9 Things They Don’t Tell You About Visiting Nairobi


Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is a fantastic place to visit. Like anywhere else in the world, there are some things you should know before you get there. Here are the 9 things people don’t tell you about visiting Nairobi.

Don’t Worry About The Time

While this may seem rude to some, the reality is, events don’t start on time. In order to avoid scrolling on your phone aimlessly as you wait, give events a few minutes before arriving.

You Should Always Accept Food

Most Kenyans feel insulted when you don’t eat something they’ve offered you. Have a little, you’ll be okay! Most times, your host went slightly out of their way to offer you something to eat, so it’s disappointing to them if you don’t accept it. You might also find something you like. It is a fantastic way to try new foods.

Don’t Ask People Their Tribe

Many tourists are fascinated by this concept and tend to ask this question. While it’s not entirely offensive, it is weird. But if you’re really curious, don’t do it in a large group of Kenyans. Save it for friends, or people you meet one-on-one.

Traffic Lights Are Simply A Suggestion

While you may have heard about the notorious Nairobi traffic, no one may have told you about traffic lights. In general, traffic lights and traffic signs are decorative. So don’t be surprised if pedestrians cross the road while it’s red or cars keep moving, just don’t get too frustrated. This means that you should always be on the look out when driving or walking, don’t rely on the lights all the time.

Don’t Cross The Street While Talking On Your Phone

While this seems like basic common sense safety advice, it’s also important to realize that this is against the law and can get you in trouble if you are caught. Given that the streets are so busy, you may not even see the officers coming, so just put the phone down for a few seconds.

Not All Kenyans Run

A very specific tribe in Kenya is famous for running, they make up about 8 percent of the population. The rest of the Kenyan population are equally impressed at their athleticism. If this was your go-to joke, you may need to change it before arrival.

Mobile Money

Mobile banking is huge in Kenya, so don’t be surprised if people don’t always have cash on them and want to send you money this way instead. It’s also very convenient and safe for you to have some of your money stored this way, so register as soon as you land. It’s quick and simple, not to mention free.

Learn A Bit of The Lingo

Most people in Nairobi speak English. However, some local words are such a fabric of the language that Nairobians assume that they’re part of the English language and that you know them. To avoid miscommunication, learn some basic words like sawa (okay), kesho (tomorrow) and sasa (hello). They’re usually thrown around casually in conversations so don’t panic.

Not Everything Is Negotiable

It’s true that local merchants tend to overcharge tourists for certain items. While this may make you feel unhappy and drive you to question the price of everything, what you also need to know is that sometimes haggling too much on the price can also be seen as rude. Like any other merchants, those in Nairobi can get emotional about their craft and its value so don’t overdo it.

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