Budapest Travel Information
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
Hungarian (Magyar) is the official language, but German is widely spoken, especially in the areas close to the Austrian border. English is spoken in tourist areas and most hotels.
No vaccinations are required for travel to Hungary and standards of public health are good, but a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Tap water is safe to drink and food poisoning is not considered a high risk, although visitors are recommended to vaccinate against typhoid, unless on a short stay and only eating at major hotels and restaurants. Travellers intending on visiting forested, grassy, lakeside or rural areas in spring and summer should consider a tick-borne encephalitis vaccine. A reciprocal health agreement with countries of the EU provides nationals with free emergency health care on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). All towns have pharmacies, but anyone requiring specific medication should bring a supply with them as most medicines are of Eastern European origin. Make sure that if you are travelling with prescribed medications you bring along a letter from your doctor stating your condition and the prescribed medication to smooth your way through customs. Health insurance is recommended.
Taxi drivers and waiters expect a tip of 10 to 15 percent in Hungary. Waiters should be handed the cash, rather than have it left on the table. Most people in the service industry expect to be tipped about 10 to 15 percent.
Most visits to Hungary are trouble-free, but normal precautions against petty crime should be taken. Pick pocketing and bag snatching is a risk on crowded public transport and other places frequented by tourists. Minimise your chance of being targetted by making use of hotel safes to store valuables and not displaying conspicuous wealth. It is also always a good idea to carry copies of important documents like your passport. Some bars, clubs and restaurants in Budapest charge outrageous prices by means of scams that target foreigners in particular. Be cautious of invitations off the street to dine in certain establishments or of recommendations by taxi drivers who are often in on the scam. Some taxi drivers can also overcharge or take passengers on a circuitous route. Any political demonstrations should be avoided, as they have led to violence in the past.
Hungarians are generally open and friendly people who will readily strike up conversation. Men and women greet each other by shaking hands and close friends kiss each other lightly on each cheek. Older men may bow to women and kiss them on the hand.
A handshake is the standard form of greeting when doing business in Hungary and in mixed company it is usually women who initiate. Conservative suits and ties are standard business dress and business people should be addressed by their title and surname. Business cards are often exchanged; Hungarians usually list their surnames first. It is useful to have a local representative when doing business in Hungary who can set up meetings and act as an interpreter. It is important to invest time on building relationships; socialising is a key element of this and face-to-face meetings are vital. Punctuality is vital to all occasions, and cancelling a meeting at the last minute may be detrimental to a business relationship. Due to the communist legacy there is an aversion to risk and plenty of red tape and therefore negotiations can be slow-moving and patience is required. Although Hungary remains male-orientated, being female is not a disadvantage to doing business. Business hours are usually from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday, though summer hours tend to be shorter.
The international access code for Hungary is +36. There are often high surcharges on calls made from hotels; it is cheaper to use public telephone boxes or calling cards. Local directory assistance is available by dialling 198, and international directory assistance is 199; callers may have to hold for a few moments, but English-speaking operators are available. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in larger towns.
Travellers to Hungary with goods purchased in the EU for personal use do not have to pay customs duty on 3200 cigarettes, or 400 cigarillos, or 200 cigars, or 3kg of smoking tobacco; 10 litres of spirits; 110 litres of beer; 20 litres of fortified wine, such as sherry or port; and 90 litres of wine. Travellers arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250g of smoking tobacco, or a proportional mix of these. Alcohol allowances (for passengers over 17 years) include 1 litre of spirits and 2 litres of wine; perfume up to 50g and 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods for personal consumption to the value of €175 per adult or €90 for children under 15 years. Prohibited items include fresh meat and dairy products.
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