Ask the TAFEA Tourism Office

The international country code for Vanuatu is +678. To dial overseas from within Vanuatu dial 00 followed by the relevant country code and phone number. 

Emergency phone numbers in Vanuatu are:

Ambulance (22-100); Fire (22-333); and Police (22-222).

International Roaming from New Zealand and Australia is available. Telecom Vanuatu has a package called ‘Smile Visitor’ which consists of a sim card with a pre-purchased credit. This can be purchased at the Vanuatu Telecom Office in town.

Telephone: +(678) 081111
Email: info@smile.com.vu

Or with the new player’s Digicel, giving Telecom some overdue competition.Digicel have made themselves very visible, and can be found everywhere.  They have a bunch of different cheap plans for you.

Telephone cards in Vanuatu are available pretty much everywhere. 

Internet cafes can be found in Luganville & Port-Vila. You may also find that some post offices will also provide some kind of Internet facilities, and can be found on the main streets in Port-Vila and Luganville as well as on Espiritu Santo. Postal services to mainland Europe can take up to 7 days.

Communicating With NiVanuatu people:

  • Don’t expect your western "sensible barriers" to be understood by NiVanuatu people as they may not know where you meant them to stop:  I asked my gardener to do what was necessary to get the lawn mower working…..thinking he would bring me the spark plug to be exchanged, he brought me the piston.  Since he did not know how to rebuild the machine, he walked away never to be seen again….!
  • Don’t provide tools or machinery to people unless they have a practical knowledge of them…a NiVanuatu man nearly killed himself from exhaustion after spending days trying to cut down trees with a chainsaw…He found this tool most inefficient, it was heavier and builkier, in addition to being much slower than his bush knife and could not see why the white man had told hime to use this tool?…..the white man had forgotten to show him how to turn it on!
  • In Vanuatu, the display of anger, displeasure or irritability at a person or situation will reduce the recipient to a stony silence with a lack of co-operation or empathy to your point of view. Please be patient as it is a waste of time complaining. It will have no bearing on the outcome.
  • If you are verbally abusive, you will generate one of two answers: The first could be smiling or subdued laughter..no it is not out of arrogance, quite the contrary, it’s out of desperation as the person has no mechanism to handle verbal aggression, they will be as friendly as possible and hope the reason for their temporary discomfort disappears. The alternative response will be discernibly different: you might get a fist in your face. Thankfully, the former response is the most common, although the second would often be the more appropriate.
  • Don’t ask a question with the answer built into it. Local will always agree in order not to contradict you. "Is this the road to X..? will generate a Yes; try: "Where is the road to X..?" you might get a different answer.
  • Don’t always expect other nationalities to place as important value on accuracy as you do. Ask a villager the distance to a particular place, and the answer may be 5km. Yet the reality may be 15km. Why the difference?…simple: he has not got a clue how long a kilometre is?..or if he does, he does not relate to it as being of much importance (after all, time has a very different value to him than you, being "on time" is a foreign Western  concept…). Anyway, don’t you know that we don’t measure distances by distance, but by time around here?

    "How long it takes to get there?" would be a better question…however, refer to the previous point for instructions.

  • Be aware that in the islands, direct eye or raised voice level contact may be interpreted as intimidation. A local person’s voice level combined with body language may be directly opposite to Europeans. He or she may nod agreement with everything you say in order not to offend you but may not have understood a word you have said!
  • If you’re in a bus and people on the footpath are turning their backs to you, don’t be offended, it has nothing to do with you..they’re simply letting the driver know that they don’t require him to stop. In case you have not noticed, there are not many bus stops in Vanuatu, those that exist don’t get much use.
  • If you see men or women holding hands, it’s not what you think. Men hold hands with other men, or women with women, because there is no sexual connotation attached to it, however, you will very rarely see a man holding a woman’s hand in public..this would be considered as a public exhibition of sexual relations.

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Copyright 2013: TAFEA Tourism Committee - All rights reserved. Website updates contact E: johnnicholls@vanuatu.com.vu