110/220 volts, 60Hz. American two-pin plugs are
Spanish is the official language of Venezuela.
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.