Monday, 31 July 2017

VENEZUELA: Caracas The Dangerous City And One Of The Most Violent In The World

With a population around 4 million, Caracas is the capital and more populated city in Venezuela. It is located close to the Coast,La Guaira Port, but at an altitude of 800 meters (2400 feet), which gives it an unique climate.

Caracas is the capital and largest city of Venezuela. It is located in northern Venezuela, near the Caribbean.

Venezuela’s urban spirit can be discovered mainly from understanding Caracas, its capital city.

Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital, the center of the Greater Caracas Area, and the largest city of Venezuela. Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range or Cordillera de la Costa. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 910 m (2,490 and 2,990 ft) above sea level. The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2,200-metre-high (7,200 ft) mountain range, Cerro El Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains.

The Metropolitan District of Caracas is made up of five municipalities: Libertador Municipality which is the only administrative division of the Venezuelan Capital District, and four other municipalities, which are within in Miranda State: Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, and El Hatillo. Libertador holds many of the government buildings and is the Capital District or Distrito Capital. The Distrito Capital had a population of 2,013,366 as of while the Metropolitan District of Caracas was estimated at 3,273,863 as of 2013.The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of 5,243,301.

Businesses in the city include service companies, banks, and malls. Caracas has a largely service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area.The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) are headquartered in Caracas. PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela. Caracas is also Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters, museums, and shopping centers. Some of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America are located in Caracas.

In 2015, Caracas had the highest per capita murder rates in the world, with 119 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Most murders and other violent crimes go unsolved.

Caracas is located under the Avila, a mountain that reaches 2600 meters (7800 ft.), where the Humboldt Hotel is located, which you can reach by cable car. Definitely for tourists, it is the best activity around the city, because of the beautiful view and the nice and cool weather. If you like hiking you can also make a three to four hour excursion, and return by cable car or walking.

Caracas is not one of the top touristic destinations of Venezuela, and travelers often bypass the capital city in order to see the country’s amazing natural attractions. However, the Venezuelan capital can be a fascinating city to explore, replete with excellent art, food and a bustling nightlife.

Caracas is also a cultural center. The museum of modern art, is one of the most important in south America and you can appreciate high quality works. Every year Caracas hosts an international Theater Festival, where groups from all over the world meet.

Caracas is known for the quality of its restaurants, where you can have meals from all over the world. It also has several shopping centers, modern and luxurious that make shopping and interesting activity. Among the most popular buys for the tourists are gold jewels and shoes a consequence of the Italian immigration in the fifties.

Caracas has several parks. The biggest one is the Avila National Park, where sport fans can climb 400 meters (1200 ft) in half an hour, and be awarded with a beautiful view of the city.

Caracas is located in a beautiful valley, overlooked by Mount Avila, an impressive mountain that separates the city from the Caribbean Sea and shapes most of the city’s landscape. It is a popular weekend destination for the city’s residents known as Caraquenos and is easily reached by taking a very modern cable car that goes all the way from the mountain base to the newly nationalized Waraira Repano park, which is situated at the top of the mountain.

The airport that serves Caracas is Maiquetia International Airport,Simon Bolivar. It is a modern airport that connects Caracas to the main cities of the nation and many other cities in south, central and north America.

Caracas inhabitants can enjoy all year long the beaches, located at only half an hour or the nice weather of the mountain, at a similar distance. One of the most popular trips is to Colonia Tovar, a German village in the tropics.

In Caracas the staggering inequalities of wealth that characterize Venezuela’s economic situation are on display. They range from very poor neighborhoods in the hills west of the city called barrios, to the modern business district of El Rosal, or even the huge mansions of the rich eastern neighborhoods.

The city’s streets and highways are always crowded with vehicles, as Venezuela has the cheapest gasoline in the world. Subsidized gasoline and inadequate infrastructure have helped spur pollution and big traffic lines in almost all of the inner city motorways. Caracas’ subway system, once one of the best in all Latin America, is still quick but is often crowded and prone to delays.

Visitors need to be aware that Caracas remains one of the most violent cities in the world, with large parts of the city effectively No Go Areas to outsiders. Murder tallies of as many as 40 are not uncommon on weekends, so exercising caution and common sense,especially at night is essential to a safe visit.

Caracas is a cosmopolitan city and is admired for its gastronomy. It has restaurants and bars inspired by the cuisine of many different countries and cultures due to great waves of immigration from Europe and the Middle East after the Second World War.

The city is filled with centros comerciales and department stores, and the popular restaurants and clubs in the towering malls due to security concerns. In the San Ignacio Mall you’ll find the city’s young, rich and beautiful drinking whiskey and Las Mercedes and La Castellana districts are also popular late night hot spots.

People often party until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, so it’s advisable to take a cab that you trust when heading out.

Caracas has a tropical climate with very little variation between summer and winter temperatures. Set in a valley some 900 meters above sea level, its climate is often described as its best feature: never cold, seldom too hot. Average daily temperature in summer ranges from a minimum of 18˚C (64˚F) to a maximum of 28˚C (82˚F). Winter temperatures are only two to three degrees cooler. Most rainfall occurs during the period from May to November and can be accompanied by electrical storms.

A complicated foreign exchange control system creates famous headaches for foreign travellers. Using the official SIMADI exchange rate means paying 3 to 4 times more than is reasonable for all goods and services since prices are set according to the real value of the Bolivar the parallel rate.

The alternative using the more realistic parallel rate renders travel in Caracas quite cheap, although it means you must come with enough dollars to pay for your entire trip, as you cannot obtain them inside the country. Parallel currency trading,exchanging currency as the parallel rate instead of the official rate is illegal, and could potentially get you scammed or into serious trouble, even jail.

However, this is the way that the economy functions and the locals are heavily reliant upon buying dollars/euro since their own currency is subject to 30% inflation per year, so if you have a contact in Venezuela they will certainly know someone who can exchange currency at around the unofficial rate.

If you have a trusted local contact, your best bet is to buy currency discreetly from him or her at the parallel rate. Most airport employees that approach you discreetly looking to sell at the parallel rate are also reliable. Most locals will advise you not to even consider coming to visit unless you have a friend in the area who can help you to navigate the complicated currency situation and move around safely as well.

Note that all credit card transactions are processed at the SIMADI rate, which makes using foreign credit cards about 4 times as expensive in Venezuela as if you had brought cash and converted it to BsF. It will be hard to sell your excess Bolivares, unless you go to border towns in Colombia or Brazil, and you will only be able to get the unofficial rate, no one will convert at the SIMADI rate from BsF into dollars. Cucuta is usually the best place to do so.

If you decide to go the Official-rate route, remember that foreign exchange transactions must take place through exchange houses or via credit cards. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to exchange money at hotels. Currency exchange for tourists can be arranged at casas de cambio (exchange houses), located near most major hotels. It is technically also possible to exchange money at commercial banks; however, the extensive and painfully slow paperwork required makes this an unrealistic option for tourists.

In other words, if a cup of coffee costs 3000 Bolívares, then it will cost you $1 US Dollar if you used the parallel rate from your contact, but will cost $4.30 US Dollars if you used a credit card which will charge the much lower SIMADI rate per Dolar Paralelo Simadi. Travelers engaging in such activity may be detained by the Venezuelan authorities if they are discovered. Additionally, in accordance with an October 2005 law, any person who exchanges more than 10,000 U.S. dollars or its equivalent in other currencies in the course of a year through unofficial means is subject to a fine of double the amount exchanged.

If the amount exceeds 20,000 U.S. dollars the penalty is two to six years imprisonment. Any person who transports more than 10,000 U.S. dollars into or out of Venezuela by any means must declare this amount to customs officials. Although illegal, trading dollars/euros at the parallel rate is a necessary way of life for Venezuelan citizens who otherwise have few other ways to save money since the Bolivar is subject to 30%+ inflation per year.

Credit cards are generally accepted at most establishments, and will be charged at the SIMADI rate. Due to the prevalence of credit card fraud, travelers should exercise caution in using their credit cards and should check statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorized charges have been made. Caracas has ATMs with 24-hour service where users may withdraw local currency, but many of these ATMs may not accept foreign-issued debit cards.

Maiquetía's Simón Bolívar Airport has three passenger terminals Internacional, Nacional and Auxiliar and is 25 km away from central Caracas via a highway through the coastal mountains. A new road bridge, replacing one that collapsed in 2006, came into service in July 2007, ending months of tortuous journeys to and from the airport. The trip to Caracas should now take around 40 minutes or up to 60-70 minutes during rush hour.

This international airport is served by American Airlines, Aeropostal, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Avianca , Copa, Air Europa, Air France, Delta, Caribbean Airlines, Copa Airlines and Iberia among others. In May 2016 Lufthansa and Latam announced the suspension of flights to/from Frankfurt, Sao Paulo and Lima. In July 2017, Avianca and Delta announced they will suspend all service to Venezuela on August 16, 2017 and September 17, 2017 respectively. As of now31/07/2017 many Airlines including Avianca and Air Frace have suspended flights due to the instability in Venezuela.

Non-stop flights are available to and from Miami, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Havana, Madrid, Paris, Lisbon, Aruba, Curaçao, Port of Spain, Fort de France, Bogotá (3 times a day), Panamá City (3 times a day), Buenos Aires (Twice a week) and other cities.

The non-stop flights to Medellin, Cartagena de Indias, San Jose (Costa Rica), Guayaquil, Lima, Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, San Juan (PR), Punta Cana, Dallas, Toronto, Oporto, Funchal, Tenerife, Rome, Milano and Damascus are no longer operational. These airlines no longer fly to Venezuela: Latam, Air Canada, Alitalia, Aeroméxico, GOL..

Taxi fares to Caracas will be priced in BsF and the price is constantly inflating, but should not be more than $6 when converted at the unofficial exchange rate. There are many unlicensed taxis offering their services and travelers should exercise caution. In particular, it is advised to agree on a price before getting into the taxi, not sharing with anyone other than the driver, with a preference given to the airport's official black Ford Explorer cabs. Check with your hotel to see if they arrange airport pickup, it may need to be booked in advance. There is also a new taxi service that you can book online.

The cheapest and arguably the safest way to the city is using the big red SITSSA buses from the government. You will first need to buy your ticket in the form of a rechargeable card at a kiosk inside the airport or you can ask other passengers to use their card to pay for you and you can pay them cash. The bus takes around 30 minutes and goes directly to Hotel Alba (previously the Hilton Hotel) which is within walking distance to the Bella Artes metro station.

Please be aware that there is an exit fee of BsF 162.50 that must be paid in cash as the office in charge of collection does not accept credit cards. However there are ATMs, currency exchange houses charging the official rate and unofficial brokers willing to provide BsFs at a more advantageous rate.

It is advisable to be at the airport 3-4 hours early and not the normal 2 hours because of arbitrary security checks.

Nice and pretty highways connect Caracas with La Guaira and the airport to the north; Maracay, Valencia and Maracaibo in the west; Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz in the east.

While driving in Caracas can be a hectic experience, renting a car to experience the outlying areas is a wonderful way to leave behind the well-traveled routes.

Car rental is available in the following locations:

Hertz Car Rental, Maiquetia International Airport.Mon-Fri 5am-11:30pm, Sat-Sun 6pm-11:30pm. Hertz Car Rental is available at the international and the domestic terminals, as well as several locations in the city

Budget Car Rental, Budget Rent-A-Car Building, Avenida Nueva Granada. Mon-Fri 8am-12pm and 1:30pm-6pm.

A taxi from the bus terminal to the center will cost you around BsF 30.

Buses from the airport to Caracas cost BsF 18. Passengers have the option of alighting either at Gato Negro metro station,somewhat unsafe at street level or under a bridge at the Parque Central bus terminal, from where you'll need to get a taxi to your final destination or walk about 1 km along a busy road to the Bellas Artes metro station.

There is also a new government-run bus service to the Alba Hotel in Bellas Artes, which costs BsF 8. Passengers do not need to be guests at Alba. Further information is available from the two tourist board offices in the international terminal of Maiquetía airport.

The La Bandera bus terminal connects Caracas with towns and cities to the west of the capital such as La Victoria (1 hour), Maracay (1.5 hours), Valencia (2.5 hours) and Merida (~12 hours). The 800m walk from La Bandera metro station to the bus terminal is unsafe after dark and travelers should exercise caution at all times. For the eastern part of the country there's the Terminal del Oriente.

Beware of the small independent bus services which are announced by voceros on both terminals. Although they have more flexible departure times, the buses can be small and uncomfortable, with speakers that blast loud music even at night.

There are also private carriers that offer more comfort. They also cost a little more. The most well known are Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos, Expresos Occidente, Flamingo, Rodovias which operate from their own private terminals, something to consider if you plan on transferring for a destination they don’t cover. There's a shortage of buses for many of the longer routes thus you will see people queuing at the bus terminals both private and public at 5am or earlier. Most bus companies only sell tickets for trips on the same day with the exception of a few eg Aeroexpreso Ejecutivo, Flamingo, Rodovias). Even then you may need to join the early morning queue for your trips a few days ahead.

Taxis can be easily hailed in the street and are generally but not always safe. They have no meters so prices should be agreed on before getting in. Some reports indicate that the situation has improved and there are fixed rates posted. Caracas traffic is notoriously bad and the metro is a better option if your destination is conveniently located near a station. Licensed taxis have yellow plates and while some private cars with white plates are taxis too, it’s generally safer to take a licensed cab. Another reliable option is Easytaxi, which is an App where you can order a taxi to pick you up.

Venezuelan taxi cab drivers may quote you about double the actual price when you ask how much a ride will be. Bargaining is totally acceptable in this case. Simply respond with a more reasonable price that you are willing to pay, and it’s more than likely you can meet in the middle. If the taxi driver continues to quote an outrageous price, simply walk away and try another.

The Caracas metro is modern, comparatively safe and extremely cheap. A single journey costs just BsF 4, ida y vuelta or round trip is BsF 8 and a 10 journey multi abono ticket is BsF 36. Buying the Multi Abono will save you time from queing up each time you use the Metro. Because prices have changed little in recent years and bus fares have outpaced inflation, the metro is frequently overcrowded, particularly during peak hours.

The metro system is backed up by a network of metrobuses that depart from certain metro stations and take fixed routes to areas of the city not reached by the underground. Like the metro, metrobuses are cheap and clean, but passengers complain of bus shortages. Most services run only about every 20 minutes. The buses have fixed stops and will not pick up passengers elsewhere.

The Metro also connects people from the barrios via the Metro Cable, which are cable cars that goes above the barrios. There are 2 lines in operation as of Nov 2015 and may be a good way to see a different side of Caracas in safety from above.

The Metro is also connected to the less frequently used Cabletren driverless and automated, is of less used for tourist since it skirts along the edges of Petare.

The ubiquitous minibuses, or por puestos, run along many main roads in Caracas, often ending up in obscure residential neighborhoods that are not accessible by metro. They can be flagged down anywhere and you can generally ask the driver to let you jump off whenever he stops, such as traffic lights.

Although sometimes useful for reaching the Sabas Nieves entrance to El Avila from the Altamira metro station, the buses are more expensive than the metro BsF 15, slower, less safe, and are invariably in a very bad condition. It is advisable not to use your smartphones inside buses. Bus robberies are common in Caracas. If you see passengers suddenly disembarking when some young men enter the bus, it is best to alight and wait for another bus.

The South East part of the City,Altamira, La Trinidad, Las Mercedes, El Hatillo is generally much safer and where most of the middle class of Caracas go to spend their time. This is where most of the trendy shops, malls, restaurants, bars, and clubs are located.

Businesses that are located here include service companies, banks, and malls, among others. It has a largely service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area. The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) are headquartered here. The PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela,and negotiates all the international agreements for the distribution and export of petroleum.When the company existed, the airline Viasa had its headquarters in the Torre Viasa.

Caracas' central business district is Milla de Oro, which is located in the north of the Baruta municipality and the south of the Chacao municipality, it is one of largest financial districts of Latin America, it is home to many companies and is dominated by numerous high-rises. Other important business districts include Plaza Venezuela, Parque Central Complex and El Recreo.

Small and medium-size industry contributes to the Caracas economy. The city provides communication and transportation infrastructure between the metropolitan area and the rest of the country. Important industries in Caracas include chemicals, textiles, leather, food, iron and wood products. There are also rubber and cement factories. Its GDP Nominal, is 70 billion USD and the GDP(PPP) per Capita is.USD 24,000

The Iglesia de San Francisco is of historical value. Bolívar's funeral was held here twelve years after his death. Here he was proclaimed Libertador in 1813 by the people of Caracas. The church has gilded baroque altarpieces, and retains much of its original colonial interior, despite being given a treatment in the 19th century under the auspices of Antonio Guzmán Blanco, which was intended to be modernizing.

It contains some 17th-century masterpieces of art, carvings, sculptures and oil paintings. The Central University of Venezuela, established during the reign of Philip V, was lodged for centuries in the church cloisters next door, which today are the seat of the Language Academy, and the Academies of History, Physics, and Mathematics.

Caracas Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Caracas.

The Mosque of Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim is the second largest mosque in Latin America. For many years it was the biggest.

The Union Israelita de Caracas is the biggest Synagogue for the Jewish Ashkenazi community in Caracas. Its mission is to host the religious services and preserve the memory of the Jewish heritage in Venezuela. Similarly, Mariperez is the biggest Synagogue for the Jewish Sephardic community in Caracas.

Caracas is Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters, museums, and shopping centers. The city is home to an array of immigrants from but not limited to: Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Middle East, Germany, China, and Latin American countries.

Caracas has a gastronomical heritage due to the influence of immigrants, leading to a choice of regional and international cuisine. There are a variety of international restaurants including American, French, Lebanese, Italian, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, Peruvian, Japanese, Mediterranean and Mexican. The district of La Candelaria contains Spanish restaurants, resulting from Galician and Canarian immigrants that came to the area in the mid-20th century.

A 2009 United Nations survey reported that the cost of living in Caracas was 89% of that of its baseline city: New York.However, this statistic is based upon a fixed currency-exchange-rate of 2003 and might not be completely realistic, due to the elevated inflation rates of the last several years.

In 2013, the World Economic forum evaluated countries in terms of how successful they were in advertising campaigns to attract foreign visitors. Out of the 140 countries evaluated, Venezuela fell in the last place. There are multiple factors that contribute to the lack of tourism in Caracas. A major factor that has contributed to the lack of foreign visitors has been poor transport for tourists. Venezuela has limited railway systems and airlines. High crime rates and the negative attitude of the Venezuelan population towards tourism also contributed to the poor evaluation.

In an attempt to attract more foreign visitors, the Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism invested in multiple hotel infrastructures. The largest hotel investment has been in the Hotel Alba Caracas. The cost for the general maintenance of the north and south towers of the hotel is approximately 231.5 million Venezuelan bolivars.

Although the Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism has taken the initiative to recognize the importance of the tourism industry, the Venezuelan government has not placed the tourism industry as an economic priority. In 2013, the budget for the Ministry of Tourism was only 173.8 million bolivars, while the Ministry of the Youth received approximately 724.6 million bolivars.

The tourism industry in Venezuela contributes approximately 3.8 percent of the country GDP. Venezuela's current goal is to reach a GDP of 7.6 percent. The World Economic Forum predicts Venezuela's GDP to rise to 4.2 percent by 2022.

Caracas has more than enough sights and attractions to fill three or four days although it is often overlooked by international travelers.

La Plaza Bolivar, located near the Metro Capitolio. Is located in the city center. It has statues of Simon Bolivar, and is close to Congress and other government buildings. It also displays nice examples of colonial architecture. Look out for black squirrels that roams around the trees in the plaza.

La Casa Natal de Simon Bolivar. Bolivar's birthplace, also downtown. One of the few well-preserved colonial buildings with some great paintings and a museum. Next door is the Museo Bolivariano with some of Bolivar's war relics. Capitolio Metro Station.

Museo de Arte Colonial, Located in the Quinta Anauco on Av Panteon in San Bernardino. this is a lovely old house and garden that hosts small concerts some weekends.

Universidad Central de Venezuela. was designated a World Heritage Site by the UN in 2000. Designed by Venezuela's most famous architect, Carlos Raul Villanueva, the university campus, known as the Ciudad Universitaria is a sprawling complex considered a masterpiece of 1950s and 1960s architecture blended in with art. A stroll around the grounds, keeping an eye open for modern art works by artists such as Fernand Leger. Metro Ciudad Universitaria.

Jardin Botanico, located next to the Central University. is a well-kept garden with an impressive array of tropical plants and trees. Metro Ciudad Universitaria or Plaza Venezuela.

Parque del Este,located near the Parque del Este metro stop. This expansive park stretches on and holds many unexpected treats including a planetarium, a small zoo, and a cafe that is occasionally open to serve you a cafe con leche while you watch the turtles in a pond

Centro de Arte La Estancia, Avenida Francisco de Miranda. An art gallery situated in the middle of the lush and manicured gardens. Rotating exhibits by a variety of artists are shown.

El Hatillo,past la Trinidad in the SE of the city. A beautiful neighborhood still styled in traditional colonial fashion that is home to many shops, bars, and restaurants and is frequented by the middle class of Caracas. A great place to stroll around in the afternoon safe to walk around and grab lunch, as it is to return for the nightlife. Requires a car to arrive as no public transportation comes to this area.

Bulevar de Sabana Grande, in the center of the city near the Sabana Grande metro stop. One of the city's most famous shopping avenues, a charming cobblestone street with countless outdoor and indoor shopping establishments as well as hotels and restaurants. Also a great spot for relaxing and people-watching; on any given day you can observe people bartering at shops, playing chess, or even dancing around dressed like Disney characters.

Cuartel de la Montaña or 4F, on top of Barrio 23 Enero. Hugo Chavez's mausoleum is at the army barracks where Chavez's socialism was incubated. Although in a barrio, there's a heavy army presence which makes it a safe visit. Entry includes a free guided tour of the mausoleum and Chavez's belongings. There's a change of guards every 2 hours starting at 10am, with the last change at 4pm. At 4.25pm (time of his death) everyday, a cannon is fired in front. To get there, one can take the free Metrobus or private buses at Capitolio.

Panteon Nacional, at the end of Avenida Panteon. A modern building fused with an old church. Houses the remains of Simon Bolivar and other national heroes. There's a change of guards every 2 hours.

The Avila mountain to the north of Caracas is highly recommended for hiking, views of Caracas, and its fresh air. The Sabas Nieves entrance, accessible by bus from Altamira, is the most popular. To get there, at Chacao Metro Station walk to Avenida Mohedano and take the Transchacao bus (Ruta #1) to the top of Chacao (you will need to ask the best place to get off to Cota Mil). Then walk along Cota Mil to reach Sabas Nieves' entrance. Since Cota Mil is a highway, Sunday morning is the only practical day to go since the whole highway is closed to cars every Sunday morning.

The Teleferico is a cable-car that takes visitors up the Avila. The ascent provides a beautiful view of the city. At the top (altitude approximately 2600 m), there is a view of Caracas to the south, and of the ocean (Caribbean Sea) to the north on a clear day. It will cost BsF 25 (approx. US$ 5.81) to get a round-trip ticket to the teleferico. Reduced fares are available for students (BsF 15) and children (BsF 10), senior citizens over 60 are free.

Take the ride up to Avila as early as possible before an afternoon haze obstructs your view from the top of the mountain. There are a few restaurants, many food kiosks, and numerous attractions suitable for children. These include a small skating rink, some small rides, and jungle-gyms. There is a well known fondue restaurant also located at the top. Some hiking trails branch off from the teleferico station, but without a map it is not easy to find them or know where they go, as they are not marked.

The MetroCable close to Parque Central. It is colocated in the Parque Central Metro station. It's free and provides a fantastic view of the city and life in the barrios.

Watch a baseball game during the baseball season (Oct-Jan) at Estadio Universitario de Caracas. A game between Magallanes and Leones is a great way to observe Venezuelan's baseball fever. Tickets are only sold on the day for this matchup and the queue begins in the early morning. Tickets are also sold by touts around the stadium.

Paragliding Colonia Tovar Venezuela, Colonia Tovar the road between LaVicotria and Colonia Tovar. 10 am to 5 pm. Tandem Paragliding Flights with Expert Pilots in one of the most beautiful mountain sites in the world. $60,00.

Most ATMs will ask you the last two numbers of a local ID, type 00 when it asks this to make withdrawal with a foreign card possible. CitiBank's ATMs don't ask this information. There is one CitiBank branch in El Recreo shopping mall, Avenida Casanova, in Sabana Grande. Keep in mind that withdrawing from an ATM will be at the official SIMADI exchange rate so $10 = 4500sF. If you change dollars at the parallel rate which is an illegal but integral part of daily life in Venezuela, $10 = 11000 BsF (as of 4 March 2016), that would buy you a meal for 2 in a top class restaurant in Caracas.

Centro Comercial Sambil. One of South America's largest shopping malls, with two movie theaters, dozens of restaurants and probably hundreds of shops. Popular destination for shopping and hanging out. Metro Chacao.

Altamira. An exclusive neighborhood and shopping district in the eastern part of the city. Can be accessed easily by metro.

Centro Comercial San Ignacio. Many boutique stores here, as well as lots of good bars and restaurants. A hub of Caracas nightlife.

Centro Comercial El Recreo. Another large mall, located next door to the Gran Meliá Hotel. Metro Sabana Grande.

Centro Comercial Millenium Mall, Av. Romulo Gallegos. Los Dos Caminas.. Another great mall with an amazing infrastructure, located next to the metro station Los Dos Caminos, have a great shopping stores, cinema and fast food restaurants.

Centro Ciudad Comercial Tamanaco (CCCT). An old but popular complex of shops, offices, restaurants and a couple of nightclubs. Take a Metrobus from the Altamira metro station.

Centro Comercial El Tolón. An upmarket mall in the Las Mercedes neighborhood. 15 minutes walking from Chacaito metro.

Centro Comercial Paseo Las Mercedes. A bit old fashioned but a good art house cinema and Oscar D'Leon's Mazukamba nightclub is here.

American Book Shop, Centro Comercial Centro Plaza, Jardín level, Altamira. A bookshop with a decent selection of English books and magazines.

On Saturdays, there's a farmer's market with food and trinkets to buy at the street at Palos Grande (next to Wendy's).

On Sundays there are the Chinese Market at Club Social del Chinos at El Bosque; Peruvian Market at Colegio de Ingenerios; Antique & Collectables Market at the Museo de Transporte.

Wine And Dine

Las Mercedes

El Granjero del Este, Av. Río de Janeiro. Open late. One of the better of the dozens of areperas dotted around town. Specializes in arepas, a savory corn-flour bread that doubles as Venezuela's traditional staple food. Pick from a dozen types of filling,including the classic Reina Pepiada - chicken, avocado, spring onions and mayo. Or try a cachapa (a sweet corn pancake with a choice of toppings) or a nice steak with yuca. Wash it all down with beer, or with freshly made tropical juice. To do it the traditional way, go at 3 a.m., after a night out dancing. Cheap.

Maute Grill, Av. Rio de Janeiro. open late. A very nice place, often crowded but rightfully so, the food and wine are outstanding and Expensive.

Malabar, Calle Orinoco. Expensive but very good cuisine, mostly French, with a relaxed but trendy atmosphere.

Aranjuez, Calle Madrid, Qunita Anacoa. One of the older steak houses in Caracas, with top quality Argentine and Venezuelan cuts of beef.

Cafe Ole, Calle California at Calle Jalisco. This open air candlelight cafe is a popular haunt for after dinner cafe and some excellent desserts.

Mamma Mia, Avenida Principal. A perennially popular though noisy restaurant with a good selection of Italian dishes.

La Castellana

Avila Tei, Avenida San Felipe, Centro Coinasa. Excellent and authentic Japanese restaurant. Operated by Japanese immigrants.

Chez Wang, Plaza La Castellana (facing the roundabout). Very good Chinese restaurant.

Chili's, Calle Jose A Lamas, Torre La Castellana. A branch of the American Tex-Mex chain.

La Estancia, Avenida Principal La Castellana. A famous beef/meat restaurant with traditional Spanish decor.

La Romanina, Av Avila (between Calle Miranda and Av Mohedano, just west of Plaza La Castellana). A simple setting but very good thin crust pizzas.

New Spizzico, Av Principal La Castellana (one block north of the Plaza). Very pleasant Mediterranean style decor with a lovely outdoor terrace. Good mostly Italian food but not with very generous portions.

El Budare de la Castellana, Avenida Principal de La Castellana, con 1ra Transversal. Traditional Venezuelan Restaurant. Moderately priced and open 24 hours. About one block north and west of Plaza Altamira.

Avila Burger, Avenida Los Chaguaramos. A famous burger chain that sells gourmet burgers at reasonable prices. Queues for tables during lunch hours. There's a few spread around Caracas.

For quality and authentic Chinese restaurants, go to El Bosque which is within the vicinity of the Chinese Social Club. Casa Deli, Chef Chino & Lai King are excellent choices.

Altamira

Cafe-Trattoria Mediterraneo, 1ra Avenida Los Palos Grandes, Edificio Oriental. Great retro decor, and a minimal but excellent menu.

Rey David, 4ª Transversal de Los Palos Grandes, entre Av. Alfredo Jahn y Av. Andrés Bello. Excellent menu. Great delicacies and desserts. Highly recommended.

La Praline Chocolatier,Alcabala, Caracas, Venezuela.In an area of La Candelaria populated by Spanish restaurants, this popular establishment is renowned as one of if not the best. Outstanding paella, tortilla espanola, and jamon serrano. As with most places, in Caracas, English speaking is very limited so be sure to go with a Spanish speaker.

Hotel Shelter Suites, Av Libertador and Av Jose Felix Sosa, Chacao (opposite Sambil shopping mall). Individual listings of clubs, bars, pubs, etc are preferred here. Rooms starting at $100.

El León. On the corner of La Castellana roundabout, this Caracas stalwart benefits from one of the best open air terraces in Caracas. Plastic tables and chairs are simple and the service is slow, but the beers are cheap and the atmosphere is good. This is a favorite hangout for Caracas' college crowd.

Whiskey Bar. Located in the Centro Comercial San Ignacio Shopping Center, it has a similar layout to a typical East Coast lounge in the United States. This place is a popular hang-out for uppity Venezuelans. If you feel comfortable around posh and preppy crowds and you have certain buying power and trendy casual wear, this is a great place to enjoy people-watching while listening to great rock-alternative music.

El Mani Es Asi. Located in a side street behind Sabana Grande, this remains Caracas' best-renowned salsa club where lower middle-class locals and tourists like to show off their moves, accompanied by live bands, till the early hours. To get a table, you'll probably have to pay servicio, i.e. agree to buy a bottle of rum or whisky. Sadly, the area around the club is not safe after dark and visitors should arrange taxis to avoid walking in the area.

Modern nightclubs:

- La Quinta Bar.

- Sawu.

- Discovery.

- Triskel.

360º Roof Bar - Rooftop bar with views of Caracas. It's on the top floor of Hotel Altamira Suites. Entrance is by the side of the hotel no signs, yell at the security guard to let you in.

- Bar Hotel Pestana Another rooftop bar at the top of Hotel Pestana.

- Teatro Bar, Av. Orinoco · Las Mercedes · Torre DyD.

Accomodation

Caracas has many hotels, but lacks youth hostels found in other South American countries. Backpackers will find that Caracas is not a cheap destination and there are not rooms available in the 20-30 USD typical hostel range. While the whole of the city is considered to be dangerous at night, it’s preferable to stay near Sabana Grande or farther east.

Many hotels in the Sabana Grande area will offer rooms on an hourly basis,euphemistically known as love hotels which are primarily for unmarried Venezuelan couples.

Most hotels are in Sabana Grande, which is the geographic center of the city or midtown. The true downtown or historic city center, is known as el centro, around Capitolio and Teatros Metro Station, which is not a good place to stay. While Sabana Grande has affordable hotel rates,from $100 to $400 five-star, you need to be wary of occasional street crime in the form of purse snatching on women and pick-pocketing.

A good place to start is the Calle de Hoteles at Prolongación Avenida Las Acacias & Avenida de Los Mangos which has 2 decent and cheap non-love-motel posadas, but they are not well signposted and look like residential houses. The majority of budget hotels you find in Centro and Sabana Grande area are mataderos or love motels. Anyway, the Sabana Grande Boulevard sports high-shining lamp posts and police officers along the way.

However, crooked cops are also known to sometimes harass hippie-looking travelers during the day, searching for drugs. Sabana Grande is a pleasantly walkable promenade, fantastic for people-watching and casual shopping. As for the large shopping malls around Sabana Grande, they are absolutely safe, especially one known as El Recreo. All this makes Sabana Grande one of the best place to stay for many. Neighborhoods further east or south such as Altamira and Las Mercedes offer safer accommodations, but at a much increased cost.

Another option is to stay in a nearby town or city and bus in in the morning, and get the bus out before nightfall. It will be cheaper and safer than staying in Caracas.

Bella Vista Caracas, Colina de Los Caobos, Calle Bella Vista near Plaza Venezuela’s subway station. Bella Vista Caracas is a modern and safe place with a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. It is ideally located near Mount Avila’s national park cableway, in a safe and quiet area, just minutes walk from a metrobus stop. The staff speaks fluent English and French and will be glad to help you get around the city. $12.

Nuestro Hotel (Love motel for locals) and Backpackers Hostel for travelers, Avenida Casanova, Calle El Colegio, Sabana Grande near Restaurant El arabito. Self-proclaimed as the only option for cheap travelers in Caracas though this is not true. Rooms clean, much travel information at the reception. Limited English spoken. You must be warned that it's in the redlight,lower west side part of Sabana Grande, popular with thugs and prostitutes at night and a fairly shady area.

Hotel Altamira, Av Jose Felix Sosa, Altamira Sur near Britanica Tower. Some travelers are not impressed with the service. Around $70.

Gilmar Hotel, Calle Guaicaipuro Edificio Hotel Gilmar, next to Gourmet Market. Excellent location in the Chacaito area. Probably the least sleazy of the bunch of hotels most are love motels nearby. Bright clean rooms with good Wifi. Decent indoor restaurant. $5 a night black market rate Dec 2015.

Casa Luisa, Near El Hatillo, some 10-12km from midtown Caracas. Mrs. Luisa has a three bedroom apartment where she rents out 2 of the rooms with space for 3 in each room. She prepares nice breakfasts and shares travel tips. $50 a night, $5 breakfast.

Nelson's Place Nelson is a fully bilingual,English and Spanish traveler and hip college professor who has a nice apartment next to his office on the safest street near Sabana Grande, which he rents out for $60 a night for up to 3 people and a room for $40 for up to 2. He is clearly the most helpful host in Caracas. Nelson's Place is a block away from the Sabana Grande Boulevard, the metro station, and across the street from the El Recreo Shopping Mall. It has free internet. Nelson has a very professional airport pick-up service,included in reservation fee. He also helps you out with currency exchange and budget travel arrangements to all over Venezuela, including Angel Falls.

El Cid. This residential hotel also caters for short visits. Excellently located in the La Castellana district, it offers an alternative to many hotels, though with aged wooden furniture and worn out rooms. The service is poor. BsF 280-360 ($130-167).

Hotel Shelter Suites, Av Libertador and Av Jose Felix Sosa, Chacao (opposite Sambil shopping mall). Great location, clean and modern, this is a popular option and should be booked two weeks in advance. Max 2 people per room. Rooms from BsF 190.

Hotel Savoy, near the Alliance Francaise. From BsF 135.

Hotel Alba Caracas, Avenida Mexico con Sur 25 formerly the Caracas Hilton. This once impressive Hilton hotel has suffered from the deterioration of central Caracas. Although close to the city's best museums, the Bellas Artes area is no longer the capital's finest and should not be wandered at night. In September 2007, the hotel was taken over by the state and aims to provide socialist tourism services.

Venezuela Marriott Hotel Playa Grande, Avenida El Hotel. Playa Grande · Catia La Mar. One of the best Venezuela Hotels, Marriott Playa Grande is only 10 minutes from Simon Bolivar International Airport with a great location and wonderful views.

Pestana Caracas Hotel & Suites, 1ª Avenida Urb. Santa Eduvigis. A modern and stylish hotel with all the amenities you might expect at the price.

Gran Melia, Ave. Casanova, urb. Bellomonte. Upscale 5 star hotel. Located in Sabana Grande, this hotel is connected directly to the El Recreo shopping mall and a block away from the newly-restored Sabana Grande boulevard. Local attractions include Sabana Grande Boulevard, Plaza Bolívar, El Recreo Gallery, Teresa Carreño Theatre, and Cerro El Avila National Park, all in close proximity; and only 2 blocks north, the Sabana Grande metro station.Many international celebrities, CEOs, royals and presidents stay here when they visit Venezuela. It boasts a guest list that includes Sting, Phil Collins, the Black Eyed Peas, the King of Spain and the Saudi Arabian royal family.

JW Marriott Hotel Caracas, Av. Venezuela con Calle Mohedano, El Rosal. Luxury business hotel located in the center of the business district, the JW Marriott Hotel Caracas is the premier hotel in the city, becoming deservedly popular in recent years. Excellent accommodation, exceptional restaurant and good service.

Hotel Intercontinental Tamanaco, Final Av. Principal De Las Mercedes. checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm.

Radisson Eurobuilding, Final Calle La Guairita, Chuao Caracas, 1064 A.

Altamira Suites, Transversal con Avenida Urb. Los Palos Grandes, Caracas (Chacao) 1060. A five-star hotel with a popular rooftop lounge. Check for weekend promotions that offer significantly reduced prices.

Renaissance Caracas La Castellana Hotel, Av Eugenio Mendoza con Calle Urdaneta, La Castellana. A stylish Caracas hotel, the Renaissance Caracas one of the newest Venezuela Caracas hotels on the scene. Modern, inviting and a crisp service too, delightful.

Hotel Cayena, Avenue Don Eugenio Mendoza,Entre Calles el Bosque y Jose Angel Lamas. Hotel Cayena is one of the safest luxury 5 star hotels in the La Castellana District of Caracas, Venezuela. Accommodations and amenities include hotel rooms and suites, including extended stay availability, as well as an Italian restaurant, meeting rooms and event space, and more. Hotel deals, packages, and specials are also available from this Caracas, Venezuela luxury hotel.

Safety in Caracas

Violent crime in Caracas is a major problem, and it has been getting steadily worse during the recent years: Caracas is now by some counts the world's most dangerous city, with 130.35 homicides per 100.000 residents in 2016. In case you are robbed, simply hand over what is asked of you.

For this reason it is advisable to carry a decoy wallet with small bills around $50. Venezuela is also one of the only countries in the world in which Blackberry still is the popular phone of choice. If you can get your hands on a cheap one that looks nice, it's also a good thing to bring down and hand over in case robbed,there have been news reports of criminals physically beating car passengers that they rob for having only an iphone to steal. Most thieves carry guns and they will use them regardless of the consequences,there is a sense of immunity due to poor policing.

In the Metro, especially rush hours, do take care of your pockets and handbags. A common tactic is a few guys will seem to be hesitating to enter the train while you are behind trying to push your way in, while the doors are about to close, they will suddenly decide to leave the train suddenly and in the chaos,locals know what's going on, thus they will try to leave the train too, you may find your pocket empty.

Stick to the tourist areas and dress like the average Venezuelans,jeans and short-sleeved shirt and do not wear any expensive looking jewelry. The barrios or poor neighborhoods/shantytowns are to be avoided. They are mostly built into the hills around the west side of Caracas, similar to the favelas in Brazil. These neighborhoods are extremely dangerous, but they are far from the main tourist areas.

Kidnapping is a major problem for upper-class Venezuelans, but is unlikely to be a concern for travelers. As with many other developing nations, petty theft is a problem. Ask hotel management to store your valuables when you leave your room and use a money belt for your passport/extra cash when traveling.

The police in most districts of the city tend to be corrupt, including at the international airport. In the districts of Chacao, Chuao, and La Trinidad, the police are well equipped, trained, and helpful. Venezuelans in general are friendly and helpful and living through the danger on a daily basis, so will not be shy in their concerns for your safety.

Most locals will advise you not to even consider visiting unless you have friends in the area who can help you to move around safely and deal with the complicated currency situation. Caracas is by far the most dangerous city in Venezuela and malandros are coming up daily with new schemes to rob and kidnap.

Be very wary when on the road at all times, always keep your eyes on the lookout for an escape pathway, and be wary of being followed,especially by motorcycles. Over the last few years, the malandros have stopped traffic with a funeral procession in order to go car to car and take wallets/cell phones at gunpoint; staged car accidents with injury so as to rob good samaritans who stop.

If you see a motorycle with 2 men, one wearing a helmet and the other without, keep your distance and drive away. This is a typical robbery setup since the lack of a helmet allows the passenger on the back to have full 180degree vision while scanning for victims while the driver is free to concentrate on the road.

There are many Centros de Conexiones in which you can easily make domestic and international calls. There is also a growing number of internet cafes.

- Free WiFi

- Chili's, Torre La Castellana.

- Tony Roma's, Las Mercedes.

- Cafe Ole.

Caracas has been the staging ground of violent political conflict in the last few years, as well as suffering from a high incidence of crime. While taking appropriate precautions,dressing down, keeping valuables out of sight and avoiding dangerous areas will probably keep you out of harm's way, paranoia abounds. Traveling with a partner or in groups is advisable.

El Litoral, or the narrow band of coast between El Avila and the Caribbean Sea, is also known at the State of Vargas and the location of the best airport hotels. These beaches are not well known with visitors but are popular with Caraquenos on weekends. The area has been slow to recover from the disastrous mudslides of December 1999 which ironically made the beaches better. Still they are of lesser quality than the beaches of Choroni, Morrocoy, Mochima or Margarita.

La Guaira - historic port district

Macuto - long history as the favored among the urbanite Caracenos and most crowded on weekends

Caraballeda - upscale district with yacht marina

Naiguatá - surf and cultural festival zone

Catia La Mar - west of the airport with cheaper hotels that do airport pickup. Marginal neighborhood and beaches

El Hatillo - nice restaurants and pretty colonial architecture.

Yare - Every Corpus Christi, the town comes alive with the Dancing Devils of Yare, listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is easy to get here by public transport by going to the La Rinconada metro station, and taking a train to Cua, where there are Metrobus that goes to Yare.

Venezuela and its capital, Caracas, are reported to both have among the highest per capita murder rates in the world. Caracas is the city with the highest homicide rate in the world outside of a warzone, with a 2016 rate of around 120 murders per 100,000 people.Most murders and other violent crimes go unsolved, with estimates of the number of unresolved crimes as high as 98%.The U.S. Department of State has issued travel warnings for Venezuela (including Caracas) due to high rates of crime.



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