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The website of the Malian Embassy in Washington DC has all of the pertinent information to apply for a tourist visa.
If you cannot obtain a visa before you travel, entry stamps are given upon arrival at Bamako airport, which allow you to enter Mali.
**Be prepared for lengthy procedures to exchange travellers checks, and be sure to have your purchase receipt some banks and exchange bureaus will not exchange travellers checks without the purchase receipt.
In the interior of Mali and other countries, cash may also be exchanged (not quite as easily as in the capital cities), but travelers checks likely not.
There are also outlets in Bamako, Sikasso, Kayes, Segou, Mopti, and Timbuktu, as well as in all medium to large cities in our neighbor countries, where cash can be transferred and accessed the same day.
We now recommend obtaining all visas prior to travel, to avoid hassles, delays, and possibly being turned back at a border crossing.Tip: food and water precautions - drink only boiled or bottled liquids, and make sure the intact bottle cap is removed in your presence; don't eat anything raw that you haven't peeled yourself.Tip: to avoid dehydration, do make an effort to drink more water than you normally do, even if you don't feel thirsty.In the interior of any country, do not count on using credit cards at all.It is nevertheless a good idea to bring a Visa card for emergency use in the capital cities.