Most discussed travel topics of December 2019
There were about 120 Prague travel related questions asked on the TripAdvisor forum in December 2019. Below is the top most common questions with the best replies and my suggestions. I dug into it, so you do not have to. You can also read the November 2019 digest.
There have been some older threads reopened and thus the most replied topics were:
- money change and money withdrawal, safe ATM’s in Prague
- airport and train station transfers,
- continued by public transportation questions related to trams from the train station and getting from/to the airport
- tipping in Prague,
- dining in Prague, in December the main focus was on the steak houses
- opening times and business over the Christmas time
- river cruises on the Vltava river
Q: Are businesses open during the Christmas?
The most important days for Czech people are 24th, 25th and 26th December. The 24th is the Christmas Eve, but the day is a normal working day. 25th and 26th are the official public holidays.
If you are staying in the city center, you will not feel any difference. Shops, restaurants and bars remain open like during normal days. During the public holidays shops and some other businesses like banks are closed.
Christmas time is less busy in terms of traffic as well as local people tend to go away from Prague or stay home, so the streets feel less packed.
Q: Is it safe to change / withdraw money at the airport?
The original post was more about the money change at the Prague Vaclav Havel airport, yet there were couple of money change related questions in the forum.
Answer 1: No. Like any other world airport the money change at the Prague airport is a rip off. The best is to withdraw money from the ATM’s outside the custom area. There is a cluster of regular bank ATM’s at the public area of the arrival hall. Moneta, Unicredit and other banks operated.
Tip 1: Make sure to check with your home bank, which local banks in Prague will not charge you any fees for the withdrawal.
Tip 2: Avoid the SCAM ATM’s operated by Euronet at all costs. Watch a video by Honest Guide.
Tip 3: Do not use the ATM’s with DCC – dynamic currency conversion. The exchange rate you will get is very likely going to be bad.
Q: Money exchange in Prague, where to change, which currency to bring?
There were multiple threads about the money change in Prague topic as usual. The users mainly asked, where to change money and if there is any currency more demanded than others. I was surprised to see this, as communist era ended in 1989 and the Czech Republic is part of the Western World since then. Obviously not for everyone.
Another questions were related to money change within European Union. One user was particularly interested in changing CZK into EUR after their trip in Czechia ended. She was curious whether it would be more advantageous to change in the Czech Republic or somewhere else like Austria.
Third most common question was about the money change in general. Which is the best money change that does not rip off its customers.
Answer 1: There is not any currency that would be more demanded than other. Common currencies are GBP, EUR, USD and other European currencies. Naturally most world currencies are traded and accepted in Prague.
Answer 2: If you have any CZK left, it is the best to change them in the Czech Republic.
Answer 3: There are plenty of good exchange places: Exchange.cz in Kaprova street or Smenarna in Politickych veznu street.
Tip 1: To change money safely, make sure that WE BUY/WE SELL rates are similar, difference should not be more than 0.5 CZK. This way you can easily recognize if the exchange place is a SCAM/RIP OFF or not.
Tip 2: Before you confirm the transaction, check with the clerk, what amount of money will you get for e.g. 100 Euro. If confirmed rate is around what you expected, you can proceed to closing the deal.
Tip 3: Make sure they do not charge any fee or commission for money change below e.g. 1000 Euro. Some places advertise exceptional rates, but when you actually change the money there, you get a lot less money, because you are not changing enough.
Q: Airport transfers, train station transfers, UBER, BOLT, AAA related questions
It is obvious that Prague taxi drivers have a terrible reputation. Private airport taxi and train station transfers are highly demanded thanks to the never ending scams. UBER, BOLT and AAA are the biggest players on the market of regular metered taxi. Even though a lot of users complain about BOLT and UBER operating old crap cars that are driven by Uzbek, Ukrainian or other Eastern Europe / ex USSR drivers, who actually do not understand Czech or English and do not know their way around. Their service seems to be increasingly popular thanks to very low prices. Getting to the Prague airport costs around 350 – 370 CZK, where regular taxi charges from 550 – 700 CZK. Fixed price airport transfers are available from 450 CZK to 900 CZK depending on selected vehicle and additional available services.
Q: Prague river cruises – is it better to do a night or day boat trip?
In my opinion as well as Tripadvisor community it mostly depends on what one expects from such a cruise. There are many options available. You can do 50 minutes cruise without anything or you can do a day / night cruise for couple of hours with lunch or dinner or even live music. Choose a river cruise based on reviews, price and the amount of time you wish to allot for such activity.
Tip 1: Book directly with the ship operators or through operators that guarantee the same or better price. There are only a few boat companies in Prague and it gives you no advantage to get the tickets through a booking agent or reseller.
I worked with all three companies in the past and all are reputable and reliable river cruise companies.
Q: Where to eat good steaks in Prague?
Couple of recommendations from the Tripadvisor community:
- George’s Prime Steak house
- La Casa Argentina
- Gran Fierro
- Ambiente Brasillero
Q: What is the appropriate amount to tip in Prague?
In general local people in Prague do not tend to tip a lot. However as long as the person works in travel industry, tipping is expected. Regular tip is 5 – 10%, exceptional service is awarded by 15 – 20% tip. There is a big discussion on a thread from November 2019 about tipping. The users discuss whether it is necessary to tip for cleaning services at hotels. Some agree, some disagree. I believe that if you are happy with someone’s service, you can tip. I find offensive and rude if restaurants, bars or any other providers charge tips / service charges automatically. Sometimes it is well hidden in the list on the receipt, so you can end up double-tipping.
Tip 1: If you are happy with someone’s service, tip him/her no matter, which service it is.
Tip 2: If you are not sure, ask if tip is included or if it is voluntary
Tip 3: If you do not feel like tipping, do not tip. Tip is a bonus and it must be deserved.
Q: Is it easy to travel by a tram from the train station to hotels in Mala Strana?
It seems like a simple question, but there were quite a few Prague public transportation related threads. First of all it depends whether you have or do not have luggage. Traveling with luggage can be painful in Prague as many streets and sidewalks are built with cobblestone.
Secondly it depends, which hotel you are staying at. Hotels located in Uvoz and top of Nerudova street are difficult to get to, when you have to drag your heavy luggage. The same trouble you can experience, if you stay in Trziste, Vlasska street, Jansky Vrsek and Janska street.
Public transportation in Prague is cheap, safe and reliable. The confusing can be payment for the tickets as well as getting the electronic ticket. To obtain E-Ticket, you are supposed to have a Czech phone number, you will not receive E-ticket confirmation to a foreign number.
Tip 1: If you accompany a child younger than 3 years, you only pay 20 CZK per ticket for the child and you travel for free.
Tip 2: Seniors over 70 years old are allowed to use the public transport for free.
Tip 3: Ticket is only valid with a timestamp. You have to stamp your ticket once you get to the paid area. Most of the tickets get validated in the orange machines as per the picture. The machine is found in the bus or tram and at the entry gate to the METRO at the first underground level. There are no barriers as well as no regular checks, thus one can easily forget to validate the ticket. The fines are incredibly higher than the cost of the ticket.