Bangui (pronounced: bang-EE) is the capital of the Central African Republic. Bangui lies on the northern banks of the Ubangi River just below a series of rapids that limit major commercial shipping farther upriver, on the southern border. The navigable Ubangi River turns sharply south below Bangui and connects to the Congo River just south of the Equator near Brazzaville as its chief northern tributary. The river marks the border between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Congolese town of Zongo sits opposite the river from Bangui.
The Central African Republic is situated just north of the Equator and consequently throughout the year daily high temperatures rarely fall below 30oC. The rainy season lasts from May until October. Bangui, being in the south of the country and thus closest to the Equator, is slightly hotter and wetter than the northern parts of the country.
Bangui M'Poko International Airport (BGF) is the airport serving Bangui. It is located 7km (4 miles) northwest of Bangui. In 2004, the airport served 53,862 passengers. There are flights to Douala, Tripoli, Paris (once a week), Brazzaville, Yaoundé, Cotonou and N'Djamena.
Visas are required for all European (and probably most other) travellers, and should be obtained before arrival.
The arrival procedure is a bit long, requiring at least two queues to get all necessary visa stamps. Exit from the arrival hall is through "Things To Declare", with customs officers picking out passengers randomly for baggage check. Security guards check the luggage tags on the way out.
Be careful for pickpockets outside the terminal building, including people claiming to provide assistance.
The city centre lies near the river and features a large triumphal arch dedicated to Bokassa, the Presidential Palace and the central market. Lying 5 km further north, the heart of the residential area has the largest market and most nightlife. North of the city lie rolling hills.
Buy beautiful wood carvings, but do not be tempted to buy rare African Grey parrots that are being traded illegally in the town. You will be arrested if you do.
The city has a community of French expats, which translates into one of the best ice cream parlours in Africa; a supermarket that sells international (mainly French) delicacies, e.g. foie gras; and a really good Italian restaurant.
- Mocaf. One of the local beers. Tend to be the cheapest and very good in quality. Comes in a 65cl big bottle, perfect for beer lovers.
- JM Residences 3, Avenue Nasser, ☎ +236 70 16 09 25. It's been called the best accommodation in town. Clean and air conditioned rooms, hot water was available at all times. WiFi internet available with OK speeds. Electricity was more or less constant. There's a restaurant with fair prices, ~CFA 6000 for a meal and a drink, 5000 for a full breakfast. CFA 65000/night.
- JM Residences 2, Avenue Barthelemy Boganda, ☎ +236 70 16 09 24. Basic accommodation with clean and air conditioned rooms. The environment is quiet rural, not so much to do outside the rooms. A basic restaurant is serving food all day. Electricity goes out sometimes. CFA 65000/night.
- Oubangui Hotel, Boulevard du Général de Gauelle, ☎ +236 77773038. The closest you can get to "luxury" in Bangui. A high-rise just next to river Ubangi offering some spectacular views. As expected, due to the ongoing conflict, there are several shortcomings in service and standards. From $80 per night.
Four GSM-900 mobile telecommunications companies, Telecel CAR, Nationlink Telecom RCA, Orange CAR and MOOV CAR operate out of Bangui. State-owned Socatel is the principal telecom in CAR and Bangui, and is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the communications infrastructure.
Internet cafes in town allow users to access the internet, also using own laptop computers. Download speeds are acceptable and prices reasonable. MOOV provides GPRS/EDGE internet access with USB sticks for reasonable prices in whole Bangui and in major cities of CAR as well.
Le Grande Cafe in the city center has open free wi/fi and serves coffee and food.
MOOV and Orange phones can access GPRS/Edge networks if properly configured. Configuration is provided free at the telecommunication offices at PKZero. Speeds are generally EDGE, but may fade to G. GPRS is available in Bangui center, but fades out by PK12.
The city centre is generally safe at the time of writing this entry (Nov 2009). It is not a problem to walk around, locals are not so pushy to sell stuff or beg for money however sometimes it happens. Always carry your passport with you, but not too much money if you're on foot.
A colour photocopy of your passport can be certified at the Hotel de Ville for a few dollars and is much safer to carry around than your passport.
Travelling with your own transportation is not a problem, even at night time, there are street lights almost everywhere in the downtown.
- United States, Avenue David Dacko, ☎ +236 2161-0200. The U.S. embassy suspended operations indefinitely on Dec 28, 2012. The move was to assure the safety of embassy employees, who have now left the country, in light of rebel advances on the capital. Travel Warning Dec 28, 2012 Emergency Message Dec 25, 2012 U.S. citizens in need of consular help can contact e-mail CARemergencyUSC@state.gov. The embassy's emergency contact numbers is +236 7540-1050 (Note: It is not clear if this number remains in operation & reroutes to another embassy/consulate, or still reaches the now-vacant embassy.). The State Department maintains a hotline for worldwide security & safety information at +1-202-501-4444.