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At a population of over 10 million, Kinshasa is the largest French-speaking city in the world, and is a bustling city under renovation, with remnants of colonial architecture amid the new structures. It is one of the busiest ports on the Congo River, and is full of music and art, with street vendors on every busy street, and an irrepressible energy to explore.
You can explore the area's lush countryside through parks like the Symphonies Naturelles, also a concert venue, or the Cercle de Kinshasa, along with the many wildlife discovery and adventure sports opportunities nearby.
You must spend at least one sweaty night on the town dancing to kwassa kwassa, soukous, or other local varieties of hip-shaking music.
Look for bargains on local goods like textiles, woodwork, ceramic, bronze sculptures, and more at Marché Central and Marché Gambela, where you can find anything from clothes to furniture and hardware.
Kinshasa is a city of art, home to a large arts school and everything from street artists to posh galleries to discover.
The city's cuisine is a delicious mix of traditional Congolese foods, along with Indian, Chinese, French, and other European influences. There is also a thriving local brewery scene.
With daytime temperatures ranging between 81 and 89 degrees year round, most visitors arrive during the dry season between May and September.
Kinshasa (N'djili) International Airport (FIH) lies just over 22 miles from the city center. A taxi to the city is the safest and most reliable way to get there, and should cost about FC40,000-60,000.
The Matadi-Kinshasa Railway connects Kinshasa with Matadi, with one trip available weekly. Boat travel is more common, with service available to Brazzaville and other centers in the DRC.
Roads outside the city are generally unpaved, so your only viable connection by car on a paved road is to take the N1 is to Matadi.
Most of the country's roadways are not paved, making bus travel an adventurous experience for visitors, and is not recommended.
Enjoy modern comforts and friendly staff at Léon Hôtel, while you'll stay in stylish contemporary elegance at the Kabe Hotel, with great views of the city.
Matonge - aka Zone de Matonge, this neighborhood in the Kalamu commune is where you'll find much of the city's music and arts, including a lively nightclub scene and some of Kinshasa's recording studios.
Mont Amba - this modern district is where you'll find the University of Kinshasa, hospital, and other institutions, along with art galleries in the Limete quarter.
Gombe - this modern area is part residential and part home to the city's business and commercial district.
There are several private companies running bus service in the city. Urban commuter trains are operated by ONATRA, with service available to the airport and various stations throughout the city, with fares that vary by distance. A monthly pass is FC57, 486.
There are many taxis in the tourists and commercial areas of Kinshasa. Fares start at FC3,960.
Solar-powered robots are used as traffic police in Kinshasa, and you should consider carefully whether you want to venture into the perpetually jammed streets of the city. Car rentals are in scarce supply and often cost a premium rate; vehicles from the Avis location at Brazzaville airport start at FC91,000.
Avenue Lt. Colonel Lukusa is where you'll find Le Premier Shopping Mall and modern boutiques. There are markets and other shopping opportunities along Avenue des Entreprises.
The City Market and Hasson et Frères offer well-stocked shelves. A quart of milk costs about FC2,560, and a dozen eggs costs roughly FC3,540.
Eat local with a huge menu of Congolese favorites that start at FC15,850 at Chez Flore, where locals love to dine. For a creative menu of Indian/Chinese/European fusion cuisine, look to stylish Fusion, where main dishes begin at about FC19,800.