Venezuela Travel Information
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110/220 volts, 60Hz. American two-pin plugs are generally used.
Spanish is the official language of Venezuela.
There are no vaccination requirements for Venezuela, but those who plan to travel in areas outside the main cities should be immunised against yellow fever, Hepatitis A, and typhoid. Some airlines travelling to Venezuela will insist on a yellow fever certificate before boarding the plane, and travellers are advised to check with their airline before travel. There is a risk of malaria, particularly in jungle areas, but prophylaxis is not necessary for travel to Caracas or the coastal areas. Medical advice should be sought at least three weeks prior to departure. Insect protection measures are vital to avoid both malaria and dengue fever, which is on the increase. Mains water should not be drunk, but bottled drinking water is available. Venezuela's hospitals offer free emergency treatment, however the private hospitals are better quality, though expensive. Public hospitals suffer from a shortage of basic supplies, as do private hospitals and clinics outside Caracas. Health insurance is advisable.
Tipping is at the discretion of the client and not obligatory. A 10% service charge is usually added to restaurant bills, but in budget places tipping is uncommon. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, but it is customary to give baggage handlers some small change per bag. Tips in Caracas are usually the highest.
The 1,000-mile (1,609km) long border between Venezuela and Colombia is notorious for the risk of violence, kidnapping, smuggling and drug trafficking. Visitors should give the border region a wide berth. Foreign nationals have also been kidnapped for ransom or violently mugged in Caracas and visitors should be alert to this threat in hotels, taxis and, in particular, the airport. Street crime is high in Caracas and other cities, and foreigners should be particularly cautious at night. Passengers have been robbed at gunpoint by bogus taxi-drivers at Caracas airport; it is best not to accept offers of assistance within the arrivals hall, only at the official taxi rank directly outside. Only licensed taxis bearing a clearly identifiable number should be used. The road from the airport to Caracas is undergoing major reconstruction, and journey times can be long and unpredictable. The road is best avoided after dark due to the recent spate of armed robberies taking place on the highway at night. Passengers arriving on late flights are particularly vulnerable. Unlicensed taxicab operators have been known to overcharge and rob passengers; travellers are advised to only use licensed radio taxis or those from reputable hotels. Political demonstrations, sometimes with violence and gunfire, occur regularly in Venezuela (many Venezuelans carry guns) and should be avoided. Pickpockets are very active in the city centres, particularly around bus and subway stations. Armed robberies and muggings are on the increase and theft of unattended valuables left on beaches or in cars is common. Obvious displays of wealth, and talking on mobile phones on the street, should be avoided to reduce the risk. The coastal beach resorts are generally trouble free, though visitors should use common sense in ensuring the safety of their person and possessions. There have been recent cases of robberies and assaults after tourists have been drugged - either through spiked drinks or pamphlets impregnated with substances that are handed out on the streets or in shopping centres. Safety standards in light aircraft are variable and there have been several accidents on the main tourist routes, including Margarita and Canaima/Angel Falls; visitors are advised to go with established companies operating modern multi-engined aircraft.
Photography of military installations and the Presidential Palace is prohibited.
Although the temperature in Venezuela is warm with a high humidity, formal business attire is the norm. People should be addressed as Señor (Mr), Señora (Mrs) and Señorita (Miss) unless otherwise specified. Shaking hands is a customary greeting, and business cards are exchanged on meeting for the first time; it is best to have one side translated into Spanish. Meetings are prompt and generally occur over lunch; evening dinners are generally reserved for socialising. Business hours are 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.
The international country code for Venezuela is +58 and the outgoing code is 00. City/area codes are in use, for example Caracas is (0)212. Mobile telephone GSM networks cover Caracas but are sparse outside of the city. Internet cafes are available in Caracas and tourist resorts.
Travellers to Venezuela do not have to pay duty on the following items: 25 cigars and 200 cigarettes; 2 litres of alcohol; and 4 small bottles of perfume. Those travellers arriving from international destinations do not have to pay duty on goods to the value of US$1,000. Prohibited items include flowers, fruits, meat and meat products, plants and birds or parts thereof.
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