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The currency on Trinidad and Tobago is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar , also known as the TT (pronounced teetee ). US dollars are also widely accepted. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted at many stores. American Express, Diners’ Club, Discover, JCB and others are only accepted in a few places. ATM (ABM) cards using Cirrus and Plus networks will work in local ATMs and will allow you to make withdrawals in TT dollars converted to your home currency. The exchange rate when withdrawing from the ATM is slightly better than when exchanging cash (As of 01/01/18 This is no longer true, due to a thriving balck market, dollars trade at a premium meaning 10-30% difference between ATM rate and street changers). There are also ATMs in a few places such as shopping malls that will dispense US dollars. Be advised that Trinidad and Tobago ATMs do not accept PINs longer than four digits. Consider changing it to four digits before you travel. As of December 2011, Republic Bank ATMs (Blue Machines) accept six-digit PINs.
Prices in shops and stores are generally displayed and do not change according to the customer. Outdoor vendors, however, are another story: they are likely to charge a different, higher price for a foreigner than for a local. A few will even suggest or demand payment in US dollars. You can try haggling, or just grin and bear it.
Most items except necessities and certain other items that are zero rated attract Value Added Tax (VAT) at the rate of 15%. The tax is collected at the time of sale.
Weights and measures are officially in Metric, however it is not uncommon for imperial (English) units to still be used. Though the other units are the same, the imperial gallon is not the same as the U.S. gallon.
Due to its varied background, Trinidad and Tobago has excellent and varied food options. In particular, the Indian roots have added to some of the best foods of any country in the world. If you can’t tolerate extremely hot and spicy food, be sure to let the cook or waiter know in advance.
Popular throughout T&T are tasty rotis , Indian flatbreads stuffed with Channa(chickpea curry), usually some meat, and other items (including green beans also known as bodi, pumpkin, and mangoes). There are several types of roti available in Trinidad– sada, which is similar to pita or naan; dhalpouri, which is filled with ground yellow split peas; and buss up shut, a heartier bread, with a silken texture. Cheap breakfasts of sada roti and ‘choka’ – vegetables of all kinds are available for about TT$3-4. But the most popular fast snack is a ‘doubles’. One Famous spot is “GEORGE DOUBLES” located in Woodbrook outside the ever famous “Brooklyn Bar”. Doubles is curried chick peas enclosed in two pieces of fried bread, and served your choice of condiments. It is a roadside snack, available everywhere at about TT$2-$4. “Ali’s Doubles” is a chain that sells doubles. There are a few locations around Trinidad, mostly in San Fernando. Eat hot.
Phoulourie is another popular roadside snack. Phoulourie are small balls, made of fried ground chick peas and flour. It and other popular snack foods like roast corn, cow heel soup, aloo pies (fried potato pies) and saheena (spinach dipped in batter and fried), are often available from street vendors, especially around the Savannah.
Trinidad and Tobago is also famous for its mouth watering callaloo– a soup made from green leafy vegetables, similar to spinach or kale, sometimes with crab or pigtail added (vegetarians beware!) Callalloo is not the most appetizing of foods to look at, but it is certainly worth a try.
Another must try in T&T is the famous Bake and Shark or Shark ‘n Bake. Most easily obtained along the north coast near Maracas Bay, pieces of Shark are deep fried, served in cut fried bread called “fried bake”, and accompanied by various sauces, most popular of which is a puree of chadon (pronounced “shadow”) beni (a herb similar to cilantro.)
Another popular food traditionally associated with beach limes is pelau, usually accompanied with coleslaw. Pelau, is not, however, available for purchase at the beach, although you may be able to find it in a creole restaurant.
If you have a sweet tooth, there are many local sweets and candies to sample like Toolum, Tambran Ball, Guava Cheese, Sugar Cake, Paw Paw Ball, Benna Ball, Jub Jub, Kurma, Barfi, Ladoo, Peera. Many of these will be available on the “lookout” on the way to Maracas Beach, and prepackaged in some supermarkets.
A few American style fast food chains are available including KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King. There are also a few franchised eat-in restaurants such as TGI Friday’s and Ruby Tuesday. There are a few local chains such as Royal Castle (chicken and chips), Chicken Unlimited. These local fried chicken chains have a different taste from American or European fried chicken chains. Pizza Boys and Mario’s are two popular local Pizza chains. The pizza is quite different from American or Italian pizza.
Chinese food is available in many places from Chinese takeout stores. It is Cantonese style but the spices are uniquely Trinidadian.
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