Budapest Vacation Service... How to avoid Budapest Scams and Tourist Traps
At Budapest Vacation Service our aim is not only to provide first-class vacation rental accommodation, but to give useful tourist information and visitor advice to assure our guests an enjoyable, interesting and safe visit to Budapest. Visit our Budapest Info and Visitor Advice pages for information, video clips and some hints and tips for places to visit during your stay in Budapest.
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Budapest Nightlife Warning - How to Avoid Budapest Tourist Scams, Ripoffs and Tourist Traps
We want our guests to have a wonderful and unforgettable experience during their visit to Budapest, and provide them with the best possible levels of accommodation, advice and service. Upon arrival at our apartments we are always pleased to give our guests the benefit of our local knowledge and recommendations, not only on the best places to go, but also places and situations to avoid. As in every other capital city, tourists should be aware of the negative aspects of the city to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
Budapest is generally a safe city, even at night, with very little reported violent crime compared to many other European cities - however, you should take precautions to avoid being ripped off at certain clubs, bars and even restaurants, especially those located in the main 5th. district tourist area in downtown Pest, close to the main hotels and in particular the Vaci utca area.
Although, due to increased controls, scams are happening less frequently, we advise that you take every precaution to avoid becoming a victim. There is a great choice of restaurants, clubs and bars in Budapest, the vast majority of which operate a legitimate and ethical business, however you should be on your guard. Of course, you should check your bill is correct before paying and in particular look out for any added service charge, which may be indicated in Hungarian as 'Szervizdij' at the bottom of the bill and which is a legitimate charge. However, we have just been alerted to a case where a 12.5% service charge was printed/added at the top of the bill, went unnoticed by the client who, not realising it was there, gave an additional 10% tip to the waiter, making a total of in excess of 22.5% cost for service. Not necessarily a scam, but easy to miss - or as it is printed in Hungarian - easy to misunderstand.
It is also recommended that you always check that you receive a menu/drinks card with the prices clearly indicated. As an extra precaution, before entering a restaurant or bar, look if there is a menu displayed outside the door and check the prices before entering and sitting down.
We suggest that if you are handed a menu or drinks card without prices, you should go elsewhere. There have been cases reported of clients receiving bills at the end of their evening up to several hundred thousand Hungarian Forints and who have been forced, under the threat of violence, to withdraw cash at the closest ATM to pay the bill. In these cases either a 'security guard' from the establishment would accompany the customer to the ATM, or another member of the party would be held in the establishment until the bill is paid. Recently, the police have cracked down on this and are prosecuting for kidnap and closing down the establishment involved. However, despite this, it is still advised to take all precautions to avoid any situation of this kind.
Some taxi drivers are involved in this type of scam and will recommend certain bars, clubs and restaurants to passengers and you should therefore avoid any offer by a taxi driver to drive you to a bar or club for a 'great night out'. In addition, you may be invited into a bar or club as you walk past the door. Again, please take all necessary precautions before entering.
Attractive girls, often posing as tourists, may approach you in the street and begin a conversation with you, for example, asking directions. When they 'realise' that you are also a tourist, may suggest that you go somewhere together for a drink or something to eat. Use caution - this may be another scam which could cost you a small fortune.
For additional information and warnings, please visit the web site of the US Embassy in Budapest at:
Just as in any other capital city - be aware and take all necessary precautions to ensure a really great stay in Budapest.
Szervizdij - Service charge - printed at the top of a restaurant bill