Dont exchange your paper money for coins!
Happened to the Old Riga district,suddenly a man that seemed desperate,appeared from nowhere and asked if we could exchange 10 Lats (his in coins of 2) with paper money.In our acceptance we found our selves (later understood) that those coins were Lietuvas and not Lats.All those are pretty simmilar nowdays-Euros-Lats-Lietuvas-Turkish lires etc etc.So keep in mind;dont help anybody out there!The Rip off capital!!
No problems about Riga's panorama
At first sight, it is hard to think where to find place to see panorama of Riga. Riga's central part is on plain grounds - no mountains, or even smaller or bigger ups and downs when walking. But no problem about it! I suggest you three places from where you can see very different and nice panoramas:
>>> Another bank of river Daugava, opposite to old town, you can walk through Vansu bridge (Vansu tilts). From another bank you see mostly old town, church spires, and castle.
>>> Reval hotel. It is in Brivibas street, just not so much walking from Freedom monument. Reval hotel offers you great views if you go up by lift and spend some time in the highest floor, where bar is.
>>> St. Peter's church. You can go up to the tower of church in old town (entrance is 2,17 euro). Here you see view of inside's old town and other districts.
Interesting park bridge
I think you will be wondering why they put such locks on this bridge. At first I wrote that Latvians lock bikes there, when just coming to the centre (mostly for work, shopping). But for real, it is really nice tradition - when Latvians merry each other they put the lock on the park bridge with their names and after locking they throw keys into the river. It is like assurance, that the marital life will be nice and without divorces. Overall this is a nice bridge in the park, surrounding old town.
Taxis from Riga Airport
When cathing a Taxi from Riga Airport try and use the NEW Air Baltic Taxi service. They have introduced a flat rate into the city 8LVL.
Riga taxis have a bad reputation for over charging tourist (same as most cities). One company you can also trust is The Red Taxi Company, they always use a meter.
You may find that many taxi drivers dont speak much english, is better to have your destination written down to give the driver. Also ask for a rough price before you get in the taxi.
Once in the city you can walk almost everywhere or use the tram system.
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Places to AVOID
My apartment renter lives in Riga and suggested me a list of places to avoid.
Here you are her BLACK LIST.
Terbatas 2; located below the "Fashion Café" in the basement of the "Vegas" casino at the corner of Terbatas and Merkela streets near flower market.
Formerly "Roxy Club" in Kalku 24; located near the entrance to Old Town on Kalku Street.
Formerly "Groks Pub", "Lord's Pub" in Kalku 22; located next door to Roxy Club.
Formerly "Pink Panther" in Kalku 22; also located next door to Groks Pub.
Located in Audeju 13, on the east side of Galleria "Centrs" Mall.
I don't know where it is located...
Located in Laipu 7, near "Livu Square" in a small street to the right of restaurant "Steiku Haoss".
Aka "Zig Zag", located in Marstala 12, to the right of Reformed Church.
Located in Vagnera 8, near "Livu Square" in a small street to the right of "Roxy", "Groks" and "Pink Panther".
Located near Galleria Center in Old Town, near the youth hostel.
MADEMOISELLE CIGAR CLUB
Located in Valnu street, it's in Old Town across "Lounge 8".
Located in Grecinieku 28 (Old Town).
Unique Suggestions: Keep in mind the number: +371 22033000
It is a TOURIST PROBLEM HOTLINE 24 hours in English language. It could help you.
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ROYAL PUB, 16 Gin Tonics for "only" 600 EURO
I made experience about on my first stay in Riga. Me and my friend met two girls. They began to talk with us in Kalku street and after 15 minutes they invited us to have a drink in ROYAL PUB. We did not drink so much (a total of 16 Gin Tonics). When I asked for the bill I was shocked: 420 LATS, more than 600 EURO!!! I asked for menu to check the prices. Prices were normal, so I discovered they wanted me to pay something I had not consumed! I told the barwoman there was a mistake but she told me: "If you don't pay I call our bodyguards".
I paid but I signed them...
So, dear Royal Pub, do you like be simpleton with us? OK... I'm a Virtual Tourist Member, potentially over one million of tourists will avoid you.
What do you think about?
Unique Suggestions: Keep in mind this number: +371 22033000
It is a TOURIST PROBLEM HOTLINE 24 hours in English language; it could help you to solve the problem.
- Work Abroad
- School Holidays
Use the local Train and Buses. Say no to Riga Card
Many companies offer tours to places like Sigulda and also to the beach at Jurmala for very high price
Jurmala can set you back 10 Latts on an organised tour - and is only around 2 latt return on train and you are flexible to come home when you want
Similarly Sigulda is about 20 Latt and it is 1 hour away on local bus and was only 1.5 Latt return
Riga Card many people will like - but really Tram rides are so cheap at 50 cent each - and i only had need for Tam 1 time - i just walked everywhere
Robbed and ripped in Riga!
Don't trust taxi drivers, any girls or bars! better don't go to Riga at all. We were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi and ripped of in a bar and overcharged by every cabdriver! People are not friendly and every local is out there to rip off tourists!
Unique Suggestions: Ask the price before or demand a price list. Don't get in a taxi alone
Fun Alternatives: Alternatives: Paris, London, Dublin, Brussels
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The biggest thievs in all of Riga. We (I and my wife) came to Riga by boat from Stokcholm and outside the terminal there were only white taxis (red taxis is more honest).
So we took the withe one, the driver turned on the meter, starting cost at 1,5 Lat. So it say on the window. We went to the Freedom Statue, taxi driver stops and says 8,5 Lat and so it is on the meter, so I asume that the taxidriver drowe with high speed meter all the time. My first rip of and I havent even started sightseeing.
WELCOME TO LATVIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Unique Suggestions: Allways tell the driver to put on the meter. Or deal with him about a fix price. Look at the meter all the time if it starts to go fast tell the driver.
A trip from the ship terminal to Freedom Statue should cost MAX 5 LATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Groks, Mary, Nobu, and other RIP OFF bars
You meet a girl or two somewhere, he asks you to go to a cool place called whatever. You go there, buy the girl couple of drinks, and then have to pay a huge amount of money.
Unique Suggestions: 1) Ask for a price list always. Words are nothing when you are going to the police later.
2) If you are cheated in such kind of a place (there are several of them: Groks, Pink Panter, Mary, Mademoiselle, Nobu, etc), don't pay! These are relationships between customer and service provider, which, here in Latvia, are regulated by civil law. And the only thing that service provider can do - go to civil court, which will never be done by the owners of these places.
3) Call the police. Be sure to ask for Central Police Station. These people know about the place, and know what to do.
4) Be calm, security monkeys can beat you, and you won't be able to do anything because you're probably leaving in couple of days.(Weeks are needed to process the place)
5) Never ever give your card to the staff. Better say, you don't have it at all. Check the amounts they are charging you. Ask for the receipt. Cancel the card as soon as you are out of the place. More money can be charged later.
6) If you are let to go for the money to the hotel and one of the monkeys is following you - stay at the hotel reception, and call the police from there.
7) If you friend is held in the bar, and you should go and bring the money to pay - call the police ASAP, and together with the police go for your friend.
Fun Alternatives: Any other place, where prices (when checked) are suitable for you.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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I was not one of the conned but did hear that particularly in the nightclub area, people were overcharged by enormous amounts at the end of the evening, once requesting their bill. Take care also when using taxi's and request the price of a journey before taking the trip.
Groks bar Riga rip-off
Groks bar near the square: I wish I had known about this place before I went to Riga. On our last night my friend and I said we'd pop in here for a drink as it didn't look like a lap-dancing bar or strip joint. We ordered a pint of beer each and then approached by 2 studenty-type of girls who seemed pleasant enough, my friend and I felt a bit sorry for them as they told us all about the economic situation in Latvia etc. They then invited us to join them in the Disco bar in the back part of the bar. We offered to buy them a drink and even asked the waitress how much it was and she said 'thirteen eight' which I took to mean 13 lats 18 santimas which would be about 20 euro but when my friend tried to pay for it she pointed to the menu and lo and behold it was 138 lats (something got lost in translation i think) I went ballistic and wanted to fight my way out but my friend got nervous and pleaded with me to calm down as we'd end up in jail (apparently the cops are in on the hustle) in the end we paid so let this be a warning to anyone going to Riga (which I wouldn't recommend anyway) to stay away from this hole called Groks and don't feel sorry for any of the Latvian women who all seem to be part-time hookers out to fleece the tourists!!!!!
Unique Suggestions: Definitely don't buy anyone a drink no matter how genuine they seem to be!!!
Fun Alternatives: Go to an Irish pub
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Unless you are travelling as a 'couple' and are male, upon entering the city centre you will be continually pestered to visit one of the many 'free' strip clubs on offer in Riga, more often than not by trouser- stretchingly gorgeous females in their early 20's. While there is nothing wrong with strip clubs per se, when you inevitably give in, presumably after a few barley pots, be aware that they are almost always underground and hotter than the surface of the sun (especially july - september), staffed by extremely intimidating Russian gangsters and, if you are especially unlucky and end up in the one we ended up in, completely empty except for you, the gangsters and the creatures that pass for strippers. While the promise of free entry and 2 free drinks is technically fulfilled, if you dont keep your wits about you you could end up spending more in an hour than you would in a weekend in Monte Carlo.
Unique Suggestions: Dont expect Spearmint Rhino. It would be fair to assume that as Riga has, arguably, the most stunning women of any European city, that the ladies employed in a Riga strip club would come from the same stock. They don't. The ones we encountered wouldn't have been out of place in an early 1970's Glaswegian knocking shop. Following a few moments enjoying your warm Ukranian lager wondering why you're the only people in the club at 11 o'clock at night, and why the man who looks like Tony Soprano on the door is staring at you, you will be joined by a number of these young ladies (the same number that there is of you) who will pop themselves on your lap, talk to you in broken english and present you with the 'crazy menu'. By this point you will not have parted with any money, but this will soon change if you don't make it quite clear that you have no intention of paying £70 for a 'crazy' dance or a 'crazy' S&M special, described to me as ''dancing, with some fighting". The last throw of the dice is for the nice Russian Gangster to approach the table and ask you if you would like to buy the 'ladies' a drink. A 'no', whilst rather awkward at the time will result in no more than your free drink being snatched from you and being 'escorted' off the premises, a 'yes' will result in you buying at least 1 bottle of £70 'crazy' champagne and I wouldnt like to imagine what else.
- Budget Travel
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Getting High is Over-rated
The church was rebuilt recently enough (in the 1970s by Soviet engineers) that it looks disappointingly like a new church on the inside with a couple of old stone carvings stuck to the walls. Going up the steeple costs 2 lats (around 4 dollars). It cost an extra .50 lats to see the preserved monuments of the original church. There’s really nothing spectacular to see from the tower, nothing that’s worth 2 lats. Riga’s more fascinating from the ground. I went up on a cold day and everyone stood huddled around the elevator doors waiting for it to come back up so they could get back down.
Unique Suggestions: Check out the wooden crest with the human skull.
Fun Alternatives: Walk out to the castle, and along the bridges that cross the river. The view is far more interesting, especially if you cross to the opposite side and see the Old Town at sunset.
Chequepoint - rip-off exchange rates
Wealth Warning: Avoid changing currency at Chequepoint's branch in Riga - 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. It seems to be a problem with this particular dealer - other VT members in Hungary and Hong Kong have reported the same kind of fraud.
My advice is not to use Chequepoint under any circumstances. Click on the logo so you can steer well clear of these sharks.
Fun Alternatives: 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).
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