Practical Information

Romania is a year-round tourist destination. However, from the end of April to the beginning of July and from end of August to the end of October are the most popular sightseeing periods, with generally mild and pleasant temperatures. Summers can be hot especially in Southern Romania, including Bucharest, but along the Black Sea Coast, sea breezes offer moderate temperatures. The mountain resorts and higher elevation areas are warm and pleasant during summer. Winters can be very cold, especially in the mountains and snow is common throughout the country from December to mid March. Skiers can usually enjoy their favorite sport in the Carpathian Mountain resorts from December until mid-April.

Money and Budget Guide

Currency exchange

Romania's currency is Leu (plural "Lei" - pronunciation: lay).
Abbreviation: RON

Banknote denominations: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 lei
Coins: 1, 5, 10 and 50 bani pieces. (pronunciation: bahnee)
1 leu = 100 bani

Foreign currencies may be exchanged at banks or authorized exchange offices (called: "casa de schimb" or "birou de schimb valutar"). International airports and larger hotels also offer currency exchange services.

Exchange rates** for foreign currencies, valid on April 18, 2014:

one US dollar = 3.22 Lei (3 lei and 22 bani)
one Canadian dollar = 2.92 Lei (2 lei and 92 bani)
one British Pound = 5.42 Lei (5 lei and 42 bani)
one Australian dollar = 3.17 Lei (3 lei and 17 bani)
one Euro = 4.46 Lei (4 lei and 46 bani)
** Official exchange rates announced by the National Bank of Romania.

Romanian currency cannot be purchased or sold outside of Romania's
national borders.

Make sure that, before leaving Romania, you convert your leftover
Lei into the currency of your choice.

ATM (Bancomat)

ATM machines are available at main banks and at airports and shopping centres. There are very, very few ATMs in remote areas or villages.
ATMs that have symbols for international networks such as STAR and PLUS
will accept US/ Canadian banking cards.

Credit cards

Major credit cards including American Express, Mastercard and Visa are accepted in large hotels, car rental companies and stores in the main cities. However, credit cards are unlikely to prove useful in small towns or away from tourist areas.

Contrary to practice in the United States, a PIN is usually required to make credit card purchases.  Many American banks allow cardholders to establish such a PIN prior to travel, in case one is needed.  Regardless, you should notify your bank of your international travel, and the potential legitimate use of your card abroad, prior to leaving the U.S. 

Travelers' Checks

Preferably in US dollars or Euros, Travelers' Checks can be cashed in large banks, some hotels and selected exchange offices but most of them charge
considerable commissions.

Do not count on cashing such checks outside Bucharest and a few other major cities. For travel around the country it is a good idea to carry cash.

Small stores and restaurants might accept U.S. Dollars in small denominations
($ 1, 5, 10 and 20) but the exchange rate offered will not be the best.
Street handicraft vendors prefer Romanian currency.

Currency exchange Tips

Cash (US Dollars) can be easily exchanged at any bank or
Currency Exchange Office (Casa de Schimb ).

Please note that exchange rates offered by the exchange offices at the
airport are quite bad (10% to 25% less than the official rate).

Taxi drivers serving the airport will probably accept US Dollars but most stores in Romania will only accept lei.

US Dollars are as good and popular as the Euros; you do not need to buy Euros before you leave the USA as you will have to change the Euros into Lei anyways.

Budget Guide

Entrance fees to historic buildings and attractions are rarely more than $5.00.

Hotels outside Bucharest range from $65 to $150 per night/double room,
with full breakfast and taxes included.

A three-course dinner, for two, with wine and tip starts at $35.00 and
can go up to $200.00 or more in some of the more upscale restaurants in Bucharest. However, less expensive does not mean not as good as a very expensive one. Dinner in restaurants is often accompanied by live music.

Below are some price samples:

Product/service Price - lei
(U.S. $ equivalent)*
Foods & Drinks
Loaf of white bread
(one lb.)
$ 0.30
Quart of milk $ 1.4
One lb of beef tenderloin $ 3.50
One lb of tomatoes $ 2
McDonald's Big Mac $ 3.5
Bottle of mineral water
(18 fl.oz.)
$ 0.8
Bottle of domestic beer
(18 fl.oz.)
$ 1.4
Bottle of Romanian wine
(liquor store)
$ 4.00 to $ 8.50
Transportation
Bus ticket - Bucharest
(one trip)
$ 0.6
Subway ticket - Bucharest
(round trip)
$ 1
Train ticket Bucharest to Brasov
(express train, 1st class)
$ 16.50
Train ticket Bucharest to Constanta
(express train, 1st class)
$ 18.50
Train ticket Bucharest to Cluj
(express train, 1st class)
$ 24.00
One gallon of gasoline
(3.8 liters)
$ 6.3
Entertainment & Communication
Best opera/ theatre seat $ 25.00 or less
Use of computer at Internet Cafe $ 1.8 / hour

Note: Although some stores, merchants or taxi drivers may accept payments in $ U.S. or other freely convertible currencies the National Bank of Romania regulations stipulate that payments for goods and services purchased in Romania should be made with Romanian money ( LEI ).

Note: Prices in luxury hotels and upscale restaurants in Bucharest can be as high as those in Western Europe.

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Electricity

Romania's electrical current is 230 V; 50 cycles and sockets take the standard continental European dual round-pronged plugs.

Image of a plug adaptor - required for non-European appliances. A plug adaptor is required for non-European appliances. 
Please remember that simple adapters do not convert voltage or frequency.

A power converter is necessary for appliances requiring 110 V.

 

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Communications

Telephone:
International direct dialing service is available throughout Romania.
Most public telephones require the use of a calling/ telephone card.
It is very easy to rent or buy a cellular telephone in Romania.

Dialing within Romania:

0 + three digit area code + six digit telephone #
when dialing anywhere in the countryside or

0 + 21 + seven digit telephone # or 0 + 31 + seven digit telephone #
when dialing a number Bucharest.

Three digit telephone numbers are local toll-free numbers
for emergencies or businesses.

International dialing from Romania:
00 + country code + area code + telephone #

Dialing from a foreign country directly to Bucharest:
International Access Code +40 (country code) + 21 + seven digit telephone #

Dialing from a foreign country directly to any other city in Romania:
International Access Code + 40 (country code) + three digit area code + six digit phone #

Romania has several Internet access providers offering advanced services such as Internet messaging via mobile telephone, Internet paging, international roaming and more. A number of Internet retail outlets and cyber-cafes in almost every town offer convenient Internet access. An increasing number of hotels offer data ports with high-speed modem connections for guests to access the Internet and retrieve e-mail in the comfort of their rooms.

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Disabled visitors

Access for people with disabilities to Romania's tourist attractions has improved in recent years, and it remains a priority. However, it is advisable to check with all service providers prior to your visit, ensuring that they are able to meet your particular needs. Advance notice and reservations will also help ensure that you receive the best possible assistance.

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Restrooms

There are no too many public restrooms so your best bet might be large hotels, department stores or fast-food restaurants. Use of some public rest rooms may be subject to a small fee. Some public facilities in crowded areas, including those in trains and train stations, occasionally run out of toilet paper or might not be cleaned often enough. Carrying a packet of tissues with you is always a good idea. Restrooms signs will indicate "Femei" (for women) or "Bărbați" (for men).

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Smoking

It sometimes looks like almost every adult in Romania smokes.
Unfortunately, some of those who do smoke have little consciousness of non-smokers' rights. However, the Romanian Government recently approved legislation that bans smoking in every public place but as in many countries in Eastern Europe some smokers have might ignore smoking laws.

Currently smoking is not allowed on planes, on buses and on most trains.
Luxury hotels have designated no-smoking floors and most restaurants must
have no-smoking sections.

Smoking is also prohibited in public places such as hospitals, concert halls,
and theatres.

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Safety and Emmergencies

Although violent crime against tourists is almost non-existent visitors should take customary steps to safeguard their valuables. Leave your valuables and passport in the hotel's safety deposit box or use a money belt kept out of sight. Be aware of pickpockets and scam artists in major cities.

Do not attempt to exchange money on the street; you will likely be short-changed or receive a pile of worthless bills. Beware of con men masquerading as plainclothes police; they may pretend to check your papers or accuse you of exchanging currency on the black market. In fact they might try to steal your cash. Real plainclothes police officers might only ask to check personal documents but never your credit cards or your cash. Not having your passport with you will not be a problem. The officer will come with you to your hotel to see your passport if he really has to check it.

General emergency phone number: 112

Emergency Contacts in Bucharest

US Embassy (021) 210 40 42
Embassy of Canada (021) 222 98 45
Embassy of the United Kingdom (021) 312 03 03
Embassy of Australia (021) 320 98 02
Embassy of New Zeeland in Vienna (0043 1) 318 8505

For a listing of diplomatic offices in Romania please visit:
www.mae.ro/en or www.embassyworld.com

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LGBT Travel

"Although we did encounter some negative attitudes towards homosexuality,
it was not much different from those that we've experienced in other countries.
We both agree that it would not prevent us from visiting Romania again".  
(opinion recently expressed by a U.S. lesbian couple).

Attitudes and tolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons vary from country to country, just as they vary among U.S. cities and states.  Most LGBT travelers encounter no problems while in Romania,
but it helps to be prepared and research your destination before you go.

Social conservatism in Eastern Europe, especially with regard to LGBT rights and marriage equality, has definitely had its hold on Romania until relatively recently.  Romania's institutional recognition of gay rights has been in place only since 2002 but now the country's anti-discrimination and anti hate crime legislation is progressive.  When it joined the European Union in 2007, Romania was required to acknowledge gay marriages from other locations.                                                                                                
Gay-friendly cities include Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara and Iasi.

Here are some tips for LGBT travelers:

  • Top tier hotels should be discreet and respectful. If in doubt, ask about the establishment's level of gay tolerance before making a reservation.  When you can select between a larger hotels and a small, family-type B&B go for the hotel.
  • If you are especially concerned about discrimination but want to find like-minded locals in gay Romania, hire a guide who knows where to go and which places to avoid. Sizeable university towns are the best places for gay people to party and explore.
  • ACCEPT is the official Romanian LGBT organization.
  • No incidents regarding Gay travelers have been reported.  However, in smaller towns social tolerance has been slow to follow and it would be wise for Gay couples to exercise caution about public displays of affection. 
  • There is a plethora of gay and gay friendly clubs where you can
    let it all hang out.

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Business Hours

Banks: are usually open 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

Shopping: Special purchases include embroideries, ceramics, pottery, porcelain, crystal, glassware, silverware, carpets, rugs, fabrics, wool jumpers, woodcarvings, glass paintings and more. Antiques ("Antichitati") and Consigned Goods stores ("Consignatia") deserve shoppers' attention. Normal shopping hours are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

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Sales tax for goods and services

VAT / Value Added Tax (or in Romanian: T V A - Taxa pe Valoare Adăugată )

A sales tax (TVA) of 24 % is added to all retail sales, hotel stays and meals served in restaurants. It is usually included in the prices posted in stores, hotels and restaurants.

Like in many countries hotels charge an additional tax (0.5% to 5% depending on the class of hotel).

VAT Refund - VAT refund offices (Birou de Restituire TVA) can be found at any Romanian border crossing point.

To claim you Sales Tax Refund please make sure that:

  1. Your purchases were made at a store which can issue a legal invoice/ receipt (factura fiscala) as well as a tax refund form (formular de restituire TVA),

  2. The total value of your purchases is higher than 250 Lei (approx. $80 US),

  3. Your purchases were made 90 days or less before your date of departure from Romania,

  4. You have the original receipts and store identified VAT Refund forms validated by the Customs Office (Birou Vamal).

All refunds will be made in Romanian currency "Lei".

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Customs & Etiquette

  • Romanians are friendly and open and foreigners are usually made very welcome. Chatting with visitors is very common for Romanians and they will find a way to communicate with you even if they cannot speak your language.
  • Older people particularly appreciate old-fashioned politeness. It is respectful to use Mrs. or Mr. when using the name of a person that you just meet.
  • Handshaking is the most common form of greeting. When a Romanian man is introduced to a woman, he will probably kiss her hand, strictly avoiding her eyes.
  • If one refuses what a host offers to eat or drink, this will often be taken as a polite refusal by guest who really means to say "yes". If you want to refuse the
    offer find a polite excuse and say it firmly or ask for a replacement.
  • It is common to linger once the meal (luch or dinner) is over.
  • When visiting someone at home bring a small gift. Most common gifts
    include flowers or chocolate (for women only), a bottle of wine or liquor.
    The number of flowers that one offers must always be odd.

    Other well-appreciate gifts include Western cosmetics
    (i.e. eau de toilette or after-shave) and clothing.
  • All gifts should be wrapped, but many Romanians might not unwrap
    their gifts in your presence.
  • In Romania as in many Latin countries life is lived at a more relaxed pace.
    Normal European courtesies should be followed on social occasions.
    Although casual dress is fine in most occasions, wearing a suit and tie,
    or the women's equivalent, is important at business meetings.
    Appointments are necessary and punctuality is expected.
  • It is not considered impolite to ask a person's age, politics,
    income or religion, so don't take such questions amiss.

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Restaurant tips

  • Restaurants in small towns are usually social places where people go to have drinks and discuss politics or business.
  • Meat might be unavoidable in such restaurants and menus are usually based on pork, beef or chicken.
  • In small towns locals do not usually eat in restaurants because, traditionally, Romanian women cook almost every day.
  • Homemade dishes are a world apart, so if invited to have lunch or dinner with a Romanian family, do not miss the opportunity.
  • As in most countries, independent restaurants tend to be better than hotel restaurants so do not hesitate to visit smaller, privately owned restaurants.
  • In some regions of Romania, and especially in Transylvania, some dishes may be prepared with more fat than you might usually use.
  • Instead of having a heavy (meat) dish for lunch, try some delicious Romanian cheese and vegetables, especially during the warm summers.
  • Salads are usually a side order, which comes with most entrees, especially steaks.
  • Prices listed on restaurant menus are per serving and include all taxes and service charge. However, some restaurants might post prices per 50 g or 100 g (1.75oz. or 3.5 oz.) while the actual serving can be up to 300 grams (12 oz.). If not stated clearly on the menu, check with the waiter and make sure that you are specific when you order. A few waiters may try to charge unsuspecting customers extra, claiming that the serving quantity was twice the quantity listed on the menu.
  • Typically, each food item (except bread) is ordered (and charged for) individually, right down to the butter. If you don't want bread, say so or it will be brought to your table and added to your bill.
  • Most restaurants only serve wine by the bottle.
  • When serving the wine the waiter will usually ask you if you would like
    a little bit of sparkling mineral water to be added to your wine.
  • Wine mixed with mineral water ("șpriț") is very popular during summer.
  • Hot wine — with sugar and cinnamon — ("vin fiert")
    is "the recommended drink" for cold winter days.
  • For something stronger try hot plum brandy ("tuică fiartă")
    — hot plum brandy with sugar and peppercorn.
  • Your glass of water or soft drink will not be served with ice unless
    specifically requested.
  • Restaurants do not usually have a non-smoking section.

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Tipping

Taxi drivers do not expect tips but courteous service can be rewarded.
Hotel maid - the equivalent of $1.50 / day (4 Lei) or $10.00 (25 Lei) for one week or longer stays.

Hotel Concierge - tipping for the answer to a simple question is not necessary but 10 Lei ($4.00) to 15 Lei ($6.00) is suitable for help making reservations or getting tickets to a show.

Restaurants - although service is included a 5% to 10% tip will be appreciated.
Appropriate gratuities for Hairdressers and/ or Massage Terrapist are 10% to 15%.
Bellhop or Skycap - 2 Lei ($0.75) a bag.
Parking valet - 3 Lei ($1.00).

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Measures

Romania uses the metric system of weights and measures. Speed and distance are measured in kilometres; goods in kilograms and litres; temperatures in Celsius - Centigrade.

Length conversion
1 centimetre = 0.4 inches
1 inch = 2.54 cm
1 metre = 3.3 feet = 1.1 yards = 100 centimetres
1 foot = 0.3 metres
1 kilometre = 0.62 miles = 1,000 metres
1 mile = 1.61 km

Weight & Volume conversion
100 grams = 3.5 oz
1 oz = 28.35 grams
1 kilogram = 2.2 lbs = 1,000 grams
1 lb = 454 grams
100 millilitres = 3.4 fl.oz
1 fl. oz. = 28.4 millilitres
1 liter = 1/4 gallon = 1,000 millilitres
1 gallon = 3.78 litres

Temperature conversion °C to °F
(°C multiply by 9, divide by 5, and add 32 or
double °C and add 30)
°C  -18 -12   -7    0    4    10   16   21   27   32   38
°F    0   10   20   32   40   50   60   70   80   90   100

Speed conversion
Kilometres divided by 1.6 = miles
KmPH 10 30  50  60  80  90  110
MPH    6  21  31  39  50  56   70

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» Romanian Language Conversation Guide

Romanian (limba romana) is the official language of Romania. The name Romania, and its derivatives, come from the Latin word 'Romanus', a legacy of Roman rulers who took control of ancient Dacia in 106 A.D. Romanian retains a number of features of old Latin, such as noun cases, which other Romance languages dispensed with a long time ago. Romanian also contains many words taken from the surrounding Slavic languages, as well as from French, Old Church Slavonic, German, Greek and Turkish.

Romanian is actually easier for English speakers to understand than it is assumed. If you’ve studied other Romance language, such as Italian, Spanish, French or Portuguese, you may feel at home sooner than you think.  Romanian is a phonetic language so words are pronounced as they are spelled.

A foreigner trying to learn or speak Romanian can expect positive reactions from native speakers. Most Romanian will certainly appreciate the fact that you are making an effort to speak their language.

For more about romanian language and a conversation guide please visit:
www.RomaniaTourism.com/Romanian-Language.html

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