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Travel Tips

Thanks to massive government subsidies, petrol is cheaper than water and bus prices generally reflect this. On overnight buses be sure to wear trousers and take a sweater on board as the drivers insist on turning the air conditioning mercilessly high despite protests from the passengers.


There are people ready to take advantage of tourists wherever you go, so general travel sense is needed to avoid being scammed. Changing money on the streets or with unofficial dealers at the airport is not recommended, if possible ask friends if they know anybody who would like to buy dollars or euros. Otherwise stick to Italcambio or other official bureaus. A number of years ago it was possible to get up to double the official rate on the black market, however things have become much more regulated and the imposition of hefty fines has discouraged the practice.


Market vendors will try to overcharge foreigners for goods, so try to get an idea of the normal price of things before haggling. If you don’t like the price just walk away, hopefully somebody else will be selling it cheaper nearby.


When buying bus tickets make sure you go to the actual counter – don’t buy from touts outside the station. Also, when you come to catch your bus, make sure you get on one leaving from inside the station – “pirate” companies operate outside and use much dodgier buses, make many unscheduled stops and charge more for the privilege.


It’s possible to hitchhike in Venezuela, but not recommended in urban areas. In the countryside it is sometimes the only way to get around without your own vehicle, but always be careful accepting lifts from strangers. Sometimes you may be asked to pay, make sure this is clear before you get in, not when you get out at the other end and your newest Venezuelan friend becomes the exact opposite.


Foreign women will find they attract a lot of unwelcome attention, especially if alone or with other women. Venezuela is an extremely macho country and women there have learnt to ignore the constant remarks, comments and shouts from men in the street. Ignoring machismo does not of course get rid of it, which is why the men and women are the way they are. Until women stop accepting being exploited and taken for granted by men, nothing will change.


The men are shameless with their comments and ridicule of women. Even the police may wind down the window and pull over to hiss at girls passing by. If you wear miniskirts and skimpy tops you can expect a lot more of this kind of attention than if you don’t.


When being introduced to somebody, a handshake is normal, regardless of gender. A normal goodbye is a handshake between men, or a single kiss for girls. When you meet somebody again it will stick to this rule. Younger men will use their special thumb handshake, which is fine between friends but maybe not the way to greet your girlfriend’s dad.