Zambia Travel Tips

zambia travel tips

Visiting a foreign country can be intimidating, especially somewhere really different or known as more dangerous. When I decided to go to Zambia, I was lucky because I went with an organization that was very proactive about telling us ahead of time about what to expect. My cousin also lives there so I have a ton of insider tips on visiting Zambia and Zambia travel tips. Hopefully you find these Zambia travel tips useful before your trip too because it’s an amazing place and I can’t recommend going enough!

I will also say, Livingstone is much more touristy than other parts of Zambia. These tips are for people traveling in Livingstone, but are important for those traveling outside of Livingstone because the city and area around Victoria Falls are different than other parts of the country (as with any country!).

1. Respect their dress code and cultural norms

Zambian women do not wear anything that shows their knees. They also do not wear super tight fitting clothes. Save your leggings for the plane and your shorts for Livingstone (where the dress code is more relaxed), but other places around Zambia are more conservative. Respecting this goes a long way!

2. Keep car doors locked at all times

I know first hand that people will try and come up to your car and open the doors. It is an easy way to steal. People will also try and take out vigilanty justice if you get into an accident. Be safe!

3. If the police ask you to pay a ticket ask for the receipt (physical ticket) first.

Many times they are trying to bribe you and will let you go when you say, “I will pay the ticket, just give me the receipt please.” Best advice I have after that is to do what they say.

4. Hang out with a local. 

People know you are there for a reason when you are with someone who is local. It helps you stick out less, understand the norms for a place, and haggle in markets! I’m lucky because my cousin lives here in Zambia which put me at ease a ton!

5. Keep your phone and valuables away when walking around. 

I usually advise this no matter where you are traveling! However, I was advised to even wear a cheap watch so I was not getting my phone out when walking around even to check the time quickly.

6. Always barter in the markets.

They will way over price you to start! I’m talking about 40 or 50 more than the actual accepted price! Come in low, especially in Livingstone where they know that tourists don’t barter as much – you will over pay if you do not do this!

7. If someone says they want to trade something you have for something in their shop, they probably will ask for money too.

This happened to me. A man asked for my hair tie and said I could have something in his shop. Then when I have him the hair tie he asked for money. Lesson learned!

8. If you are taking a taxi, make sure you negotiate the price before you get in.

Taxis are able to negotiate their prices in Zambia and you can end up paying more than expected if you do not negotiate the price before hand. I also recommend booking a taxi through your hotel or travel agency as this is a very reliable way to ensure pick up and drop off without a hitch.

9. Zambia is in the southern hemisphere. June – August is winter, December – February is summer.

In June and July it gets cold in Zambia in the late evenings and early mornings, bring a jacket. The temperature rarely gets below 55 degrees Fahrenheit even at night. In the summer it rains often and is very muddy there, be prepared! It’s still really warm during the day. The picture above was taken in July – the dead of winter. The pool was cold, but the warm sun was there!

10. Malaria meds, bug spray, and sunscreen are a must no matter what time of year you visit

11. Pay attention to the location of attractions along Victoria Falls.  

Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have activities located around the falls. Both sides are Victoria Falls but you need visas to get across borders and so this can be tricky if you do not double check the location. Don’t want to get stuck buying something in a different country!

12. You will need a visa.

Double entry visa $80 single entry $50 day pass for $20. Bring cash, new $50 bill are best.

12. Planes are small from Lusaka to Livingstone and typically do not have a bathroom.

This is something I wish we had known because we ended up very uncomfortable at the end of our flight…

13. Check online when booking to make sure you are going through a licensed tour guide.

There are guides who do not go along with safety regulation and safety is key when around wild animals and nature. Oh and especially when doing activities around Victoria Falls. Research and trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe don’t do it!

14. You will be charged more money to exchange $20 bills than you will to exchange $50 and $100. 

Bring new $50s and $100 to avoid these fees!

15. Be aware of going places alone, especially after dark.

I was advised not to do so at all and was not alone while in Zambia at any point besides in our resort!

16. Altitude is higher.

This one was surprising when I heard about it! Drink plenty of water, bring lotion, and be prepared.

17. In the dry season (may-November) expect lots of dust.

I had to take allergy meds daily and drank lots of water to keep myself feeling healthy. It was not horrible, but being prepared saved me from being uncomfortable while there which is so important when traveling. Remember the fun stuff not sneezing the whole time!

18. Things are just expensive. 

You think oh yay – Africa has a cheap cost of living so being a tourist there must be cheap! While it’s true cost of living is cheap, being a tourist is not. Every activity was over $50, the safari was almost $200, and breakfast on the falls was $100. So plan ahead and keep a larger budget than other destinations!

These are my (and my cousin’s) tips for travel in Zambia. You will LOVE it there and hopefully this post helps you plan ahead for your travels. Have any other tips for travel in Zambia? Would love to hear what you think about travel here too.

  • These are some great tips! I can’t believe breakfast on the falls was so expensive, and the visa fees aren’t cheap either. Still – Zambia sounds like an amazing place to visit.

    • Thanks! Yeah, pretty much everything was pricey there which is crazy! It was definitely still worth visiting though if you have the chance.

  • Helene Dsouza

    Lucky you that your cousin lives there! I find these kind of places always very interesting because nobody ever seems to go to places like this, which I think is a pity. Love your tips! I think most of them can be applied in similar developing countries. That with the receipt form a government official is super important, or they screw you over later on again!

  • Claudia Crismaru

    What a great guide! And although the thing with the notes wouldn’t apply to everyone, I think your points are extremely relevant, especially when it comes to wear decent clothing. I think this really does go a long way, particularly if you visit your friend`s house, or meet her family, neighbours etc.

  • Nina Danielle

    That watch tip is such a good idea! That’s worth doing even your own city, honestly… that’s just smart. These are fantastic tips that apply to so many places, I hope people going to Zambia find your blog posts cause this is honestly one of the most practical, helpful blogs posts I’ve read.

    • Thank you! so much I agree, better to be safe than sorry. I am glad you find it so helpful, happy traveling!

  • Katelyn Brin Bossany

    Such insightful tips! And, I cannot believe how small that plane is. Love your photos!

  • Amrita Sen

    This is a perfect guide for Zambia for anyone who is visiting the country for the first time. You have given some very good points. I love the photographs of your travel, they are so beautiful.

  • Shristi Jain

    Wow I didn’t know they would try to trade things you have. That’s useful to know. Thanks for the tip. And you are so damn lucky you have a cousin living there. 🙁 All my cousins live in the same building as me. Lol!

    • haha Thank you! I am definitely lucky to know so many people around the world – it makes traveling much easier!

  • Eulandas

    Fantastic tips! We’re planning to go to Zimbabwe next year, and have been thinking about visiting Zambia as well. Many of your tips apply to several African countries I’ve visited. Great post!

    • Thank you! Hopefully you will get to visit both sides, it’s amazing! Good luck on your travels!

  • Young And Undecided

    Great tips Meg. I honestly think I would struggle with the haggling, I tried it a bit in China but I would always back down haa. Zambia looks beautiful

    • Thank you! I know, haggling is daunting at first. Once you realize they are asking you to over pay though, it gets easier! It helps when you think of it as them not ripping you off I think! Zambia is definitely beautiful!

  • Megan Brake

    So many great tips on here! I’m happy you put the “Wear appropriate clothing” tip first, I think most English speakers don’t really realize what “appropriate” means in most countries! Also… holy cow that plane is SO small. Was it scary to fly in it?

    • Thank you! I feel like being respectful of other cultures is really important. It was a bit scary to fly in! The worst part was the fact that there was no bathroom… We did get the great view of Victoria Falls though! Positives and negatives to everything! haha