The people of Guyana use the Guyanese dollar as their national currency. It is not used by any other country in the world.
The dollar is split into 100 cents, just as every other dollar currency is. However this is now consigned to history here as there are no longer any coins denominated as cents. Instead you will see just three coins in circulation – the $1, $5 and $10 dollar coins. Alongside these are five banknotes of higher values. These are the $20, $100, $500, $1,000 and $5,000 notes.
Surprisingly the Guyanese dollar dates back as far as 1839. Guyana used to be part of the British West Indies as they were known back then. It would therefore make more sense if the country had adopted the British pound or at least their own version of it rather than opting for the dollar. But the dollar it was, although other countries in the area used a version of the pound instead. Guyana became independent in 1966 and this was the point at which the currency we know today became fully recognised as the one in use in Guyana. Even the name of the country changed; it was once known as British Guyana but this came to an end upon independence.
Some currencies are easier to get hold of than others, but the Guyanese dollar is not one of them. Many bureaux de change do not provide the Guyanese dollar as an option so you may well find you have to delay getting any cash until you arrive in Guyana itself.
Even then it can be something of a challenge. Cash machines are not as prevalent as you will be used to at home. The only chance you have of withdrawing cash in this way is to use a Scotiabank cash machine in Georgetown. Other than this you shouldn’t assume you can get hold of cash like this.
Your best option is to use traveller’s cheques. They may be largely forgotten in many more advanced countries but they are still welcomed in Guyana. It is usually best to get them denominated in US dollars as you shouldn’t have any problems cashing these in. Just go to the nearest bank to do this. You shouldn’t have any concerns in any part of Guyana, except of course to say the banks are fewer and farther between than you might be used to at home.
Don’t rely too much on credit or debit cards either. Guyana is a society that is very much used to cash as payment for things, so make sure you always have some on you. While some bigger places in Georgetown might accept credit card payments this is about the extent of their use in the country. Always check before buying anything if you intend to pay in this way. Furthermore remember to alert your card provider to your presence in Guyana as they may think someone else is fraudulently using your card.
The best way to do this is to use an online currency converter. You can locate the Guyanese dollar by using the ISO code GYD. You just need to find your own currency then to work out what the conversion rate is. You might also want to check what the Guyanese dollar is worth against the US dollar, so you know what the likely rate would be when exchanging your traveller’s cheques.
The Guyana High Commission is located in London and it has a rather useful website with information on the country and what you can expect. You don’t have to visit in person though – just go to http://www.guyanahclondon.co.uk/ instead.
The good news is most people who travel to Guyana for any reason have an enjoyable trip there with no problems at all. However with that said crime does occur here and you should take every conceivable precaution to protect yourself.
Most of the time crime tends to affect those who live in Guyana, but the best course of action if you see anything happening is to get yourself away to a safe location. You will be safer if you do not dress or look like a wealthy person, since this will make you more of a target. Keep your jewellery to a minimum and don’t carry any more cash than you absolutely need to. Anything you do carry should be divided between as many pockets as possible to protect against pickpockets taking lots of cash.
If you are staying in a hotel make sure you choose one that is known for its high security measures. A safe in your room is the ideal place to keep your passport and other travel documents tucked away. Wear a money belt when you are out and about too, since this offers an extra degree of security.
Guyana is a Caribbean country in the northernmost part of South America. As such it shares borders with three other countries. These are Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname, going from the west round to the east.
The capital, as you may already have guessed from our article, is Georgetown. There are many nice sights here including the Guyana National Museum. This is nearly a century and a half old and contains many exhibits from various periods in history. It is a lovely way to introduce yourself to the history of the country and to see some of the oldest artefacts it has to share. Another museum worth a look is the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology.
Elsewhere the city can also offer the Demerara Harbour Bridge. It is a toll bridge but you can walk across it via the pavement provided. Its main point of interest – apart from the views to be had upon crossing it – is that it is a floating bridge. While in town you should also go to the Stabroek Market. The architecture dates back over 100 years but you will marvel at more than this – the crowded and vibrant nature of the market is there to see every day.
Of course there are other sights beyond those that are in the capital city. Take the Iwokrama Forest for example. This is located in the centre of the country and is tropical in nature. You can actually stay in the forest and enjoy its many facilities as well as seeing much of the flora and fauna up close. Among the many activities available here are chances to go along the canopy walkway, taking a trip up Turtle Mountain and even going out at night to spot wildlife. All these activities can be done with guides so you get the most out of the experience and of course so you are safe at all times.
Guyana is also home to Kaieteur National Park. The major sight here – and yet by no means the only one – is the waterfall. You will hear it long before you actually get there, such is the power of the gallons of water that constantly rush over the edge. It is 251 metres in height and goes to a maximum width of 122 metres. Another activity you can enjoy here is a tour of the rainforest. This requires you to be fairly fit as the tour takes place over five days. You stay overnight for four nights en route so it makes a wonderful natural experience you won’t soon forget. You will end up at the falls too so you will have the best experience kept until last.
Finally you could visit the mountain range the country is known for – the Pacaraima Mountains. These can be found in the south west of the country and they are quite spectacular to see. There are several peaks here so it is worth considering how fit you are and whether you could perhaps walk or climb one of them. If you do decide to do so you must make sure you have all the proper safety gear and that you know what you are doing.
Guyana is not perhaps the best-known of countries in the world. However there are some fine sights here as we have already discovered. It also has a coastal border with the Atlantic Ocean, offering the chance to see some coastal locations as well as seeing the mountains and national parks further inland. The best thing to do if you are planning on visiting the country is to make sure you are prepared to have cash on you. You should also take your time to plan a trip that will take in most of the best sights, including those in the capital of Georgetown. Wherever you go you are bound to enjoy the experience of seeing a new country.