Someone once said, “if we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.” We’re meant to travel and explore the world, especially the countries we live in, to create memories, cool off and connect with people. Moreover, if you’re reading this, you’re probably planning on visiting Uyo in 2023 and this article will guide you.
Uyo is a not-so-small town located in the land of promise, Akwa Ibom state. Also, with over 400,000 residents, this beautiful city stretches over 140 square miles (362km2).
Additionally, it boasts of a growing oil industry, a collection station for palm oil and kernels, local trade centres, 1 brewery, a textile mill, a federal university and an airport, among others.
Things You Should Know About Visiting Uyo
When we visit new places, we want to explore them but most importantly, we want to feel safe and comfortable knowing that we have useful information about these places. Therefore, Here is some information we compiled to make your visit and/or relocation easier.
You definitely don’t want to visit Uyo and get lost or cheated because you can’t speak their language. The most common language in Uyo is Ibibio. It is spoken everywhere so if you’re not familiar with it, be sure to tell whoever you’re talking to immediately or simply use Pidgin English. Generally, almost everyone in Nigeria understands it.
Basic Terms You Should Know
These simple words will make your Uyo experience easier.
- Come – Di
- Stand up – Dakkada
- Sit – Suk tieh (pronounced ‘sook tee-ye’)
- Food – Ndidia
- Water – Mmong
- Please – Mbok
- Thank You – Sosongo
- I’m sorry – Mme do sorry
- Sorry – Kpe
- Forgive me – Daka nno
- Yes – Mmmm or Ehhhh
- No – Iyoh
- Drop me – Nsúk
- Okay – Ooh / Afon
Visiting Uyo – Traffic Rate
The more developed a city is, the more likely it is to have insane traffic. Subsequently, Uyo is one of Nigeria’s fast-developing cities with little to no traffic. The road network allows drivers to bypass the slightest delays, plus, the traffic wardens and lights are effective.
This is a city where most streets are interconnected with good, tarred roads and people take traffic lights and parking seriously because the law makes no exception for defaulters.
However, during the morning rush hours (7 am – 9 am) and the evening time-out hours (6 pm – 8 pm), you will experience traffic on Uyo/Ikot Ekpene road and Oron road. Oron road often has go-slows because it has the most traffic lights. Nevertheless, the traffic never lasts for hours. The highest I’ve ever been in Uyo traffic is 10 minutes. Does that even qualify?
Traffic in Uyo is so seamless that you can calculate how long it will take you to go somewhere and return home, and it will be the same every day. Uyo is really just one big maze; a suburb with interconnected streets.
Visiting Uyo – Transportation
Public transportation in Uyo runs mostly on minibuses and tricycles (keke). There are taxis but they’ve almost become extinct because the buses are more comfortable. Also, motorcycles are only allowed in developing parts like Shelter Afrique Extension.
The mini-buses carry 1 person in the front seat and 6 persons at the back; that’s 3 persons per row. The taxis carry 2 persons in the front seat and 4 at the back. The tricycles carry 3 persons at the back and sometimes 1 person at the front.
People in Uyo often say, “you’re 200 naira away from me.” If you’re living on a budget, or you really want to cut down on your expenses, there is no better place than Uyo. With the recent increase in fuel price, the highest you will spend going somewhere and returning home is about 500 naira, and that’s if you have to stop at different places or you’re going towards the outskirts.
Also, if you prioritise your comfort and prefer private car service, Bolt is available and their prices are relatively low compared to other major cities. Moreover, Bolt tricycle (keke) is even available if you can’t afford to book a car. How easy is that!
Personal Tips for Visiting Uyo
- When you get to Uyo, please don’t run after a bus or cab, except it’s really late and there are just a few left. The drivers will park and wait for you to board or drive back to meet you where you stand.
- If you want to maximise your public transport experience, board a minibus and take the front seat. You won’t have to worry about body contact or small, tight spaces.
- Lastly, remember to put on your seatbelt, because drivers and traffic corps take that seriously and your safety is very important.
Business Operating Hours
When it comes to opening and closing places, Uyo is like a person that goes to bed early and still wakes up late in the morning. This is one of the peculiar features of Uyo. By 7 – 8 pm, most shops are closed and by 10 pm, the town is practically asleep, except for clubs and hotels. Businesses usually open by 8 – 9 am, or 7 am on a good day.
In addition, if you’re a nightlife lover, you’ll have to use your car or book a ride and go out with proper identification for when you meet security officers. You could sleep in jail till morning if you’re caught wandering at night.
In order to avoid being stranded, if you’re going to need something early in the morning, buy it the night prior to that morning. And in case you’ll need something late at night, buy it in the evening, else you might drive halfway across town and still not get it, or get it at a ridiculously inflated price.
Of course, you’re allowed to move about as freely as you like, but for your safety, avoid these places:
Located opposite Udi street along Plaza, this is one of the interconnected streets partially restricted based on time. When it’s dark, please take another route for your safety. Particularly, several rumours of unidentified bodies in the burrow pits of this street have been made.
However, in the daytime, feel free to buy as many yams, potatoes, tomatoes and meat from the Hausa/Fulani traders who live there.
Uyo Village Road
Like Ekpenyong street, Uyo Village Road is partially restricted for your safety. This is undoubtedly the loneliest road in Uyo. Besides two churches at the end of the road, there are no houses or shops on this road. It is terrifying to ply this road at night. I’ve taken it in the afternoon and at night, and it felt like the driver was racing Paul Walker on both occasions.
Is the road perfect with no traffic and no single pothole in sight? Yes. Will you stumble on some mentally ill people or child beggars that have been said to be violent? Probably. Will you see any other car in sight while driving through it? Rarely. Thus, please avoid it.
It’s practically impossible to escape Plaza when visiting Uyo in 2023 or any other year for that matter. It’s the current centre of Uyo and the main road to which other roads are connected. Consequently, as the centre, it serves as a bus stop, a hub for businesses and mama-puts. This is the place where you buy a necklace from a Mallam, an earpiece from a roadside vendor and a phone from a Tecno office opposite you.
It’s a place to take instant passports, to sit down and eat suya with your friends, but it’s also a place where you can lose your phone and not notice till you get home, a place where the question, ‘your money or your life,’ could become a reality for you.
Notwithstanding, it’s partially restricted like the two others. There is a beautiful stadium-like sit-out area in the middle with table tennis courts and bars around, where you will find lovers, friends, and single pringles. If you want to go, go with caution. Also, don’t stay too late and let your actions ring with confidence, especially if you’re going for the first time. Besides, people can tell.
One of our fundamental human rights is the right to freedom of religion and Uyo residents respect that. Moreover, there are tons of churches and mosques in Uyo. Hence, to find a place of worship, you can just google ‘churches/mosques near me.’
Also, if you’re scared of crowds, be sure to come out before 12 pm on Fridays or after 1:30 pm, when the Muslims are done with their prayers. There is a mosque inside the university on Ikpa road, and at Akpan Andem. You will also find some Muslims at Plaza if they don’t all move to the mosques. Remember to respect your neighbour’s religion to keep the peace.
Banks and ATMs
One of my favourite things about Uyo is how easy banking is, not in terms of service but in proximity to people. For instance, inside the federal University of Uyo, UniUyo (Ikpa road campus), there are 4 banks and 9 ATMs. There’s an ATM at Plaza too.
Furthermore, Abak road is famous for a lot of things, especially its banks. It’s a host for all the major Nigerian banks with lots of accessible ATMs. Oron road has a few banks as well. There’s also Banking Layout at Udo Udoma Avenue, where all the bank headquarters reside, plus an ATM at Ibom Tropicana mall.
Conversely, the only area in Uyo that has little to no ATMs is Nwaniba road. You will find a lot of POS services here, just as you will in other places.
You never have to worry about accessing your money in Uyo. Because an ATM is either around the corner or at least 10 minutes away.
Just like every other city, Uyo has its markets, both big and small. In no particular order, some of the markets are.
- Itam (with market days) at Itam Junction, Uyo Itam.
- Akpan Andem beside Uyo Township Stadium, Udo Umanah.
- Nsukara along Nwaniba road.
- Use-Ofot along Nwaniba road.
- Hausa market along Edet Akpan Avenue.
- Fresh Vegetable market at Udo Umanah Street.
- Ibup-Itam Main market along Itu Highway.
- Mbierebe at Aka Etinan.
- Udo-ekong daily market at Udo-ekong street, close to Annex back gate, UniUyo, popularly referred to as Student’s market.
- Ikot Ibup along Itu road.
You can get whatever you want from edibles to clothing, to building materials at these markets.
In particular, some of Nigeria’s famous, favourite meals come from the city of Uyo. There’s afang, edika-ikong, atama, editan, ekpang nkukwo and other delicacies.
As regards restaurants, food is cheaper in Uyo than it is in many other places. Someone I know who visited Uyo from Port Harcourt said it felt like buying food at half the regular price. Think about that! From generic brands like Chicken Republic and Kilimanjaro to bukas and online food delivery services, you will always find a place to eat.
Subsequently, one major food fact in Uyo is the abundance of meat. Someone is always selling meat; beef, chicken, pork, snail and even dog meat (popularly known as J5), on road corners and streets. Sometimes you don’t have to find them, they will come to you. However, if you’re selective, remember to ask the meat vendor what s/he is selling. You don’t want to eat dog meat, thinking you’ve had beef. Hence, always ask.
Visiting Uyo – Accommodation
Uyo offers several hotels and Airbnbs ranging from #5,000 per night/stay to 80,000 or more. If you’re relocating or applying to study at UniUyo, houses are relatively cheap. You can get a house from #75,000 to #500,000 or more.
Generally, the price depends on where you want to stay, but at least no matter where you chose, you can buy furniture knowing that you don’t have to call a carpenter to calculate your door size or the room width or the distance from your ceiling to your floor, just to get your couch in.
What’s a city without fun places? Or a city without spots where you can have a great time with your friends? Therefore, here are some of the fun places in Uyo you should check out:
Ibom Tropicana Mall
Particularly located at Udo Udoma Avenue, this is Uyo’s biggest mall, the only one. At Ibom Tropicana, you can:
- Watch a movie at the cinema
- Play video games
- Shoot hoops in a basketball game
- Watch a scary movie on a VR headset
- Become a karaoke star at any of the lounges/karaoke bar
- Surf with a hoverboard
- Shop for groceries
- Play board games
- Also get a haircut
- Get pieces of jewellery, shoes and other clothing accessories
- Choose traditional and/or intercontinental dishes and snacks from restaurants
Remember that places in Uyo close early, so make sure you go before 9 – 10 pm and carry a nose mask with you for safety.
Brooks Street Open Park
This open field with trees for shade is one of the hottest fun spots in Uyo. Popularly known as Brookstreet open field, it is located at 36 Dominic Utuk Avenue, Uyo. It’s free for everyone and you will find people of all ages there. These are some of the things you can do at this park:
- Go with your mat and games or rent a mat and some card and/or board games (whot, chess, ludo) from vendors for as low as #100
- Record your YouTube videos (the lighting here is really great!)
- Practice with your dance crew
- Rehearse with your choir members
- Fellowship with your group
- Study with friends
- Do a wedding or birthday photo shoot
- Practice yoga
- Have a picnic with your lover(s) and/or friends
- Have a car date
- Share a cigarette or blunt with your gang
- Go jogging
- Visit the stream and do a hike when returning
- Take beautiful pictures
- Lastly, read a book in one of the quiet spots
Whatever you want to do in an open space, this park is the right place for you, with no judgement. In case you want to eat, there are kiosks with snacks and drinks and a mobile Suya vendor. And if you will be staying late, carry a mosquito repellent cream to avoid getting sores and falling sick.
It’s such a great spot that almost every Uyo resident with an Instagram account, has a picture of themselves at this park on their page. So if you just hop out of your ride, take a couple of selfies and leave, it’s not weird and it’s absolutely free.
Love Garden / Uyo Christmas Village
This is another free multi-purpose park. It has a museum in the centre and is usually the main centre during Christmas. In fact, more people call it Christmas Village than Love Garden now. These are some of the things you can do here when visiting Uyo:
- Practise your catwalk on the levelled ground
- Practice yoga on the field or on the levelled ground
- Do a birthday/wedding shoot or even a more popular one, a model shoot
- Play football
- Practice with your dance crew
- Host an event
You can find it at Udo Udoma Avenue, opposite Industrial Bank Layout, beside Akwa Ibom House of Assembly complex.
Ibom Icon & Hotel Golf Resort
This is one of the best hotels in Uyo and they host fun activities whether you book a room or not. You can:
- Ride bikes with your friends, or lover, or go alone.
- Play golf
- Swim with your friends
You can find this place in Nwaniba, Uyo.
This is a paintball park located at Sun Centre, Ewet Housing Estate. If you have beef with your friends and you don’t mind getting dirty, this is the right spot for you! You just have to book a reservation and when you get there, you’ll be geared up and ready to have some fun! They’re usually open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 7 pm.
Christmas is a big deal in every part of the world and Uyo is no exception. Everywhere gets lit! The state government sets up a Christmas Village at Love Garden, organises carol nights and hosts entertainers. It’s a great time to be in Uyo as the streets literally come alive with decorations.
Masquerades are also a part of these celebrations. They parade the streets occasionally with black-painted bodies and masks. If you’re scared of masquerades and you don’t want to give money or receive lashings, ask the people in the area when the masquerades come out to avoid meeting them.
Car Parks in Uyo are located in one area, so whichever transport company you use, you’ll have to visit Itam Industrial Layout, whether you’re visiting Uyo or leaving Uyo. There, you can pick from about 3 different transport companies to take you home.
Like every other Nigerian city, you will see cabs and buses by the road, offering to take you to your destination for half the price, but it’s always better to go to the park where there are trusted and reputable transport companies.
A lot of people have been talking about Uyo on social media. You should join the conversation by visiting. Who knows? You might fall in love with it.
Uyo is one of the best places to live if you want to retire to a quiet place that has almost everything you need or live in an area where your friends/family are just 20 minutes away. Remember, once a year, you should go somewhere you’ve never been because you might find a home there. Where have you been this 2023?
Check out these places you should have on your bucket list in 2023 for ideas!