Personal Safety in Prague

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Dec 15th, 2006, 10:22 AM
  #1
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Personal Safety in Prague

This is one topic on which I thought I would never be asking for input, but times change.

I asked my travel partner, chauffer, cook, nurse, and constant companion of the last 50 years if she would like to go to Prague this summer.

Her response caught me off guard: She was concerned about our personal safety because she had heard that there were problems with "thieves, pickpickets, and beggars."

That is not what I had concluded. So would some of you who have been to Prague give me your considered opinion? (She was never overly concerned in Paris, London, Vienna, Munich, Salzburg, or Dublin even though in Paris a pickpocket decided I wasn't worth the effort -- billfold too thin to have much I presume. At any rate he did not take it.)
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Dec 15th, 2006, 10:38 AM
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It sounds like you know her pretty well, so did you ask her why she felt that way?

If you've been to all those places, you should be fine, but I do think it is possibly a little worse than some, particularly for people who are careless or not used to taking care of themself or very cavalier about how doing anything at all hours is safe. For example, I do have a friend who is about 60 yr old and she was in the Prague metro with her 65ish husband, and they were robbed of all their money. Her husband is European, Finnish, and she lives in Europe several months a year and has traveled in E Europe and Scandinavia a lot, so she's not somebody who's never left Hooterville. But, she is kind of ditsy, I admit, and they probably were too casual about assuming nothing can happen, we can wander around the metro and strange cities in the dark alone with no problem. They were in the metro late at night, but in a central area.

You shouldn't have any trouble if you don't stay out late, stay in the very central area and don't use public transportation late at night and especially don't lend yourself to pickpockets. I'm not sure if my friend was robbed or just pickpocketed, I'll see her this Sunday, I think, and I'll get the full story.

There are a few more beggars around than I noticed in prior years, but not that many, and no more than many capital cities. I think the number of beggars in Paris has really grown in the last couple of years, I really notice that. It kind of bothers me, as I wonder about why these people don't have social programs (they are homeless, I think, some who have approached me have been older French people, I can tell from their accent and language).
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Dec 15th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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In Prague I would beware of the notorious corrupt taxi drivers (no, not all of them are) and yes there are pickpockets and they are VERY GOOD at what they do but the usual precautions should prevent any mishaps.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 10:53 AM
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To answer the question of why my travelling companion felt that way about Prague I can say this: My wife reads a lot and has quite a few friends through her professional association that I don't often see. She had picked up some comments in publications and in conversations that gave her that impression.

I know the beggar situation in Paris was present when I was there last, which was right before the euro was adopted.

I recall a tall, attractive young woman in Gare de Lyon who boldly walked up to me and said in good English, "I need 10 francs."

Earlier, when we got out of or cab upon entering, an obviously homeless man pushing a luggage trolley offered to take our luggage in for 10 francs. As he approached the door, the regular crew just about assaulted him. I was out 10 francs but I had a luggage trolley to push.

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Dec 15th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Take the usual pickpocket precautions e.g., moneybelt etc. and stay away from public transport where the problem is the worst. A hotel in or near old town will mitigate the need for public transportation since most of what you will probably want to see is in a compact area. Even the castle is walkable (uphill) if you are in shape to do it. It sounds like you are seniors. If you need a special needs room, room 10 at the Hotel Kampa Garden meets all ADA standards. I am partial to Kampa Island anyway as a great location to see Prague. The beggars in Prague are not aggressive - at least I have not seen anyone approached. They take a position on knees bent over with face to the ground (looks like hard work to me).
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Dec 15th, 2006, 11:17 AM
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Made several visits to Prague and never had any such problems though I have heard of the issues you mention. We live in London and maybe I feel less comfortable there, than in Prague, sometimes. Prague is a wonderful city,Personal Safety there? I don't think there are any problems that you haven't encountered before. Go and enjoy , it's a lovely friendly city.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 11:23 AM
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Thanks for all the good advice so far.
Yes, we are both past 70, but no special needs in rooms, at least not today!!!

The advice on where to stay is good.
I will start reading guidebooks.

I just learned that Delta has a flight directly from Atlanta to Prague.

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Dec 15th, 2006, 11:35 AM
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Was in Prague in 98, 99, 2003 and never felt there was any more/less pickpockets than other European cities. But, after visiting India a couple times, Europe is a piece of cake with regards to beggars, thieves, etc.

My father's wallet was stolen on the metro in Paris, but things like that could happen anywhere, I think.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 12:07 PM
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Petty crime is a big problem in Prague compared to many other cities, but there are so many tourists that most never have any sort of unpleasant encounter. Just be aware of surroundings as you would be in any unfamiliar city, and be smart about how much of value you pack around with you and how you stow it.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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I do not know what you are looking for in the way of a hotel or your price range but two that I can recommend are the Hotel Kampa Garden on Kampa Island. It is an upscale budget hotel - about $100/night, less in off season. All non smoking, nice clean modern rooms and baths, some rooms with great views. As mentioned earlier, Kampa Island is a great location, a quiet oasis yet near everything and right under the Charles Bridge. The hotel ajoins a lovely park. If you want to be right in the middle of old town, yet be out of the noise, the Hotel Metamorphis is a good and charming medium priced bet. It is in the little square behind the Tyn church. That puts you maybe fifty yards from the main square with a good noise buffer in between. That is important because old town Prague is one big party. From one senior to another, you will have a great time.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 01:26 PM
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We have been to Prague 4 times since 1990 and have never felt unsafe. As long as you take the normal precautions (moneybelt, being totally aware of your surroundings), you shouldn't have any problems. The only incident we had was that my husband's passport cover was pickpocketed in the subway, but all they got was $10. The pickpockets and thieves tend to congregate around the main train station and major tourist areas (including Tram 22), but awareness is the key.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 01:26 PM
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One further note...there have been scams reported from Prague which involve someone posing as either a policeman or an "immigration" official. Demand identification if approached.

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Dec 15th, 2006, 01:33 PM
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I was in Prague for 6 days and walked the streets at all hours, including 4 AM. Never did I have any trouble of any kind. With that said, I am 6'4" tall so perhaps that might have had something to do with it. However, I do believe that Prague is a safe city. Just use the same caution that you would in any large city.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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i lived in prague for a while during a work assignment. never had a problem despite always walking around very late at night. i also lived in an area with not the best reputation (although it was lovely - karlin) i wouldn't worry but there are a lot of dodgy people in prague. just watch yourselves and you'll be fine. there are more beggars in paris and london, imo. but there are more scammers in prague, imo. i am more mindful of violent crime at home in london (or in paris) than in prague. but i don't know the stats...just my feeling.

a local colleague told me to only use AAA taxi. i followed his advice and never had a taxi problem except the one time when i didn't.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 03:23 PM
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I think that pickpockets often pick elderly folks as targets. We are mid-40's and didn't have any problems in Prague, Paris, Rome, etc. But our mid-70's relative was pickpocketed as he entered the Paris metro. Also, when we were in Paris last year, we met 2 70+ men who were pickpocketed that week.

Not sure about Prague vs. other cities for petty crimes.

I learned from Fodor's to always call AAA taxi and that advice was echoed by people we spoke to while in Prague.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 03:52 PM
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Ditto on AAA taxi. City taxi also has a good reputation. Avoid the waiting taxis outside the stations. Many Prague hotels will be happy to have a car and driver meet you at the airport. Not expensive and if you are staying for more than a few days, the hotel might even pick up the tab.
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Dec 15th, 2006, 08:17 PM
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I made a note of the hotel suggestions.
Does anyone have any more?

I am looking for a first class or slightly less. Basingstokes recommendations seem to be in my budget

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Dec 15th, 2006, 08:34 PM
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We use the Don Giovanni, a little way out of town, but right next to a metro station so in and out of town is easy. We've never had any problems with this hotel.
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Dec 16th, 2006, 06:42 AM
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We were in Prague for 5 days in early June and never saw anything resembling a problem.

Oh yes, I think we were ripped off a bit by the hotel because they quoted us the rate in Euros (I wondered about that and they said it was for "our convenience"). I should have realized that nothing is for "our convenience".

When we paid, the rate was converted to the local currency as per "their bank rate". The same thing happened in Budapest.

Not a lot of money, but still...
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Dec 16th, 2006, 06:54 AM
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My son studied in Prague for a semester a year ago and never felt concerned about his safety other than the taxis ripping you off. My husband and daughter went to visit him(I had a family emergency with my folks but planned the whole trip) and they stayed at the Hotel Dietzenhofer near the castle. They arranged pickup at the airport for them and loved the place. The location was great and the staff quite wonderful.One of the owners is a professor at Charles University .Prague has become the new "in spot" for European travel for Americans so go before it gets totally ruined like what happened to Tuscany and other parts of Italy.
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