Travelling to Kenya This Season? 10 Things to Know If You are a Mgeni (Foreigner)

The festive period is here again…the time when lots of people decide to travel down to the village or their family house to see their relatives and friends. It is indeed the time of the year when family and friends come together in thanksgiving for a wonderful year and to look forward to the blessing of the coming year.

However, as much as many people will travel to the village this festive season, others will take the time to travel out of the country to expand their horizon and embrace the culture of other countries.

If you are travelling to Kenya this holiday season (or any other time) this article is for you. More interesting, if you are travelling to this beautiful country for the first time, you should savor this article.


  • Visiting Kenya is easier than some other African nations. Why do I say this? You can get a visa on arrival for $50 at the airport or you can sit in the comfort of your room and book your visa online (that costs about $52). Both ways are effective. However, for online visa, you will get your permit within 2-7 working days.

Airplanes at jomo Kenyatta International Airport

  • Unlike other African countries where there are different founding fathers or national hero on the currency note, Kenya has only ONE picture of its founder. That is, the picture of its founding President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, who is coincidentally the father of the current president of the country, Uhuru Kenyatta.
  • Despite the fact that Kenya is a black African nation, there are lots of whites living in the country. Picture this: for every 2 or 3 black Kenyans you see, there is a white man or woman. In fact, I was told that there are white Kenyans too. Go figure!
  • If you are used to the hot African weather, you are in for a shock when you go to Kenya, especially at this time of the year. The weather is quite cold. However, if you are an avid traveler to the western world, you may just find the weather suitable for you.
  • Hold your umbrellas in the “ember” months. In Nigeria for instance where the rainy season is long gone, it is in full gear in Kenya. Most of the time, if it is not drizzling, it is raining.
  • If other African nations or the world wants a quick lesson on climate change, Kenyans will be a worthy teacher. There are lots of trees and forests in Kenya and you can even find them in the city of Nairobi. You need to visit Kenya to understand how, over thousands of years, they are not swayed by the temptation of civilization to forgo preserving their environment. The trees and forests sort of add a “cool” beauty to the city and the environment.
  • Coins are relevant and are still part of the key monetary denominations spent in Kenya. While there is the paper currency, coins are relevant. If you no longer used to coins currency, get prepared to have one in your pocket or in your purse when you are visiting the country. You will be surprised, like I am, when you get a One Shilling (KSh1) as a change in the local market or even at the supermarket. Funny enough, I never got to find out what I can buy with that one Shilling. (If you know, please supply the answer in the comment section).

    Kenyan Shilling

    Kenyan Shilling

  • Buying fresh flowers on the road-side is not uncommon in Kenya. Yes, there are lots of it and I am sure those who are romantic at heart will love to get one weekly, if not every day, from their love ones.
  • Arts and culture is very rich in Kenya. From the designs of the houses to the layouts of the streets and bridges down to the arts and artifacts, you will definitely see enough of beautiful artistic design without going to the museum. If you are an artist or a lover of art, you will certainly enjoy or fall in love with Kenya. Moreover, I will like to describe Kenya as an indigenous nation whose art and culture can easily be exported to other parts of Africa or the world. If you ever travel to Kenya, you will find lot of indigenous artifacts and cultural stuff to take back home.
Triangle Curios Market Nairobi, Kenya. Photo Credit: Rural Reporters.

Triangle Curios Market Nairobi, Kenya.
Photo Credit: Rural Reporters.

  • Security-conscious. I will give Kenya a medal for that. For instance, if you want to go into the airport from the city, you will have to come down from the car and walk through another entrance to be checked while your driver pay the toll fee (maybe subject to another security check). After this, you or your driver can then proceed to drive into the premises airport.
  • If you are thinking that this security checks are limited to the airport, you are wrong. There are security patrols all around and you will see them taking rounds.  I am sure if you are staying in a hotel, you will be checked by the security personnel anytime you come into the hotel. Such was the experience. Yours might be different, though.


Plus 1

  • Right hand driving. Yea, that’s till the norm in Kenya. If you are staying there for long, you will have to get use to it, especially if you are used to left-hand driving.


Did you recently travel to a country for the first time, share your experience with us by writing to us at or furnish us with details in the comment section below.

Have a happy and memorable holiday!


Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde

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