Budapest is a wonderfully unique city, yet it is also just like any other in that tourists can easily misunderstand situations and consequently have a few hiccups on their travels. As a born and bred Budapest boy, I am here to help you avoid some mistakes commonly made by visitors. If you keep these in mind, you’ll hopefully avoid any major mishaps.
1. Avoid taxi drivers who approach you in the airport
Once you’ve arrived at the airport, there will likely be people inside the terminal who will approach you, offering you a ride. They will try to convince you that they are taxi drivers and that they are cheaper than others you may find outside. However, they are far more expensive and may even be dangerous, so avoid these. Instead, head to the official taxi rank just outside. In Hungary the Taxi Decree is regulating the price* of the taxis at a fixed tariff of 300 HUF/Km (0.95 EUR/Km) in addition to the one-off basic fee of 700 HUF (2.2 EUR) and waiting fee. A ride to the city centre should typically cost around 7200 HUF (26 EUR) depending on traffic conditions. This is the official permitted taxi company at the airport;
2. Make sure you never exchange your money anywhere apart from at established places
Even though Hungary is in the EU, the euro is not widely accepted for payment here. Like several EU countries Hungary has not adopted the euro currency for various reasons. Hungarien currency called Forint and in Hungary the abbreviation of it is Ft. the international currency sign is HUF (Hungarian Forint). Always check the exchange rate before your travel on a reputable currency converter website. There are lots of shady characters loitering around the main tourist streets offering a “better rate than anywhere else”. Believe me, as attractive as it sounds, this exchange rate will not be favourable to you and you’ll end up with a loss. Also avoid the airport currency-exchange booths, places near the train stations or in touristy areas, banks, places open late at night or non-stop, hotels. My suggestion is to exchange before you travel or carry a 0% exchange fee bank card and use that card and draw cash out of the ATM machine in Budapest.
3. Don’t forget to tip
Though many restaurants in Hungary do include it, at least 50% still don’t believe in a default service charge being added to your bill, so make sure to leave a tip at the end of your meal. Also, remember to always tip your taxi driver. Whatever the final sum is, add a 10-15% tip depending on how happy you were with the services as well as how generous you’re feeling!
4. Try not to take taxis everywhere
Budapest is relatively small so you can walk to most places in and around central Budapest. The city also has great public transport links including buses, a metro system and a 24/7 running tram service. a, you can avoid the taxi mafia in Budapest and any uncomfortable scenarios deriving from that. b. if you must use a taxi, don’t be impatient and jump into the first yellow taxi looking car. Call a reputable taxi company or download and use the Taxify app. Hungary scared Uber out of their country, but Taxify is very much like UBER. Click here to download; Taxify for iOS, Taxify for Android
5. Never get on public transport without a valid ticket – not even if you’re only going one stop.
You’ll definitely get caught and won’t be able to get out of it by saying you don’t speak Hungarian or that you didn’t know where to buy the ticket. A single price ticket is only US$1/£0.80/€0.90 but the penalty for not having one around $35/£27/€30 – it’s not really worth it, is it? You can buy booklets of 10 tickets at most metro stations and newsagents.
6. Don’t always take a hotel concierge recommendation at face value
They may be biased. I know, I know, this could be true for almost any hotel in the world, but my point is that it never hurts to double check these things and use social media sites for a second opinion (i.e. TripAdvisor, Foursquare etc.)
7. You’ll be approached by some very pretty girls on the streets…don’t get involved!
While walking the streets of Budapest, especially at night, you’ll most likely be approached by a couple of ladies, coaxing you into their company. I understand that your newly established sex appeal is rather flattering but believe me these girls are rather misleading about their intentions…be polite and decline firmly as soon as possible – “Just one drink – what’s the worst that can happen?” can easily turn in to a horribly uncomfortable experience.
+1 Don’t act surprised if you hear the word “puszi”
Pronounced “pussy”, hearing this can be a little irking for most English speakers. However, in Hungarian, it means “kisses”! #kiss #peck #smooch #muah #x Being totally innocent and sweet, almost every Hungarian phone conversation will either start and/or end with this word, so you’ll no doubt hear it frequently while in Budapest.
If I haven’t scared you away with the above to travel to Budapest, I always recommend to check out the following online travel sites to find the very best prices for flights and hotels.
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