Kigali, Rwanda is an incredible city. For lesser experienced travelers, Kigali is a great introduction to Africa and more easily navigable than most of its neighbors. To give you an idea of the costs to travel Kigali, here are the expenses from my trip with my partner, and prices of popular activities in Rwanda.
the down low from this post:
what to do – Genocide Memorial Museum, Basket Weaving Class, Coffee
where to eat – aforementioned hotels (Heaven has great Saturday brunch); Le Patisserie Salon Baso
must know info
- currency = the Rwandan Franc; exchange rate: ~1000 RWF = $1.05 USD
- primary languages spoken: Kinyarwanda, French (English, Swahili are also official languages, as well as Rwandan Sign Language)
other/misc – Rwanda might be more expensive than it’s neighbors in some areas, but outside major safari-like excursions, it’s vert friendly to budget travelers.
Transportation Costs in Kigali:
Bus to Kabale – 35,000 UGX each | $9.50/person
Bus to Kigali from Kabale – 25,000 UGX each | $6.78/person
Bus to Kampala from Kigali – 10,000 RWF each | $10.50/person
Taxi to Airbnb – 8,000 RFW | $8.50
Boda to at Hotel Collines – 1500 RFC each | $1.59/person
Boda to women’s center – 1000 RFW each | $1.06/person
Taxi home from dinner – 10,000 RFW | $10.50
Boda to Le Patisserie – 2000 each | $2.12/person
Boda to Genocide Memorial – 1000 each | $1.06/person
Taxi to Heaven – 10,000 RFW | $10.50
Taxi Home – 15,000 RFW | $15.90
Taxi Ride to Jaguar Station – 7,000 RFW | $7.40
Kigali Transportation Total: ~110,000 RFW – $116
*from Kampala, Rwanda to Kigali, Rwanda via bus and back.
Boda Bodas and Taxis in Kigali
We traveled over land from Kampala, taking the Jaguar morning bus. On our way there we stopped in Kabale spending two nights on Lake Bunyoni, which is why our transit is broken up in two legs (though it would be the same price all together).
Unlike Uganda, Rwanda has strict boda laws that limit each motorbike to one passenger each, and both rider and driver must be wearing helmets. The drivers provide helmets though so you don’t need to bring your own.
All but our final taxi ride were arranged by the hotel/restaurant we visited twice – don’t judge us! We went once for dinner and then realized they had a brunch buffet the next day and had to go back. They charged a flat fee for arranging taxi rides and it was either raining or very dark during all our rides so we opted for the safer, quicker, and more convenient option of paying a bit more for arranged taxi than trying to hail down a boda boda.
You can call 9191 to arrange a taxi or boda, or grab a metered taxi for cheaper rates that are locked in. Our Airbnb host also said there was an app called “Move” which is the equivalent of Uber but we weren’t able to find it or download it.
All said, boda bodas will be cheaper but for two people it’s not a huge difference so it really depends on your circumstances. Of course, walking is the cheapest option and there are great sidewalks and street lights throughout the city so I’d recommend this option whenever you can. We walked quite a lot, but were 6km away from the city center which is why we opted for more taxis than normal.
Kigali Accommodation Costs:
Kigali Airbnb (3 nights): $91.45
Our Airbnb was in the heart of Kigali but on the other side of town from the Genocide Memorial Museum, the basket weaving course we’d booked, and the major hotel we wanted to visit. It was a nice apartment though with a balcony, large living room and kitchenette, and double bed.
If you fancy a luxury stay in Hotel des Mille Collines, the inspiration for the film “Hotel Rwanda”, prices will run $150-300 a night.
Another great option and slightly cheaper option is Heaven Restaurant & Boutique Hotel (where we ate twice). A stay will cost you between $100-$200 a night on the weekend, depending on your room.
Kigali Accommodation Total: 86,500 RFW – $91.45
Food Costs in Kigali:
Dinner at Asian Kitchen – 30,000 RFW + 4000 tip | $31.75 + $4.23
A delicious Asian restaurant with Thai and Vietnamese options and plenty for vegetarians/vegans. This price included 1 chicken pho, 1 vegan pho, spring rolls, croquettes, two honey ginger sodas, one sprite, and one green tea cake.
Lunch at Hotelles des Mille Collines –
We dined heartily here after wandering around the city all morning looking for an open place to eat. (We found none – it was Umuganda day, which is their national day of service on the last Saturday of every month. Everything is closed until around 11 or 12pm. We literally walked for 2 hours all over our neighborhood and beyond in search of ANYTHING open and we were sore disappointed.)
Our meal included 2 fresh fruit smoothies, 1 veggie quiche, 1 ham croquet madam, 2 black coffees, 2 double rums, and 2 fish brochettes.
Dinner at Heaven – 82,000 RFW | $86.78
Breakfast Le Patisserie Salon Baso – 11,650 RFW – $12.32
Brunch at Heaven – ~100,000 RFW | $105.00
Snacks – 6,000 RFW | $6.34
Kigali Food Total: ~200,000 RFW – $210.44
A note on our food expenses in Kigali:
We did not make any attempts to save money, explore new places, etc. Within our short vacation, we did two brunches at fancy hotels with amazing food, and dinner at one of the same places. Because of our late starts and coffee stops, we really only ate twice a day.
You could definitely get cheaper and more local food outside of the hotels, and usually I try to do so. That said, we had a blast at Heaven and Hotel de Milles Collines (which has a lot of Rwandan history,) and would definitely recommend them for a nice meal if you’re not feeling super adventurous.
Kigali Souvenir Costs:
kitenge baby blanket – 11,000 RFW | $11.61
kitenge bucket hat 11,000 RFW | $11.61
placemat & napkin set – 29,000 RFW | $30.63
2 postcards – 2,000 RFW | $2.12/person
candle – 6,000 RFW | $6.34
Kigali Souvenir Total: 58,000 RFW – $61.59
A note on our souvenir expenses in Kigali:
I came home from several months of travel shortly after Christmas, so I purchased a lot of souvenirs. We opted to buy most of our gifts at the Nyamirambo Women’s Center where we knew our purchases were directly supporting entrepreneurial women.
Rwanda Popular Attraction Costs:
Genocide Memorial – free, but donations accepted (we left 5,000 RFW each)
Basket weaving class – 15,000 RFW each | $15.90
We had a cooking class booked that was also 15,000 RFW each but we weren’t able to do it due to scheduling issues. I’d recommend checking out I-LikeLocal for the local run tours they offer in Rwanda though.
Other options we didn’t have time to try:
Walking tour – 15,000 RFW | $15.90
Cooking class – 15,000 RFW | $15.90
Gorilla trekking – ~1,411,000 – 3,764,000+ RWF| $1500 – $4000+ (permits start at $1500 for an hour; multi day treks can add thousands)
Coffee tour – Huye Mountain Coffee Tour – 28,400 RFW | $30
Our Activity Costs: 20,000 RWF | $21.19
474,000 RFW | $501 (2 people, 3 days & nights)
$83/person a day (transport from Uganda, and all other costs included).
I hope this helps give you an idea of costs in the city. As you can see, you can go way cheaper than this or spend a lot more depending on the level of luxury and adventure travel you’re seeking.
Happy travels on your journey and thanks for reading Costs to travel Kigali!