Fiji is a moderately priced destination -- cheaper than big cities such as New York and London, more expensive than some Southeast Asian countries. But it also has a wide range of prices. Domestic airfares are relatively high, but taxi and bus fares are cheap. Some luxury resorts charge more than F$3,000 (US$2,000/£1,000) a night, but you can get a clean, comfortable hotel room for F$75 (US$50/£25).
Much of the country's tourism infrastructure is oriented toward backpackers, with reasonable prices to attract young travelers on a budget.
The national currency is the Fiji dollar, which is divided into 100 cents. The Fiji dollar trades independently on the foreign exchange markets and is abbreviated "FID" by the banks and airlines, although I use F$ in this book. Some hotels and resorts quote their rates in U.S. dollars, indicated here by US$.
The Fiji Dollar, the U.S. and Canadian Dollar & the British Pound -- At this writing, US$1 and the Canadian dollar (C$) = approximately F$1.54 (or, the other way around, F$1 = US65¢), which is the exchange rate I used to calculate the dollar values given in this guide. For British readers: At this writing, £1 = approximately F$3 (or, F$1 = 33p), the rate used to calculate the pound values in this guide. Note: International exchange rates fluctuate depending on economic and political factors. Find the current rates at www.xe.com.
How to Get Local Currency -- An ANZ Bank branch in the international arrivals concourse at Nadi International Airport is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There's an ATM on the wall outside the branch, where you can draw Fijian currency by using MasterCard or Visa credit or debit cards. GlobalEX has exchange counters (but no ATMs) in the arrivals concourse and near the departures door.
ANZ Bank, Westpac Bank, and Colonial National Bank have offices throughout the country where currency and traveler's checks can be exchanged. They all have ATMs at their Nadi and Suva offices and at their branches in Savusavu, and Colonial National Bank has an ATM on Taveuni. There's an ATM at the Nausori Airport terminal near Suva. Several large hotels on Viti Levu have ATMs in their lobbies. Elsewhere bring credit cards, cash, and traveler's checks. Banking hours nationwide are Monday to Thursday from 9:30am to 3pm and Friday from 9:30am to 4pm.
You can get a better rate for traveler's checks at GlobalEX offices at Nadi Airport and in Nadi Town and Suva.
Tips: Getting Rid of Your Left-Over Currency -- Use your left-over currency to pay part of your hotel bill when leaving Fiji. Put the rest on your credit card. It will save you the trouble of having to change money at the airport.
Tips: Small Change -- When I change money (or after I've withdrawn local currency from an ATM), I ask for some small bills since petty cash comes in handy for public transportation (Fiji taxi drivers never seem to have change for large bills). I keep my small money separate from my larger bills, so that it's readily accessible while my big notes are less of a target for thieves. I also go first to WestPac Bank's ATMs, which usually dispense smaller notes than those at ANZ Bank.
American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are widely accepted by the hotels, car-rental firms, travel and tour companies, large stores, and most restaurants. Don't count on using a Diners Club card outside the hotels, and leave your Discover card at home.
Tips: Credit Card Add-Ons -- Many Fiji businesses add 3% to 5% to your bill if you use a credit card, while others may offer a similar discount for cash payments. Credit card issuers frown on the add-ons, but the locals do it anyway. Always ask if an add-on or discount will be assessed.
I seldom use them these days, but I carry a few hundred U.S. dollars in traveler's checks just in case the local ATM runs out of cash or is on the blink. You can get traveler's checks at most banks in denominations of US$20, US$50, US$100, US$500, and sometimes US$1,000. Generally, you'll pay a service charge ranging from 1% to 4%.
The most popular traveler's checks are offered by American Express (tel. 800/807-6233 or tel. 800/221-7282 for card holders -- this number accepts collect calls, offers service in several foreign languages, and exempts Amex gold and platinum cardholders from the 1% fee); Visa (tel. 800/732-1322) -- AAA members can obtain Visa checks for a $9.95 fee (for checks up to $1,500) at most AAA offices or by calling tel. 866/339-3378; and MasterCard (tel. 800/223-9920).
Be sure to keep a record of the traveler's checks serial numbers separate from your checks in the event that they are stolen or lost. You'll get a refund faster if you know the numbers.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.