With an ongoing drug war the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to within 80km (50 miles) of the Colombian border while in Venezuela. There have also been violent protests in Merida City and this has affected the tourist areas. Always speak to your local travel agent before booking. Street crime is high however with more than 9,000 British nationals visiting Venezuela there has been few incidents for consular assistance. If you do experience problems then contact the British Embassy in Venezuela for assistance.
You are advised to use only the official currency exchange booths as the black market exchanges will give you fake local currency in exchange for your money. When leaving you cannot exchange your currency back from local currency to US dollars again so exchange what you think you will need and spend it accordingly. Credit card fraud is a major problem as well as with cloning. Cards are accepted in most towns and large hotels but don’t depend on it. You can draw cash even though some British nationals have complained about not being able to withdraw money. Sometimes the machine will ask for a 2 digit identification code and you need to type in 00 (two zeros) for the transaction to continue. There is also a Western Union in the country in the event of needing emergency cash.
Hurricane season runs from June to November so if you don’t like the rain then this is not the time to go. Disruptions occur due to flooding in Llanos and the valleys in Merida State.
This is a bit of a hit and miss in the country so always have travel insurance and ensure that you have medivac insurance as anything serious you would need to be transferred to a hospital in Miami. Due to the economic crisis there is a shortage of medicines in the country. If you are on medication then ensure that you have enough medication for your stay in the country and keep a copy of your prescription in your bag when entering the country. The Central and Southern States are affected by Dengue fever and Malaria during the rainy season. There have also been a number of outbreaks of Chikungunya in the Caribbean in 2014. Tap water is unsafe to drink so stick to bottled water at all times.
If you arrive by air you can get a visa on arrival for 90 days at the airport on condition that you have a return ticket. If you are crossing over a land border then you must have a visa for the country which was issued at one of their embassies. If you are planing on staying then you need to have a residency permit. This is done visa SAIME which you would need to contact. Note that many companies offering residency permits are not genuine. Children traveling unaccompanied, with a guardian, or with one parent must provide a certified letter from the non-travelling parent(s) confirming that they are satisfied for the child to travel without them.
Don’t do drugs! See British in prisons overseas to get an idea of this insanity.
Safety and security
Stay away from the border areas by at least 80 kilometers. Kidnappings occur in Venezuela and are not uncommon. It is mainly locals but foreigners do get trapped in this as well. Stay far away from the slums. Sabana Grande is not a safe area in which to stay in Caracas. If you are looking for cheap hotels then safer areas like Chacao, La Castellana and Altamira are better. British nationals have been robbed while in the Avila National Park so only keep on you what is needed at all times. The risk of crime is higher after dark. Try not to go out alone. Don’t camp on or visit beaches after dark.
Note : Don’t accept pamphlets from anyone as it has been know to contain drugs to knock you out in order to rob you later. Dont accept drinks from strangers or any food as it has been known to be spiked.
Gangs at Maiquetia airport have been known to look for wealthy tourists so they can be mugged later down the road so dress down at all times so don’t display jewellery or electronic items. Travel between Caracas and Maiquetia airport during the hours of darkness is not advised as you are more likely to be mugged. If you are late to arrive then stay at the airport until day break. Always use a licensed taxi.
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