I went to see Strahov Monastery which hosts a historic and beautifully decorated library which is well worth seeing even though it is a little bit off the main tourist area. I was at the end of the queue to buy a ticket for entry around 3:30PM on a weekend in a tourist season (in August 2007) and 6 men came. 2 of the cut in front of me in the queue and 1 on the left of me, 1 on the right, 2 behind. I was distracted by the 2 in front and tried to get in front of them. But they didn't let me. While I was distracted, I realized that this seems strange, and then it occurred to me that they are up to something. I pulled back my back-pack to the front and found out that the pockets of the backpack has been opened. My iPod, passport, even an emergency cash-card were visible. When I did that, the 6 people ran away, going to different directions. So nothing was taken as I realized what was about to happen early enough. I thought of screaming as there were many people around but I didn't since nothing seems to have been taken. I think they were quite organized, targeting tourists (I'm Japanese so I'm considered an easy target). Lessons learned:
1. Not to carry a backpack with valuables in its pockets
2. Pay attention to people around you.
Pay extra attention in metro, especially in the interchange stations. I had my wallet stolen by a group of people. When I was boarding on the train there were a group of people rushing after me and I was pushed and lost my body balance all in sudden. I checked my belongings immediately and found my wallet (in the inside pocket of my jacket) stolen. I caught one of them right at the spot but I could do anything cos the wallet had been passed to someone else.
Fortunately I didn't lose a lot but the experience was really a bitter one. On the other day when I waited for the train in that station I still seeing the same group of thieves. This is their job, waiting for careless travelers like me.
Czech police won't do any help. A friendly local who spoke decent English called police for me. In 20 minutes a police car came and took me to the nearest police station. The guys there was having pizza and beers, left me waiting in a room with 4 plain white walls for almost an hour. All I needed was an official proof so I can claim my insurance company.
I live in Prague and have travelled around a lot using the trams, trains and metro, after reading travellers tips about the problems of pick-pockets it has made me take extra care BUT on the whole I have found Prague to be a safe city, ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings however and try not to be hemmed in by people especially on the trams !! I try to make sure I NEVER take my passport or credit/debit card with me and I only take enough money I need for the day or night, ALSO I have been to Hlavni Nadrazi on a number of occasions and there are people there that you avoid at ALL costs, BUT you can spot the undesirables, drunks,druggies, gypo`s etc, most will leave you alone but avoid contact, if you go to Vaslavska Nemesti,( Wenceslas square) be aware of who is around you, it`s not dangerous but like in any big city there are people best to avoid. I don`t use the metro unless I can possibly help it, I like travelling by tram, some of the metro stations can be intimidating, just be aware of who is around you !!
I felt uncomfortable, mostly in the crowded areas, which includes all the tourists sites, but especially Charles Bridge and the Clock area. When you are shoulder to shoulder, anything can happen fast. I put my billfold in front pocket and kept checking to make sure ity was there. That is not a style of tourism that I want to be a part of' like being on edge all the time.
Watch out if you travel by traffic vehicles (an underground, a tram or bus) and it is overcrowded. Pickpockets take advantage of less space in vehicle. They usually co-operate, one of them engages the attention of passengers at himself (by doing a noise or staying at doors when you want to get out) and his cully is pickpocketing at the same time.
Prague is sadly famous to be the home of pickpockets but it remaing a sure town. It is a phenomenon that is not only of Prague but of all the tourist cities of the world. When you are in crowded and tourist places like the Charles Bridge or the Square of the Old Town to do particularly attention.
Paranoia of pick pocketing can only ruin your trip. I used all forms of transportation and walked the city alone during my two entire days there (day and night). Never did I feel threatened or feel like someone was following me. I sported a Rolex, an $800 camera and a handbag and didn't get pick pocketed/robbed once. Confidence in traveling is key to not being a victim of pick pocketing or paranoia-inflicted vacation misery.
Watch out for the tram gangs. They ride the tram all day waiting for their chance to squeeze you at the door and pick your pocket without you noticing. If someone stands in front of the door with you either trying to get on or off, and they are acting really confused, or if it seems to be "busier" on your part of the tram or metro car than other areas of the car, they might be trying to target you. Just act very aggressive and loud. They don't want any attention brought to themselves.
We were told by a local that pick pockets sometimes work solo, in groups and even pose as tourist. The time that they strike is when you are taking pictures, which you will be doing on this picturesque bridge. The places in the world with the most instances of pick pocketing are #1) a town square in Mexico, #2) is a town square in Naples, #3 is the Charles Bridge.
If you are going to get mugged, Charles Bridge is the most likely place it will happen.
The bridge is very stunning and has a number of stalls dotted along it. People in large numbers stop to see what's going on, these are where the crowds build up and in some places passing is difficult.
Just be aware and look ahead as well as looking at the stalls.
First of all I would like to say that Prague is SAFE place. Only thing is that a lot of people are trying to make money by cheating.
Taxi drivers - Never take TAXI standing at main turistic places! Trainstations, Old Town Sq...they are waiting for you to charge you more. Ask for price first. Use some companies like AAA tel: 14014, City taxi tel: 257257257
Approx prices...from Airport...cca 600czk to city centre
from Main Train St (Hlavni Nadrazi)...cca 200czk...its really close to city center
from Holesovice train station...cca 350czk to city centre
All mentioned prices are approx all depends on traffic and where you go in the center but differences from mentioned prices would be 10th of Crowns, NOT hundreds!
Money exchange - never change money in the street, youll get fake or different country money with no value! Use banks or exchange offices and ask for final value you get! Again avoid offices at the trainstations, airport...
Pickpockets - Just watch your pockets, mainly in crowdy places, trams, metro...do not hang your cameras, jackets over chair in outside restaurants.
Otherwise its peaceful and safe city!!!!!!!!
.. The BBC showed a programme some years ago where they took twenty tourists through the centre of Prague for a few hours. By the end of the trip some seven or eight of them had been pickpocketed! Prague is famous for this. Also, this is not a safe city at night.
I had my bag stolen with my passport in the KFC near the old town square. My hotel manager also had his wallet stolen there last year. The staff there do not care at all and probley working with the theifs to turn a blind eye.
The handbag snatching happened at the Praha Holesovice train station at about 10:30 am, on May 22 2006. I was travelling with my family (from Vancouver, Canada) and we ran into an elderly American couple from New York at the station. Coincidently, we were all heading to Vienna on the same train. We all boarded the same first class car at the front of the train but they wanted a bit of privacy and took their own compartment next door. The train was uncrowded. As we waited for the train to leave, we heard some shouts next door. Apparently, the husband went to use the washroom leaving his wife alone, and along came a man who sat down beside her and asked "Is this second class?" When she said no, he got up, grabbed her handbag as well as his bag and ran out. He tossed her handbag to an awaiting accomplice at the train car door, and were both last seen running along the train track lines. The police were of little use since their english was very poor and they seemed understaffed. These thieves worked in pairs, and dressed casually but not poorly, and their plan was obviously well thought out. We weren't chosen because there were four of us - and my brother and his girlfriend are RCMP officers so they were in great physical shape. So, my tip to you is always keep an eye on your luggage on and off the train at the train station.
In brief, before I went to Prague I was concerned with the whole pick-pocket problem. Almost every book, tip, or person I knew had mentioned pick pockets. But all these tips focused on the FEAR, as opposed to the preventative SOLUTION. This tip focuses on the preventative measures I took to guard myself from pickpockets. And in six nights in Prague, I never once had a problem.
For starters, instead of carrying my messenger bag on the side or back of my torso, I carried my messenger back in front of my stomach the whole time. I cradled my bag with my right hand the entire time too.
Second, I never carried anything but loose change in my pockets. That change was just enough to pay for subway rides. I figured as long as I could keep my money quickly accessible in subway stops, I wouldn't single myself out as an easy target by fumbling for cash in the metro stops. So I kept denominations of 20 crowns in pockets at most times.
Third, on subway stations, I always watched for groups of men/women that looked suspicious. I never allowed myself to be encircled by groups of people, at the subway ticket dispensing machines, on the subway platform, and on the subway. When entering into a subway car, I always made sure that I was never encircled by other people.
So carry your bag in front of your stomach, consistently keep your arm and hand on your bag, and never allow yourself to be encircled by anyone, anywhere...and I think you'll not only be safe, but enjoy Prague much more.