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Visa and Passport
Holidays in Riga - good or bad?
I meet people in Riga who acted beeing friendly. Afterwards I just found out that they wanted to robb me. After enough alkohole they manage to get my visacard information and could emty my card in 3 transaktion using Brilliant-Nakts klub (name of the transactionplace). The only simmular place I find in Riga is
Don't go to Riga and have party. It's dangerous for your money.
When I read these comments the day before flying to Riga for my Mrs' 52nd birthday they frightened the s*** out of me. If I could have cancelled without losing money then I would have. I thought we were going to be ripped off everywhere, everybody would hate us for being British and it would be a horrible place.
As it happened yes, we fell for the airport taxi trick - 24Lats/£32 to get to the old town, the lesson there is pre book or don't use Elite taxis, let other people go first and wait for a Baltic taxi but we just wanted to get there. Baltic taxi booked at the hotel for the return was 10 Lats.
We walked the old town, visited cafes and restaurants without any issues. Everyone was friendly and helpful especially when we used the occasional "paldies" for "thank you" to Latvians, the Russian speakers were less impressed.
We walked to the main modern shopping area, to and around the Central Market, buying some of the local delicacies and also to the TV tower through the Soviet looking area, lonely looking underpasses and under the bridge to Rabbit Island in the -15 temperatures and felt completely safe.
Younger people especially in the Old Town can speak English but older people e.g. in the market and at the TV tower have Latvian, Russian or German so I had to use school German to communicate but again, everybody was well mannered and friendly.
Prices were approaching UK prices, not as cheap as we expected but they were all published in menus or on boards so it was our choice.
We don't do clubs or late night bars so I can't comment on rip off experiences but I've heard all those same stories about Prague and Budapest.
Our experience was that Riga is not really any different to Prague, Tallinn or Krakow, just a bit more expensive. Maybe people get treated in the same way they treat others.
Was in Riga , Latvia 10.-13. of february 2012. My bank account was robbed for about 3500 EUR. Don't go there to party. People who act like friends are only there to find a way to get your money. The Visa transaction name used was "Brilliant-Nakts klubs". At Internet I find a place called "Brilliant Club". I'm from Norway but I have got indications of that even the American Embasy is interested in transaction data from clubs etc to get them blacklisted.
I hope all vicitors to this comment will copy it to all forums you know about.
Wow! Yeah, I'm a Latvian living in Latvia and I would've never imagined that so many people find Latvians unfriendly... It's true that we don't smile and hug people (I'm talking about the majority of Latvians here) but that's because our Soviet past when expressing your feelings publicly was frowned upon + we are northerners, so don't expect us to be like French or Italians anyway. Also part of the unfirendliness might come from the fact that we've experienced stag parties and rude foreigners plus many older Latvians don't know English that well (or at all), so they'd generally avoid speaking with foreigners... But I wouldn't say Latvians are unfriendly, it just takes time to really get to know us and unfortunately if you're in the town only for a night or two it's not possible to really get to know a Latvian person.
I also wouldn't agree that policemen work with mafia. Yeah, some might be like that but again, I believe, the main problem of our police is that even after 20 years of independence it's stilly a pretty much Soviet-like structure where a policeman is a tough guy whose job is to fine and punish you, not to help you. We try to change this but it's not that easy to do. And yeah, of course the situation with bribe taking is not as bad as it was in the 90s, I imagine, but it's still a huge prolem.
I personally do not blame Russians for anything and I am not pissed if someone decides to relieve himself on the steps of our Freedom Monument. Boys will be boys in any coutry, sure you need to be fined for that but people make a big deal here out of a fact that a 20-something low paid dude from Britain wants to have some fun. Young people will always do silly things when they get drunk and i don't think we should make a big deal out of it... or any stag party that take place in the Old Town, as long as it's not violent and guys just want to get drunk and are a bit loud.
Yeah there are clubs that will rip you off, some taxis will rip you off. But choose Baltic Taxi when going from the airport and use public transportation while in Riga (or the same Baltic Taxi) and as for the clubs, check the blcklist that the American Embassy, I believe, have on Riga.
In general people shouldn't expect "Western or Northern Europe" from us as. Even if we wish to be like that, we still aren't a part of that Europe. And people who wonder about old people begging on streets and poverty and Soviet atmosphere in some places... well, the mimimum salary is about 380 USD here, so what did you expect? Our country has a lot of problems and if you expect Riga will be of the Western standard in all areas, it's impossible. However. I know many foreigners who live in Latvia for a longer period of time already and some who have been here for vacation and those people I know, I believe, left the country with positive impressions.
To conclude I'd also like to say to any Latvians who read this- we should bitch less about the Russians that cause zero problems at all in our country (or these problems are minor if compared to other hardships we face) and, speaking about the educated elite, are as friendly and intelligent as Latvians but should think more about how we present ourselves and how we do our daily jobs. If I see a tourist in Riga with a puzzled look on his face and have a bit of time, I try to help him, if the help is needed, and don't discriminate against whether he's from Russia, Britain, Germany etc. In any case- pay taxes, smile more, be honest and help those who need your help...
I was just wondering what "Uniq Toilets for men" means...This bar/disco Coyote fly offers this as one of many, maybe....
I would suggest: - to avoid any problems during your visit in Riga,and prevent any illegal activities against you, you can book a high cuality service at www.wolverinebodyguard.com. And enjoy your trip with now worries to be robbed or something alse. A driver will come to meet you at the airport, take you to the hotel and your destinations on time. Your driver may also be your bodyguard. This service is widely used by foreign individuals who do not know Riga or Latvia in general. You can contact their representatives in UK for more details by: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07944445963.
Wolverine - can you party with the bodyguard? Would it be a good idea for a group of guys on a bachelor party to hire your service to ensure they dont get robbed or ripped off?
This is one of the offers as well. All details could be discussed privately using contacts above.
I am from Norway and I had to go to Riga in Latvia for business. That wasn't my first trip so I new were I am going to, but friend of mine sad good word about companie Wolverine security. I decided to try them. Thanks to the guy who was with me! I did my business and had nice time in Riga.
I just spent a month working in Vec (old!) Riga, & within hours of arriving, two Russian girls attached themselves to me & tried to rip me off by taking me to a "shisha" bar. Having seen "Hostel" I declined, but another guy went, & found himself £70 lighter in just an hour! So yes there are roaming prostitutes, & also very pretty women who will delight in ripping you off. If you like women to be skinny with fantastic legs & wearing boots -you will enjoy Riga!
The Rigans have never forgiven the British for urinating on the Freedom statue - they go on about it like it was yesterday. There really are enough bars with toilets in a close enough area that you need never do this - that said, when it's -15 & everything's shut, it's understandable, but you will get short shrift from everybody, & probably a beating from the police - do not piss in the street!
There is some lovely German architecture to enjoy, museums & even an orchestra. The Doble Cafe bar in Kalku iela was quite friendly with an extensive menu, all the restaurants were good, especially the one off the square by Kalku that is underground, where I went in simply because there was a guy dressed as a peasant in freezing weather outside. Pork with a pear veloute for about £7 was great, & I had a fillet mignon for £20 another night.
I stayed in multiple 4 star plus hotels, & all had something oddly wrong with them - ALL of them did not refresh the coffee & sugar - this apparently is a one off treat in Latvia - the Avalon didn't even have a kettle, though there are smoking rooms, the Monte Cristo has rooms without a window (though the better rooms are fantastic for the money & the breakfast was great), Centra depended on which room you were allocated (top floor by far the best), FG Royal & others sheesh, don't ask.
There is a problem with completely wasted local drunks at night - just walk away quickly, they are too pissed to chase you - & beggars - the guy who kneels with his hand out for hours is a sad sight though.
I've read on here that some people have never seen a prostitute in Riga - well just go to any club - they are full of them. They also hang around the Naughty Squirrel hostel too! The problem is - it is highly offensive to ask a woman if she is one. If that's your bag - I've been told go online & book one - then you can sort the money out before etc & do it in the hotel.
I was on my own most of the time, & I found most Latvians kind & helpful in shops & bars - knowing a few phrases goes down a treat - & in Vecriga many have at least some understanding of English. Just remember that people do not hurry here.
If you need a base, or at least a safe, friendly & civilized cafe style bar to go to, I can heartily recommend Bar Hanza (the oldest bar in Riga!) - opposite the Naughty Squirrel Hostel. Even though I was on my own, nightly I wound up in good conversation & banter with different people every night - Russians, Latvians, Norwegians, Ukrainians, even Swedes, who greeted me with "We hate all English" & 3 hours later they were introducing me to the wonders of snuss!
Valdy, the bar owner (catchphrase "Stoppings!") is there each night & is truly a character to behold, & I've got to say, now a friend. Anything you want to learn about Riga, & anything else you want - he can either tell you, or arrange for you to meet safe people who deal with such things. That bar was more like a friendly local than any other I've been to in my life, & Valdy is pretty eclectic about who he lets in (no drunks or street prozzies, but all kinds of arty types - cellists,authors, museum directors etc), & will always join you for a drink - the food's reasonable too. Tell him David from London & the Monte Cristo recommended you. The Irish bars (one plays jazz every night) are quite good too, & the New Zealand bar is often quite lively late on with safe friendly staff too.
I didn't get ripped off with Taxis, Baltic cars were good - & it's less than 10 Lats unless it's rush hour from Vecriga to the airport. Always get a quote before you get in, but they are metered.
I can tell you that trying to get any business done in Riga is total hell. Once you accept that nothing happens on time, & the banks, lawyers, police, staff & government agencies all have their own peculiar regulations & bureaucracy that supersede any law, you'll stop having a heart attack in frustration & live longer! Doing business in India is 10 times easier than in Latvia, & you don't want to do business there either.
In summary, if you are an idiot - you will of course get ripped off. If a bar doesn't look safe - don't go in there. If you want to know if a strip bar will rip you off - just ask around in bars etc (though I never went to one), or just ask Valdy!
Latvia is full of relatively poor people (& a few staggeringly rich), oppressed again & again, so this is within the national psyche, but if you act courteously, with interest, & with kindness, you will generally receive the same!
I was in Vilnius for stag. What can I say?! It was amazing! The best party ever! Beautiful girls, delicious dinner, topless service, sexy strippers. Ohhh... wanna come back again! We ordered from party-weekends.com The service was so fast and very good! I recommend you!!!
Riga is a beautiful city with its interesting, old architecture and definetly worth a visit.
The unfriendly part of latvians isn't actuattly latvians, they are russians.
Of course you will get robbed if you go to a strip club or some other place, which is full of hookers and people wanting to steal and you aren't carefuly. Yes, that is true that Riga is sextourist unfriendly.
The younger people are kind and speak English. Latvians have their tradiotions. There has to be something about latvians because they still exist. They have passed through all difficulties ( german and russian occupation). So, you can have a really good time in Riga, Latvia if you go to the right places
Hey me and my friend are visiting Latvia in feb! I was wondering if £800 ( between us) are enough as spending money for 2 weeks. Our accomodation is free as we are going to stay at her cousins place.
Please if anyone can advice me about expenses in Latvia.
Many thanks xxx
I've been to Riga many times, I have really good Latvian friends who are from there (and yes, they are working in our local hotel) and all I can say is: Riga is a stunning city and worth a visit! I have never experienced any of the problems described above and not seen any hookers. Russian ladies who like dumb tourists with too much cash - yes
As for the reserved attitude - it's just in their culture, you have to be nice to them and 99% of the time they are VERY nice to you in return. Just don't be rude, loud or disrespectful and you'll have a wonderful experience.
Riga is a beautiful little city but I have to agree with many comments here, it is let down by poor customer care, rude and slow staff in bars hotels and restaurants. We came across rudeness virtually everywhere, and there is an uneasy feeling while walking around. Most in our group felt very unsafe, even in the beautiful old town. The museum was wonderful, but even the guide thereagreed that the locals were unfriendly, leading to bad reviews on all tourist websites. Would I go back...which is a good test of ones trip..no unfortunately, I would but for the people...pity
edited April 2013
Riga took the honour of being one of the stag capitals of Europe. Lured by cheap drinks, an implausible amount of strip clubs and some distinctly seedy bars, the city was awash with fancy-dressed lads looking for one last weekend of drunken debauchery.
Halong Valentine cruise
as a local, I can say some things:
it's not that we hate people, it's just, we are not friendly on the outside. we are kind if you actually try to know us!
and we do not trust british people, because they're here just to get wasted, pick on girls... and than complain when they get a black eye.
you can have a great time just for 10-20lv. just drink responsibly. and if you're that stupid top have you credit card taken and/or spend 3500, than you shouldn't blame people, blame yourself! -_-
and if you're so bad with money, have a 50lv limit for the night!
just be responsible and you'll be okay!~
edited May 2013
I'm a Lithuanian and I've been to Riga several times. I see no problems there, although the Police are bastards just like in most countries. First time I went to Riga, it was in 1982 and the local police did not help me at all when I ran out of money to get back home to Vilnius, so I was let take the train for free by the nice conductor who was Lithuanian. What can I say - Latvians are nice, but the local Russians are a problem. Most people with bad reviews probably had to deal with the Russians and not with Latvians. There are like 60% of non-Latvians in Riga! RIGA IS VERY NICE! I like it even more than Athens or London, but I like the British culture very much. Never been abroad for a job, but I was travelling around UK in 1993 as hitchhikers and we spent 2000 Pounds back then in the UK of our own hard earned money. The British were very very accomodating to us. Anyway, after Riga, Come visit Vilnius! I like the British and the proper English language. British are very nice people and they are very highly cultural, just like the Poles, Lithuanians and the French. Welcome to Lithuania!
Im a brasilian and Im going to visit Riga in 5 days. I really would like to meet someone local. I think knowing the city trought the eyes of a local person is the best way to experience it at its fullness. Im a really easy going guy, if any one would be so kind to assist me it would be a joy
I really dont mind if you are male or female, all I want is a friend. I will aswer you as fast as I can, I only have internet with wifi. Thank you
edited June 2013
I can see that some of you are experienced some bad experience. What I can add from my side is to be careful and learn more before going to Riga and your trip will not be darkened by any accident.
have a good trip!
My advice for people (especially British people with emphasis on stag and hen parties) wanting to visit Riga would be:
Don't piss on the Freedom Monument!
There have been several reports in local media about British stag parties using the Freedom Monument as a toilet in the early hours of the morning thus the caution towards British tourists. Latvians are very passionate about their history, so take care as not to appear disrespectful. I am sure you would want people doing the same while visiting your country.
2) And speaking of the above, Latvians do not worship tourists,
so learn about Latvia and its history before visiting
, reading a wikipedia article is not that hard. Visit the Occupation museum, talk to people and ask questions. Nothing gets a Latvian going like asking about the history and it will get you plus points in the eyes of Latvians.
Don't flirt with every beautiful girl you meet.
Riga has a reputation for sex-tourism and it is not a reputation Latvians are happy with, so most likely any self-respecting girl will avoid you if she spots you flirting. The girls who are more than willing to go along with it, are most likely the girls who work for clubs attracting customers and are best avoided.
Don't visit all the very obvious bars in the Old City.
They are most likely overpriced and catering almost exclusively for tourists. Instead,
Do your research before the trip.
Talk to locals online or, if already on the spot, visit any hostel in town, the staff are usually young, enthusiastic people who are able to point to you the 'hidden gems', curious, inexpensive places.
Avoid areas outside of the Old Town during late evenings and nights, avoid pickpockets at all times
, as with any large city, there is a substantial amount of crime and taking care of your belongings at all times is simply common sense and has nothing to do with it being Riga or any other large city.
Talk to the locals!
You can find many friendly people who would be willing to show you around. A great ice-breaker is polite basic phrases in Latvian. It is the ultimate way of showing respect and people will like you for it. However,
Do not talk to suspicious people
, in Old Riga this is not as common, but take care when exiting the city centre.
Of course, there are many unfriendly Latvians, however before you become hypocritical, remember that not all people in your own country are super-friendly all the time. If you go to Riga flaunting your income to everyone, forgetting that people there earn significantly less, do not be surprised that you are getting ripped off.
Overall, exercise caution and basic common sense, be friendly and respectful and you might increase your chance of having an enjoyable stay.
Do not piss on the Freedom Monument!
edited August 2013
Good and very good. I was in Riga many times. Two days to look around Riga is enought. of course, still a few days would be perfect, because you can also go to Jurmala. There is train from Riga to Jurmala and it cost, as I remember 2 lats for both directions. This summer I and my boyfriend traveled to Riga, to the Killers concert and really enjoyed, that decided to stay for few days. We chose traveling by bus, it was the cheapest way because, we don't have own car. My friend booked tickets online (ecolines.net/en) and we were sure, that we will be on time, because buses run very often. It looks that it is easier to go from Vilnius to Riga than from Vilnius to Kedainiai(center of Lithuania) In Riga we met friend, so he spare his time with us and showed some beautiful places. something was strange for us, that it is forbidden to smoke in the streets. But city is beautiful and worth to visit!
Riga is nice, but Split in Croatia is much better
It is true than in winter the whole Europe has longer nights and shorter days. So I offer you to plan your trip that you can travel on the night time and be at the different city in the morning. You will have more time to see lots of things. I think it's the best way to do that travelling by a bus. Ecolines buses company has very comfortable seats so there was no problem for me to sleep on then whole night. Plus Ecolines offers the cheapest bus tickets. I saved a lot of money travelling by bus and I saved the day time for tourism.
In a pinch you can sleep on the bus, but in general that's a terrible plan, prone to leaving you tired and stiff for a full day of sightseeing!
Personally i dont like to visit Riga... I heard that there are many people hating the another person all over the world. and Riga is not a safe place to visit.. There are people with cheap mind and they flirt with your partner, I cant inform about problems that occurs with you there and we dont know how to deal with it as well....
In Europe Riga is such a pretty place to live in, I have been to there many times. I have visited Riga Zoo, Freedom Monument, Riga Aviation Museum and many other places. Yes its common thing that everyone can't have same experience in any place but being very frank I just loved my trips in Riga.
Can I just add, I have a fiance in Riga for the last two years and have travelled there many times. And yes some are rude and so are there nice people to. I am from Amsterdam, and one day I was with a lady frend standing in a falafel bar in Amsterdam wating for our order minding our own business. I turn around and suddenly hear my frend screaming.I look backand some drunk English Lad is touching her ass. I warned him of and he was lucky I am not an agressif person. With this kind of behaviour you will not be welcome anywhere in the world.So stop behaving like al women are whores and act like the British empire still exists. Because it doesnt.When you give respect you get respect.
edited April 2014
We had a fantastic weekend in Riga, so completely nothing to complain about. Instead of getting ourselves drunk, we went to paintball park (www.citypaintball.lv), shooting range (www.rigashootingrange.com) and off road driving (www.rigaoffroad.com/). 4x4 Riga off road driving was awesome!
My boyfriend & I (both respectful, well travelled Brits in our early 30s) have now cancelled our trip to Riga after reading the comments on this site & others - what a shame.
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