climate in the Southern parts of Nigeria, such as Lagos, is similar to Benin Republic’s. So you can wear the same thing you wear in Nigeria here. You don’t have to shop for new clothes- except you want to.

  1. Antidiarrheal medicine

When I travel, I don’t go looking for Nigerian meals. I try out different cuisines, from Asian, to Ivorian, to local delicacies and snacks etc. So, this medicine comes in handy in case I eat something my system does not agree with. 

  1. Snacks for the road trip. Calories don’t matter on vacation, you’ll burn them when you return😂. 
  1. Take sunscreen because it feels like Bènin Republic is closer to the sun. 
  2. Universal charger/ travel adapter.

FAQS on How to Travel to Bènin Republic from Nigeria on a Budget 

Can I travel from Nigeria to Bènin Republic without passport?

Yes, you can. 

How many hours is Lagos to Bènin Republic?

Ceteris paribus, it should take you less than 4 hours to get to Bènin Republic from Lagos.

Can you use your Nigerian ATM card in Cotonou?

No, it’s no longer accepted in Benin Republic. You have to pay in CFA.

Can I travel to Bènin Republic from Nigeria on a Budget?

Yes, you can and I hope this article has provided a practical breakdown of how you can do this. Most of the things that cost a lot of money when visiting another country are cheap or free in Bènin Republic. 

For example, you don’t need to apply for a visa as a Nigerian. Accessing the beaches and most of the tourist attraction sites is free/ cheap. All the sites I visited were FREE! You’ll spend about the same money you’ll spend in Nigeria on accommodation, feeding, transportation, etc. Most importantly, the Naira to CFA exchange rate isn’t as high as changing from Naira to the currency used in most other popular travel destinations. 

So, if travelling out of Nigeria has been on your mind for a while, what’s your excuse now you know you can travel to Bènin Republic on a budget?

Have you visited Bènin Republic from Nigeria lately? Please share your travel experience in the comments section below. I would love to read from you.

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