The standard currency here is the NIO (C$) - Nicaragua Cordoba and it is fixed to the US dollar on a deescalating basis. In general there is no need to carry any currency other than the NIO. You need $10USD for your tourism permit when you pass thru immigration and while they prefer USDs, you can also pay in NIO.
Expect to pay cash for:
All major businesses, gas stations, hotels, etc. will accept credit card.
Now there is the $64 question. So lets get the easy part out of the way.
If you are any of the following, hire a taxi / driver / transport company:
Driving in a new place you are not familiar with can often be uncomfortable at best. If you are a good driver and have a little patience and consider driving here is part of the adventure, then you will be fine. If you do decide to rent a vehicle and you are arriving after dark, see if your hotel can pick you up at the airport and then take you to the car rental close to them later in the afternoon or the next morning depending on your travel plans. All the major rental companies are at the airport but most of them have 2 or 3 other branches in Managua.
Generally the tap water in all major centers is safe. Most areas are on municipal water systems. If you are in an out of the way place and are not too sure, then just ask for bottled water.
Year round temperature averages in the low 30's(celcius). Leon and area is consistently 3-5 degrees hotter than anywhere else.
The "highlands" of El Crucero, Diriamba, Jinotepe and the north area around Esteli are usually 3-5 degrees cooler.
Winter / Rainy season is May to October. Expect small amounts of rain most weeks and from Late September to the end of October, it will rain most days with heavy rains in October.
We are closer to the equator than most of you so no matter what you think about how easily you burn, bring a hat and sunscreen. You can also buy sunscreen at all the grocery stores.
Mid November to the end of April is the dry season. By the time April happens, it is very brown, dusty and much like desert conditions. After the first real rain, the green all comes out very fast and we become a lush, dense tropical country.
No. This is Central America. So take the opportunity to brush up on a few words of Spanish. It will go a long way to making your trip more enjoyable if you can order a beer, find the bathroom, ask for the bill, say hello, etc.
Most tour guides now speak English as well as front desk staff at hotels.
In general, taxi and bus drivers, staff in gas stations, hardware, grocery and retail stores do not speak English. Nor police or utility personnel or restaurant staff.
Google Translate on your phone can be very useful if you are stuck for words.
Unfortunately, many people’s image of Nicaragua is 20-30 years outdated. We still get questions about the wars, the earthquakes and how dangerous it is here to vacation or live. Safety is often one of the questions we get when contacted about a possible vacation here or when people find out where we live.
No country or city is without its crime and yes we are a developing nation and yes there is crime. But compared to most countries, we are in great shape. A couple of years ago, Interpol released a safety ranking with Nicaragua second safest in all the Americas 2nd only to Canada.
In early 2017 we wrote an article related to safety in Nicaragua. Have a read and let us know if you have any questions.