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 vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are 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 if they are spending a lot of time in rural areas and planning to eat outside of hotels and restaurants. Travellers intending on visiting forested, grassy, lakeside or rural areas in spring and summer should also consider a tick-borne encephalitis vaccine but this is usually only necessary for those staying long term.
A reciprocal health agreement with countries in the EU provides nationals with free emergency health care on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). All big towns have pharmacies, but anyone requiring specific medication should bring a supply with them as most medicines are of Eastern European origin and may be unfamiliar. 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. Comprehensive 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, somebody who can set up meetings and act as an interpreter. It is important to invest time in building relationships; socialising is a key element of this and face-to-face meetings are vital. Punctuality is important on all occasions, and cancelling a meeting at the last minute may be detrimental to a business relationship. Due to the communist legacy there is often an aversion to risk and plenty of red tape and therefore negotiations can be slow-moving and patience is required. Although business in Hungary remains male-orientated, being female is not a disadvantage to doing business. Business hours are usually from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
The international access code for Hungary is +36. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The area code for Budapest is 1. 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.
There are no restrictions on the import or export of local currency. For travellers to Hungary arriving from other EU countries there is no limit on the amount or value of the items that can be imported for personal use. Travellers arriving by air from countries outside of the EU, over the age of 17, can import the following duty-free: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 4 litres of wine, 16 litres of beer, and either 1 litre of spirits containing more than 22% alcohol or 2 litres of alcoholic beverages containing less than 22% alcohol; and other goods up to a value of €430.
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