The unit of currency in Honduras is the lempira (L). The value of the lempira has held steady around the current exchange rate of about 19 lempira to the U.S. dollar, which is the rate used for prices listed in this guide. Bills come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500. There are no lempira coins. American dollars are commonly accepted in the Bay Islands and in major tourist destinations, particularly at hotels -- as a result, some hotel reviews in the Bay Islands also list rates using U.S. dollars.
Honduras levies a steep 12% sales tax, called ISV (Impuesto de Servicios), on all goods and services except medicine. There is a 4% tourism tax added to all hotel rates, tours, and car rentals, additional to the 12% ISV, although small hotels and community-based tour operators may not add the tax, especially if you can pay in cash. Many high-end hotels and restaurants also add a 10% service charge, which is meant to take care of tipping.
Frommer's Honduras lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing, consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/convert/classic to check up-to-the-minute rates.
ATMs are the most common way for travelers to exchange money in Honduras, and most cities have multiple banks with ATMs, many of them operating 24 hours. BAC, Unibanc, and Banco Atlántida are the most reliable and are compatible with a variety of networks, including Cirrus, PLUS, Visa, and MasterCard. Honduran banks do not usually charge a fee to use their ATMs, but your own institution might charge you for foreign purchases or withdrawals, so check before you go. You'll find ATMs in banks, grocery stores, gas stations, airports, malls, and pharmacies.
Traveler's checks are becoming less and less common, yet are still used occasionally and can be exchanged at most banks in the country, though a 2% fee is often charged. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted throughout Honduras, and American Express and Diner's Club are becoming increasingly common, although 12% surcharges are normal. Dollars, pounds, and euros can be exchanged in banks and many hotels, as well as with unofficial street moneychangers found in parks, airports, and border crossings.
Beware of hidden credit-card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country -- even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.
For help with currency conversions, tip calculations, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.
What Things Cost (in Honduran Lempiras)
Honduras is a relatively inexpensive destination, especially if you're coming from a place like London or San Francisco. You'll find some of the world's cheapest diving here, even though average prices on the Bay Islands are even higher than on the mainland. Even compared to other Central American destinations like Costa Rica or Mexico, prices for food and accommodations are, on average, quite a bit lower. Here is a brief list of prices to expect:
Bottle of Salva Vida beer 30
Típico plate 80
Four-day dive certification 4,750
1 night in a moderately priced hotel 1,100
3-hour bus ride 100
1 Gallon (3.8L) of premium gas 100
Admission to most museums 20-40
Admission to most national parks 200
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.