Traveling is one of the most amazing things in life. Exploring beautiful places and learning about new cultures is a mind blowing experience, as long as you don’t learn the hard way. Doing your research can help you avoid most sticky situations, but let’s be honest: Sometimes you just want to travel lazy and wing it. We’ve put together some of the essentials so that you can make the most out of your stay without the heavy lifting 🙂
In the 90’s and early 00’s Budapest (and Eastern Europe in general) was considered rather dodgy. While there was some truth to this, most of it was highly exaggerated. A lot has changed since and now this is one of the most magical (and safest) corners of Europe. This is still Eastern Europe however; we are crafty little bastards, so paying a bit of attention can get a totally different experience out of your stay. That’s why we’ve created our how to Budapest guide. Here are a couple things that are good to know:
Always second guess convenience:
If something is too easy, you might be getting screwed. We aren’t all out there to get you, so this isn’t the time to put on your tin foil hats and spiral down to mouth frothing paranoia, but a bit of common sense can change your trip for the better. You can apply most of these to any big city in Europe:
Don’t randomly change currency wherever it seems convenient. If the place is anywhere near an airport/train station, or is opened past 8 pm you are definitely getting screwed. It might come as a shock to you but people don’t run their businesses to be nice to you. Especially if said business is in the tourism industry. Not checking exchange rates online is foolish. Unless you have a fat trust fund waiting for you I’d recommend hopping on wifi.
Don’t get into random cabs. This is true 10x near airports and train stations. Random cabbies are all about skinning clueless tourists (not literally though, stop grabbing that pepper spray). You should get someone to call you a legit cab. Or at least try to get one with a company name and a price tag on the door. You should try to get them to give you an estimate fare for the ride. In the city center it shouldn’t exceed 3000 huf
Don’t trust very conveniently placed ATMs. The euro ATMs are a shining beacon of hope in the evening for the traveler with a growing thirst and a shrinking wallet. Convenience this time would cost you about 20% commission on your withdrawal, and they are even cheeky enough to only offer huge numbers on their initial screen. Get your money elsewhere.
Don’t buy goods on the street. You know what I’m talking about. It won’t end well for you and that’s a guarantee.
Don’t expect venues around touristic sights to have reasonable prices. They are there for a reason. In most cases price and quality have the opposite relation and common sense should dictate.
Talk to the locals, REALLY!!
Hungarians don’t show a lot of emotion in public. This is some weird custom that makes everyone look mean and grumpy. We tend to have our guards up a little bit, but they are fairly easy to break, and most of us have a soft gooey center 🙂 I’ve heard from a few people that they didn’t have a good time here, because the locals are rude. If you are experiencing this the most common causes are the following:
You are expecting people to kiss your ass all day
You ran into a bit of a language barrier, and its frustrating the locals
You are being an entitled prick
You met someone who is a dickhead. Happens everywhere. Shouldn’t be too common
In general Hungarians are rather hospitable. Most of the people here don’t get a chance to travel much, so they are pretty happy to meet new people and learn about other cultures. Meet the locals, it will make your stay infinitely better.
Don’t think with your penis
While this rule doesn’t only apply to Budapest, this region has an extremely high ratio of pretty girls, and even more lame scams built around it. When it comes to the art of the con Hungarians are pretty lazy, so the slightest amount of common sense (which sadly isn’t a built in function in all our visitors) can get you out of most sticky situations. Just use the basic rule of Too good to be true, and avoid the following:
99.9% of strip bars (they will charge you to the moon and back)
Pretty girls inviting you to shady places you don’t know
Might not hurt to question the girl way out of your league suddenly hitting on you in clubs
Once again, it’s not like everyone is out to get you, but you might wanna use your brain every now and then.
Pick up some hungarian
The local language is a mess. It’s not like anything else out there, and is extremely hard to learn to speak properly. At the same time picking up a couple phrases isn’t such a hard task, and it goes a long way. While foreigners aren’t always viewed in the best way possible, you can break away from all that by making a little effort. Click here to load up on some basic phrases. It will make your experience here infinitely better.
Splurge a little
While holidays are all about relaxing and spending more than you can actually afford, traveling can bring out our more stingy self. When we set out to explore the world comfort isn’t the number1 priority, and budgeting soon can take over. This is the place where you should wipe that instinct.
Budapest holds many wonders, all of which are VERY affordable. If you come here with a budgeting mindset, you will miss out on a great deal, and you won’t actually save too much. This city holds amazing cuisine from all over the world (you can read about that HERE), some of the best bars in Europe and a boatload of fun activities to try.
Treat yourself, you deserve it.