Banks and Foreign Exchange (Forex)
Kampala has no shortage of banks and forex bureaux, but the exchange rates vary greatly between them. Generally the forex bureaux offer better rates than the banks, but there are still significant differences between the bureaux. You will also find that you are offered better rates to change cash than you get for traveler's cheques. If you take cash make it US Dollars, GB Pounds and Euros to avoid complications. Avoid US Dollars printed before 1997 though as these are rarely accepted anywhere! For more information about currency issues, click here.
At the time of writing, one of the best places to exchange cash and traveler's' cheques was the Metropolitan Forex Bureau where exchange rates were MUCH better than at the main banks, including Barclays. Metropolitan Forex Bureau can be found at Metropole House, 8 - 10 Entebbe Road.
If you want to use a credit card to draw cash, the only places you can do so are at main banks and large shopping centres. Barclays in Kampala run a total of 8 ATMs to cover the entire capital city! You can pay with a credit card in some larger hotels and restaurants, but only in Kampala and Entebbe.
Don't bother searching for ATMs (Cash Machines) because unless you are inside a Barclays Bank you almost certainly will not find one.
Books and Maps
The main book shop in Kampala is Aristoc, found at Plot 17/19, K'la Rd, Diamond Trust Building. It carries a range similar to what you'd expect in a small European town, and devotes the ground floor of the premises to just books and maps. Like other large shops in Kampala, you will have to leave all bags at reception ( a security measure).
The range of books is ok, but there isn't much depth in the guides and nature sections, so if you want guides to plants, animals, reptiles etc it's better to source these at home before you go.
If, on the other hand, you want study texts for public exams or professions, this is the place to visit. The medical section is particularly good. There are also all the standard school texts and familiar childrens stories such as Winnie to Pooh, Disney books, and the Ladybird reading series for young children.
The range of tourist maps is limited to a handful of standard large scale maps, all of which can be purchased in the UK at better prices.
If you want nature guides, maps or a specific novel to read while you are in Uganda, it's best to buy them before you leave home; if you want books for your gap year school or project, or want to browse for something new to read, you will have no problems finding them in Aristoc.
If you don't mind hunting around, you will find a few other bookshops and street stalls. Other book shops are often limited to selling school texts from shelving behind a counter, and street stalls will have a wide range of second hand issues of books, magazines and even newspapers.
Shops you might try include:
Angelina Bookshop, Kampala P.O Box 766, Plot 40/46, Ben Kiwanuka Street
Bookpoint Ltd, Kampala P.O Box 488, Plot 6 Jinja Rd, former Esso Corner
Kampala New Styles Bookshop Ltd, Kampala P.O Box 766, Plot 15/29, Ben Kiwanuka Street
The Book Bazaar Ltd, Kampala P.O Box 1855, Plot 8-10 Nkrumah Rd, Uganda House
Street sellers will often approach you if you look like a foreigner and offer to sell a handy guide to Luganda phrases and, bizarrely, a selection of rolled up laminated maps of the world.