Your Advice - Do's and Dont's in Venezuela for vacation -;) ???

Hey - I don't live in Venezuela but want to come and visit by end of this year for vacation (4-6 week) and started researching a bit...therefore, I am open for any suggestions you might have and willing to share with me what places to visit, which don't, how to commute, when is the best time to go and ...

I am German and moved a while ago to Doha and want to discover Venezuela over December and January....

Any suggestions or comments are welcome to start planning and a discussion...either by locals preferably and/or other travelers who are in the same stage of planning to come or have been to Columbia....

Muchas gracias...and many thanks for your valuable feedback and advise in advance :-) really appreciate it...

Hasta Luego...


First things first:
* Do you have any idea of what you want to do while in Venezuela? Cities? Places? Activities?
* Do you know anyone in here?
* Do you speak spanish?
* What are your interests? Water sports? Adventure? City? Meeting the locals? Upscale tourism?  Hostals? 5-star hotels? Culture? Gastronomy? Jungle?

I'll give you the basic rundown of suggestions that will help you regardless of what you want to do:

- Learn basic spanish: It is not uncommon to find people that speak basic english but that's what most speak BASIC english.  You will be hard pressed to find people that speak intermediate or fluent english if you are not in an upscale hotel/resort.  Forget about German in here... only few people speak German and it will be extremely hard to find them.

- Never use an international credit card in Venezuela.  A McDonald meal for one costs 40$ using an international credit card.  Don't get me started on everything else.  Just don't use it unless it is an emergency

- Buy bolivares in the black market OR try to meet the requisites to buy them from SICAD II (google it).  Buy a McDonal meal at SICAD II rates is equivalent to paying 5 dolars (8 times cheaper than your credit card).  At the current black market rate the cost of the meal is 3,5 USD which is about 12 times cheaper.

- Bring US Currency, it is a lot easier to exchange than Euros.

- There are basically no counterfit bolivares in Venezuelan currency. Why? Because our most valuable bill is 100 Bs.  Equivalent to $2 (USD) at current SICAD II rate, is not worth counterfitting those bills.  You can check the basic traslucent marks and such, but really you don't have to worry much about it.

- People is friendly here... sometimes too friendly,

We have issues with safety in the streets, mostly with thieves and mugging, keep your valuables in a safe place

- The political unrest that you hear in the news is exagerated, but it does exist.  While we have issues, we are not about to burst into a civil war.  You have to watch the news and pay attention of your surroundings while you are in a city, out of the big cities these problems basically don't exist.

- In November and December things should calm down because most Venezuelan are big party-goers and drinkers.  People just enjoy the festivities and basically forget about the problems during 4-6 weeks.  It is all about the family and having fun.

Just answer my questions and I'll provide you with more support.  If you would like to contact me directly we can talk over skype, whatsapp, bbm or direct messages from this forum.

Thanks for the information! It seems like you are a level-headed person, nice to hear from someone with this perspective. I am moving to Valencia in July to teach at an international school, looking forward to my time in Venezuela.

I try to be a level-headed person, I still have my own views in politics and a very strong opinion about everything that is wrong in here.  However, I still use my brain and think for myself instead of mindlessly following the media or rumours.

We have a lot of issues in here, problems with food, safety, public services and I can really spent hours talking about all these issues.  However, if you are coming to Venezuela to work and get paid in USD/EUR  or if you are just coming for a few weeks on vacations you should be fine and will enjoy your stay (for the most part).

I do not recommend anyone to try to settle in this country if you don't come from a Warzone or a place with political unrest. 

Again if you want to reach me and talk directly I'll happily assist you...

Thanks gunflame, I am getting paid in USD. Twice as much as I make in the US even before exchanging money so I'm looking to save some money for a few years. I might be messaging you throughout my stay with some questions. Most appreciated.

Interesting. I might be moving to venezuela too for work in caracas. Any tips on how to stay safe and not got in trouble. Also do most of the killings happen in the barrio or just everywhere?

You are obviously gonna be employed or getting paid by work to stay here.  Let them handle the living arrangements, they should know best where to house you.  Most likely will be in Chacao or Baruta County.  These counties are divided in zones, the best ones of the top of my head are Las Mercedes, Chacao, Altamira, Palos Grandes and a few others.

There's one thing that you can't really do anything about... do you look like a "gringo"?  That basically means you are extremely white and have light colored eyes (blue), also you are blond or red-head.  If you can walk around and "blend in" you will be safer than if you look like a foreinger.

Basically you just have to walk around like if you were in a sketchy neighborhood.  Watch people around you, don't use your cell phone in public, don't carry around a lot of cash and just the regular things you would do in a bad neighborhood. 

About murders, they could happen anywhere, anytime, but most likely to happen in barrios and almost never in some places (I assume London is the same).  Like I said this is not a civil war, and the most common crime is theft or robbery.  If someone is out to rob you, just hang over what he asks for and let him be, you don't want a simple robbery to become an assault or a  murder.  He will probably run away as soon as he takes your stuff.

Thanks .. I am African .. So hopefully I will blend . I am excited but nervous as I have heard mixed reviews .

have you ever been robbed ? or had any personal stories about caracas? or venezuela in general

I have not been robbed in about 20 or 22 years.  However, last year:

In Maracaibo, where my family lives (2nd largest city in Venezuela)
- Someone broke into my mom's car last year and stole the airbag
- Someone broke into my father's truck and stole the air bag, radio console and a bunch of other things.
- Four coworkers were robbed by a robbers on motorbike while they were waiting for a traffic light
- Several of my facebook friends (I have like 200 or so) posted message about being robbed or witnessing a robbery.
- A friend of my got his car stolen, he managed to recover it after paying a ransom equivalent to about 10% of the value of the car.  They also stole the car battery and his sound equipment.

In Caracas, where I work with dozens of consultants from Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and other nationality
- Several have been robbed very close to our office, we are not in a bad neighboor, we are in "not so dangerous" neighboorhood.
- One consultant was walking in Altamira (one of the best zones) with her purse towards the street.  A robber in a motorbike tried to snatch her pursue while still moving.  She was holding her purse very tight and didn't let it go, so she felt and was dragged for a couple of meters before the robber let go of the purse.
- The person that does my transportation (You can call it a friendly/personal taxi driver), was kidnapped for about 12 hours.  They took him with his car for a few hours, taking him to ATMs to get cash and such.  Then he was let go.
- Two months later, they stole his car and asked for ransom.  People rather pay 5%-10% of the value of a car to get it back than trying to find a new one.  It is extremely hard to buy cars in Venezuela because the demand is high, but the offer is low.

A few years ago:
-  In 2010 my apartment was broken into.  They stole mostly electronics, some perfumes and some cash (I didn't really have many valuables).
- In Cabimas (close to Maracaibo), two of my cousins got shot when the robbers tried to steal their cars and they offered resistance.  It happened during the same weekend but diferent days

Really If I start detailing everything I know about people I know getting robbed or things getting stolen, or how things do not work in here I'll probably spend a several hours  (or days) writing about it.  Basically robberies are fairly common here, and seldomly someone gets caught.  Murders are only common in bad areas or if people offer resistance.  I sincerely do NOT believe your life is in danger if you come here, but I believe whatever valuables you bring might be in danger.  Better to keep everything at home except for your phone and some cash. 

If you are coming here to work, make sure they are paying enough money to make it worth it.  Living expenses here are VERY LOW (the only exception is rent, which could be very high in Caracas), so you will make a good bang for the buck on your stay.

As a side note, I travel A LOT between Caracas and Maracaibo, I always take my tablet, laptop and cellphone with me, and I carry sufficient ammount of cash to pay for my taxis, as soon as I get home I leave everything (except my phone) and go on doing my own business wherever I have to go, I also leave most of the cash.  Malls like "Sambil", "Tolon" and others are considered fairly safe and most people walk around with their expensive smartphones, however few people walk with tablets, gold jewelry or laptops.  I don't usually go out at night, I'm not a party-goer, and how things are right now I actually avoid it even more than before,  I still walk around everywhere during
daytime, for example I hike "El Avila/Waraira repano", go around shopping when I need but I'm not a person tends to out often, I tend to keep to myself.

thanks alot..... great read. Is there anything nice to do in caracas that safe and friendly?

Definetly lots to do:

- Google the following (with the word Caracas next to it)

Waraira Repano... also known as El Avila
CC Millenium
CC San Ignacio
El Hatillo
Plaza Altamira
Trasnocho Cultural
Parque del Este
Teresa Carreño (The area surrounding it is not that safe but you can get in and out in a taxi, so it shouldn't be a problem).

Most of these are Malls, but our malls are a mixture of entertaiment centers with shopping.  Lots of people just go to the malls to hang out, talk, watch a movie (cinema) or even go to a concert.  Some malls even have upscale and international restaurants (Hard Rock Cafe is in Sambil)  a selected few theaters as well.  There are some museums in the city, but I've never been to one.  If you are into working out, fitness or an specific sport, there are many gyms that you can take advantage just need to know what you like.

There are some places located from 60 to 120 minutos from Caracas that you can go visit and are amazing:
La Colonia Tovar
Playas de La Guaira

It really really depends on your likes and dislikes.  There are several night clubs located in the "safe" areas, so you can take advantage of them,  I haven't been to a night club in like a year or so...  I'm not into the night life

me too, i am not keen on night life. Like to be  at home before 9pm. lol Gym sounds good, are we allowed to take pictures inside the gym? Thanks for giving a positive light on Caracas. I have had such mixed reviews, but I still want to give it a go.

About gym pictures: In most gyms you are allowed as long as you don't bother other patrons.  I guess it is general gym/camera ettiquette.  If you are just taking picture of yourself, or general pictures of the area it should not be a problem.  Ask before you do it though.

You get mixed reviews because we have both extremes, it all depends on the personal experience of the person and the political views.  We talk a lot about politics, like A LOOOOOTTTT, even high-schoolers know something about politics nowadays.  You can usually engage in the conversation and people will be more than happy to explain you, just feint ignorance if you have your own opinion until you feel comfortable enough with the people around you to voice it (or don't say anything if you don't want to).

Actually I just remember that this year I went a couple of times to a pub and enjoyed some drinks with my friends.  It was called Memphis and it is inside "El Recreo". 

El Recreo is a Mall located in a "not so safe" area.  Inside the mall is relatively safe, however it was around 11:00 PM when we got out so we just took a taxi and went home.

Hallo Kai.

Gute Idee vorher zu fragen. Es gibt viel zu sagen. Zu viel für diesen Raum. Schreib mir die wichtigsten Fragen, ich antworte gern. .

Ulrich, 20 Jahre auf Isla Margarita

Well, that is one of the reasons why most foreigners try to avoid Caracas, Maracaibo and also Valencia.

I have been living for 20 years in Porlamar, Isla Margarita, and all they got from me was a pair of sports sneakers.  ;)


Gut morgenl, gutten tag.
Hi I am Lance and I have been here in Venezuela since February of 2014, though it is not a very good idea to travel here in Venezuela unless urgent at least you must be informed so that when you be here. You will not be surprised.

It will be a very good idea to travel from Cucuta Colombia to get to Venezuela. Pass by Cucuta to have your dollar have their worth because your dollars will cost much less here. Change your dollars in Cucuta Terminal to make them work for you effectively because dollar exchange here is exceptionally complicated.

It's difficult for a foreigner to travel solo for the reason of being too attractive from the eyes of the advantageous people from all over. From Cucuta you can make a contract with a taxi car (old car 60's model) and will take you from Colombia border (for exit) San Antonio SAIME (venezuela immigration). That way, you can avoid much traffic and transfer from one vehicle to another. You can make a deal of around 800 to 1000 bolivars (as of July 2014). It may be more by the time you be here because of the current 56% inflation which means that price of everything increases daily. A biscuit of 20 bolivars now may be 25 to 30 bolivars next month or two.

So from Cucuta to San Cristobal you'll be in a car solo and safe. It will take less than 2 hours. From San Cristobal take a bus (450 bolivar as of July 2014) and it will take you to Caracas approximately 12 to 14 hours. If there will be strikes and protest, it maybe more.

I am here with my wife who is a Colombian.

If you have been in other countries, you'll surely be surprised in this country.

Hope you'll have a good pleasurable trip.

If your love milk, don't forget to bring 2 packs of powdered milk and a bathroom tissue of course because those things don't exist easily here.

For more information you can send me email

Unfortunately, nothing really makes people yearn to be in Caracas.
At least you can go to some shopping centers and relax.

There isn't much to miss here. If you want to enjoy, stay in Isla Margarita or a relatively safe place in Maracaibo.

Tuesday night on a bus, passing by a certain police checkpoint from Caracas to San Cristobal. 3 policemen robbed me of 3,000 bolivars (300 USD) one of them with a lastname "Vargas" was very hungry for money at that time.

The next morning I went back to Caracas to fly for Brazil.

While inside the taxi, driver showed his knife to charge me of a price fare which we did not agree on.

Sometime in 2013 A brazilian friend upon his first arrival to Maiquetia airport was approached by 2 men in uniform supposedly airport police. He was told that he would not give them money, he'd be send to jail. The poor guy had to pay to avoid more inconvenience.

Hi,  I do not agree completely with what was written by lanceaguilar.

After 20 years in the country I know that it is not a good idea to change money right away when you come into the country. You'll need a bit, but later on inside the country you'll easily get more for the US$ than the Cúcuta rate or the even worse Maiquetía rate (airport of Caracas).

When you go to a bank or a moneychange like Italcambio then you'll get the oficial rate. When you ask in your hotel they'll get you in contact with somebody who'll give you 12 times as much!

Here on Isla Margarita there is milk and there are paper articles, a lot. There is a shortage in certain ítems, but they are things that normaly no foreigner travelling the country needs, like cornflower, cooking oil etc. Mainly stuff which is bad for your health anyway, but traditional in local cuisine.

Travelling by bus is a nuisance, they freeze you to death. Local flights sometimes are relatively cheap. Pass by the airport and ask at the counters.

Enjoy your stay, leave the Rolex with your mom and behave normal.


Oh no... So what can people do in caracas ?

If you really have to stay there do not change at the airport but in a hotel.

In general: try to make yourself 'invisible'.

Try to get out of that town.
I know, there are interesting places, but try to visit them in groups, with local friends. Don't go out at night.

It sounds interesting to go to Isla Margarita because of the presence of milk there. I've been in two hotels where there were no toilet papers. Once was in Maracay and one in Caracas. I don't really understand why cooking oil has increased in the street vendors at 120 bolivars. Why would't anyone grab it if it can't be found in most supermakets. I've been here for 5 months now and honestly I have really never encountered real powdered milk and real liquid milk in the market. I've been to San Cristobal, Maracay, Bolivar State, Caracas, Miranda, Puerto la Cruz, El Tigre, Guayana, Barinas, Zulia and Higuerote. Well in one of the supermakets in Petare in Caracas, Wait, I was there when someone shouted.. "guys, there's milk here!!!" and there chaos came in.  I spend 2 hours on the line just to 5 good stuffs. It's true that sometimes it's better to take a plane to travel because it's safer and sometime costs cheaper than riding on a pirate taxi. Always go in group as much possible and it is best not to show to anyone a "killer phone" or the iphone. By the way train fare and automotive gas is almost free here. Not all things can be learned here, I think I may even had isolated experiences. Most things can be learned along the way. buen viaje. I'll visit Margarita on September, I love milk.

Well, first of all, milk is for the calf and not for human beeings. You have it rotting inside instead of digesting it. If yo need calcium eat dark gree veggies as I do (I'm vegan and at 68 I have a hight bone density).

On Isla Margarita there was a shortage in milk, but I was writing about the present situation.

I am halfways shure that the situation also improved in the places you mention. Here we are inundated with toilet paper etc.

Befor you come to Margarita please check out my place:

How's life in Valencia these days?

Valencia, ,It's basically the same, my friend, as what the Venezuelans say "lo mismo".
Nothing marvelous really. I believe it will take some time to recover back the glory of Venezuela.
Political situation is very dark and seems hopeless. During the season of FIFA 14, the places I've visited were quite/relatively pacified. But with the coming days and no one really know especially after the verdict of Leopoldo Lopez. Good thing that I went to Maiquetia,  La Guiara where the ocean is really enchanting. One of the best places I've seen so far. One thing is very certain, unless your nose touches the country, you'll never really know what it seems like.

Valencia is one of the industrial centers of Venezuela, that should say enough.

Many people leave it.

La Guaira is an industrial port, a place

If you do not want to go far, go to the east, to Todasana or beyond, a bit dificult.

If you want to see Venezuela, go away from that part.
Take a plane (or a bus, if you like cold) to Barcelona. From there it is a short distance to   Mochima where you have a lot of beautiful   islands, but all very touristical.

When  you like beaches and relax the best place is the Isla Margarita, the 'Pearl of the Caribbean'. Every Venezuelan will agree to that because they all come here.

More details about accomodation on the island (high class) you find

[Moderated: Avoid copy/paste on the forum.]

I am moving to Valencia for work.

IYo pienso que si viajas de cucuta a san cristobal eso te pasaria en cualquier año, pues hace 23 años me robaron mi jeep cerca de la frontera, recordemos que es una frontera abierta y segun acnur colobianos entran por ella  1.300 diarios en busca de trabajo, vivienda (que da el gobierno, y la tranquilidad de (que la guerrilla no les da en colombia) y educacion.Lo que te dice Ulrich es verdad, pero desbes tomar recauciones y no meterte (igualito que en londres) en los bajos fondos o a sitios donde o debes ir.De ver bueno esta considerado entre los 10 paises mas bellos del mundo.Con la cascada mas alta del mundo, el teleferico mas alto del mundo, playas en islas paradisiacas y el $ si lo traes de alla como Ulirich lo puedes cambiar a gente inescrupulosa para tener mas.siempre ha pasado .como lo de los articulos de prrimera se van por la frontera y los venden en cucuta ma caros,(el 42% de los productos se va por la frontera)lo de la guardia nacional he oido pero a mi mi amor no hay policia en todo el mundo que me baje de la mula, Trae contigo solo lo que llevas puesto y como te dicen deja tu rolex con mama. Eso si tienes una diversidad ecologica bellisima y una cultura diversa. Piensalo y vete a Ecuador hay mas seguridad.

Is been run by the political party from the oposition, Funy but the 3 States that won last elections have problems of Guarimbas which is not nice at all.They take everything they can and burn it tthey call the rigth media newspapres and make it see as there was prblems  in all the country.I wuold not consider going to valencia to work at all ever.Well frined good luck.

In maracaibo you can not be safe anywhre....

Hi there,

I am moving to Maracaibo in July to teach and was wondering if you could tell me some things about it. Will I be a target as a northerner? How dangerous will it be? How hard are goods to come by? Just overall trying to differentiate what is exaggerated in the news or not.


Maracaibo is for me like Denver is for a New Yorker. But it is the same country.

So, first of all, do not believe more than the 25% most credible of what you hear. Do not believe anything that is repeated with frequency (the opposition uses Goebbels' ways).

Go there, behave normal, do not use fashionable outfit, especialy watches. Buy a cheap phone which you sport in public and try to become friends with the people who live within 500 m of your place (the best place is the next licorería). Be sure to greet them whenever you see them. Tell them you came to study live in Maracaibo and they will tell you maaaaany stories.

The Maracuchos, as they are called, love to brag. So be aware that most of what they say will be exaggerateted, but that is not new (if you do not believe, go to Texas). But everything has a true core.

Maracaibo is hot. Make sure you got enough aircon or ventilation.

If you need to change money in a safe way ore get it into the country please contact me privately ( I have my way of getting my pension (and that of others) in.

If you have more questions - and you'll surely have - ask me via the same email. This offer is valid for anybody who reads this and has questions.

Happy weekend


Hello there. I recently left Venezuela and was living more on the eastern side of the country, but here are a few things that I believe are common throughout the country. As a side note: The expat teachers I met there were well taken care of in both the cities I lived in and had a good support system set up for getting items that were hard to find and had secure living quarters for the teachers. I assume it will be the same for you so some of the items below might not apply.

Some Items are difficult to find:
Items such as toilet paper and laundry detergent and some food items are hard to obtain so be prepared to either stand in lines, go without, or buy on a street corner at a higher price than in the stores. Also some friends I made who owned cars and traveled between towns were able to help me find items I needed easier.

If you have the funds usually you can find a corner store that will import items specially and though it will be more expensive than normal it might be worth the extra time you would spend trying to find it elsewhere.

Take caution when trading money. It is illegal to trade money on the black market, so do not take up offers from random people on the street to exchange money. A good site to check out is dolar today or google search dolar paralelo and you will get a good idea of the unofficial exchange rate and why foreign currency is in such high demand.

As with anywhere just be aware of your surroundings and don't flaunt your money.

Be aware of taxis and either take a taxi that you know or go with a friend. Agree on a price before you get into the taxi and check out the driver to make sure he looks fit to drive. There are some taxi agencies that you can call and have a taxi come pick you up but the vast majority are just your average joe who owns a car.

Twitter was a valuable news source for me when I was there so I could avoid protests that popped up in my neighborhood so if you will be in an area where protests take place it might be good to check out local twitter accounts in that area that deal with traffic and have hashtags in your neighborhood.

Be weary of large public gatherings. I had a scare last year at carnival in Maturin because people were very on edge with the protest going on and so random mobs of people would start running if a fight broke out or opposition showed up ready to fight. Walked past a guy who was putting a gun away in is trousers and proceeded to follow me a short ways where I ducked into a pharmacy that had an officer in there and he didn't bother me. Again, just be aware of your surroundings and make sure people near to you know where you are going. 

Must Sees:
Now that I've gotten all the grim out of the way there are some very awesome things about venezula. The people tend to be friendly and work with you if you don't know spanish. The country is naturally very beautiful and fun to travel.

I 100% recommend going to see Angle Falls and staying the night in a hammock on the river. Canima national park in general has a lot of things to see and do.

There are some adventure tour groups near Maracaibo you should check out.

Margarita Island is a nice little break from the mainland and check our Coche island which has beautiful white sand and a whole bunch of water sports. You can take a day trip out there or stay at a hotel there.

Morracoy is another awesome place to hang out on the water. There are a bunch of different locations where boats will drop you off for the day or you can rent your own boat and they will take you to many different places. There are some huge starfish somewhere around there. If you rent your own boat the captain should know where they are.

Colonal Tovar is a unique little town in the mountains surround Caracas. It has a german flair and is good for a nice relaxing vacation at one of the many posadas located there.

Lastly, but not least. Try the cachapa con queso de mano and the natural fruit juices. These were my favorite food items there.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what you were looking for. There are many things going on in Venezuela right now and it isn't the safest of places, but if you keep your head about you everything should be ok. I spent a year there with no major troubles and thoroughly enjoyed the different experiences and sights I got to see. I hope you have an excellent and safe time there.

Great tips up and down this post--I love it! A hearty shout out to everyone in the community for making this such a great resource :)

Hi :) I think if you're coming on christmass then you should deffinetly visit Maracaibo in Zulia. Because in that time of the year the music played is GAITA, which is originally from there and they make many festivals and play it live. Check out some songs like Amparito and Venga un abrazo.
In january you could go visit la gran sabana, south of the country. It's mostly mountains but it's the most beautiful place on earth.
Also take care when you come, try hard not to look tourist because it's a dangerous country speacially if you don't know how to "behave". Good luck


I just came back from the Gran Sabana after climbing the Tepui Roraima and I have to say that there are mountains but as the name indicates it is mainly relatively flat, swinging steppelike country which nobody shold miss!!!!!!