- People usually speak English/ French, so one can survive without learning the language.
- Romanians are usually very friendly towards foreigners, but there are also dishonest people who will try to take advantage of your being a foreigner. Always count your change!
- Romanians usually cook large meals and invite people over. Declining an invitation is perceived as a personal insult.
- Men are expected to always open the doors for women and pay for meals when they get together, even if it`s not a date. Most women will offer to pay for their meal though!
- Saying “thank you” and “please”, eating with cutlery and respecting queues are the norm in Romania. Likewise, streets are pretty clean there, so throwing rubbish on the street will make people frown at you, unless you are a kid, then you will be yelled at. Those who disrespect the rules are usually the homeless, vagrants and there are many of them.
- Never share your personal and/or bank details with stranger. Also do not discuss the cost of your holiday or the value of your possessions if you don’t trust the person you are talking to.
- Avoid bringing up topics like “Gypsies are Romanians”, there is a huge community of them in Romania, but the tendency to connect their often not-so-good behavior with the Romanian people is upsetting. As per any country, it’s rather advisable to avoid political discussion.
- Another topic which would be better avoided is the relation between Hungarian and Romanians, since there seem to be many historical and even current conflicts between the two countries.
Tipping is the norm.
The standard tip is 10%, though you can choose to tip more or less depending on your experience.
Tipping in restaurants/bars/clubs is appropriate in Bucharest. Romanian waiters receive a very small hourly wage because their employers expect that customers will tip them. There are many waiters who expect to be tipped just because this is the norm and don’t understand that tip should be given only in exchange for very good service. Tip only when the people seem to deserve.
A tip is normally not added onto a restaurant bill
Try to tip the taxi drivers, the hairdresser, the valets at the hotel . Not much but any tip will make your stay far more pleasant… 10%-20% will do.
As ever, taxis should not be hailed from the rank, but called from a reputable company. Prices are obliged to be posted on the door and shouldn’t be more than 1.39 – 3.00 lei/km.Make sure the meter is on before setting off and generally be wary of any other funny business.
Romanian currency is LEI/RON (new LEI). Money should preferably be exchanged at the banks. Exchange bureaus at the airport should especially be avoided due to their bad rates.
Sometimes Pickpockets are a real problem in Bucharest, so take extra precautions. Most often they take the form of young Roma children around Piata Universitatii who will ask you for money with their hands out slyly patting your pockets. You’ll soon be surrounded by kids most of whom are distracting you while others dispossess you of your things (we’ve seen it happen too often). The best prevention of this scenario is physically swatting them away while outpacing them or raising your fists and threatening to crush them if they don’t back off. Obviously, don’t keep valuables in coat pockets where they can easily be removed.
Although smoking is forbidden by law, everyone in Bucharest smokes.
Despite how it may seem, prostitution is not legal here, so act accordingly.
This is a ‘zero tolerance’ country. Just do not do it! Penalties are draconian.
Crime and safety
Bucharest’s crime rate is low in comparison to other European capital cities, so no particular problems should arise from this point of view.
Beggars are common on main streets and near the churches, but they are not dangerous.