These tips have been gained from experience… the sort of things that I wish I had known before I first visited Fiji.
Taxis and Other Transport
Tip #1: Try to carry correct change or at least small notes when using taxis.
While tipping is not required or expected in Fiji, I certainly don’t mind giving a bit extra when it’s deserved. However, I do object to taxi drivers that try to con it out of me.
You take a taxi and the fare is $14. You hand over a 20 and the driver says “sorry, I don’t have any change.”
Of course they have change, they just don’t want to give any of it to you. They expect you to say, “that’s okay, don’t worry about it”. You’re a tourist, what’s 6 bucks, right? And take it from me, this happens all the time.
Tip #2: Consider taking a shared taxi on long journeys, such as Nadi to Suva.
An express bus fare Nadi to Suva will cost in the region of $25, and take more than 4 hours. A shared taxi seat will cost around the same, but get there quicker, make requested stops, and probably drop you at your door.
If you aren’t aware of “shared taxis” these are ones that travel between Lautoka and Suva (or vise versa) and depart when they have 4 passengers… so depending on how many people are already waiting you might leave almost straight away, or in an hour (it’s Fiji time, remember?). Just ask a local where the closest shared taxi stand is. Generally it will be in close proximity to the main bus station.
Tip #3: Check the number plates of taxis, rental cars,tour operators and shuttles.
Passenger carrying vehicles are supposed to be licensed, but there are a lot of locals that operate non licenced vehicles, avoid them!
The licensed ones will have number plates that start with LT (Licensed Taxi), LR (Licensed Rental), LH (Licensed Hire for tour operators), and LM (Licensed Minvan, for shuttles). If you don’t see these, then the vehicle operator is NOT licensed, and probably has no insurance. They also won’t have a taxi meter, avoid these vehicles and stick to the licensed operators.
Money, Banks & ATMs
Tip #4: Use either ANZ or Westpac cards if you bank with them, and get cash out of the ATM in lump sums rather than pay for small purchases with your card.
Both ANZ and Westpac have branches and ATMs in Fiji, the ANZ seem to have the most. The daily withdrawal limit is fj$900.
Because there are international transaction and currency conversion fees applied when you use your card, you will definitely save a lot by using cash (and there is no pay wave in Fiji either). Take out what you need from an ATM, don’t use the card more than you have to.
I never use the airport currency exchange booths, you seem to get a better rate by just using the airport ATM and withdrawing what you need (up to the daily limit of fj$900).