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We can’t take you around by hand, but this might help. This brief Vanuatu guide will provide you with some basic information about Port Vila and Vanuatu that you might find useful when preparing to visit for the first time. (Vanuatu is often misspelled as 'Vanautu', and sometime as 'vanatu', 'vanuato' or 'vanuata'.)
Vanuatu has a warm tropical climate. The best time to visit Vanuatu is during the dry season, from May through to October. The temperature during this time is around 23°C (Celsius). Most popular is the Winter season, during June, July and August, when there is less humidity.
From November to April is the wet season with temperatures up to 32°C, when it’s hot, humid and with periods of heavy rain. Use an online temperature converter for precise temperature conversions, from Celsius to Fahrenheit.
Vanuatu locals dres casual. Nude sunbathing is taboo and swimming costumes must be covered when away from the beach.
Vanuatu's time is based on AEST plus one hour - AEST is Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane time. Or you can work Vanuatu time by adding 11 hours on GMT - Greenwich Mean Time, which is London time.
Offices and shops open from 7.30 am to 11.30 am and from 1.30 pm to 5.00 pm. Siesta (lunchtime break) is from 11.30 am to 1.30 pm, when businesses and shops close. Banks, supermarkets, restaurants and cafes remain open through Siesta.
Offices and shops are open Monday to Friday. Many shops open on Saturday morning, while general stores are open 7 days a week.
Bank buildings in Port Vila main street - Post Office building is seen on the right
The Post Office opens Monday to Friday 7.30 am to 11.30 am and 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm, observing Siesta. However, the Post Shop selling stamps, postcards, post boxes is open through Siesta.
The Telecom Sales Office, for faxes and international calls, is located in the Post Office. It is open same hours as The Post Office, observing Siesta.
The Post Office building is on the main street in Port Vila, across the road from Westpac and ANZ banks buildings.
The main Internet Café is in the town, not far from the Post Office building, on the same side of the street. It opens 7 days, from 7.30 am to 5.00 pm, without observing Siesta.
As of 2006 onwards, Worawia is now the official Community Postal Agency for Mele and Mele-Maat area, selling postage stamps and post cards. Mail collection is also available at the resort on a regular basis, provided by Vanuatu Post Ltd. Other products and services such as Telecom Vanuatu Ltd. phonecards and public phone booth are earmarked for implementation during 2006.
Visitors don’t need vaccinations, but anti-malaria medication is recommended, in particular for visits to outer islands. There are no dangerous animals or insects. Urban or tap water is safe to drink in Port Vila, although bottled water is readily available in Port Vila supermarkets. Bottled water though is recommended if you travel to outer islands.
The Central Hospital in Port Vila is open 24 hours for all medical treatments. The town of Louganville, on Santo Island also has hospital facilities. There are several private doctors in Port Vila. Before travelling to Vanuatu, check with your medical insurer if your expat medicare benefits will apply to Vanuatu.
Vanuatu local currency is the Vatu, usually abbreviated as Vt, although its international sign is VUV. Its value is subject to exchange rate, although it is a fairly stable currency. Check an online Currency Converter for the latest rate in your own currency.
Australian dollar and other foreign currency, as well as credit cards are widely accepted in Port Vila, although the outer islands prefer Vatu. There are 7 ATM’s (Automatic Teller Machines) in Vanuatu - 6 in Port Vila and 1 in Louganville, on Santo Island.
There are branches of the National Bank of Vanuatu, ANZ and Westpac in Port Vila, where currency can be exchanged 8.00 am to 3.00 pm Monday to Friday. However, there are also other currency exchanges in some of the private businesses, usually at duty free shops.
VAT (Value Added Tax) of 12.5% is charged on goods and services, as there is no income tax in Vanuatu. Most restaurants take credit cards, especially Visa, MasterCard and Amex.
If you end up with local currency left in your pocket at the end of your Vanuatu stay, you should exchange it back to your own currency, as Vatu is rarely found or accepted outside Vanuatu. That's of course if you don't plan coming back, or collect bank notes and coins.
Vanuatu power plugs are those used in Australia, which may include switches for added safety
Vanuatu uses Australian/New Zealand type of 3-pin plugs, for 220-280 volts power/electricity supply. Similar power plugs are also used in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Argentina. These plugs have an earthing pin, and two flat current-carrying pins. Plug converters can be bought in some local electrical supplies or hardware stores as well as some general stores.
Driving in Vanuatu is on the right-hand side of the road. Cars and 4WD vehicles are available for hire from several hire companies, such as Avis, Budget, Discount Rentals, Hertz and Laho Rent A Car.
Taxies are metered, but for long rides negotiate a price. Some taxis can be hired for a full or half a day.
Public transport is available in mini buses, usually marked with a Red B on the number plate. For 200vt the buses will take you anywhere in central Port Vila.
Paris Shopping Duty Free shop in Port Vila
Visitors’ personal effects are duty free. Passengers over 15 years of age may bring into Vanuatu duty free: 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco or 50 cigars; 1.5 litres of alcohol or wine; 250ml eau de toilette; 100ml of perfume.
Duty free goods can be purchased on all Air Vanuatu flights (and other airlines flying into port Vila), at the international airport or the Duty Free shops in Port Vila. Check with flight attendants about any changes to the above items limits.
Air Vanuatu, in conjunction with Qantas, has flights to Auckland in New Zealand, Sydney and Brisbane in Australia, Noumea in New Caledonia, Nadi in Fiji and Honiara in the Solomon Islands.
The Sales Office in Rue de Paris, in Port Vila (next to National Bank of Vanuatu) is open Monday to Friday 7.30 am to 5.00 pm and on weekends from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm. Telephone: +678 23 848 or 23 878; fax +678 23 250 or 26 591.
Vanair, Vanuatu’s domestic airline, flies to the outer islands. Telephone: +678 25 045 or 25 025; fax: +678 25 035.
All visitors must have a return/onward ticket and a passport with a four-month minimum validity beyond their arrival date.
For stays of up to 30 days, nationals of Commonwealth and EU countries, Fiji, Japan, Norway, the Philippines, South Korea, Switzerland and the USA do not require visas.
To extend the permits (up to 4 months maximum in any one year), contact the Immigration Department, PMB 092, Port Vila. Telephone: +678 22 354; fax: 25 492. Your personal year starts from the date you visited Vanuatu the very first time.
There are many public holidays and festivals in Vanuatu. Some of the more important and celebrated holidays and festivals in Vanuatu are:
• January 1st – New Year’s Day -
• March 5th – Custom Chiefs’ Day – nationwide
• March or April - Easter Day - nationwide
• April & May – Land Diving (Naghol in native language) on Pentecost island
• May 1st – Labour Day
• May 5th – Ascension Day
• June – Fete de la Musique (in Port Vila and on Santo, Tanna and Malekula islands)
• July 25th – Children’s Day
• July 30th – Independence Day - nationwide
• August 3rd – 8th – Vanuatu Golf Open, held at Port Vila Golf and Country Club, next door to Worawia
• August 15th – Assumption Day
• October 5th – Constitution Day
• October – Fest Napuan Music Festival – Port Vila
• November 29th – Unity Day – nationwide
• December 25th – Christmas Day - nationwide
• December 26th – Family Day - nationwide
Traveling to Vanuatu might be easier than you think. The internet allows potential tourists to easily book trips and reserve hotels in any of these islands. Once you find a deal in your price range, there’s nothing stopping you from visiting this breathtaking region of the world.
Experience the adventure of scuba diving, or the excitement of being within close proximity to natural beauty by embarking on a volcano tour. And for those who just want to relax, there is always the beach with its many quaint nearby eateries. Vanuatu is also a great place to hold a wedding. You can even play golf if you feel so inclined.