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Getting In and Around
: No additional visa is required if you are traveling to Mombasa from within Kenya. If traveling from outside the country, see our page on Kenya [LINK] for details on the proper documentation needed for visiting Kenya.
: Traveling by plane to Mombasa’s Moi International Airport is the fastest and most convenient way to get to Mombasa. Fly from Nairobi to Mombasa in less than an hour!
Kenya Railways offers a comfortable train ride between Nairobi and Mombasa. While the trip is lengthy, approximately 13 hours, the train departs Nairobi at 7 pm, giving you the opportunity to catch up on your sleep and still have time to grab a meal in the train’s dining carriage. Additionally, the scenery along the way is beautiful.
There are also multiple
bus lines that operate between Nairobi and Mombasa. The trip usually lasts 10 hours, and the fares vary depending on the bus line. We recommend you ask your hotel concierge for their recommendation on the best bus line to take out to Mombasa.
Minibuses, called matatus, are inexpensive and available all around Mombasa. Just remember, matatu drivers will squeeze in as many passengers as possible, so if you are comfortable with temporarily being a sardine, then enjoy the cheapest public transportation around!
Additionally, wherever there are tourists, you can find taxis and auto-rickshaws. We recommend you negotiate your fare before you accept a ride, as to avoid paying an inflated price for your trip.
: If your mobile phone uses the GSM 900 system (standard with European mobiles, but most American and Canadian phones run on the 850/1900 system), you will be able to use it in Kenya. Be prepared to spend large amounts of money on phone calls, however. Your best and cheapest alternative is to buy a SIM card from one of the two main companies that sell them in Kenya, Safaricom, and Zain. SIM cards and reload credits are sold all over the country. A word to the wise: text messages are significantly cheaper than phone calls, and the reception of text messages is free.
Safety and Security
The U.S. Department of State’s consular website has a great deal of information about safety and security in Kenya. It can’t be repeated enough: be sensible when you travel. Crime rates vary between cities and townships in Kenya. Be alert and aware about your surroundings.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to Kenya or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.
Mombasa has four primary hospitals located around the city center: Mombasa Hospital, Aga Khan, Pandya Memorial, and Coast General hospital. Additionally, there are many smaller clinics located in and around the town. Many hotels have resident medical staff as well. The Central Police Station is located in the center of town, with regular patrols visible throughout the city.
The Top 5: Local Advice
1. Kenya’s second largest city is located off the southeastern coast of the mainland, on Mombasa Island, in the Indian Ocean.
2. Mombasa has a tropical climate with temperatures varying between the 60s and 90s Fahrenheit. There is an average rainfall of forty inches a year.
3. For local and national news while visiting Mombasa, pick up a copy of Coastweek, a weekly newspaper specializing in local news, or the Daily Nation and the Standard, two of the most well-known newspapers in Kenya.
4. The main languages spoken in Mombasa are English and Swahili.
5. In Kenya, a smoking ban prohibits lighting up in any public area, including streets, parks, bars, markets, theaters, and restaurants. The ban also prohibits smoking in private homes and cars. However, some hotels and bars have designated smoking areas.