Cost of Traveling in Kenya – How Much Do You Need?

What money does Kenya use? – Kenya uses the Kenya Shilling (KES)

1 USD = 83.75 KES

Kenya Visa Costs

  • $50 multiple entry
  • $25 single entry visa
  • $10 transit visa

Kenya visa is valid for 3 months and is available upon arrival (confirm visa with your nationality).

How much money do I need to travel in Kenya?” In Kenya it highly depends on the itinerary of activities that you wish to accomplish. Are you going to just hang out in Kenya or do you want to see wildlife?

Daily Money Needed for Traveling in Kenya – I would say that if you have anywhere from $20 on the lowest end to $50 per day, depending on your style of travel and what sites you want to visit, you will be able to accomplish a lot and have a very enjoyable time in Kenya.  If you start taking safaris and tours, prices will inflate, maybe into the $100 – $200 per day range.

The cheapest prices for things in Kenya are usually not the best quality and maybe not overly safe (Ex: If a hotel room costs $2 per night – it might suit your needs, but be cautious of safety conditions).

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Cost of Traveling in Kenya

Price of Accommodation in Kenya

There are a number of different accommodation levels for staying in Kenya.

The cheapest Kenyan hotels are pretty grungy, but rooms can probably be found for $1 – $2 per night. These hotels should be the very last resort option for travelers as they are not too sanitary and possibly not even safe.

Hostel dorm beds in Kenya cost around $6 – $10 per night – they are not always available. There are options for youth hostels like the Nairobi Youth Hostel that offers some of the cheapest and decent accommodation.

For a double private room at a guest house in Kenya, expect to pay anywhere from $10 – $20 per night. Another step up the budget at mid-range hotels can cost $20 – $40 per night.

Search for Hostels in Nairobi – right here!

Cost of Eating Food in Kenya

Hearty meals of Kenyan street food that consist of a plate of ugali (common cornmeal staple) or rice, vegetables, beans, and maybe a small bit of grizzly meat stew can cost 60 – 80 KES ($0.70 – $1) per plate. There are street food stands that are cheaper that usually include only starch and vegetables.

Eating grilled meat, known as nyama choma, is very popular throughout Kenya if you have the money.  1 Kilo of goat at a nyama choma street style eatery will cost 250 – 350 KES ($2.94 – $4.12). An entire roasted chicken should cost around 400 KES ($4.70).

Non-street lunch style meals at food courts or medium ranged restaurants cost in the range of 200 – 500 KES ($2.36 – $5.89) per dish.

  • A meal at Burger Hut Nairobi (Africa’s best burger?) costs around 400 KES ($4.70) – burger, masala fries
  • Kenchic Inn has popular chicken and french fries in the range of 200 – 400 KES ($2.36 – $4.70)

Sit-down proper restaurant meals will often cost in the range of 500 – 1000 KES ($5.89 – $11.78). For example, at The Smart Village Eritrean restaurant, I usually go with a few friends and we eat a huge spread of food, with the bill equaling out to about 600 KES ($7 food and Ethiopian honey wine!) per person.

1 L sized bottle of water – 50 – 60 KES

*Note: An interesting fact is that it is often cheaper to drink soda than bottled water at restaurants in Kenya.

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Price of Food in Kenya

Cost of Drinking or Going Out

At local style bars, 500 ml bottles of beer cost anywhere from 100 – 150 KES ($1.18 – $1.76). For nicer bars catering to expats and the upper class, drinks are sold in the range of 200 – 400 KES ($2.36 – $4.70). Don’t need to tip for drinks.

Quite a few nightclub discos and venues charge a cover charge of a few hundred shillings.

Cost of Transportation in Kenya

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Transportation in Nairobi

Nairobi Matatu Public Buses

Matatus (Kenyan public mini-buses) are the quickest and cheapest way to get around the big cities in Kenya, specifically Nairobi. Due to elevated fuel prices, matatu rides cost a minimum of 30 KES ($0.35) and are more expensive depending on the time of the day or night as well as route and demand. Here is the most detailed map of the chaotic matatu routes in Nairobi.

Kenya Bus Service and Citi Hoppa buses also provide transportation in and around Nairobi.

Taxis don’t have meters, and they are quite expensive in Nairobi. The best thing to do is to tell a trusted local where you will be going and ask what a reasonable rate would be. You can also try Wandering Earl’s method of not getting ripped off riding in taxis.

To get from city to city there is the option of buses, the train (certain locations), and flying:

  • Buses are often in the range of about 100 KES per hour ($1.18).  A bus ride from Nairobi to Mombasa should cost anywhere from 700 – 1100 KES ($8.24 – $12.95). This is an estimate, depending on quality of bus you might find cheaper or more expensive.
  • Train service runs between Nairobi and Mombasa costing $65 for first class and $55 for second class.  The fee includes a bed in a compartment with meals. For more information on train travel in Kenya, click here.
  • Flights are the most expensive but the safest way to travel around Kenya. There are some good deals to be found on airlines like Fly 540, Nairobi to Mombasa from around $70.

Sample Cost of a handful of Nairobi Attractions:

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Nairobi National Park

  • Nairobi National Park – $40 entrance
  • Nairobi Giraffe Center – 700 KES ($8.24)
  • Kenya National Archives – 200 KES ($2.36)
  • Kenya Railway Museum – 400 KES ($4.70)
  • Nairobi National Museum – 800 KES ($9.42)
  • Volunteer at New Life HomeFree

There are also a lot of cool and FREE attractions on 101 things to do in Nairobi here!

Cost of Taking a Safari in Kenya

Safari’s are simply NOT cheap, no matter what variables you choose and match. The overall price of a safari includes park entrance fees, transportation, lodging, and food.

If you don’t have access to a personal vehicle, the easiest option is to join an all inclusive safari tour. These tours often visit a park of your choice or hop around to a number of different parks – be prepared to spend $100 – $200 per day – all inclusive (Ex: 3 day safari – $500).

Here are a few safari tour companies if you are interested:

*Note: I would recommend doing extensive research


Even if you can save money with your own vehicle, the entrance fees are still quite pricey. Nairobi National Park is one of the cheapest parks at $40 per day but others like Amboseli and Maasai Mara are around $60 per day. Visit the Kenya Wildlife Service website for more of the latest information. Do it yourself safaris can save money, but can also be a hassle of responsibility.

Though there are quite a few fees that simply can’t be avoided, here are a few tips to help save money on an African safari.

Kenya Money Conclusion

Kenya is not the cheapest money travel destination in the world. Splurge or not, Kenya is an incredible country that has a diverse range of activities, cultures and beautiful sites to offer all travelers!

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for the informative article. But I have a question for you: does Kenya have things to do and sites to visit that are less of the wildlife-safari type and more of the cultural-historical type? I’m more inclined for the latter option (I enjoyed hunting down Aztec ruins in Mexico and Inca ruins in Peru), and to be honest, animals just don’t do it for me (although if you mention trekking or caving, that’s a different story). I’ve heard about Mombasa being a Swahili cultural hub. Do you have any information regarding that?

    • says

      Hey Jeruen, thanks for asking (I’ll update the article itself with some more attraction info).

      Over the years, Kenya has largely developed as a wildlife destination (and been promoted so), and for that reason other sectors of tourism have not been as developed.

      Yes, you are right about Mombasa, as well as the island of Lamu – the place to observe Swahili culture. Just spending some time on the coast is a great way to experience and mingle with local culture. Overall, if you are want to focus on cultural aspects of Kenya, I think the easiest way is to get involved, meet some locals and start connecting. You could do this by helping out at an organization, volunteering, staying with couchsurfers, or things like that.

      Another popular cultural thing to do is visit a Masai village, however these are quite touristy – taking away from the overall authenticity. I’m not sure exactly how much it would cost, but I’ll look it up soon and include it in the article. Alternatively, by making some local friends, you could potentially visit some smaller local villages, and maybe spend some time there.

      Mt. Kenya (often overshadowed by Mt. Kilimanjaro) is the 2nd highest peak in Africa and offers a great trek to the summit. I think it takes about 5 days and is quite pricey at around $500 or so.

      A great place that I like to go camping and hiking in Kenya is around Lake Naivasha, specifically Hell’s Gate National Park, and Mt. Longonot.

      Hope this helps a bit, I’ll get back with more info, or maybe even write a separate post.

      • Samson says

        Hello Mark! Thanks for the very informative response to Jeruen’s questions. I am sure this has helped many other people who wish to make their budget for visiting Kenya. I am in Kenya ( Nyeri) and i can confirm that the information you gave is a true picture of the expected cost. keep up your good work.

    • says

      I AM KENYAN AND WOULD LIKE TO LET YOU KNOW THAT WE HAVE LOTS OF HISTORICAL PLACES YOU CAN VISIT, LOTS OF MUSEUMS, RUINS AND OLD AGE REMAINS

  2. says

    I appreciate you sharing this info Mark. These are the kind of posts I always look forward to reading as they tend to be the most helpful. Nobody else can provide as detailed information as another traveler who has recently been to a particular destination!

    And this is especially helpful as I hope to make it to Africa at some point this year and have just begun the planning stages.

    • says

      Great, thanks Earl, glad this article can be helpful! Can’t wait to hear about your Africa excursion-ing, I know that you will have a fantastic time and have some incredible stories to tell!

      • Rajesh Kumar Singh says

        Hi Mark,

        As you have all the information related to Kenya and Nairobi. Can you please tell how much is the cost of monthly tuition fees for student studying in standard II. As I am planning to take my family to Nairobi during my official work.

  3. jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World says

    Thanks for this. We’re going to Africa after our upcoming jaunt to South America and have been curious about the cost of traveling and Safari there.

  4. says

    Great write-up!

    In addition to all the wild life and attractions (Ostrich farm!) I sponsor a child through ChildFund and I’d really like to meet him. Kenya is definitely in my future.

  5. Rebecca says

    Your blog has been ridiculously helpful for me! I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m heading to East Africa in November this year, so getting an idea of costs and all your insights into Africa has been so useful. Thanks!

  6. Laura says

    I love the name of the City Hoppa! I mostly take matatus in Kenya but tried to take the City Hoppa around town just because of the name ;) Kenya has such an extreme budget range. While I’d recommend a safari it’s amazing that you can also get a cup of tea in a village for 5 shillings. Excellent information here :)

  7. says

    Wow, I can’t believe you were able to compose a very detailed guide on visiting Kenya, I’ll remember to keep this in mind. though I think the best way to enjoy Kenya is to go see the wildlife

  8. Guru says

    Excellent work Mark, that pic of rice, mboga na nyama looks very nice. Maybe you should offer variants of this article for people looking to go for a safari, coast or rift valley.

    • says

      Cool, Thanks Guru. I am working on some more articles along this line and that’s a great idea to offer some extra info on coast and rift valley. I am in the country of Laos right now, when I return to Thailand in a week, I’ll have more time to get organized and get some information out.

  9. Wanderingwombles says

    Thanks for this amazing post!

    This is exactly what I needed to read, as we are beginning a 2 year tour starting from Penang. Kenya was on our list as a definate.

    It is always good to know approx costings of places, foods etc to help budget. You are a dead set legend , mate.

    Cheers
    From the W family in Oz.,

    • says

      Awesome to hear this! I’m so glad that this post can help you out and give you a little idea of the costs of traveling in Kenya. Wow – that’s going to be an amazing 2 year tour – please let me know if you need any more tips or suggestions!

  10. says

    Very interesting thank you. I have recently employed a young Kenya man to do some computer work for me – a virtual assistant – I’m in New Zealand. He asked for so little that I needed to satisfy myself that I was paying him a sufficient amount to live. Your post also tells me how much is a reasonable bonus for good work – I would normally base the amount on a nice meal out for 2 or 4 people.

    this is a gem of a post for the information i was after.

    • says

      Hi Franc. I haven’t been to Mombasa in years and years, and when I did go, I normally stayed with my family at a place called Jadini beach hotel. Other than that, not sure about budget places – try doing a search on Hostelbookers or Hostelworld for some budget options.

  11. danielle says

    hi, i have just booked a holiday to Kenya for the end of June cannot wait!! i have my safari all booked 2night, 3days stay and i am all inclusive in my hotel. I am from scotland and use sterling pounds. After the safari i plan on relaxing and doing some water sports like jet skies and snorkling maybe sailing. I am not sure how much money i will need as all in all it will be 14 days i am there altogether. Can i ask what you think on how much money i should take? Thank you so much x

  12. Denis says

    Hi, I’m looking for some old friends from my Kenya days (mid 60s). Tony Farrel and Liz Frederckson (ex-girlfriend).
    Can anyone help?

    Denis Green

  13. says

    Kenya Railways offers train services throughout the country, primarily between Nairobi and Mombasa. Passengers who chose to travel via rail have the option of traveling either by first or second class. A trip from Nairobi to Mombasa usually takes around 13 hours during which a variation of wildlife can be seen at a relatively close distance when passing through Tsavo National Park. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are also served on the train’s dining carriage. Tickets can be purchased at local travel agencies.
    We offer train ticket bookings and seat reservations services for first and second class passenger traveling between Nairobi – Mombasa. Enjoy this train travel services between Nairobi – Mombasa with Rift Valley railways.

    THE TRAIN SCHEDULES ARE NOW AS FOLLOWS:

    Nairobi – Mombasa train operates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
    Mombasa – Nairobi train operates on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

    Train Departure from Nairobi to Mombasa is 1900hrs Check in time is 1830hrs.

    Train Departure from Mombasa to Nairobi is 1900hrs Check in time is 1830hrs.

    We are trusted and approved train travel agents in Kenya.Train travel to Mombasa is one of the most scenic way to travel. Night train from Nairobi to Mombasa or Mombasa to Nairobi.

    The train serves an economical way to travel to and back from the coastal areas. The journey is a night ride both ways and the ticket cost includes, Dinner, Breakfast and Bedding.

    Why book the Train?

    Kenya train travel is one of the most scenic way to travel.Kenya railways provides the classic and very enjoyable way to travel between Nairobi and Mombasa. The night train Mombasa – Nairobi – Mombasa is the best regular train in entire Africa, well maintained, safe sleeping compartments, three – course Dinner and English Breakfast. Highly recommended. Try the sleeper train Journey which is easy, comfortable at the lowest fares in East Africa rail travel.

    1st class sleepers (2-berth), and 2nd class sleepers (4-berth) with restaurant car serving full meals, snacks, drinks and beer. Advance reservation is required.

    The reporting time to board at the Nairobi or Mombasa train station is by 6.30 p.m. The train to Mombasa or to Nairobi departs at 7.00 p.m.The most scenic way to travel to Kenya’s Coast through Tsavo National Park, dinner, and breakfast on the vehicle cabin,a great and Relaxed view of the coastal approach!!!

    Fares One Way:

    First Class: US$ 75 One way per person sharing (Adult) Two beds with a toilet and a sink ( washbasin). Price includes Dinner, Bed and Breakfast.

    First Class: Child 3 – 11 yrs US$ 55 One way.

    Infants 0 – 3 years free of charge

    Second Class: US$ 65 One way per person sharing. Four beds with a toilet and a sink. Price includes bed and breakfast.

    Second Class: Child 3 – 11 yrs US$ 55 One way.

    Infants 0 – 3 years free of charge

    Meals ( Dinner / Breakfast ) and Bedding are inclusive on first and second class only.

    First Class Coupe ( 1st class 2-berth sleepers) will accommodate two persons and the Second Class ( 2nd class 4-berth sleepers) will accommodate four persons with sleeper beds.

    Book online and pay online with credit card or wire transfer and secure your seat.Train rates are 65US$ Bed, dinner and breakfast.

    Contact us for your Nairobi – Mombasa Train travel and enjoy the train adventures on the way!!!

  14. Catherine says

    I like your comprehensive report on Kenya. I am Kenyan and most of what you have captured is true. In future in case you have any people travelling to Kenya, i run a tour company and i would be glad to make all travel arrangements for you which would make your stay easier and can get cheaper rates for your stay here. So feel free to contact me. Plus i can do a tour plan for you of all our wonderful sites and much more. Thank you.

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