BKV Maffia - how to avoid being fined!
What can you expect from a Transportation Company that welcomes you on their website with this:
"Did you know that you enter into a contractual relation with our company when you get on our vehicle to travel? "
Nobel prize winner Imre Kertesz after coming back from the Nazi concentration camp in Auswitch, wearing and having nothing but his prison camp pyjamas, was fined by a BKV controller on tram number 6 on his way home in 1945. He put this story into his book "Faithless".
During summertime BKV controllers obviously peck on foreign tourists, as the fines make up a significant part of their meager salaries. They don't care if you don't know, don't understand, etc, when they stop you, they want to give you a FINE.
Some of the tricks:
-the slots of ticket vendor machines are taped with Scotch tape
-ticket punching machines don't work (trams, buses)
-ticket punching machines are placed in places where you don't notice (subway)
-you may accidentally walk into BKV property from the street, bingo!
-you change a line on the subway (of course you don't know you are) and bingo! (Deak Square)
-when you validate your ticket you pull it out too fast from the machine so the printing gets smudgy, bingo!
-you have bought a week ticket but you don't keep it in a BKV picture ID, bingo
-you have bought a week ticket, you have the picture but you didn't copy the ID number from the card onto the ticket, bingo
-you got the damn week ticket, picture OK, there is a number but it's not too clearly written
Unique Suggestions: You can save yourself from a lot of trouble if you buy a DAY TICKET FOR ALL LINES(900 HUF), no picture, no ID, etc. Just put it in your wallet and show it, like you would do with your ticket in a country with civilised transport. This pass will let you go all the way until midnight the next day.
Fun Alternatives: Walking. Nay. DAY TICKET. Also, don't get sucked with that Budapest Card.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
How to avoid Taxi rip off
Always call / take a taxi of a major company. Major companies has nice corporate looking signs and not only the taxi light on top. And most importantly the taxi sign on top doesn't say only "taxi" but it has the company name on it. Also make sure that the sign on the side is matching with the sign on the taxi light.
Some taxi companies you can call from your cell phone at any time:
Budapest Taxi, cheapest, family style: +36.1.4-333-333 from cellphone or 4-333-333 from a local Budapest phone
6x6 taxi: +36.30.2-666-666 from cellphone or simply 6-666-666 from a local Budapest phone
City taxi, more expensive: +36.30.2-111-111 from cellphone or simply 2-111-111 from a local Budapest phone
If you arrive by plane take the Zone "airport" taxi solely just to get transfered to the city or call any of the taxis above and ask for the "fixed price". All mayor taxi companies have fixed airport transfers, so never take an airport transfer (either inbound or outbound) by the meter.
If you arrive by train or bus, your chances to get riped off are pretty high. Most scamer taxi drivers are fishing at bus stations or train stations. So you better not go with the drivers trying to invite you, but rather call the taxi companies above.
Always call for a taxi (numbers above), never wave for them, this will save you money and also you have a great chance of not bumping into scamer drivers.
If you stay at a fancy or not so fancy hotel, ask the receptionist to specifically call any taxi companies above for you otherwise if you take the official "hotel taxis" that can easily cost you almost twice as much.
If you don't speak Hungarian, ask a German or English speaking driver when you call for the taxis, that can save you some headache.
All Taxi companies have different categories, the most premiere is "A" and "E" category. These are bigger cars, like a Mercedes or similar. When you call for the taxi, you can specify the category and it won't cost you extra, but you might wait for them to arrive later than more ordinary taxi categories.
You can specify if you want a smoker or non-smoker taxi when you call for them, it won't cost you more. By default there are more taxis out there who are smoker ones, so they might be stinky for a non-smoker nose.
I'm a local from Budapest, so you can't go wrong with these tips.
Here is a full list of the major taxi companies:
Taking a Taxi
In East Europe it is often kind of difficult to assess what a reasonable price for a taxi ride might be. Generally speaking, most taxi drivers are cheaters and try to drive you for a higher trourist rate. When we came out of the airport on my trip in 2004, we took a taxi that offered the 25 km to the city centre for a fixed price of 5200 HUF, which seemed okay for us. On our return journey, we hailed another taxi company that charged us only 3400 HUF for the same trip. During the ride I watched the driver switching the taxameter between two speeds, so that it finally reached 3400 HUF.
Unique Suggestions: When taking a taxi make sure to fix the rate in advance and to have a good idea of a reasonable price.
- Budget Travel
Budapest Card - Is it worth it?
The short answer is (in my opinion) no. I notice they’ve really increased the price this year, and it’s now 4,350 Ft for 48 hours or 5,450 for 72 hours. If this card delivered all it said in the literature, it might be worth while. However, I only obtained “free admission” to one Museum (Budapest History) and 20% reduction on all others i.e. Student reduction, so if you’re a student it’s definitely NOT worthwhile. So much for “free admission” to most “places” this just isn’t true. To make matters worse – the Guide the Card comes with is very ambiguous. When you read the literature on the various places it gives discounts, it says, reductions -100% -20% which is it?
Having said all of this the card hardly costs a fortune and some people might purchase it for its convenience value. However – had I not used the card I would have saved myself more than 2,000 Flt….the choice is yours!
Unique Suggestions: A three day Travel card costs 2,300 Ft.
Free only for EU, EEA and Swiss Seniors +65.
Public transport on metro, trams and busses (except the funicular and chair-lift) is free of charge for citizens of the EU, EEA Member States or Switzerland over 65 years old as you can read on the FAQ questions on the www.bkv.hu
Showing an identity card is enough to get the allowance.
Knowing the severity of the inspectors on the Budapest public transport and their high degree of activity in hunting tourists I wrote to the BKK company to get confirmation (with a text in Hungarian) of this free travelling for seniors.
I received a kind and complete answer in English and Hungarian from their customer service.
I join a copy of this for those who might need to use it (names and ref nr have been removed by me).
On our third bus trip coming back on bus 16 from the Buda castle an inspector stepped on the bus (he didn't look like a official except he was wearing an armband) and started controlling a couple of seniors, clearly tourists, while in the back of the controller a few Budapest inhabitants were discreetly checking their transport ticket at the machine to escape the fine of 16000 HUF (± 55 € since 1/01/2013).
The two tourists were fined each 16000 HUF! They thought that being over 65 years public transport was free of charge for them. But they were Canadians, not citizens of the EU, EEA Member States or Switzerland.
When the controller came to us we showed our identity card and the letter of the BKK to show our good right to travel free. The guy said in perfect English: "I know this rule, you are from Belgium, and it's OK!"
We experienced several other controls mainly at the entrances of important metro stations. It was just enough to show our identity card.
- Budget Travel
Budapest Card - Carte Budapest sans intérêt.
The Budapest card is of not much interest because the main (national) museums have free entrance for the permanent collections. For the temporary exhibitions it is possible to have free entrance or a reduction if you are 65 and from the EU but you have to ask for it (sometimes to discuss for it).
A 3 days travel card costs only 2.500 HUF compared to the 5.900 HUF for the Budapest card. -=============================
Carte Budapest est peu intéressante car les principaux musées (nationaux) sont gratuits pour les collections permanentes. Pour les expositions temporaires il faut payer mais il est possible d'avoir l'entrée gratuite ou une réduction si l'on a 65 ans et membre de l'UE.
Il faut en faire la demande, n'hésitez pas à discuter.
A titre d'anecdote au Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Iparmuveszeti Museum) il y avait une exposition temporaire d'une dizaine de tapisseries Bruxelloises qui, vu mes origines, m'intéressaient.
A l'entrée du musée il était indiqué que les collections permanentes n'étaient pas accessibles. L'entrée pour les tapisseries (9 en tout) était de 800 HUF. Après discussion avec la caissière et le garde qui parlait un peu l'anglais, j'obtins la réduction à 400 HUF parce que 65 ans et membre UE. J'étais seul - avec la gardienne - dans la salle des tapisseries, fort belles d'ailleurs. A la sortie de cette salle elle m'indiqua que je pouvais visiter le reste des collections permanentes!
Le truc étant de ne laisser visiter les collections permanentes gratuites qu'à ceux ayant payé l'entrée à la collection temporaire.
Petites arnaques de Budapest!
- Museum Visits
"HYENA" TAXIS and how to spot them
A typical hyena cab, as on the picture here is a black, newer Mercedes Benz, a car regular taxi drivers could never afford sometimes with some make-beleive company logo, not on the front doors as on real taxis but on the trunk.
NEVER EVER be so dumb as to even talk to taxi drivers that drive taxis without insignias of the well known taxi companies (Budapest Taxi, Taxi 2000 or 6X6) on the front doors. Hungarians call these cabs "hyena taxis", well not without a reason. Hungarians would sooner walk from Kispest to Obuda than take any of these.
They are NOT taxis, but petty criminals looking for a few (or more) bucks to make. Even if you see no other taxis around (e.g. Matthias church, end of Vaci utca, other touristy places, where "hyenas" have a usual gathering place) just keep looking for real cabs or just walk, you'll be better off even if you get lost!
Unique Suggestions: Pay through the nose and don't argue because you might end up badly beaten in a dirty alleyway.
Fun Alternatives: Buy a day ticket for BKV (then you won't need a picture ID with the ticket) and take the bus, tram, pullman or whatever.
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
Story about the cafe with the cash dispenser
This is a story that happened last week in Budapest. We heared it from 2 boys from Belgium.
They were drinking somewhere in a cafe in Budapest. After a while, 2 girls came to them to ask them what time it was. (It were just normal girls, like you and me) The girls spoke Hungarian, so first the boys didn't understand them. They kept on talking in English. Just a normal talk about the things of life.. (Where do you come from, what are your interests) After some time there was a little caress between the girls&boys. (They behaved sweet to each other, that sort of things; NOT KISSING or something) They drank some glasses, paid and finally the girls asked the boys wether they knew another cafe. They didnt, because it was their first night in Budapest. The girls proposed to go to a cafe they knew. (Not a sexclub or something, just a cafe). The boys agreed and they went to the cafe. The boys ordered some coffee for themselves. The girls themselves ordered a bottle of wine, for themselves. The talk went on and the girls ordered more bottles of wine. One of the boys told me he only drunk ONE coffee in this second cafe. At the end, the bill had to be paid. The waitress handed the bill to the boys. The total amount was 104.000 Forint. (400 Euro), and that while at least one of the boys only drunk a coffee. Of course the boys didnt want to pay the whole bill, so they gave it to the girls. The girls did as if the boys ordered all the drinks, including all the bottles of wine. There was some quarrel and finally they called for the waitress. She also said that the boys ordered ALL THE DRINKS. The boys were getting angry. They asked the girls if they could pay. But the girls could only show a banknote of 5.000 Forint. There was a big bouncer standing at the door of the cafe, so leaving without paying was impossible. The boys told the waitress they had only 10.000 Forint. Then the waitress pointed the boys at the cash dispenser in the cafe. Finally the boys paid 50.000 Forint and left the building. They were DECEIVED terribly.
Unique Suggestions: See for yourself how to prevend this.
Remember this: all this sort of tricks start with STUPID QUESTIONS.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Casino and Gambling
- Luxury Travel
Dolce Vita club - keep away
For anyone going on a stag trip to Budapest the best advice I can give you is NOT to go to the Dolce Vita club. It is little more than a clip joint of the type seen years ago in London‘s Soho. After thinking we had done well by negotiating a free drink, normally 2,000 Forints, we were totally ripped off within about 10 minutes of going inside. The girls will come and chat for a couple of minutes then mumble something about a drink and a dance. Whatever you say they will get up and start dancing then a guy arrives with some cheap sparkling, probably non-alcoholic, wine. As soon as they realise you have rumbled what is going on and you start complaining that you haven’t ordered it they will present you with a bill. In our case this was 24,000 Forints each. Although there was six of us and we put up some resistance, any arguing just resulted in more heavies arriving and standing around menacingly. They are quite happy to escort you to a nearby ATM as well. Don’t go there, there are other safer and less expensive places to have some fun.
Unique Suggestions: Pay the bill and get out after the first drink, otherwise they will keep doubling it.
Fun Alternatives: Try the Hallo Club on Kiraly.
Marcipan Museum on Castle Hill
My mouth was watering when i entered this so called museum next to the Hilton hotel on Castle Hill. They did have a roomful of displays of some of the figures they had made from marzipan..some quite good, others not so good. There is no information given as to how marzipan is made, how long these figures took to make etc.
Unavoidably, it leads to a gift shop where the cheery personnel will gladly sell you all the marzipan you wish.
Unique Suggestions: don't bother with the "museum", just go directly to the shop and indulge.
Fun Alternatives: The mazipan museum in Szentendre is supposed to be a better display of workmanship. Has anyone been there?
- Food and Dining
Kind of tourist trap, kind of warning
When I arrived in Budapest, I picked up a round trip ticket for the Airport Minibus. It served me well in January when I was there so I used it again.
They were a little slower getting me to my hotel this time around, but last time was the middle of winter and this was the travel season. So I didn't really mind. Anyhow, they drop me at my apartment with no difficulties but when I tried to set up my return trip I ran into a bit of a hassle. Their tickets and the agents at the ticket booth both say to let them know 12 hours in advance of when you need to be picked up for your trip to the airport.
I called them about 2 pm on a sunday for a 5:30 am pickup on monday. Much to my dismay, they inform me that all of their busses are full already and I will have to find an alternate means to the airport. Never mind the fact that I had purchased a round trip ticket, I was still S.O.L. about getting a ride back out to the airport when I needed to go.
I paid a cab to take me out for about $20 USD and it was much faster than the bus would have been, but still, I'd paid about $9USD to ensure I had a way to get back to the airport with a minimum of hassles. And of course the ticket counter wasn't open when I arrived, so there was no way for me to get a refund on the portion they couldn't honour.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
The Taxi in Budapest is working in a way of Mafia....
Altough they are working with metersthe meters are running way too fast.
The prices are high at any part of the city but especially in Big transportation centers such the airport or the bigger train staaitions, when they see that you have a ;lot of luggage.
Unique Suggestions: Try to bargain with the driver, maybe you can reach a reasonable price.
Fun Alternatives: Use the public transportation.
Chequepoint - rip-off exchange rates!
Avoid using Chequepoint to change money in Budapest (or anywhere else for that matter).
Some of my British and American friends have told me horror stories of the rip-off rates charged by Chequepoint when changing money into Euros. The company (click on the logo so you can steer clear of it) has outlets at many tourist sites. It seems to be a problem with this particular dealer - other VT members have reported the same kind of fraud. My advice is not to use Chequepoint under any circumstances.
In any event, you will get much more competitive rates drawing local currency on your Visa or Visa Electron card (preferably use a cash dispenser in a bank during opening hours and check the card slot shows no evidence of being fiddled with (a favourite trick is to slip a thin additional reader in). Shield the keypad with your hand as you tap the numbers in (in another scam, a concealed webcam films your PIN number).
Unique Suggestions: Change your money at a reputable bank not at Chequepoint.
Fun Alternatives: Take out currency on your Visa Electron card (if you directly debit the sum to your bank account, you will avoid the usual 1.5% charge for cash withdrawals). The "spread" is narrow and the exchange rates highly competitive.
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
the Castle's labyrinth
The labyrinth is a maze of tunnels that zig-zag beneath castle hill. There's nothing wrong in this - except it's not really a labyrinth, but tunnels!!! The usual tunnels you wound find undeground in every castle, except for the fact that here you have to pay for the entrance - and the entrancei ncludes the price of a cup of coffee in the underground's café (a trap within a trap). There's also very unoriginal reproductions of cave paintings from around Europe.
Unique Suggestions: don't buy a souvenir (in the underground's souvenir shop)
Fun Alternatives: Go underground... for real! The Budapest region, I heard, is famous for its many caves!!!!
- Castles and Palaces
Hungarian currency is the Forint (HUF) and no many places accept Euro, so i suggest to change almost 80% of your budget in HUF. Use HUF specially to pay Taxi, because taxi drivers always convert in expensive rate.
in shops conversion is usually 1500 UHF= 6 Euro, in taxi is 8 Euro.
- Budget Travel
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