Where is England?
England is a country of great diversity, both in the places you visit and the people you meet. The regions of England are within easy reach of the exciting cosmopolitan capital, London, a mammoth metropolis looming large with fast-paced action and world-class style, and brimming with possibilities. Magnificent historical architecture and world-famous landmarks such as Big Ben, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral abound, as do some of the world’s best museums and art galleries. London is also a dynamic hub for music, visual arts, fashion, theatre and food. The city’s population is made up of more than three dozen ethnic groups, and this combination of fascinating cultures gives the city its own unique personality.
Ancient castles, sweeping parklands, thatched villages, peaks, dales and lakes … the magical areas of regional England are those found on postcards and in history books. Travel south and you’ll discover a gentler landscape: quiet country roads and scenic waterways; the lovely fens of the eastern coast and Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace; Windermere, the launch point for the Lake District; and the picturesque university city of Cambridge. Continue south of London to an area which boasts magnificent english gardens and stately mansions. The southern coast of England has an reputation for its beaches and resort areas, it’s quaint and historic market towns and charming cathedral cities such as Salisbury and Winchester.
Southwest of London you will discover some great surfing on the Cornwall coast, the gorgeous stone cottages, traditional pubs and villages of the Cotswolds, and of course delicious Devonshire teas. The city of Bath is situated on the banks of the River Avon and is renowned for its beautiful Georgian architecture and famous Roman baths.
History of England
In England’s North Country you’ll discover scenic vistas of lakes and mountains, ancient castles, dramatic windswept coastlines and wonderful national parks. The cities have plenty of offer as well, such as York, a medieval town complete with Georgian townhouses, Gothic York Minster and the cobbled streets of the Shambles. Don’t miss the lively cities of Blackpool and of course Manchester, world-renowned for its football, trendy bars and boutique-style shopping.
England Visa Requirements
Upon arrival into the UK, you must present a valid passport, and in some cases, a visa. As a general rule passports should be valid for at least six months. Citizens of countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) do not require a Visa. Many visitors from other countries are also exempt from the visa requirement for visits of 3 – 6 months – this includes Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. However you will be required to complete a landing card upon arrival.
Ensure that you check whether or not you require a Visa well before you plan to arrive in the UK. Visas cannot be issued in the UK so you must hold one before entry if required to do so. You may be required to show immigration officials that you have return or onward tickets and adequate means of support and accommodation upon entering the UK.
Check the British Home office site for detailed requirements at http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/
There are no departure taxes from UK airports.
England Travel Health
There are no endemic diseases in the United Kingdom and no vaccinations are required to visit.
The UK health system is generally of a high standard and medical treatment is readily available. Many countries have reciprocal agreements in place with the UK that allow visitors to be treated for free under the National Health System in certain circumstances. Emergencies will be treated under the NHS and will usually be without charge.
Britain is regarded as a safe country, with low rates of street crime and violence. To ensure that you stay safe, follow your common sense. This includes taking extra care at night and not displaying valuable items or carrying large amounts of cash. One of the main times where trouble can be encounted is late at night, particularly when the pubs have just closed and drinkers are out and about and some may be offensive.
Terrorism has occurred in the UK, most visibly in the London bombings of 1995 where 550 people were killed. It is unlikely that terrorism will affect a traveller however care should be taken and travellers should keep there eyes open and report any strange or suspicious behavior to authorities.
European and Amercian travellers should remember that the British drive on the left side of the road and this may take some getting used to, especially if coming by ferry from France where driving is on the right.
In general similar precautions should be taken as when travelling to any country, including taking out travel insurance.
In an emergency that requires ambulance, police or fire services dial 999 from any telephone.
What is England Local Currency?
British money is based on the decimal system – there are one hundred pence to each pound. Coins have the values of 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. Notes have the values of £5, £10, £20 and £50. Scottish £1 notes are still in circulation in Scotland. If you are an EU citizen and travelling from within the EU you can bring in and take out bank notes, travellers’ cheques, letters of credit etc. in any currency and up to any amount. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, post offices, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centres.
ATMs and banks are in plentiful supply in most areas and banks can be used to change travellers cheques. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, and Maestro are also widely accepted. Although Scotland, Northern Island and Wales have different notes, they should be accepted throughout the UK as they have the same value and are all circulated by the Bank of England.
The UK has a Value Added Tax on most goods and services of 17.5% but there is speculation that it could rise to 20%. This is most commonly included in the displayed price except in the case of some larger items, however if the VAT is not included it should be clearly indicated in the display. When leaving the UK you may be able to claim back the VAT of some items upon departure however a reciept is required and you will need to fill out the appropriate forms.
What is England’s Weather?
The climate of the UK is best described as humid-temperate. The weather is notoriously variable in most parts of the UK from day to day but the variation from winter to summer is relatively small compared to most countries. The UK also has a relatively high rainfall – so be prepared for showers or overcast conditions. Due to the UK’s northerly latitudes, it experiences long summer evenings, however winter days can be particularly short. In general the east is drier than the west.
England has warmer weather than the other parts of the UK with average summer maximums of just over 20°C and winter minimums of around 1°C.
Northern Island has average summer maximums of about 18°C and winter minimums similar to England of about 1°C
Scotland is the coolest of the UK countries with average summer maximums of just over 16°C and average winter minimums falling just below zero.
Wales has average summer maximums approaching 20°C and winter minimums averaging just over 1°C
Culture of England
Most residents of the UK are friendly and polite and tolerant of visitors. The UK’s culture is generally very tolerant and liberal. People residing in the UK have pride in being known as Welsh, Scottish, English or Irish and some may take offence in being referred to as English. Each has it’s own culture and customs and most are fiercely proud of their own national identity. To be on the safe side it is best to ask what part of the UK they come from or otherwise refer to them as British if in doubt.
England is a particularly multicultural nation, with large population of Jews, Indians and Pakistanis. Many English are sensitive to personal space and will not be overly familiar with those that they do not know well, and they can be polite to the point of appearing stiff.
Simple manners, respect for locals, an understanding of Britain’s history (particularly the empire) and an appreciation of the monarchy will stand you in good stead in the UK.
Tipping is not expected generally in the UK although it is quite common if the service at a restaurant has been good, especially if there is no service charge on the bill. Tipping in pubs is not generally done. It is common to tip a cab driver by rounding the fare up to the nearest round figure or tipping a bell boy for carrying luggage with a pound or two.
Bartering is not generally done and the price displayed is usually the price you will expect to pay. Some stores may have a price matching policy but this will generally be advertised.
What Languages Are Spoken In England?
The UK has two official languages, English and Welsh. The latter is spoken only in Wales and the population also will speak english universally.
The code for dialling in to the UK from international locations is +44, and to dial out preceed the number required with 00.
Mobile phones are used heavily and service nearly all cities, towns and travelling routes. Good 3G coverage may not be available outside these areas. There are a number of options for visitors to purchase prepaid sim cards.
Internet is very common and broadband access is almost ubiquitous throughout the UK. Internet cafes are commonly found in cities and towns and public libraries also offer internet access for little or no charge.
The postal service has a long and proud history and post offices are still in wide use throughout the UK. Postage of parcels is done by getting them weighed and measured with the price varying accordingly. Letters can be dropped into post boxes and are delivered promptly.
England Transport Options
International airports are located throughout all the countries that are part of the United Kingdom. There are over 15 international airports, Wales has only a single international airport, while England has over a dozen including one of the worlds busiest airports, Heathrow. Airport security in the UK is among the most stringent on earth and passengers are well advised to arrive early to allow sufficient time to pass through security checks for international flights. A large number of international carriers service the UK.
International visitors are also able to arrive by train via the channel tunnel and it is also possible to transport private vehicles by train into the UK.
Domestic air travel has not been common in the UK until relatively recently with the advent of a couple of low cost carriers which have made it a feasible option compared to other modes of travel. Many have opted for other modes of transport given the relatively short distances between major centres. The exception to this is from the south of England to Scotland, or obviously across the sea to Northern Ireland.
Train travel in the UK is via a very large privatised network of track and services. The quality and service of these varies considerably, and the options are many and varied. It can be a daunting task to figure out a plan of attack to travel by train however in most cases it is faster and cheaper than car travel. Northern Island is obviously not part of the overall network and is instead connected to the Republic of Ireland’s transport network.
Car hire is a great option in the UK because of the relatively short distances involved. Remember to take care if you are not used to driving on the left and be aware that in London the traffic can be terrible. Roads in the UK are variable in quality from modern high speed highways to winding potholed country roads. There are very few toll roads in the UK however petrol is very expensive compared to other parts of the world.
England Travel Tips
England Local Food
British food is famous for being on the unhealthy side, perhaps the most notable aspect being English Breakfasts of Bacon, Eggs and Sausages. The UK has not been known for it’s cuisine and has a somewhat poor reputation for food, however, the reality is that there is a large enumber of excellent restaurants throughout the UK representing a wide variety of cuisine types.
One of the most common meals in Britain is the Indian curry which has been touted as the most commonly ordered meal in Britain. The are a number of traditional foods which are generally meat based with a leaning towards roasts and hearty stews or pies. Fish and Chip shops can be found throughout the UK and are almost a national institution. Similarly the pub meal is a tradition which is alive and well throughout the UK, many pubs offer generous meals which can be enjoyed in the great atmosphere of one of the UK’s famous drinking establishments.
The constituent countries have their own variations on the signiture dishes such as Black pudding and Haggis for Scotland or Potato bread in Northern Ireland. One of the more bizarre of these signitures is the deep fried mars bar which was invented in Scotland. Cheeses are also well represented throughout the UK.
The main drinks of choice thoughout the UK are ales, lagers, ciders and whisky. There are a huge number of variations on these and most regions will have their own signature ales and in Scotland there are almost as many Scotch whiskies as there are towns. A worthwhile publication to seek out for those who like to indulge in a drink is the “Good Pub guide” which has a comprehensive list of pubs and hotels and a rating system to help narrow down the stunning array of choices.
Be very careful if you are driving following a drink as the legal limit for blood alcohol levels is a low 0.03%
England Local Timezones
In the winter months, Britain operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). However, British summer time is applied in the summer to lengthen the evenings, as clocks are one hour ahead of GMT. This occurs between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October.
The United Kingdom uses a 230V, 50 Hz plug.
England Dutyfree Limits
Visitors over 18 can bring the following into the UK without paying duty:
• 200 cigarettes; or 100 cigarillos; or 50 cigars; or 250g of tobacco
• 4 litres of still table wine
• 16 litres of beer
• 1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs over 22%alchohol; or 2 litres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry), sparkling wine or other alcoholic beverages of less than 22 %
• £340 worth of all other goods including perfume and souvenirs.
If you have any more than these allowances you must declare the goods in the red channel or use the red point phone.