It has the world’s highest waterfall called The Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands. The falls are one of Venezuela major tourist attractions. Other attractions include The Andes which cross the states of Merida,Tachira and Trujillo.
In the Northwest the country is Rich with oil from the state of Zulia. The northwest also boasts more beaches in Falcón and a lush agricultural countryside in Yaracuy and Lara.
The area of Los Llanos consists of vast open plains and is home to cattle and ranching.
Where is Venezuela?
Venezuela is situated in South America. Having a shoreline along the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. The country borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east and Brazil to the south, and is situated on the major sea and air routes linking North and South America. Off the Venezuelan coast are the Caribbean island states of Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles and Trinidad and Tobago. . The Caribbean Islands with more than 600 islands and small formations, you will find some of the most beautiful beaches.
History of Venezuela
Venezuela along with Colombia and Ecuador emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830. For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by military strongmen. Since 1958 the government has been Democratically-elected.
Venezuela Visa Requirements
No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days in Venezuela for many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, the UK and Ireland, however you will require a Tourist Entry Card. This is issued free by approved carriers when you present a valid airline ticket. The Tourist Entry Card is valid for one year and allows a single entry for a maximum of 90 days. If you want to stay longer than 90 days or require multiple entries you will need a visa.
Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months and you must have a minimum of 2 blank pages, and you may be required to show immigration officials that you have return or onward tickets and adequate means of support and accommodation upon entering Venezuela.
Please be aware that visa and other entry and exit conditions do change regularly for both entry into and departure from Venezuela.
Children under 18 years of age travelling alone or with only one parent require a letter of consent signed by both, or the absent parent(s) providing details of travel, and a copy of their birth certificate, translated into Spanish and certified by a Venezuelan Embassy or Consulate.
Airlines require passengers to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country.
You are required to pay an airport tax on departure from any international airport in Venezuela. These taxes are usually included in your airline ticket but be sure to check this with your airline. If its not included you will be required to pay the taxes in cash when leaving the country.
If you are travelling to Venezuela via the US or any US port you’ll need to fulfill US immigration requirements. Please check with your local US consulate that you have satisfied all their requirements before travelling.
As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements. A link to Venezuela’s official Department of Foreign Affairs website is below. At this time there is no English version of the website so you’ll need a translation program, or alternately contact the embassy in your local region.
Venezuela Travel Health
Yellow fever is endemic in Venezuela and a vaccination certificate is required for entry. You will also need vaccinations agains Hepatitis A, Diptheria and Tetanus. Longer term visitors should also consider being vaccinated for Hepatitis B as this is prevalent in the local population.
Treatment at public hospitals in Venezuela is free, however the standard of facility may be lower than for wealthy western countires. Private facilities generally have a much higher standard. The best-equipped hospitals in Venezuela are located in Caracas and theother major centres. Health insurance is highly recommended.
Venezuela is in an active earthquake area, if you experience a severe quake, follow the instructions of authorities and try to listen to radio or television for updates. The rainy season is from May to December and hurricanes, floods and landslides can occur.
Violent crime is prevalent in Venezuela and visitors should be cautious when travelling here. It is not safe to walk at night in most areas and if you do you should exercise caution, stick to well lit and populated areas and keep valuables out of site. Avoid travelling long distances at night on the road as illegal road blocks are sometimes used by criminals who will stop cars and rob the occupants. If you have the unfortunate experience of being robbed, do not resist as criminals will frequently be armed and may become dangerous if provoked. Some recommend carrying a bundle of small notes in case of robbery so that the robbers do not become frustrated or angry.
It is necessary to be vigilant agains petty crime when in crowded cities, especially in tourist areas.
If travelling by taxi always ride in legal ones which use yellow plates. The white plate’s taxis are not legal and may be dangerous.
A single emergency number 171 is used in most of the country for police, ambulance and fire-fighters. The international phone number format for Venezuela is +58-area code without ‘0’-phone number.
What is Venezuela Local Currency?
Venezuela’s currency is the Bolivar fuerte (BsF). There are strict currency controls in place and so bolivars are not easily convertible either in or outside the country, and the black market should be avoided. They may be scammers, thieves or even police disguised as traders.
The safest exchange is the Tourist Rate which is normally provided by higher-level people in the tourism industry (Hotel managers, posada owners, etc). Once you change you cannot change back to Euros or dollars unless the tourist operator that exchanged for you is nice enough to take it back.
Credit cards such MasterCard are readily accepted and American Express and Diners Club are also accepted at larger retailers and restaurants. It is normal for a merchant to ask for ID before making a credit card transaction. ATMs are easily found and exist all over the country. They hand out only Bolivars, Maestro Debit Cards are the most commonly accepted, whereas Visa Debit Cards are often not accepted. Also some ATMs require the last two digits of Venezuelans’ ID numbers before allowing withdrawals, causing difficulties for travellers.
Try to carry small change as many traders will not carry much change. This is particularly important if travelling by taxi . Tipping taxi drivers is not customary and can appear strange.
At restaurants, tipping is minimal. If a 10% service charge is included then some extra small change can be left on top of the total, or if not included then a tip of only about 5% is normal.
What is Venezuela’s Weather?
The rainy season runs from May to December. This is when flooding in certain low-lying areas such as the Llanos and in some valleys of the Andes. The temerature varies quite considerably according to the altitude, lowland areas have a warm and tropical climate, while mountainous regions are significantly cooler.
The northern lowland, especially in the west, has a dry climate unusual for a tropical coast. This is thought to be a consequence of the direction of the coastline in relation to the frequent northeast trade winds. The Andes in Venezuela are lower than in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, although there still are individual peaks rising above 4,600m/15,000 ft which carry snow throughout the year. The northern slopes of the Andes tend to have less rainfall than the southern side. Caracas, at an altitude of 1,040m/3,400 ft shows traces of the relative dryness which affects the whole north coast.
Culture of Venezuela
Most Venezuelans relaxed when it comes to racial origins, most likely due to the long history of co-existance of whites or Creoles mixing with natives and Afro-Venezuelans in everyday life. However, the population is rather split on the question of their support of President Chavez. It is best to avoid this as a topic of conversation unless you are sure of the views of your company and agree with them (or if you like arguments).
Shaking hands or using the local abrazo a cross between a hug and a handshake, are the normal forms of greeting.
The vast majority of the population is catholic.
When attending a business meeting men are expected to wear suits. Jackets and ties for dining out and social functions. On the coast it is less formal although beachwear and shorts should not be worn away from the beach or pool.
In Venezuela most bars and restaurants will add 10% to the bill as a service charge, large tips are not expected but additional change may be left with the bill especially at upmarket establishments.
What Languages Are Spoken In Venezuela?
Spanish is the official language of Venezuela. English is not commonly spoken or even understood, even in the major cities. So if you could have at least a basic knowledge of Spanish this would help.
The only emergency number is171 this is used in most of the country for police, ambulance and fire-fighters. The country area code is 58.
If you are considering staying for an extended visit a local SIM card would be advised.
Internet Cafes can be found in most urban areas.
Mail service from Venezuela to the USA and Europe is unreliable and could take anywhere from a week to a month to arrive. Post office hours: Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1300-16:30
You can find an English language newspaper called The Daily Journal, published in Caracas.
You will find communication centres that consist of many phone booths located inside metro stations, malls. Public payphones use prepaid cards which cannot be recharged but are easily available in shopping centers. Phone boxes are common in the cities but do not accept coins.
Venezuela Transport Options
The main international airport is Simon Bolivar International Airport located in the Vargas state. It is 30 minutes from capital Caracas.
For international departures the airport tax is US$53.49, only American Airlines is allowed to charge the airport tax with the ticket purchase. Always keep at least $50.00 US on hand when departing from Venezuela.
The traffic in Venezuela is hectic, so car rental is not for the faint hearted. Those who brave driving themselves will find the price of petrol is cheap making travel by motor vehicle economical. The expensive part of renting a car will be the insurance. Venezuela has a large road network making it an interesting country for exploring by car. You can rent a car for around $ 20 -$ 50 dollars a day, plus insurance and legal liability.
There is no national railway system in Venezuela.
The bus system is extensive and extremely affordable. It is best to choose bus lines that use a metal detector and bag check to insure no passengers are carrying weapons of any kind.
When using taxi’s make sure to use those with yellow number plates which denote legal taxi’s. Illegal taxi’s are common and will have white number plates, do not use these as they may be unreliable or even dangerous.
Venezuela Travel Tips
If walking the streets try to pretend you know where you are going. Do not wear expensive jewellery or watches. You may avoid most problems by either staying in the touristic areas or visiting the less touristic areas with someone that lives in the country. The common way of theft is snatching your daypack, handbag, camera or watch. By picking up your gear while you may not be paying attention or pick pocketing. Thieves often work in pairs or groups, one or more will distract you. The others will steal your belongings.
It is advised to leave your money and valuables somewhere safe before walking the streets. Also a good idea is to carry a bundle of small notes, around US$5 – US$10.This way you can hand over them over in case of an assault. If you don’t have anything, robbers can become frustrated and unpredictable.
Venezuelan’s do not differ between Brits, Americans or Europeans .So you can expect to be called “gringo” if you are from another country. This not an insult it just means you are a non Spanish-speaking visitor.
Venezuela Local Food
The food in Venezuela is quite diverse from one region to another. There are strong influences from Europe, in particular Spain, Italy and Portugal as well as contributions from Native American and African flavours and techniques. Beef, seafood and root vegetables feature prominently in traditional recipes. There is plenty of fresh tropical fruits as well including pineapples and papayas.
The most popular dish is called Arepas. These are thick corn tortillas or flat breads that are split and stuffed with fillings of various types. The traditional Venezuelan lunch is pabellón, which is a plate of rice, black beans, and shredded beef, it is often served with plantain slices or a fried egg.
A popular non-alcoholic drink is called “chicha Andina,” which is made from rice or corn flour. Venezuela is a leading producer of fine cacao beans and Venezuelan chocolate is excellent.
Beer whisky and rum are the commonly consumed beverages in Venezuela. The local rums are dark in colour and are well regarded around the world as high quality. The local beer is known as Cerveza Polar, the same company produces or Maltin Polar, a carbonated non-alcoholic malt drink sold widely and popular with children.
Venezuela Local Timezones
Venezuela Standard Time is 4.5 hours behind Grenwich Mean Time. Venezuela does not use daylight saving time.
110 volts AC, 60Hz. US-style two-pin plugs are the most commonly used fittings.
Venezuela Dutyfree Limits
The following items may be imported into Venezuela without incurring customs duty. 200 cigarettes and 25 cigars, 2l of alcoholic beverages, Four small bottles of perfume, Gifts up to a value of US$1000.
Flowers, fruit, meat products, live plants.