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How to be safe in Budapest

How to be safe in Budapest

Budapest has been popular with Western travellers, backpackers and tourists alike in the past 18 years. The places of interest and the things to do are fairly obvious. The question is, what dangers and challenges can you face as a visitor? Here is a concise list of situations to avoid:

  1. Do not hail a taxi in the street, even if it has some kind of logo that looks familiar, to avoid getting massively overcharged. Always call one in advance by giving the exact address to the English-speaking dispatching service. The taxi will never take more than 10-15 minutes to arrive.
  1. Avoid ladies in the main pedestrian street, who pretend to be Hungarian „students" and just want a drink, with you, in a bar they know.
  1. When booking accommodation, either do it in advance, or in a local tourist office on arrival. Avoid the old ladies at train stations who claim to have the best private rooms downtown - the price and the services change like the weather.
  1. Muggings are very rare but pickpocketing is still a flourishing industry. Keep your passport, travel documentation and other valuables directly on your person, and when carrying a bag, make sure it can not be opened by someone behind you on a crowded bus.
  1. When exchanging money, there are multiple challenges. Firstly, it's obvious that you should not deal with illegal money changers - getting a counterfeit note and then trying to pay with it later may get you in serious trouble. Secondly, not all official change offfices are fair - even at the main train station (Keleti Railway Station) and the main pedestrian street Váci, there are businesses that offer money exchange at a horrible rate. They blatantly lie about the commission they take and offer no refunds (you may easily lose 20% of the changed amount this way). Make sure to ask how much you will actually be getting before handing any money over.
  1. When going to the thermal baths, make sure you choose a co-ed pleasure bath such as the Gellért, Széchenyi, Dagály, Palatinus and not a single-sex Turkish bath to avoid a cultural shock (such as the Rudas and Király baths). Always bring your own slippers and towels, as well as your bathing suit.
booking accommodation exchanging money thermal baths
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