Even though you might not immediately peg Romania as a world class vacation destination, there are plenty of things to keep any kind of traveler busy. Fans of the great outdoors will find plenty to love at Bigar Waterfall or the Zoological Museum, historical aficionados will find one-of-a-kind destinations in Poenari Castle or Snagov Monastery, and pretty much anyone will get a laugh out of the unusual Merry Cemetery. There’s a whole lot to do in Romania that’s made all the sweeter because it’s extremely cost-friendly. Of course, to make the most out of your Romanian holiday, you should consider following these simple rules for avoiding trouble.
1. Don’t Sleep on the Romanian People
If you have the opportunity — and if you hit a pub, you’ll likely have the opportunity — take some time to hang out with the local people. They have a reputation for warmth and hospitality and their sense of humor isn’t what you’d expect at all.
2. Don’t Pet the Dogs
When you’re traveling around Romania, you might run across a homeless dog (or fifty) throughout your travels. Even though most of these animals aren’t dangerous, it’s a good idea not to engage no matter how cute they are.
3. Don’t Talk About Dracula
Yes, Romania is the legendary birthplace of Dracula; it was once home to a bloodthirsty conqueror named Vlad Dracul, a man who just loved sticking people on pikes. You might be there to visit Dracula’s home town, but the people don’t want to hear about it. They know about the guy and he kind of bores them, so just save that enthusiasm for your traveling party.
4. Don’t Zone Out When You’re in a Cab
This is just good advice any time you’re a tourist in a big city. First, you are obviously out of your element, no matter how much you think you blend in. Second, a lot of taxi drivers will try to take advantage of you for that. Just pay attention to the route your driver is taking and the pricing labels listed in the cab itself.
5. Don’t Forget to Bring a Little Bribe Money
Just in case something goes wrong and you end up at the mercy of a local doctor or police officer, you should know that it’s not uncommon for these people to expect a little gratuity just to do their job correctly. A lot of bribes can run you around $100, but in life-threatening emergencies, that number can actually increase. That’s not true of every state professional, but it does happen.
6. Don’t Forget to Plan Ahead
Don’t be confused by Romania’s place on the map; the European nation is quite large. The population of 22 million is spread out over several historic regions. When you’re headed to Romania, make sure that you’re planning your activities with one eye on the map in order to insure that you’re not zigzagging across the country.
7. Don’t Flash Your Valuables in the Open
Because Romania has a problem with poverty, it has corresponding issues with petty theft and pickpocketing. As a result, it’s always a good idea to keep your valuables out of site as much as possible and never keep your money where it can be easily plucked from a pocket.
8. Don’t Forget Your Romanian-English Dictionary
While a significant portion of the Romania population does speak English, major locations don’t often have signs in English. So, when you’re trying to navigate the country, it’s a good idea to have a dictionary on hand to ensure that you can move from place to place in relative ease.
9. Don’t Assume That Anything Will Happen on Time
Like a lot of European countries, Romanian people play it fast and loose with their schedule, meaning that pretty much everything in Romania happens much slower or much later than you anticipated. Just be patient and try to keep a positive mindset.
10. Don’t Go Partying Lightly
The Romanian people can throw down like few of their European counterparts, so if you have the opportunity to go drinking with some locals, you should know what you’re getting into before you jump in over your head. Even on week nights, drinking can go late into the night; at weddings, dancing until the sun comes up is expected.
11. Don’t Forget to Ask About Family
Romanian people place a lot of emphasis on the value of family. They spend time with them and love talking about them. Should you find yourself in conversation with one of them, try asking about their relatives. You might be surprised to find that they’re all too happy to talk about it.
12. Don’t Expect to Enjoy Driving Around the Country
Romania is undeniably beautiful. Any trip to the country isn’t complete without soaking up some of its fantastic natural wonders. Unfortunately, it’s highly likely that your trip to said natural beauty will be somewhat tarnished thanks to Romania’s shoddy infrastructure. The roads are minefields of pot holes and missing gaps.
13. Don’t Leave Without Visiting an Old Village
Whether you take the time to visit one of the hovels in Transylvania that have gone relatively unchanged for hundreds of years, or you visit one of Ardeal’s picturesque towns, you shouldn’t leave the country without taking in some of Romania’s rich cultural history.
14. Don’t Expect People to Withhold Private Information
The Romanian people are kind of celebrated for their candor. They’re unabashedly open and honest about themselves, which means that a lot of Romanian people will gladly tell you private information soon after you meet them. Don’t be put off by it; just roll with the punches and enjoy yourself. That kind of candid behavior is too rare to be rebuffed.