The local currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES; symbol KSh) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of KSh1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of KSh20, 10 and 5. Currency can be exchanged at the major banks, bureaux de change or authorised hotels. The banks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and Moi International Airport, Mombasa have 24-hour exchange services. The easiest currencies to exchange are US Dollars, Pounds Sterling and Euros. Banking hours are Monday – Friday 0900-1500, Saturday 0900-1100, closed Sundays. Banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas open and close half an hour earlier. The banks at international airports are open 24 hours every day.


We recommend you change you money upon arrival, as it is more difficult to change money whilst on safari. This is easily done at the international airports (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and Moi International Airport, Mombasa) or at the major hotels which are authorised.

It is preferable to travel with cash rather than travellers cheques or credit cards (cards are useful as an emergency back–up), as often it is only possible to use these in main cities. Cash is easily exchanged in Kenya. We recommend that you carry a mix of cash denominations, US Dollars (USD$) are easily exchanged and many places now accept Pounds sterling GBP£ and Euros EUR€.

Never keep all of your cash in the same place, keep it in different pockets and split it up between different bags.

If you are carrying USD$, please take bills dated 2006 or later as earlier dated bills can be very difficult to change and may not be accepted (as well as torn and dirty bills – the crisper the better!). You will get a better exchange rate for $50 or $100 USD$ bills. A number of low denomination USD$ bills are useful for tipping although some locals in remote areas may prefer Kenyan Shillings, as sometimes it’s difficult for them to change USD$.


American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are all widely accepted. Major hotels now also accept payment by credit card, as do major safari companies, travel agencies and restaurants. Almost every bank now has an ATM and in the cities they are increasingly being installed at petrol stations. All ATMs will only dispense Kenyan Shillings. Please note: Where credit cards are accepted, the payments will normally be recorded in US Dollars, regardless of the card’s default currency. Most small shops will not accept payment other than cash, and card use is restricted to major banks, hotels and restaurants. It is wiser not to expect to use one at all.

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