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Hesperia Playa El Agua
Hesperia Playa El Agua - dream vacation

Avenida 31 De JulioPlaya El Agua

Dunes Hotel & Beach Resort
Dunes Hotel & Beach Resort - dream vacation

Valle de Pedro González. Calle Campo Elías. Sector El Pueblito. Playa Puerto CruzPedro Gonzalez

SUNSOL Isla Caribe
SUNSOL Isla Caribe - dream vacation

Playa El TiranoPuerto Fermin

Eurobuilding Express Maiquetia
Eurobuilding Express Maiquetia - dream vacation

Av La Armada, Urbanizacion 10 De MarzoMaiquetia

Hesperia Isla Margarita
Hesperia Isla Margarita - dream vacation

Playas Puerto Viejo y Puerto Cruz, Pedro GonzalezPedro Gonzalez

Portofino Hotel
Portofino Hotel - dream vacation

Prolongación Playa El Agua ManzanilloPlaya El Agua

Laguna Mar
Laguna Mar - dream vacation

Sector Apostadero, Margarita IslandPampatar

Venezuela is a country in South America on the Caribbean Sea. The country is known for being the home of the Angel Falls (Kerepakupai Vená), the world's highest waterfall and one of Venezuela's major tourist attractions.

The country has the world's largest oil reserves, although this hasn't exactly translated into prosperity and wealth for the vast majority of the population. The heavy dependance on oil exports, coupled with pervasive corruption, political unrest and instability, economic mismanagement, and irresponsible policies put forth by the government have badly damaged the economy. This has, in turn, lead to a deteriorating human rights situation, shortage of basic supplies, skyrocketing crime rates, and widespread unemployment and poverty.

Due to the extremely high inflation rate, Wikivoyage does not provide prices in the national currency, the bolivar. Prices expressed in US dollars may be shown as ranges because of the variance between low official and higher unofficial exchange rates.



  • Caracas – Being the capital and the largest city in Venezuela, Caracas is known for being one of the most cosmopolitan and modern cities in South America. There are lots of places to visit, such as theaters, malls, museums, art galleries, parks, well-conserved colonial architecture and even gourmet restaurants.
  • Coro – The first capital of Venezuela and a city of rich colonial architecture, a unique natural scenery and tourist attractiveness. Its historical downtown is considered as a cultural World Heritage Site.
  • 3 Ciudad Bolívar – Stop-off point for flights to Angel Falls, and a comfortable stopover to Brazil.
  • Ciudad Guayana – Dominated by heavy industry, it is Venezuela´s most organized city and the main gateway to the Orinoco Delta and the Gran Sabana. It is locally still known as either Puerto Ordaz or San Félix.
  • Maracaibo – Venezuela's second largest city, swelteringly hot and built on oil.
  • Maracay – Once the capital of Venezuela, now home to the main military garrison.
  • 7 Mérida – A charming university town in the Andes mountains, popular for outdoor activities.
  • Puerto La Cruz – The city to go to if you want to visit the beaches in Eastern Venezuela.
  • 9 San Cristóbal – A leafy industrious city in the Andes mountains, bordering Colombia.

Other destinations

  • 1 Angel Falls (Salto Ángel) in Canaima National Park (Parque Nacional Canaima) — the world's highest waterfall.
  • 2 Choroní Beach (Playa Grande or El Malecon)
  • Los Roques Archipelago (Archipiélago Los Roque)
  • 4 Margarita Island (Isla Margarita)
  • Mochima National Park (Parque Nacional Mochima)
  • 6 Morrocoy National Park (Parque Nacional Morrocoy)
  • 7 Los Llanos (The Plains)
  • 8 Orinoco Delta
  • 9 La Gran Sabana (The Great Savanna)


Venezuela is home to the world's highest waterfall, Angel Falls and the second longest river in South America, the Orinoco. It also has the longest coastline to the Caribbean sea. Venezuela is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and also has vast untapped reserves of natural gas. Ecologically, Venezuela is considered among the 20 Megadiverse countries of the planet; more than 40% of its national territory is covered by protected areas.


Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in the northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in the southeast. Nueva Esparta islands in the northeast

highest point Pico Bolivar (La Columna) 5,007 m.


Venezuela was inhabited by Pre-Columbian peoples when it was claimed as a possession of the Spanish Empire by Christopher Columbus during his third voyage in 1498.

Venezuela was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and Ecuador). For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by military strongmen and the country was largely underdeveloped, depending mainly on agriculture.

Venezuela in the 20th century

During World War I, large, massive, and plentiful oil and gas reserves were discovered in Lake Maracaibo. This proved to be pivotal for the country — standards of living markedly improved, the country became more industrialised, the country received a great deal of immigrants from all over the world, and the country enjoyed an economic boom that lasted well over several decades.

Overreliance on oil and gas reserves soon proved to be Venezuela's undoing — the economy was badly damaged by the sudden shift in global oil prices during the 1980s, culminating in economic collapse, dissatisfaction with the government, and widespread political and social unrest. A number of banks became bankrupt in the mid-1990s, further complicating matters.

Venezuela under Hugo Chávez (1999 - 2013)

The collapse of confidence in the government led to Hugo Chávez being elected president in the late 1990s.

Chávez rewrote the constitution of the country, and initiated the creation of a Bolivarian Republic, i.e, a country's whose principles are based on the beliefs and ideals of Simon Bolivar. Chávez created Bolivarian missions aimed at improving economic, cultural, and social conditions, and implemented a number of socialist and protectionist policies. High oil prices in the early 2000s brought about some form of economic buoyancy.

While these actions and policies made Chávez a popular figure among many Venezuelans, it became increasingly apparent by the 2010s that the Chávez government was poorly managing the country – inflation was high, there were occasional shortages of food and supplies, and the government still depended a lot on oil and gas reserves. Poverty, corruption, and crime increased year by year, sowing the seeds for the Venezuelan crisis.

Venezuelan crisis (2013 - present)

Chavez died in March 2013 and was succeeded by his vice president, Nicolas Maduro, a bus driver turned trade union leader turned politician.

Maduro has continued all of his predecessor's policies, causing the country's worst ever humanitarian crisis to date. Basic supplies of food and medicine are scarce, violent crime has skyrocketed, businesses have been forced to shut down, and thousands of Venezuelans have been pushed into poverty.

Life for the vast majority of Venezuelans has become incredibly miserable, and many have since emigrated in search of better opportunities elsewhere. Many Venezuelans feel there's no hope or future left for their country, although a small portion of people feel that things will change in due time.


Venezuela uses a 60 Hz and 120 V power system. The power plugs are identical to those used in North America (referred to as A and B type power plugs).


  • January 1: New Year's Day
  • January 14: Feast of the Divina Pastors
  • February 12: Youth Day
  • February 20: Federation Day
  • March 21: Slavery Abolition Anniversary
  • April 19: Independence Movement Day
  • July 5: Independence Day
  • July 24: Birth of Simón Bolívar
  • September 8: Birth of the Virgin Mary and Feasts of the Virgin del Valle and Our Lady of Coromoto
  • October 12: Day of Indigenous Resistance
  • December 8: Immaculate Conception and Loyalty Day
  • December 25: Christmas

Christmas is celebrated as a religious event. The unofficial start of the Christmas festivities is after the celebrations of "Feria de la Chinita", the second half of November, with various religious activities, processions, and music. In many places, neighborhoods get together for the "patinatas" night festivals, events usually sponsored by the local church but organized be the people. In some neighborhoods there is the "Parranda" where people go from house to house with music and Christmas songs, expecting some food and drinks in return.


Get in

Visa requirements

Citizens of the following countries may not require a visa to visit Venezuela for tourist purposes only for up to 90 days (a tourist-card will be issued instead): Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominica, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Iran (max. 15 days), Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea (South) Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nevis, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Spain, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Business travelers almost invariably require a visa to be issued before entry.

In Caracas, passengers pass through immigration in the arrivals hall before going to baggage claim. Officers will check your passport and may ask questions. If a customs officer or anyone asks about your purpose of visit, tell them you are only there to visit, tourism. At baggage claim you will be required to match the baggage sticker on your flight ticket to the bar code on your bag before you hand over your tax form to customs officials.

There will be many individuals who approach you after your arrival offering assistance with locating a taxi or trading currency. It is best to not interact with anyone who approaches you. Even airport officials with proper identification may attempt to lead you to other areas of the airport to trade currency on the black market. When taking a taxi from the airport, always settle on a price before getting into the cab, and only use taxis that have the official yellow oval seal.

By plane

The main international airport is Simon Bolivar International Airport ( also known as Maiquetia airport), (CCS IATA) in the Vargas state. It is approximately a 30-minute ride from Caracas. Buses are available during the day, departing from Parque Central and Avenida Lecuna bus station next to Calle del Sur. Buses run from 7AM-6PM. A taxi ride from the airport will cost US$5-7, or US$6-8 at night. There are international flights to MaracaiboPorlamar and Valencia, but the choices are very limited.

To Caracas you can travel nonstop from Latin American, Caribbean and European cities. Direct flights from/to the U.S. and Canada have been suspended or terminated.

From Europe, there are nonstop flights from Madrid (Air Europa, Estelar, Plus Ultra), Paris (Air France), Rome (Estelar), Tenerife North (Plus Ultra), and Lisbon (TAP). Iberia flies from Madrid with a technical stop in Santo Domingo. With Turkish Airlines you can fly from Istanbul with a short stopover in Havana.

Aeropostal, CONVIASA, Avianca, Copa Airlines, Lloyd, LATAM and Aerolíneas Argentinas provide flights to the rest of Central America and South America.

Copa Airlines has a daily service from CaracasMaracaibo and Valencia to Panama and connections to all South America, Central America and USA.

For international departures (at Maiquetia Airport), the airport tax is US$23-53.49, and the departure tax US$21.40-9.20. These taxes are paid at the airport, although many airline tickets might include these taxes.

It is still a good idea to keep at least US$50 on hand when departing from Venezuela. If the fees increase, or you are required to pay both the airport and departure tax, you can head into the main lobby area where many businessmen will eagerly buy US dollars. If you are stuck without cash, you can ask airline employees to charge your credit card and provide you with cash to pay the airport tax. Ask for 'efectivo' when employing this strategy.

For domestic flights (at Maiquetia Airport), there is an airport tax. Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela, Santa Bárbara Airlines, Avior Airlines, Conviasa and Aserca Airlines are the major domestic airlines in Venezuela.

By car

Venezuela has road links with Colombia and Brazil. The road crossing to Brazil, not far from the frontier town of Santa Elena de Uairén, is a long way from most tourist destinations in Venezuela and so not a common point of entry. Border controls are tight and all travelers arriving from Boa Vista are expected to have visas. The Venezuelan consulate in Boa Vista is on Av Benjamin Constant.

Venezuela's main connection with Colombia is from Cúcuta to Venezuela's frontier town of San Antonio del Táchira, which is about 50 km from the busy Andean city of San Cristóbal. For a day visit to Cúcuta no visa documents are required but border controls are otherwise very tight with frequent searches. The border area can be dangerous and visitors should pass through quickly.

In 2012, border controls were fairly relaxed from Venezuela to Colombia; it was possible to take a local bus directly from San Cristobal to Cucuta. As locals do not need to stamp their passports, the bus did not wait for third-country nationals undertaking the migration procedures. Smuggling of subsidised Venezuelan goods into Colombia became commonplace before oil prices collapsed in 2014; this flow has now reversed as Venezuela has been gripped by widespread shortages of basic goods. This has led to clampdowns at the border, and crossings have been sporadically closed.

If you are leaving Venezuela by land from San Antonio to Cucuta, you are obliged to pay the departure tax, so do not change all your bolivares in Venezuela.

Get around


Travelers in Venezuela are obliged to carry identification. There are military checkpoints on many roads, so while traveling by car or bus keep your passport handy, ideally you should keep a color photocopy of your passport. Should your passport be stolen, this will facilitate procedures with your local consulate. The military presence is constant, yet is not usually cause for concern. That having been said, there are corrupt officials. It is wise to keep a close eye on your belongings when, for instance, bags are being checked for drugs. A soldier of the Guardia Nacional (National Guard) sometimes plants drugs to solicit a bribe or steal valuables. Penalties for drug use are severe, and the burden of proof falls on the accused, the police may also demand bribes using the same modus operandi.

There is only one rather short intercity rail line in Venezuela, which leaves three options for travel inside the country: car rental, using buses, and using cars-for-hire. Drivers in Venezuela are generally aggressive and unconcerned by traffic regulations. The traffic in Venezuela is very bad, the drivers are aggressive and all drivers want to be the first. Thus, car rental is not recommended in general. The very cheap fuel prices make this option fairly economical. The expensive part of renting a car will be the insurance. Fuel prices as of Aug 2018 remained fixed at 1 BsF per litre, which meant that a million Imperial gallons (4,500,000L) was worth about US$1 at black-market currency exchange rates. The Venezuelan government is looking to eliminate these generous subsidies, but any change to the status quo will incur strong political backlash.

Do not underestimate the sheer chaos of Venezuela's traffic. The often ignored road rules state that you must drive on the right unless overtaking and give way to traffic coming on to a roundabout. Drivers frequently top 160 km/h (100 mph) on intercity highways. Laws requiring car occupants to wear seat belts are not always complied with.

Traffic lights are often ignored, especially in the night, not for lack of patience, but drivers do not like to stop the car as they can be robbed while stopped. Motorcycles (moto taxis) are sometimes seen transporting up to five people, usually without helmets, which adds to the dangers of the road.

At Venezuelan crosswalks, pedestrians do not have the right of the way as they do in the U.S. and many European countries. If you slow down or stop at a crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross, you could cause an accident with unsuspecting motorists.

By train

There is a single line of some 40 km (25 mi) operated by the state railway connecting Caracas and Cúa via Charallave as of 2017.

By bus

The bus system is extensive and extremely affordable (in part due to the low price of fuel). Bus terminals are hectic, but it is usually easy to find a bus to any major city leaving within a short amount of time. Short bus rides (2 hours) may cost US$3-7, and even extremely long bus rides (9 hours) will only cost US$10-35. The larger buses are typically air-conditioned. In fact, they are usually overly air-conditioned, so it is worth bringing a blanket with you. Buses are an easy and convenient way to get around the country. However, proper security awareness should be exercised as robberies occasionally take place on buses in cities and on highways. It is best to choose bus lines that use a metal detector and bag check to insure no passengers are carrying weapons of any kind.

If you decide to travel by bus a good option is Aeroexpresos Ejecutivo. They have their own terminal in a residential zone of Caracas (Chacao, Bello Campo), and baggage is checked on the buses (as in an airport). The buses are clean, safe and well-maintained, plus the drivers are trained to respect the speed limit (there are many accidents on regular buses on Venezuelan highways, most of them caused by speeding on poorly maintained roads). They are more expensive than a regular bus, but still cheap by American or European standards. You may pay with credit card and buy tickets in advance by phone. Aeroexpresos offers slightly more expensive options for many long routes that include semi-cama seating, chairs that recline extra, and allow for more comfortable sleeping on overnight trips.

For smaller towns, there may not be regular buses. In such cases, one can use cars-for-hire, called "por puestos." These are typically old and run-down vehicles, but they are affordable. They are more expensive than buses, typically costing US$5-9 per person for a one- or two-hour ride. The main problem is that they typically wait to have a full car (4 or 5 passengers) before undertaking a route. The driver will usually try to convince you to pay for the extra passengers if you want to leave right away. The cars are popular, however, and one does not usually wait long for a car to fill up. Por puestos are identifiable by signage bearing the name of the streets or destinations they typically drive along or stop at. Avoid traveling alone in a por puesto and avoid 'pirates', unofficial taxis that may intend to rob foreigners.

By car

A large road network (which comprises approx. 82,000 km) and historically low fuel costs make Venezuela an attractive country for exploring with your own car.

Many roads are in good condition but there are also gravel and dirt roads for which an off-road vehicle is recommended – especially during the rainy season from May to October. This is why it is important to travel with a good road map (e.g. Venezuela Laminated Map by Berndtson & Berndtson) and to be well informed about distances, road conditions and the estimated travel time. On the web, the site of cochera andina publishes information on nearly 120 routes in the country.

You can rent a car, usually for US$20-50 a day, plus insurance and legal liability. This may make you think twice about renting a car, especially when considering the fact that renting a car with a driver usually costs the same.

Fuel is artificially inexpensive; there are many filling stations in the main areas. For outlying areas, you should fill the tank before you leave or take a reserve canister with you. In the mountains, fuel consumption often increases to over 15 L/100 km.

An international driver's license is needed to drive in Venezuela. Police will often ask for the license as well as for the frame or motor number during routine checks. Traffic rules generally comply with the international standard. But do not underestimate the sheer chaos of Venezuela's traffic. Be attentive when driving in Venezuela.

The often ignored traffic rules state that you must drive on the right unless overtaking and give way to traffic in a roundabout. Although the maximum speed limit is 80 km/h outside the city and 60 km/h within the city (at night 50 km/h) local drivers frequently top 160 km/h (100 mph) on intercity highways. The law obligates car occupants to drive with fastened seat belts – which is regularly ignored. If you are in a traffic jam, always other drivers will try to pass. Be aware also that motorcycles are sometimes transporting up to five people, without helmets. Pay attention at night: streets and cars as well as bicycles often have poor lights or none at all. Even "good" roads may have unexpected and deep potholes. For this reason, and for security issues in general, long-distance intercity car travel is not recommended during dark hours.

Good sign-posting is only found on the main roads. Common and especially important road signs are:

  • Curva peligrosa: "Dangerous curve"
  • Sucesión de curvas: "Winding road"
  • Reduzca velocidad: "Reduce speed"
  • Conserve su derecha: "Keep right"

In cities

Travel within cities is usually via taxi. Taxis are more expensive than any other form of transport, but still affordable when compared to North American or European equivalents. The taxis do not have meters and will charge more at night. This is normal in Venezuela, however all prices are flexible in the Venezuelan economy, so it is a good idea to negotiate the fare for the ride up front. Tipping is not expected and not necessary. The driver considers the tip as part of the fare they are charging and will factor that into the negotiations.

Local buses exist, and usually connect the terminal to the city centre. Bus routes usually remain a mystery to the uninitiated and you can try to read the signals in the windows (going to-coming from).

Caracas has a clean, modern and cheap metro system, which is being expanded. While armed robberies are almost unheard of in the metro, pickpocketing is rampant. Typically, delinquents will aim to distract the passenger and then another member of the group will remove the wallet, or bag in the opportune moment. It is best to keep bags in front of you and avoid unsolicited contact with strangers.


Spanish is the official language of Venezuela, accompanied by numerous indigenous languages (usually never heard except in the Amazon region). Venezuelan Spanish is also heavily influenced by Italian, a result of the large influx of Italian settlers. Hand gestures derived from Italy are sometimes common, and many colloquialisms are borrowed from Italian (for example: instead of saying "cerveza", which means beer, youngsters find "birra" cooler, which is in Italian); Italian also influenced intonation of local Spanish dialect, particularly sing-songy sound. Outside of Caracas, English is not commonly spoken or even understood, and even within Caracas it is usually only spoken by the younger generations.


  • Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands and Canaima National Park.
  • Los Roques with its crystalline beaches.
  • Los Llanos and its spectacular wildlife.
  • Mérida and its breathtaking Andes scenery.
  • Caracas, the true urban jungle.




Venezuela's currency is the Bolívar digital (ISO code VED), launched on 1 October 2021 to replace the Bolívar soberano at a rate of 1 million to 1. The Bolívar soberano (BsS) was launched in 2018 to replace the Bolívar Fuerte (BsF) at a rate of 100,000:1. The Bolívar Fuerte had replaced the old bolívar in 2008 at the rate of BsF 1 to 1000 old bolivars. One 2021 bolívar digital is therefore equivalent to 100 trillion 2008 bolivares. The Bolívar digital is not actually a digital currency, but has printed banknotes like its predecessors.

Even with the latest iteration of the bolívar, 2/3 of transactions within the country occur in U.S. dollars as of December 2021.

Bolivars are not easily convertible either in or outside of the country. Banks (and the few bureaux de change) give Venezuelan currency at the official rate, but there is a thriving parallel market that trades for higher rates. These unofficial rates fluctuate depending on general demand for foreign exchange, inflation and political instability. Within the "parallel market" there are various exchange rates: the tourist, the black market (a bit higher but dangerous and uncomfortable), and the bonds brokerage one (high amounts in government bonds, when on sale). That highest one, which appears as reference on certain internet pages, is the government dollar bonds rate, inaccessible unless you buy thousands of dollars in government bonds through a Venezuelan brokerage firm. This last one determines the rate of the black market one and the tourist one. The black market should be avoided unless you are sure of the honesty of the people changing currency for you. They may be scammers, thieves or even police disguised as traders. The safest parallel exchange is the tourist rate which is normally provided by higher-level people in the tourism industry (hotel managers, posada owners, etc.) The rates vary around Venezuela and from week to week. The tourist rate rarely varies in time. Once you change you cannot change back to euros or dollars unless the tourist operator that exchanged for you is nice enough to take it back.

There are widespread shortages of food and basic goods in the shops; many essential medications are becoming unattainable.

Current parallel market rates and prices can be found on this page. (As access to the website is restricted in Venezuela, you may try searching for "dolar paralelo" or using this link. You may also consult on this page for the raw data.) However, the inflation rate is so high that not even these websites will always stay accurate - reports have abounded about Venezuelans using WhatsApp groups to set rates and prices. Venezuelan currency is also traded on eBay outside of Venezuela at various price points between the parallel black market rate and the official government rate and are marketed as collectible items than as spending money for travel. Buying before departure will provide some spending money until you can find somebody trustworthy to exchange money in Venezuela. The difference between exchanging on the black market and the official government exchange rates is huge.

Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, American Express and Diners Club are usually accepted at upscale restaurants, hotels and shopping centers. Merchants always ask for ID before making a credit card transaction (a passport will suffice). ATMs exist all over the country. They hand out only bolivars at the official exchange rate. Maestro debit cards are the most accepted but Visa debit cards are often not accepted because they are a "fee-scam" for the sellers (appears as "Debit" for the buyer and as "Credit" for the seller), and some ATMs also ask for the last two digits of Venezuelans' ID numbers as an added security precaution, causing problems for foreigners with no ID number tied to their bank account.

It is best to carry small change rather than large bills as many traders, in particular taxi drivers, rarely have change. Tipping taxi drivers is not customary and can appear strange. Be a little wary of cab drivers as almost all of them are exploiting tourists, particularly from the airport to Caracas. Use only the official airport taxis (black Ford Explorers), which have a vending spot inside the airport. Buy your ticket there, first checking the fee according to the destination displayed on the counter, not asking the teller or the cab drivers directly. You can also get airport pick-up but it would be more expensive (mostly luxury hotels). For a safe taxi service in Caracas, you can use "Teletaxi", which you can set at ? +58 212-9534040. Please ask the fee by phone before ordering the service.

At restaurants, tipping is usually minimal. If a 10% service charge is included then some extra small change can be left on top of the total, or if not included then a tip of only 10% is customary.


Hammocks and some dark wooden handicrafts can be found throughout Venezuela, as well as gaudy painted statuettes of big-busted women. Some areas such as Falcón state have a tradition of excellent glazed pottery.

Food and drink

Fine Venezuelan rum and chocolate are on sale at the airport.


Venezuela is experiencing a severe food shortage, and whatever food is available tends to be very expensive.

Arepas, thick corn tortillas which are split and stuffed with myriad fillings, are the quintessential Venezuelan dish. The most famous variations are the "reina pepiada" (shredded chicken salad with avocado) and “domino” (stuffed with black beans and shredded white cheese). Hallacas (Venezuela's homegrown version of the tamale, with meat, olives, raisins covered in cornmeal and wrapped in plantain leaves to be steamed) are a popular Christmas dish. Cachapas (corn pancakes often topped with a salty cheese called "telita" or "queso de mano"), empanadas (savory pastries) and the ubiquitous "perros calientes" (hot dogs) are popular street food. For slow food, try delicious fish meals, or a shrimp soup known as “cazuela de mariscos”.

The traditional Venezuelan lunch is pabellón, and consists of rice, black beans, and meat, with a side of fried plantain slices. The above dishes are known as "comida criolla", or Creole food.

Venezuela is a leading producer of fine cacao beans and Venezuelan chocolate can be excellent. The El Rey brand has consistent quality.


To some tastes, especially those who prefer stronger and complicated beers, Venezuelan beers may seem thin and watery. The most popular beer brand is Polar, which is available in a low-calorie version (Polar Light), light version (Polar Ice), or premium version (Solera). Zulia and Regional are other beers available throughout the country. Whisky is very popular among Venezuelans, particularly for special events. Venezuelan-made rum is generally dark and of very good quality. Among the best is the "1796" brand from Santa Teresa. It is a Solera rum. Others popular brands of rum are Pampero "caballito frenado" and Cacique.

Venezuelans are heavy drinkers and will often go through a case of beer during vacation days, starting before breakfast, only to carry on with a bottle of rum or whisky come nightfall.

A popular non-alcoholic drink is called "chicha Andina," which is made from rice or corn flour.

Malta or Maltin is a carbonated non-alcoholic malt drink sold alongside regular soft drinks, although it is also manufactured by the Polar company.

Venezuelan coffee is excellent, but make sure you are asking for proper coffee (machine-made, 'de la maquina'), otherwise you might be served a 'negrito' or 'guayoyo', which can be anything from weak filter coffee to coffee-smelling brown water.


In Caracas, there is a good selection of 5-star hotels, although these are predictably expensive. At tourist spots elsewhere in Venezuela, guest houses or B&Bs, known as posadas are usually the best option, each with an individual style and usually offering breakfast or dinner if requested. Posadas can vary enormously in price and quality. Youth hostels are very scarce.

The beds in many hotels (mostly up to the mid-range levels) are nothing more than mattresses on concrete slabs that resemble box springs. Depending on what your sleep preference is, they may not be the most comfortable for you. Something for you to consider when looking for a hotel to stay at.


There are great universities throughout the country, both private and public. Caracas is the city with the most universities, including the Venezuelan Central University (Universidad Central de Venezuela, UCV) which has 60,000 students and is an architectural attraction in its own right since being awarded World Heritage Site status by the UN in 2002.

Before the current instability, Venezuela was becoming increasing popular as a destination for learning Spanish, with Mérida as the top destination. Cela Spanish School on Margarita Island offers intensive Spanish courses in different levels. Excursions and activities on Margarita Island are included in the Spanish course.


Working hours are usually from 8AM to noon and from 1PM to 5PM, or from 9AM to noon and 2PM to 6PM. (8 hours per day, and 1-2 hours of lunch time). Most banks close at 3:30PM, except the ones located at shopping malls (as Sambil, CCCT, etc.) work after 3PM but probably will make a little charge by the transaction. Also in December when they stay open an extra hour to deal with the holiday rush.

Stay safe

Venezuela has its fair share of poverty, corruption, and crime. Venezuela has one of the highest homicide rates worldwide. It is necessary to be vigilant when in crowded cities, as pickpockets and muggers may be around. Most sections of large cities are not safe to walk at night. Stay in populated areas. Always travel by vehicle at night. The outskirts of many cities are very poor and crime-ridden, and are not appropriate for tourists. When in doubt, ask local inhabitants or taxi drivers whether an area is safe or not. In general, if one looks like a (presumably wealthy) tourist, these sections of town should be avoided. It is advisable not to wear expensive jewellery or watches. Take care with using the cellphone, taking pictures and unfolding maps in crowds. Pretend you know where you are going even if you aren't sure.

Always ride on a legal taxi (Yellow plates). The white plates taxis are not legal and may be dangerous.

Additionally, be wary of corrupt officials (police and National Guard). Some officials may demand bribes or otherwise extort voyagers. Keep watch of your belongings at all times. Despite all these recommendations, you are usually quite safe in Venezuela if you apply a little common sense, and avoid looking overly wealthy when traveling. Women with big purses should not walk around alone. Tourists should avoid walking long distances in the towns and cities unless you know where you are going. Where possible arrange vehicle transport. It is not advisable for female tourists to walk through poor areas or shanty towns without a local guide. It is greater risk of rape or sexual assault if they walk through these areas.

Above all, when you are in Venezuela it is very important to use common sense. If you follow the right precautions, you'll probably have no problem. Don't look at anybody the wrong way, and don't look too wealthy.

If you get mugged, don't resist, and avoid eye contact. Most muggers in Venezuela carry firearms and shoot at the slightest provocation. Keep calm and give the mugger whatever they want. Failure to do so is quite often deadly. Also, reporting a mugging to the police is seldom worth the trouble: it's best to forget it as muggers are only rarely caught.

Despite all the issues with insecurity, you may avoid most problems by either staying in the tourist areas or visiting the less tourist areas with someone that lives in the country.

Also, Venezuela has an interesting policy towards cannabis. You may possess up to 20 g, but anything more can get you thrown in prison for a long time. Even though this policy is quite liberal, you should keep all cannabis use private, to not draw unwanted attention.

Avoid long distance car travel at night, since many highways are unsafe then. Venezuelans are usually ready to help you if you have a problem. However, they probably won't dare to stop for you in the dark, as they would have good reason to fear being assaulted.

The Venezuelan-Colombian border hosts more frequent kidnappings, and cross-border violence. Travel near the border is discouraged.

Stay healthy

Due to the U.S. blockade, there is a severe shortage of medical supplies in Venezuela, so you may have difficulty getting adequate treatment in an emergency. Ensure that you are covered by travel insurance that includes medical evacuations, as being evacuated to a neighboring country may be the only way to get proper treatment/

You may have some diarrhea issues adjusting to the food in Venezuela. You should preferably buy bottled water and not drink from the tap, but iced drinks and salads are generally fine (depending on the water supply quality of your native country). Note that food will go off more quickly in the tropical climate.

You usually find street vendors by highways, who sell food and who don't always have much knowledge of hygienic food handling practices. Use common sense when selecting what to eat in the street. Mind, that fresh food and mayonnaise may go bad fast due to the local climate.

As elsewhere in the tropics, health risks include getting sunburnt and tropical diseases.


Most Venezuelans are laid-back regarding racial issues, since white or creole persons blend naturally with natives and Afro-Venezuelans in everyday life (education, living, politics, marriage). So the word "negro" can be used regardless of who's saying it, or who is being referred to in this way. Expressions like "negrito" or "mi negro" are often used as a term of endearment. You could hear someone calling "negra" to a woman, regardless of the race of the person. And in general, Afro-Venezuelans don't find it offensive, as they are simply variations on the Spanish word for "black". Similarly, don't be offended if someone calls you "flaco" (thin) or "gordo" (fat) as these may also be used fairly indiscriminately, and often as a term of friendliness.

Differences between Brits, Americans, or Europeans are not perceived by most Venezuelans. Hence, you can expect to be called "gringo" even if you are, say, Russian. Don't let this offend you as a non Spanish-speaking visitor.

Venezuelans, like Colombians, Nicaraguans and Panamanians, have a very amusing way of pointing to objects by pouting their lips and lifting their chin, so don't assume that people are blowing kisses to you when you ask for directions.

Another important point to be kept in mind is that the Venezuelan society is severely split between "Chavistas" (those who support former President Chavez) and "anti-Chavistas" (those who oppose to him), so it is strongly advisable not to talk about him and/or his politics unless you are sure on which side your Venezuelan friends are.

Since the 2010s, Venezuela has been experiencing a large-scale, multi-dimensional economic, humanitarian, and political crisis. The crisis has deeply affected the lives of many, and it has caused a lot of Venezuelans to feel absolutely frustrated with the way things are and their government and hopeless about the future of their country. You're unlikely to cause offence by asking about the crisis, but it is advised that you approach the subject with a modicum of respect and empathy.


By phone

Venezuela has international country telephone code 58 and three-digit area codes (plus an initial '0'), and phone numbers are seven digits long.

Area codes beginning with '04' - e.g. 0412, 0414, 0416 - are mobile phones, while area codes beginning '02' - e.g. 0212 (Caracas), 0261 (Maracaibo) are land lines.

A single emergency number 171 is used in most of the country for police, ambulance and firefighters.

The international phone number format for Venezuela is +58-(area code without '0')-(phone number)

  • To dial to another area code: (area code starting with '0')-(phone number)
  • To dial to another country: 00-(country code)-(area code)-(phone number)
  • Directory enquiries/information (in Spanish): 113
  • Emergency service for mobile phones: (in Spanish): 911 (Movistar), 112 (Digitel), *1 (Movilnet)

Public payphones use prepaid cards which cannot be recharged but are easily available in shopping centers, gas stations, kiosks, etc. Phone boxes are common in the cities and do not accept coins. The vast majority are operated by the former state monopoly, CANTV, although some boxes operated by Digitel or Movistar do exist, particularly in remote areas. CANTV prepaid cards can be used only in their booths.

More popular today are the ubiquitous 'communication centers' or clusters of phone booths located inside metro stations, malls, or like a normal store in the street. Most of these communication centers are operated either by CANTV or Movistar, and offer generally cheap phone calls from a normal phone in comfortable booths equipped with a seat. A log is made of all your calls and you pay when exiting the store.

Many street vendors or buhoneros also offer phone calls from portable (antenna-based) land lines set up at improvised stalls. Callers are charged by the minute.

Mobile phones

Mobiles operated by Movilnet, a division of CANTV, start with the 0416/0426 code and use the CDMA 800 MHz system and GSM/HSDPA 850 MHz. Rival Telefónica Movistar, formerly Telcel, start with 0414/0424 and use both CDMA & GSM/HSDPA (GSM/HSDPA 850 MHz). Digitel is another operator with a GSM/HSDPA (GSM/HSDPA 900 MHz) network and its numbers start with 0412. It is possible to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card for Digitel's GSM phones, but make sure your phone is unlocked. A pay-as-you-go Digitel card is working straightaway when bought from any official retailer.

Movilnet phones are not able to send text messages to most European networks. A Digitel phone may send a text message to almost any European network; Movistar may let you send a text message to any European network but is less reliable than Digitel for this purpose.

You may use your phone with a foreign SIM card in roaming. Check: www.gsmworld.com or call to your operator for roaming information to Venezuela. Movilnet and Movistar will require quad-band phones for European users, Digitel will work with any European phone. Tourists from other than European countries should check their phones if the phone will work with the above bands.

By net

Internet cafés are increasingly common, often incorporated in the above-mentioned 'communication centers'. Even small towns usually have at least one spot with more or less decent connections.

By mail

Venezuela's state-owned postal service is slow, unpredictable and not widely used. Post offices are few and far between, although they are still probably your best bet for sending postcards back home. For mailing within Venezuela, courier services such as MRW, Domesa and Zoom are the most popular. These usually guarantee next-day delivery!

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Colombian border (see Advisory)

Colombian guerrillas, who frequently operate on both sides of the border, are suspected in several kidnapping cases. Foreigners have been specifically targeted near the border with Colombia. Cross-border violence, kidnapping, smuggling and drug trafficking occur frequently in remote areas, specifically in the states of Zulia, Táchira, Barinas, Bolívar, Apure, Amazonas, Anzoátegui and Sucre.

Demonstrations and political activities

Ongoing social and political tensions throughout Venezuela frequently lead to demonstrations, roadblocks and national strikes. Some demonstrations have turned violent in the past and have resulted in deaths and injuries. The possibility of further violence at demonstrations is high. Avoid all demonstrations, large gatherings and public areas where disturbances or violent incidents could occur, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local developments. Do not participate in political discussions or activities in public, or appear to take sides on any local issue related to the current political situation. This may result in problems with local authorities, including arrest or even deportation. Curfews may also be in effect and should be respected.

Traffic jams are often caused by demonstrations in the capital (especially in the historic centre of Plaza Bolívar, where most government institutions are located), in major centres throughout the country and on main highways. Do not attempt to cross blockades, even if they appear unattended. During major events, such as large demonstrations, network overload could interrupt local cellular and landline phone services. Other services could also be interrupted. 


Venezuela has one of the world’s highest homicide rates. Violent crime, including murder and armed robbery, is prevalent throughout the country, including in national parks and tourist areas. The airport and the surrounding areas have seen an increase in violent crime recently. Violence against foreigners can occur in all regions, both urban and rural.

Petty crime is common, particularly in the central and poorer areas of all major cities and on Margarita Island. You should exercise caution in the areas of Sabana Grande and Plaza Venezuela in central Caracas, due to an increase in violent robberies. Pickpockets are active in crowded bus and subway stations. Ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure, including on beaches, in parked vehicles and in hotel rooms. Do not show signs of affluence or display valuables. Thefts from hotel safes have been reported. Use automated banking machines (ABMs) during the day only, choose ABMs in shopping malls or busy residential areas, and stay alert to your surroundings.

Incidents of carjacking and kidnapping have increased. Victims are usually forced out of their vehicles at gunpoint or knifepoint and robbed of their money, jewellery and identification. Others have been forced into cars at gunpoint and driven out of the city. They may also be forced to withdraw funds at ABMs and, in some cases, held captive until their families pay a ransom. Victims have been injured, or even killed, for failing to cooperate. While foreigners are not specifically targeted, you should avoid walking or driving in isolated areas, particularly after dark.

Exercise caution in dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances, and be especially careful about accepting rides or invitations. Incidents of drugging followed by robbery and assault, including sexual assault, have been reported.

Acquaintance rape is a serious problem. In some cases, hotel workers and taxi drivers have been implicated. Anyone who is a victim of a sexual assault should report it immediately to the nearest Canadian consulate or embassy and is strongly advised to file a report with Venezuelan authorities. Note that no criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Venezuelan authorities.

Criminals posing as police officers have harassed and extorted money from tourists. There have also been reports of Venezuelan officials at airports, immigration offices and police stations imposing excessive charges. If you experience a problem, you should pay the requested fine, ask for the officer’s name, badge number or patrol car number, and report the incident to the Embassy of Canada in Caracas.

There have been incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in coastal areas and marinas, some involving a high degree of violence, including murder. Owners of small vessels, including private yachts, should be aware of the risk of attack and take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

In some areas of Caracas and elsewhere in the country, police presence and response are relatively poor.

Road travel

Traffic congestion is common in Caracas. Traffic laws are rarely observed due to the lack of police enforcement. You should keep vehicle doors locked and windows closed at all times. Night driving is not recommended due to security concerns, unmarked road damage or construction, and wandering livestock. Stopping at Bolivarian National Guard and police checkpoints is mandatory. Follow all instructions and have vehicle and insurance papers and passports readily available. Vehicles may be searched. There have been incidents of illegal roadblocks set up by armed bandits who stop and rob vehicles.

There have been incidents of stone throwing from highway overpasses and bridges near poorer neighbourhoods. Motorists are then robbed after stopping to assess the damage to their vehicle.

If an accident occurs, vehicles must not be moved until a traffic police officer fills out a report.

Public transportation

The road between Caracas and the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía is dangerous, and crime increases after dark. Plans for travel to and from all airports should be arranged in advance. Criminals are known to pose as taxi operators. Licensed, radio-dispatched taxis can be organized in advance by hotels or called from the airport. Follow the advice of local authorities regarding transportation and allow sufficient time to reach the airport.

You should only use licensed taxis in all areas of Venezuela. These taxis are generally safer than unlicensed taxis, although incidents of robbery and assault, often at gunpoint, have been reported for both licensed and unlicensed taxis. Never accept unsolicited offers of transportation or offers of help with luggage or passenger check-in.

Local buses and the subway in Caracas are not recommended due to the possibility of robbery. Incidents have also occurred on intercity buses.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.


Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.


Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.


Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.


Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).


Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
  • Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.


Insects and Illness

In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness)West Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.



  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.


Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

In many tourist destinations, such as Margarita Island and Puerto la Cruz, medical facilities normally provided by public hospitals are often not available or, at best, seriously below levels of service found in Canada. Many private clinics are available but are considerably more expensive and may demand payment in advance.

Private emergency medical service and ambulance response is good in metropolitan areas, although public ambulances and treatment facilities may lack equipment and supplies. In rural areas, the response time is much longer.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, include immediate detention, incarceration and lengthy jail terms. All departing visitors are thoroughly screened for drugs by the Bolivarian National Guard.


Venezuela has strict regulations concerning the importation of foreign-registered motor vehicles. Offenders face heavy fines and/or confiscation of the vehicle. Before arrival, contact the Embassy of Venezuela for the most up-to-date regulations and procedures.

Photography of sensitive installations, including the presidential palace, military sites, government buildings and airports, is prohibited.

An International Driving Permit is recommended.


In 2008, the denomination of the Venezuelan currency changed from the bolívar to the bolívar fuerte (VEF), abbreviated locally as Bs.F. You should be aware of the value change: 1,000 bolívares correspond to 1 Bs.F.

The law prohibits the sale and purchase of any foreign currency outside of authorized institutions, such as currency exchange houses or banks. Be wary of individuals trying to buy your dollars at the airport. Anyone caught exchanging foreign currency is subject to a fine. Banks often restrict transactions to their clients only. Exchange houses may be scarce outside of major cities.

Only U.S. dollars can be exchanged, and only at official exchange houses. They cannot be used for transactions. If you are entering or leaving Venezuela with more than US$10,000, you are required to declare it to the authorities. Anyone convicted of selling or purchasing foreign currency above US$20,000 is subject to detention and a fine.

The bolívar fuerte cannot be exchanged outside Venezuela. For more information on currency exchange and international transactions, consult the Comisión de Administración de Divisas (in Spanish).

Credit cards are generally accepted at major hotels, at resorts and at airports. Many stores do not accept international cards. Identification is required for any credit card transaction. Credit card fraud can occur.


The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.

The rainy season extends from May to December. Heavy rains and landslides can occur during this period. In the event of heavy rains, coastal roads and highways may not be fully operational and some utilities, especially water services, may be disrupted.

The littoral cordillera coast of Venezuela (including Caracas) is located in an active seismic zone.

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