The Vatu is the native money (VT). (The ISO 4217 code for it is VUV.) 100VT is now worth about 0.94 USD, 1.25 AUD, 1.40 NZD, or 0.84 EUR as of March 2016. There are notes in denominations of 200 VT, 500 VT, 1000 VT, and 5000 VT, as well as coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 VT.
Many establishments in town accept credit and debit cards from the main networks (Cirrus, Maestro, and so on).
ATMs from the Australian banks ANZ and Westpac are accessible in Port Vila. The National Bank of Vanuatu maintains an airport branch that is available for all aircraft arrivals. Otherwise, banking hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tipping, bartering, or negotiating are not anticipated in Vanuatu; it is not the norm and merely promotes a “master-servant” relationship. Presents, on the other hand, are much appreciated, and the exchange of gifts for services performed fits well with local customs (western governments have a difficult time accepting this practice since it is perceived as bribery and corruption). However, in Melanesian culture, this is a common method to do business…well, the White Man brought that “Cash” thing).
A bag of rice may be received with gratitude and dignity by a village chief, but offering three times the value in cash may be perceived as patronizing, plus it will artificially inflate the price for the next traveller; set wrong expectations, and quickly destroy the genuine spontaneous friendship so easily given to you.
Giving phone cards, T-shirts, school pads, pencils, and other little gifts to youngsters is a kind gesture. There are a lot of youngsters here! We obviously do not suggest sweets and the such since it simply promotes junk food addiction, and providing cash to local males is frequently spent at the Kava bar and is of little value to his family. If you must donate money, make sure it goes to women, especially moms who are in charge of the family budget. The installation of poker machines has definitely not improved the issue, given that these establishments are mainly frequented by locals (mostly males) who cannot afford to squander their little earnings in this manner.
In Port Vila, there are two market places along the beachfront. The main market mostly offers food, and you may get a wide variety of local products there. A series of grass-roofed market booths offer clothes, bags, sarongs, and other goods farther north, near the beach.
Woven grass bags and mats are readily available and very appealing.