5 Things to Know Before Visiting Venezuela

South American countries have seen a significant increase in tourism in the past 10 years and this is mostly due to the love that they put in their local environment to make them friendly to outsiders. Yet Venezuela does not seem to adhere to this standard and here we are, about to explore exactly why. So, without further ado, let us decide together whether Venezuela is for you or not!

1. Beauty:
All you need to do is to Google “Venezuelan natural beauty” and you are bound to be awe-struck by the sheer grandeur that the country has to offer. Home to the tallest uninterrupted waterfall in the world (Angel Falls), and some of the most beautiful coastlines of Planet Earth, it truly would be a paradise if we were to ignore all the pressing problems that we are going to explore further on. And here’s the other aspect that pertains to Venezuelan beauty: the romanticisation of the attractiveness of the local women. Yes, countless Venezuelan women have reached respectable places in beauty contests but that does not mean that all of them will be to your liking. Keep an open mind whenever you are visiting a new country and do not fall prey to superficial generalisations! Oh, and by the way, this is why we didn’t tell you to Google “the beauty of Venezuela” for all you will get are finely-dressed women at beauty contests (wink)!

2. Budget:
And here is the greatest news that one can give to budget-savvy travellers: Venezuela is as cheap as it can get. This includes both housing and transport (both internal and external). Eating out is also cheap just about everywhere (and yes, even in the capital city of Caracas) and accessories are at an arm’s length. Exchanging an amount as modest as 100 USD (or its equivalent) can get you far in Venezuela but we recommend that you do not walk around with a lot of money. Which brings us to our next point…

3. Crime:
In spite of the indubitable beauty that Venezuela harbours, it is a place where violent crime is so rampant that it is downright dangerous to travel there. Locals tend to joke about the subject by saying that Venezuela is not for the faint of heart. White this is certainly true, we can do nothing else but to advise you to keep your valuables close at hand. Unfortunately, sometimes even that will prove ineffective as kidnappings are as frequent as are petty thefts. Murders are not far behind with Caracas being continuously named the crime capital of the world (though this often contested by San Pedro Sula of Honduras). With 119 murders per 100,000 residents, multiple bodies turn up daily in major cities like Caracas, Maracaibo or Valencia. Corruption and mugging can occur as soon as you land and they may often come from people you might think are officials (they will be adequately dressed but they are no more than extortionists). Even though Venezuela is cheap, you cannot wander around hoping to find accommodation somewhere, as you are bound to be misled or mugged on the way. Foreigners are number one targets and if you dress like one, well, things can get ugly. If you do have the nerves of steel that one would require to visit Venezuela, we recommend that you stay away from the “barrio” slums and to try to blend in with the environment. Sticking out is especially dangerous in Caracas, so act poor and do not carry an obvious backpack (not to mention cameras, jewellery or expensive watches).

4. Inflation and lack:
This is also one of those aspects that discourage people from visiting Venezuela – and things are only getting worse. Nowadays, you need a backpack full of money to buy something as simple as bread. Water runs only once in several days and you can only buy food when you are allowed to do so by the system (this is directly related to the last number one the ID cards of the people). These are basic things and yet they are hard to get even in major cities. And here comes the sad part: the population relies on the black markets for basic needs such as food but their operators will often sell them for prices 10-20 times higher than the average. We do not mean to discourage you from going there if that is what you yearn for the most, but peril is peril, no matter how we look at things. You must know what you are going to be in for if you go there. 2016 was an all-time worst year for Venezuela in terms of economy and over 60% of the population believes that it will only get worse in the future. This is one of those places in the world where one can never be prepared for anything. Visit Venezuela at your own risk!

5. Language barriers:
Since Venezuela doesn’t see too many tourists these years, it is safe to say that not many of the locals speak English. But this is not even the bad part for most of them will even frown at your unchiselled proto-Spanish. If you are not an expert at their mother-tongue, you are going to have a hard time getting around. And then there is the other thing: if you do not speak good Spanish, it is a dead give-away that you are a tourist. That will most certainly attract criminals and unpleasant things can happen to you 95% of the time. Venezuela is a country that should not be visited if you are not an expert Spanish speaker, period. Do proper research and, again, if you must go, stay safe! Oh, and on a side-note: it is good to have a local friend whom you can trust. They will know how things work and the places that should be avoided.

Did you enjoy our list? Have you ever been to Venezuela? If you have, what experiences have you had? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about what you have seen! Stay safe, trailblazers!

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