From its beaches to its markets, Lagos is a huge metropolis that attracts visitors from all works of life. It’s not surprising since it’s blessed with numerous tourists’ attractions such as National Museum, Bar Beach, Takwa Bay, Lekki Leisure Lake, and much more. There’s something for everyone!
Sadly a lot of tourists who visit a Lagos can often be seen taking pictures of people and places without permission, failing miserably while attempting to hop on a “Molue”, and carrying cash (that’s like asking pickpockets to have a field day at your pockets or bags). These are just a few of the mistakes most tourists make whenever they visit Lagos.
Popular artiste, Olamide spoke no fib when he sang “If I carry you go Badagry my guy, you go love Lagos ooooo”. You can’t just help but love Lagos! And since we at Nitestay, Africa’s No. 1 online booking and hotel reservation site, love Lagos so much; we never miss the opportunity to show some love by helping people.
Therefore, we’ve carefully compiled the top 11 mistakes tourists make when visiting Lagos. We hope that visitors who plan to visit the mega city for the first time will digest them, and avoid them, in order to avoid any incident that will mar a smoother travel experience.
1). Carry Cash Around
Presently, Nigerians are leaning towards the idea of a cashless economy. Therefore, most businesses (even those in open markets) have POS systems to aid easy transactions.
Never carry a lot of cash around or worse, flaunt it. Doing that can be likened to Tyrone’s words (excerpt from A Man Apart by Ginna Gray) to Matt: “You mean like an easy mark. Like some dude struttin’ down Lyons Avenue with his wallet stickin’ up outta his back pocket, just askin’ for somebody to lift it”.
2). Visiting Popular Spots During The Weekend
Of course, we understand that the first thing you’d want to do as a first time visitor to Lagos is exploring its famous sites and landmarks. But hold on a sec there! While it’s not a crime to do while visiting Lagos city, it is very important that you research and know which days and time are ideal for touring the city.
Most tourists are often seen visiting the city during the weekends, which is not advisable as you’ll most likely encounter a huge crowd or get frustrated with the city’s terrible traffic jam. This will not only ruin your exploration, but also make you a target for petty thieves.
It is also advisable to have a private and experienced tour guide—especially for first-time visitors.
3). Take Pictures of People or Businesses Without Permission
Now, this is a very wrong thing to do and a mistake you should avoid. Granted that there are numerous photo ops located throughout Lagos, and that street photography is now a common trend; ensure that you ask permissions before taking pictures of locals and their businesses. You’d be surprised to find that a lot of people will gladly take pictures with you if you seek their permission first.
4). Lodging At Airport Hotels
Airport hotels like Lagos Airport Hotel are famous for their fantastic ambiance and food when visiting Lagos, especially if you’re on a short stay and need to be in close proximity to the airport. However, airport hotels in Lagos are not the best choice if you plan on exploring the city. These hotels are quite distant from the important landmarks and beaches, and it can be expensive travelling to those places from the hotels.
When next you’re in Lagos, try lodging at a hotel not too close to the airport. You’d not only get a better price, but enjoy a better Lagos experience. The 20 Top Hotels in Lagos is a great guide to help you find the best of hotels in Lagos.
5). Bribing Police Officers
Staying on the right side of the law is relatively easy in Nigeria, and it’s best to stay that way because bribing a police officer is illegal and comes with heavy fines or even a jail term. You wouldn’t want that, would you?
6). Asking For Directions from Strangers
In today’s present world, everyone and not just tourists should be security conscious. Therefore, if you’re going someplace, it’s necessary that you have the correct address, take an Uber ride, or use Google Maps. A lot of locals do not know where a lot of places are in Lagos and instead of admitting to not knowing the location, they will misdirect visitors. Some might even give you wrong directions and lure you to dangerous places. In extreme situations, ask for directions at taxi parks or from Okada Riders, but NEVER a random stranger on the street for directions.
7). Go Clubbing Alone
This is a big no-no and we don’t advise it. Tourists should go clubbing in the company of others. Moreover, there are qualified tour guides who can provide company or directions to groups of people hanging out together at specific times.
8). Collecting Unnecessary Souvenirs
While the idea of wanting to take a bit of Lagos back home with you sounds interesting, you need to be careful and make sure you don’t end up with junks you don’t need. Ditch the hand beads at Elegushi beach or the paintings along the streets. If possible, restrict yourself to making videos and taking pictures which are far more memorable than unnecessary souvenirs.
9). Overlooking Local Food
Most tourists opt for classy restaurants that serve intercontinental food and exquisite dishes. What they don’t know that some of the local foods served in local restaurants, bakeries and bars are “seriously” sumptuous than those served in posh restaurants.
10). Overstaying Your Visa
Nigerian Customs is an extremely efficient parastatal and they have their methods of monitoring tourist visas. It’s therefore advised that you strictly adhere to travel plans and leave the country on or before the visa expiration date. If there’s a need for an extension of stay, there are provisions in place.
11). Forgetting To Bargain At The Markets
This is a common mistake that most tourists make. They pay whatever price traders give them for items without bothering to bargain. You really can’t blame them though …… the cost of those commodities from Naira to pounds or dollars seems so insignificant.
The truth is you’re being cheated. Most traders in Lagos local markets will give a first price that’s 3 or 4 times the original price it’s up to the tourists to bargain, no matter how cheap the item might be.