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General Info about Fiji

Currency
The currency used is the Fiji Dollar (F$) but banks and airports use the abbreviation FID. Notes come in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50 and the coins used are 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and $1. One Fiji Dollar is equal to about US$0.50.

Language
The country’s official language is English but some local dialects are spoken by the indigenous Fijians.

Climate
Fiji enjoys a mild tropical climate making it a popular destination with those trying to escape winter in both the northern and the southern hemisphere. The dry season between May and October proves most popular as temperatures are slightly cooler, there is less rainfall and humidity and the risk of tropical cyclones is less than it is at other times of the year.

Time Zone
Local time in Fiji is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time from the beginning of March until the end of October, and is 13 hours ahead from the beginning of November until the end of Feburary.

Opening Hours
In general, stores open between 8.00am and 4.30pm from Monday to Friday. Many, however, close for lunch from 1.00pm to 2.00pm and others remain open until 5.30pm. On Saturdays they open from 8.30am until midday in urban areas. Many suburban stores stay open until 6.00pm, some as late as 8.00pm. Government offices are open from Monday to Thursday between 8.00am and 1.00pm and 2.00pm and 4.30pm. They open on Fridays from 8.00am to 1.00pm and 2.00pm until 4.00pm.

Electricity
The electric current used in Fiji is 240 volts, 50 cycles.

Tax
In Fiji, there is 10% VAT on most goods and services. Technically, businesses are required to include the tax in the prices which are stated on a product. Some, however, still add it like a sales tax. Accommodation owners do not need to include it in rates which they quote outside Fiji so ensure that you ask if a price is VAT inclusive. Visitors leaving the country are obliged to pay a departure tax of F$20.

Visa Requirements
Most visitors to Fiji will automatically be issued with a four week tourist visa on their arrival in the country. This visa is issued free of charge and you will not have to pay for any subsequent extensions. If you have any queries about whether you are eligible for a tourist visa, you should contact the Fijian Consulate in your home country.

Tourist Office
The main tourist office, the Fiji Visitors Bureau, is situated in Suva at the corner of Thomson and Scott Streets in the town centre. There is also a smaller branch of the same office at Nadi International Airport and this one is open for all arriving flights. Before you leave the airport you should pick up a copy of Spotlight on Nadi and Fiji Magic. These two publications are aimed specifically at tourists and will prove very helpful during your stay. You should also be aware that wherever you see a Tourist Information Centre, it is usually a travel agent or a tour operator where you will be steered towards their services. The two centres already mentioned are the only official, non-profit tourist information centres in the country.

Post Office
All major towns have post offices which are operated by Fiji Post. There is also a branch at Nadj International Airport. Connections are pretty quick, particularly with North America, but if you use surface mail, your letter could take over two months to reach its destination. Post offices are open between 8.00and 4.00pm from Monday to Friday.

Currency Exchange
The major banks in the Fiji Islands are ANZ, Westpac, Bank of Hawaii, Colonial National Bank, Bank of Baroda. ANZ bank has a branch in Nadi International Airport which is open twenty four hours a day every day. It does charge a standard fee or F$2 for each transaction over F$100 but none of the other branches or banks charge this fee.
Money changing facilities are also available through Thomas Cook, Western Union and through your Hotel.
Banks are open from 9.30am to 3.00pm from Monday to Thursday and from 9.30am to 4.00pm on Fridays.
Outside banking hours, all the banks operate ATMS where you can use cards which are members of the cirrus or plus networks if the machine states that they provide service to such networks. All major credit cards are also widely accepted.

Telephones
The international country code for Fiji is 679 and the numbers for directory assistance are 011 for domestic information and 022 for international numbers. To call outside Fiji, dial 05 first, then the country code and phone number.
You will find payphones in all post office branches as well as in the booths situated on streets throughout the country. They only accept Fiji Telecom phone cards which can be purchased in post offices and many shops and come in denominations up to F$50. A digital display will tell you how much money you have left on your card at all times.
You can also use a TeleCard which is a pre-paid calling card that can be used from any telephone in Fiji, not just pay phones.

Tipping
Tipping in Fiji is not encouraged, unless the service which you have received has been exceptional.

Public Holidays
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In Fiji they take place on January 1st, February 16th, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May 28th, June 4th and 18th, July 23rd, October 8th, November 14 and December 25th, 26th and 27th. It is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.

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