VISA AND OTHER PROCEDURES
All you need is a passport valid for another six months and a valid return ticket to your original destination or to another destination. Upon arrival, visitors are granted a 60-day visa.
The authorities require a certificate of yellow fever vaccination to all visitors over one year of age who come from a transmission risk destination in the country or who have transited for more than 12 hours at airports in these countries.
There is no risk of malaria transmission but protect yourself as much as possible from mosquito bites to avoid getting Dengue fever.
For more information on traveling health, see the Health Portal of the Ministry of Health and Tropical and Traveler Medicine Clinic. In FitForTravel find country-specific health and disease prevention advice (in English).
TRIP TO WESTERN SAMOA
A Star Alliance fly from Lisbon to Apia with TAP (tel.: 707 205 700), the Thai Airways and Air New Zealand, via London, Bangkok and Auckland. This journey to the other side of the world is guaranteed to have very high costs. Count on an absolute minimum of €1.500 but you're unlikely to make it to Samoa for so little.
A rental car upon arrival in the capital Apia is the most practical way to discover the island of Upolu, also the island of Savai'i, where you can pass by ferry. The roads are quite acceptable and traffic is scarce. Drive at low speed. Vary areas around Apia have limits of 40km/h or even less and the police check them sporadically. In villages around Upolu and Savai'i the limit is now 50 or 55 km/h. If low speed was not recommended for this reason alone, know that there are many and different animals – dogs, goats, pigs, cows, etc. – that are crossed on the road, mainly in rural villages, but not only that.
Prices for an economy car rental start at €20, €30 per day and, due to the size of the island, you will never spend more than one or two fuel tanks.
Colorful buses that usually gather at a terminal next to the new market in Apia travel a large part of the island of Upolu. Neither their schedules nor the service in general are to be trusted. Use this solution only if you have a really tight budget but plenty of time to devote to Western Samoa.
Western Samoa could be a great destination to discover calmly by bike if it weren't for the tropical heat and humidity – especially during the southern summer – and the amount of dogs that are entertained chasing two-wheeled vehicles. Don't expect to find great quality bikes for rent, nor stores with modern or quality parts to solve more than expected problems on your bike. You can wait for the occasional workshop used to providing simple repairs to low-evolved bicycles.
The best time to visit Western Samoa is the less hot and driest season from mid-June to October. From November to May, temperatures remain at around 30°C and humidity is quite high. This is also the cyclone season and the islands of Samoa are usually affected by at least a few tropical storms every year.
The currency of Western Samoa is the Tala (WST). There are ATMs at the airport and banks in the capital Apia: ANZ, Westpack and other local banks. Credit card payments are only possible at the most sophisticated establishments on the island. Get ready to spend an absolute minimum of €60/day, per person, with a rental car, interspersed stays in fales and double rooms in medium-sized hotels, meals in restaurants. You can only reduce this value by sacrificing mobility and comfort.
The most basic and least expensive solutions in Western Samoa are the fales, typical huts with dry roofs, usually available near the beaches and equipped with mattresses and mosquito nets. These fales can cost around €25 per night, while a double room in a guest house in the capital Apia should cost twice as much and the more refined fales and double rooms in the best hotels on the island will have prices starting at €75 per night.
Largely due to the relative isolation of the islands, food products are not very diversified (and much canned and preserved) in the shops and mini-markets of Apia and in the small roadside shops around Upolu and Savai'i. The prices are somewhat inflated but not outrageous. Count on complete meals from €10 for two people, this in humbler restaurants. Apia and other larger towns have their own fish and fruit markets, which are better suited for stocking up on fresh local products.
Almost only hotels and resorts have Wi-Fi connections that can be used by those who have their own laptop, tablet or smartphone. Most of these establishments include internet use in their stay prices. Alternatively, some internet houses in Apia (Upolu), Salelologa and Manase (Savai'i) charge for the use of their computers. Around €1,50 an hour in Upolu, almost double in Savai'i.
Most of the beaches and other attractions in Western Samoa are private and the owners are either there to collect tickets or have someone charge them for them. Prices are usually fixed. Try to haggle with polite patience, you may be able to get a discount.