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About Vauatu

Vanuatu (Vanuatu means 'Land Eternal') is a "Y"-shaped chain of 83 islands 800km west of Nadi (Fiji). The islands range from towering volcanic cones to others covered in dense rainforest to others which are raised coral islands with wide beaches and deep natural harbours.
The Ni-Vanuatu people are a peaceful, loving, gentle race, who enjoy life's simpler pleasures in a country of unique and diverse customs and culture. There are experiences for the traveller not found anywhere else in the world like the Pentecost Land Dive (the first bungy jump) and the Toka Ceremony on the island of Tanna. The people of Vanuatu are predominantly Melanesian.
The Ni Vanuatu have populated the islands for centuries and with more than 115 distinctly different cultures and languages still thriving, Vanuatu is recognised as one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. There are small communities of French, British, Australian, New Zealand, Vietnamese, Chinese and other Pacific Islands people living in harmony with the Ni Vanuatu. Until 1980 Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides, was jointly administered by France and Great Britain as a 'Condominium'. There are many reminders of the days when a gendarme would patrol one side of the main street and a London 'Bobby' the other.

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Airport

The international port of entry is Bauerfield, only 10 mins from Port Vila. There is a currency exchange facility as well as bars/restaurants and duty free shops.

Banking

The introduction of the International Companies Act made Vanuatu one of the most attractive and competitive financial centres in the world. Trading banks are ANZ, Bank of Hawaii Vanuatu, Westpac and the National Bank of Vanuatu. Banking hours are 8:30am to 3:00pm Monday to Friday. The National Bank of Vanuatu's airport office is open for all flight arrivals.

Currency

Foreign currency is readily transacted and the local currency unit is the Vatu. Travellers cheques or cash are easily converted into the local currency during your visit and can be exchanged when leaving at the airport. The banks will accept most major credit and debit cards and Goodies usually has the best rate for cash and travellers cheques in town.

Transport

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road, the same as the USA and Europe. Cars, 4WDs and jeeps are available for hire. Taxis are plentiful and are all metered although some may agree to a fixed rate. It is quite common for a driver to offer passengers a comparable rate to the bus. Mini buses offer a frequent though not timetabled service. Look for the letter 'B' next to the front licence plate and simply flag one down and tell the driver where you want to go

Climate

Summer is from November to March, the average temperature is 28°C and it can be hot, wet and humid. Winter is from April to October with the temperature averaging 23°C. Sea temperature varies from 22 to 28 degrees making swimming enjoyable all year round.

Shopping

Foreign cash, travellers cheques and major international credit cards (Amex, Diners, JCB, Mastercard and Visa) are widely accepted. Most shops close for 'siesta' 11:30am to 1:30pm. Restaurants, cafes, banks, supermarkets and the Post Office do not observe siesta. Shops open on Saturday morning and some specialty shops and supermarkets open on Sunday morning. Suburban general stores open early and close late seven days a week. The colourful market in the town centre operates every day except Sundays for flowers, fruit, vegetables and handicrafts.

Eating Out

Dining is a highlight in Vanuatu. Fresh local fish, beef, fruit and vegetables are in plentiful supply. Top class restaurants offer Melanesian, French, Polynesian, Indian, Chinese, Thai-Vietnamese, English and Japanese specialties.

Tipping

There is no tipping or bargaining, it goes against local tradition. A smile and a 'thank you' is tip enough. Mind you, the prices at the souvenir markets do rise on days when cruise ships are in dock, so it's best to put off the shopping for a day if you know one is in town.

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