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Burkina Faso

General   Money   Entry Requirements   Health & safety   Weather   Embassies   Etiquette   Public Holidays   Attractions   Map  


Burkina Faso sunrise ©Jeff Attaway

Burkina Faso's name translates into 'the land of upright people', although it is equally well known for the remarkable hospitality of the locals and vibrant cultural life. Burkina Faso is landlocked, bordered by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. With sixty different ethnicities, this nation is a diverse blend of cultures and traditions, certainly worth exploring.

There are a surprising number of tourist attractions in Burkina Faso, despite the fact that very few tourists ever visit the country. The capital, Ouagadougou, is an agreeable place with excellent restaurants and entertainment options. The most interesting city to visit is Bobo Dioulasso, known throughout West Africa for its music and nightlife, and as the home of the Djembe drum. The city's atmospheric Old Quarter and Grande Mosque are also well worth visiting. Another city, Gorom Gorom, is known for its Thursday market and for the Feminine Artisan Centre of Gorom, where the local women demonstrate their skill in art, sculpture and pottery. Other camera-worthy Burkino Faso attractions include the granite-sculpting artists of Laongo, the sacred crocodiles of Sabou, the mausoleum commemorating Princess Guimbi Ouattara and the natural waterfall of Banfora.

Getting around Burkina Faso entails roughing it a bit as tourist infrastructure is practically nonexistent, but the adventure and scenery is compensation enough for the inconvenience of potholed roads and simple accommodation. There is a train service running from Ouagadougou to the other main towns, but flying is invariably the quickest travel option.

While the country is generally peaceful, the British Foreign Office advises against all travel north of the town of Boulsa, due to a general terrorist threat near the borders of Mali and Niger. Nevertheless, Burkina Faso will interest travellers looking for a rich and varied slice of West African life in the company of some of continent's friendliest people.


Communications in Burkina Faso are limited, even in major cities, due to the low penetration of electricity. Landline use is extremely low, but mobile phones are widely used. The international access code for Burkina Faso is +226. Internet use is also low but on the rise, with internet cafes popping up in major cities.


17 (Police); 18 (Fire), 50-30-32-71 (Ambulance)

Languages Spoken

About 69 languages are spoken in Burkina Faso, but the official language is French.

Duty Free

Visitors to Burkina Faso may import up to 200 cigarettes, or up to 50 cigars; or 250g of tobacco. One litre of spirit and one litre of wine is permitted and 500ml each of eau de toilette and perfume. Sporting guns may be brought in by license only. Prohibited imports include narcotics and counterfeit goods.


Electrical outlets in Burkina Faso usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs with round pins are standard.

Climate Info

Burkina Faso has a varied climate, tropical in some regions and semi-arid in others. The country has two very distinct seasons: a rainy season and a dry season. From May to October it is hot and wet; between November and March warm, comfortable and dry. Burkina Faso is humid year-round, but less so than its coastal neighbours. The rainy season, from May to October, is much shorter in the north of the country, as the semi-arid Sahel zone (just south of the Sahara Desert) receives far less rain and is prone to drought. The southwestern part of the country is tropical and receives the most rain. The rainy season is the hottest time in Burkina Faso, and the average high temperature in the capital, Ouagadougou, in May is 93°F (34°C). By July it has begun to cool down a bit, with an average high temperature of 82°F (28°C). The dry season, between November and March, is cooler and more comfortable, with an average high temperature of 75°F (24°C) in the capital in January. A hot, dry wind from the Sahara, called the harmattan, brings heat and dust between March and May. The best time to visit Burkina Faso is in the dry season, particularly between November and January.


It is recommended that all travellers ensure their passports have six months validity remaining. You may also require proof of sufficient funds for your stay, a ticket for onward travel and all documentation for your next destination.

Entry Requirements

A valid passport and visa are required. A visa can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to one month.

A valid passport and visa are required. A visa can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to one month.

A valid passport and visa are required. A visa can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to one month.

A valid passport and visa are required. A visa can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to one month.

A valid passport and visa are required.

A valid passport and visa are required. A visa can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to one month.

A valid passport and visa are required. A visa can be obtained on arrival for stays of up to one month.


Malaria is a problem in Burkina Faso and some form of prophylaxis is recommended for all travellers in all areas of the country. A yellow fever vaccination is required for all travellers to Burkina Faso over one year of age. Vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid and meningococcus are recommended. Those who will be spending a lot of time outdoors and are at risk of animal bites should consider a rabies vaccination. Visitors should also be up to date on vaccinations for polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. Travellers should drink only bottled or filtered water and avoid ice in drinks; all meals should be eaten while hot and uncooked fruit and vegetables avoided.

Medical facilities are very limited and of poor quality, particularly outside of the capital city. Comprehensive travel insurance is required. In many areas of the country emergency medical services are nonexistent, and the supply of medication is often very limited. Travellers who require specific medications should bring along sufficient supplies, accompanied by a signed and dated note from a doctor detailing what the medication is and why it is needed.


Burkina Faso is one of the safest countries in West Africa and most visits are trouble-free, but tourists are advised to exercise caution and maintain a high level of security as theft and banditry can be a problem. The northern Sahel region is considered dangerous, especially near the borders with Mali and Niger. The Sahel is too remote for the local government or foreign embassies to provide much assistance in the event of an emergency. There have been no documented terrorist attacks directed against foreigners in Burkina Faso, but there is concern that conflict in neighbouring countries may spill over, and some governments, including the British Foreign Office, advise against all but essential travel to the Sahel region.

Crime is a problem in Burkina Faso and incidents of robbery, sexual assault and rape against foreigners have been reported. Most crime, however, is petty, and visitors in cities should beware of bag-snatchers, pickpockets and scam artists.

Emergency Phone Number

17 (Police); 18 (Fire), 50-30-32-71 (Ambulance)

* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov


The West African CFA franc (XOF) is the official currency of Burkina Faso. It is technically divided into 100 smaller units called centimes, but no centime denominations have been issued. Burkina Faso is largely a cash economy and credit cards are seldom accepted, but cash can be withdrawn with a card at certain banks in the big cities. Banks that will change money for travellers include Banque Internationale du Burkina (BIB), Ecobank and Banque Internationale pour le Commerce, l'Industrie et l'Agriculture du Burkina (Biciab).

Exchange Rate

Not available.

Embassies of Burkina Faso

Foreign Embassies in Burkina Faso


There are several customs in Burkina Faso that visitors need to be aware of: photography is strictly controlled, and tourists should always ask permission before photographing any person, and never attempt to take a picture of a military or government building. Women should not wear short skirts or revealing clothing, and should refrain from smoking in public. Shaking hands is an appropriate way to greet a person regardless of sex, and one should always return a greeting. Homosexuality is not generally accepted in Burkina Faso. Eating, touching another person, and giving someone money with the left hand is considered offensive.


Burkina Faso is a poor country, which doesn't rank highly for ease of doing business according to the World Bank. Business etiquette is fairly standard, with lightweight suits or traditional African dress the norm for meetings, and handshakes and business cards exchanged upon greeting. Business hours vary, but most offices are open from 7.30am to noon, and from 3pm to 5.30pm Monday to Friday. Some shops and businesses are also open on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.


A 10 to 15 percent service fee is usually included in restaurant bills, but it is customary to tip taxi drivers, porters and hotel staff.

Public Holidays in Burkina Faso

New Years Day1 Jan1 Jan
National Day3 Jan3 Jan
Womens Day8 Mar8 Mar
Easter Monday17 Apr2 Apr
Labour Day1 May1 May
Ascension Day25 May10 May
Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)26 Jun15 Jun
Independence Day5 Aug5 Aug
Assumption15 Aug15 Aug
Tabaski (Feast of the Sacrifice)2 Sep22 Aug
All Saints Day1 Nov1 Nov
Proclamation of Independence11 Dec11 Dec
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec
Birth of the Prophet1 Dec21 Nov
Travel Guide powered by www.wordtravels.com, copyright © Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Globe Media and UNIGLOBE Travel does not accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.

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