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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

Latvia Travel Requirements

Travellers Essentials

Tipping is usually expected. In restaurants, the bill often includes a service charge, but you can round up the total of the bill as a tip to serving staff.

Credit Cards
Major credit cards are sometimes accepted at upscale businesses in major cities; American Express is the most widely accepted card in the Baltic states. Some banks in the capital offer cash advances on credit cards, upon presentation of a valid passport.

Traveler's checks
Traveler’s checks can be exchanged at very few places, and the fee may be high. Currency, particularly US Dollars and Deutsche Marks, is readily exchanged at banks, exchange bureaus, and special kiosks at transportation hubs. Bring crisp, new bills. Keep all exchange receipts for reconversion of Latvian currency upon departure.

Getting Around
By Air: Riga Airport is situated about 7 km from the city. One can get there by taxi or by bus.

By Rail: Latvia's rail network includes routes from Riga to all other major towns in the country. Electric trains to Aizkraukle, Jelgava and Jurmala leave one to three times every hour. There are diesel trains to Liepaja, Ventspils and Zilupe three times daily and Daugavpils two times daily. The Railway Terminal is Stacijas laukums.

By Boat: In summer, there are routes from the center of Riga to Mezaparks and Jurmala. Several agencies offer pleasure cruises in the Gulf of Riga. Around the coastline, we have several small sea ports with facilities for yachts.

By Coach: One can reach nearly every place in the country by coach. There are regular routes from Riga to the bigger towns.

By Car: The Latvians drive on the right-hand side of the road. The maximum speed in cities and another populated areas are 50 km per hour. Outside cities or villages it is 90 km per hour. There will be special signs where 100 km per hour on motorways is allowed.

Latvian currency, the Lat or Ls (1 Lat = 100 santims) was fully introduced in October 1993. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 santims, and 1 and 2 Lats. The paper notes are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 Lats.

Banking Hours
Banking hours are from 9.00 to 16.00 Monday through Friday, and some banks are open Saturdays from 9.00 until 12.30 pm.

Duty Free
Upon entering Latvia, one individual, paying no customs duty or value added tax, is allowed to bring in goods and other articles for non-commercial purposes in an amount of Ls 300, personal use items (clothes, toiletry) will be excused of the customs duty amount; foodstuffs (except products requiring thermal processing) in an amount of Ls 15, alcoholic beverages (for individuals 18 years of age) either 1 litre, or 1 unit in original packaging and not larger than 3 litres; cigarettes 200 pcs, or 20 cigars or 200 g of tobacco (for individuals 18 years of age) currency import is not restricted.

For the export of furs and trophies of hunted animals, a license is required from the State Forestry department. For the export of cultural objects, art items, a license is required from the National Agency for Protection of Cultural Monuments.

Health Requirements
No health certificates are required when entering the country. Health insurance is advised. Medicine is widely available, though it is wise to purchase these before traveling.

Social Conventions
Handshaking is customary in Latvia. Normal courtesies should be observed. Latvians are somewhat reserved and formal, but nevertheless very warm and hospitable. They are proud of their culture and their national heritage. Visitors should take care to respect this sense of national identity.

International Direct Dialing
International Direct Dialing is available from all public and hotel phones. Directory service for national numbers are 118 or 079. Directory service for international calls is 118. The country code for Latvia is 371.

Time Zone
GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 in summer).

When to Go
Spring and summer (April through September) are far and away the choicest times of year to visit. These months see better weather, more daylight, fresher food and plenty of folk festivals cropping up nationwide. The weather during this period is suitable for most outdoor activities - as long as you don't mind the slushy and chilly weeks at either end. Winter weather (from November through late March) can be extreme in Latvia, but this period also sees the most theatre performances and concerts and is a skiers' dream. July and August is the peak tourist season, when hotels are often fully booked.


Acknowledgements: ASIATRAVELMART.COM

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