7 Must-Know Tips If You’re Visiting Lagos for the First Time

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Lagos, the lively and dynamic center of Nigeria, usually leaves a lasting impression and tales on its visitors. It’s the main economic and cultural hub of Nigeria, full of unique experiences. If you’re visiting Lagos for the first time, it’s important to come prepared.

For first-time visitors, navigating this city can feel daunting. Fear not; This guide will show you the essential tips to know that will help you navigate Lagos and experience its unique charm.

From navigating the chaotic traffic to blending in with the locals, there are a few essential tips you’ll want to keep in mind to make the most of your experience. So, let’s dive in and explore the 7 Must-Know Tips If You’re Visiting Lagos for the First Time.

7 Must-Know Tips If You're Visiting Lagos for the First Time

Essential Things You Need Before Your Journey

Before you set foot in Lagos, a little planning goes a long way. First things first, make sure you have your plane or bus tickets ready before the day of your departure. You want to avoid queuing up to get tickets at the bus station on the day of your departure and miss the first bus or flight, especially if you’re coming from far away.

Next, let’s talk about money. While ATM cards and making payments online by transfers have become popular in recent times, cash remains king in Lagos. Exchange some of your currency if you have Dollars or other currencies for Nigerian Naira (₦) before you arrive, and consider keeping some cash in handy for everyday purchases and tipping. It is advisable always to keep between ₦10,000  to ₦20,000 with you in case of emergencies.

Lagos is a city that thrives on self-expression, so pack clothes that reflect your personality. Think lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen to help during the scorching sun and heat. Don’t forget a light rain jacket – Lagos experiences its fair share of downpours, especially during the rainy season (April-October).

Also Read:  10 Must-See Attractions in Abuja

7 Must-Know Tips If You’re Visiting Lagos for the First Time

Now let’s get to the details of the article:

1. Shine Your Eyes (Be Vigilant)

The Moment you see, welcome to Lagos if you’re coming by road or when you get off the plane if you’re coming by air, drop your gentleman aside and shine your eyes else people will take you for a ride. When it comes to visiting Lagos for the first time or as a visitor, the first and most crucial piece of advice is to keep your wits about you. 

The hustle and bustle here is on another level, and some people are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists and visitors like you. Scams and petty theft are common, so it’s essential to stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

Keep your valuables close, avoid flaunting expensive items, and trust your instincts if a situation feels off. It’s also a good idea to research common scams in the area beforehand so that you can spot them a mile away. With a bit of extra vigilance, you can enjoy all that Lagos has to offer without falling victim to the city’s unscrupulous elements.

2. Don’t Act Like a ‘Johnny Just Come’

In the local lingo, a ‘Johnny Just Come’ refers to someone who is new to the area and sticks out like a sore thumb. As a first-time visitor to Lagos, it’s important to avoid this label at all costs. Blending in with the local culture and customs will not only help you navigate the city more seamlessly, but it will also earn you the respect of the people you encounter.

Take the time to learn a few key phrases in Pidgin English, the lingua franca of Lagos. Also, learn a few phrases in Yoruba, Phrases like:

  • E ka ro (Good Morning).
  • Ese (Thank You).
  • Bawo ni (How are you?).
  • Alafia (I’m okay or Thank God).
  • E joo (Please)
  • O wa (Stop) This is useful if you eventually board a yellow bus and you need to alight at your destination or the nearest b/stop when the conductor calls.

If you know some of these Yoruba words and their meanings, you won’t come off as a ‘Johnny Just Come.’

Familiarize yourself with the local etiquette, such as the proper way to greet elders or how to dress appropriately in certain situations. If you do this, you shouldn’t be a victim of theft or 419 (Fraudsters), and you’ll be able to experience Lagos like a true Lagosian.

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3. Avoid Movement During Rush Hours

If there’s one thing Lagos is known for, it’s the notoriously congested traffic (Go slow). The city’s roads can turn into a parking lot during peak hours, and as a visitor, you’ll want to steer clear of this chaos.

Plan your schedule around the rush hour periods, which typically run from 5-10 AM and 4-7 PM. Try to avoid any unnecessary travel during these times; else, you will likely get stucked in traffic. Instead, use the slower periods to explore the city’s sights and attractions. 

And if you do find yourself stuck in traffic, be patient and embrace the experience – after all, it’s all part of the Lagos adventure and experience!

4. Don’t Have Your Window Too Low When in Traffic

Speaking of traffic, it’s essential to keep your car windows up and secure when navigating the city’s roads and you get stuck in traffic. Leaving your window too low can make you an easy target for opportunistic thieves, who may try to snatch your belongings or, even worse, gain access to your vehicle.

It’s a small precaution, but one that can make a big difference in keeping you and your possessions safe. So, resist the temptation to let in the fresh air and keep those windows firmly closed, especially when you’re stopped at a red light or crawling along in gridlock.

If it’s night, don’t even bring the windows down a little because you can become a target, especially on the third mainland bridge or anywhere in Surulere or Ojuelegba. During the day, if you’re cut in traffic, you can wind down the window of the car a bit to enjoy some fresh hair.

5. Cash is King: Always Carry Cash With You

In Lagos, cash is still very much the king of transactions. While digital payments are becoming more popular, as I mentioned earlier, there are still many places, especially smaller businesses and roadside vendors, that only accept cash and do not accept transfers. 

As a visitor, it’s crucial to always have cash at hand to cover your expenses. Avoid relying solely on ATMs or making transfers, as you may encounter issues with card acceptance, network issues where you can’t make transfers and find yourself unable to make necessary purchases. 

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So, always carry cash as a precaution and also avoid carrying large sums of money in case of theft. Another thing to note is that you should avoid the ATM gallery at night because Fraudsters and Thieves always stay somewhere close to rob unsuspecting victims of their cash at night.

6. Avoid Yellow Buses and Taxis

When it comes to getting around Lagos, it’s best to steer clear of the yellow buses and taxis. While they may seem like a convenient option, these modes of transportation can be notoriously unsafe, with questionable drivers who drive recklessly without obeying traffic rules. These buses lack regulations and they are mostly the cause of gridlocks.

Instead, opt for more reliable and secure options, such as ride-hailing services like Uber or Bolt, or even the city’s growing network of BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) buses and, recently, the train that was just commissioned to take passengers from Marina down to Oshodi and its environs. 

The good thing about taking BRT buses or the train and sometimes boats is that you won’t get caught up in traffic. While these alternatives may cost a bit more and sometimes less, they’ll provide you with a much more comfortable and secure travel experience within the metropolis.

7. In All You Do, Have Data

In the modern age, having a reliable internet connection is essential, and this is especially true in a bustling city like Lagos. Whether you need to navigate the city’s winding streets, stay in touch with loved ones back home, entertain yourself while you’re stuck in traffic, or just relaxing somewhere within the city, having a solid data plan is a must.

Make sure to have different SIM cards for all the networks available before you arrive in Lagos. This will ensure that you can stay connected and have access to the information and resources you need to make the most of your trip. Trust me, you will thank me for this one.

Final Words

Lagos is a city that’s bursting with energy, culture, and endless opportunities for adventure. But as a first-time visitor, it’s essential to be prepared with the proper knowledge to navigate this city. Checkout 10 Best & Unique Things To Do In Lagosif you’re wondering what to do with your time in Lasgidy. 

By following these 7 must-know tips, you’ll be well on your way to experiencing the best of Lagos like a true Lagosianl. From staying vigilant and blending in with the culture to managing the traffic and keeping your cash and data on hand, these insights will help you make the most of your time in this incredible city.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, ‘shine your eyes’, and get ready to enjoy Lagos at its best. Eko o ni baje!