5 Things to Know Before Visiting Georgia

Boasting with a total population of just over 3.7 million, Georgia is located on the liminal boundary between Easter Europe and Western Asia. Bordered by the Black Sea in the west, it has become a popular tourist destination and getaway place. Varying in climate, its most desirable locations are most indubitably the ones that are affected by subtropical influences. But before you hit the road to explore this hidden Caucasian gem, be sure to keep these top five things in mind!

1. Warm-hearted:
There aren’t many countries on the face of Mother Earth that harbour such welcoming and enthusiastic people. If you land in Tbilisi, you will find that all restaurant staff, hotel staff, and even the local cab drivers will be beyond friendly. By all means, engage in conversations with them and introduce them to your own culture and customs – you will find that they are more than interested in the other corners of the world. Yes, what we are recommending here is that you reward nice people with friendliness yourself – have the courage to let them in and enjoy their presence (wink).

2. Language barriers:
So, before you go browsing for travel-dictionaries, know that the official language in Georgia is, well, Georgian. While it is not spoken by too many people around the globe, it has its own writing system and pronunciation that might prove difficult to learn at first. The good news is that the second most spoken language is either English or Russian, depending on what age group we are looking at. The younger generation is more than versed in English whilst the older one is a bit more Russian-oriented. This, of course, does not exclude young people speaking Russian or older people speaking English as cultural boundaries are not that far apart in Georgia. We recommend that you get down the basics of “hello” and “goodbye” in Georgian thought, as it is considered polite (“gamarjoba” means “hello” and “mshvidobit” means “goodbye”).

3. Tipping:
Tipping in Georgia is pretty straightforward: most bills have a 10% extra added to them. This will usually fill the role of a tip but it should not stop you from being generous if you feel like it. However, understand that not all bills have tips added to them and if you don’t know what to look for, you might even miss it. Asking the waiter or the bartender if the bill has a tip or not is not considered impolite, so feel free to enquire. If there is no extra 10% there, then it is deemed well-mannered to leave a tip of 10-15% yourself. Just do not leave them empty-handed as that is outright rude (wink)!

4. Budget:
And finally, the best news of the best: Georgia is cheap when compared to First World juggernauts. While this might not be a problem for some people, budget-savvy travellers will surely rejoice at the quality of the service that they will be able to get for rather “insignificant” amounts of money. Cabs are also cheap, so if you are on your way somewhere in a hurry, you can easily opt for them. Oh, and do visit those iconic Georgian open markets with fresh vegetables and fruits – they will not let you down, neither will they strip you of your coin.

5. Piety:
This is good or bad news depending on your religious views but Georgia is quite close to what the younger generation calls a restrictive theocracy. The orthodox patriarchs there are quite possibly some of the most influential people and things like crossing when passing a church is as common as the flu. If you’ve never seen pious orthodox people, know that things like kissing icons and kneeling/sobbing in churches is considered something casual. The younger generation opposes these manifestations but the older age-group enforces it with fire and steel. While this is probably the greatest division-factor in the country, it should not surprise you too much if you are travelling from orthodox countries like Romania or Russia.

Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Georgia and how have they shaped your trip? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about it – share with the world! Safe travels!

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