Prague - ATMs and Cash

Old Feb 15th, 2011, 09:25 AM
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Prague - ATMs and Cash

In preparation for a trip to Prague this summer, I have been doing some research. A couple things that I read on Virtual Tourist struck me as odd with regard to cash, so I want to get some input.

One thing that struck me is that there are A LOT of posts about exchanging currency - where to go, where not to go, what scams to look out for, etc. Why would people carry a bunch of cash in their home currency to exchange in the first place? This is the 21st C and we are talking about Europe, not some far-flung place at the end of the earth. Our plan is to get money from ATMs for our daily expenses like we have done for other European trips. Is this a viable plan for Prague? ATMs plentiful and reliable? We always go to bank ATMs rather than freestanding ones, and of course look for ATMs where we can go inside the bank rather than stand on the street.

The other thing that struck me as odd was the recommendation to use ATMs, but to only pull out no more than the equivalient of $200 from the ATM at one time. I saw this recommendation from a couple different people, but no explanation as to the reason was given. Any reason that people can think of not to take out the max allowed in a transaction - other than the obvious issue that you will be carrying more cash and therefore if you get pickpocketed, the theives may get more money from you?

And while I am at it - what is the story with taxis in Prague? Lots of warnings on Virtual Tourist about them too, such as multiple warnings not to use the taxis waiting outside the main train station. Are these warnings overblown? From the same people who don't use ATMs and instead exchange cash with shady characters on the street? We will arrive by train and are staying near the main square in the old town - walkable with luggage, but we are thinking about taking a taxi for convinience.

Any insights are greatly appreciated.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 10:06 AM
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My one tip about money in Prague is after you get the big bills out of the ATM, go into the bank and exchange them for smaller denominations. I remember at a couple of coffee places getting a less than stellar reception when I handed the person a large bill for a cheap (well, nothing is really cheap in Prague) cup of coffee and a croissant.

By the way, be sure to have lunch, dinner or at least a beer at the Bellavista, a restaurant that has a great outdoor terrace with a terrific view of Prague. Urquell dark, on tap. The food was delicious, too.

http://www.bella-vista.cz/index.php?...ce=14&show=hot

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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 10:19 AM
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I used ATMs in Prague without problems. There were plenty of them around.

>

The reason that comes to mind immediately is that you could be stuck with a lot of left over Czech Krona if you take out the maximum allowed. What would you do with that currency outside the Czech Republic? Better to take out smaller amounts and spend it than get more as you need it.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 10:19 AM
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You will find many ATMs in Prague - in Old Town there seems to be one on nearly every street. There are several banks with ATMs in the lobby.

Taxis in Prague are a problem, not as far as safety, but there are a lot of rip-offs. Two reliable taxi companies are AAA Taxi and City Taxi. I would be wary of other companies, and the ones sitting at the train station are usually those other companies. I don't know how you define walkable, but it is one heck of a walk from the train station to the city center - either the old historic square, which is the one I think you are referring to, or Wenceslas Square which is near that. Check with your hotel if they can arrange a pick-up for you. Ours did and it did not cost much more than an honest cab ride.

Pickpockets are thickest on public transportation so take extra precaution there, particularly if you are jostled. Also, if taking public transportation, be sure to have a current, validated ticket - the inspectors are on the look out for tourists who do not know the system and the fine is considerable. There are also some faux "inspectors." However, central Prague is very walkable. The castle is about a mile walk, mostly uphill.

Hope this helps and doesn't scare you away from this wonderful city. Over the 7 nights that we were there, we did not come close to being pickpocketed nor did we see it happen to anyone else, yet, take the usual precautions, e.g., moneybelt, etc. When I am in a place where I am particularly concerned about pickpockets I use the moneybelt and often a photographer's vest and scatter things among the pockets.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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the stupudity of the travelling public will never fail to amaze me.I travel to Prague 2 or 3 times a year and always use the ATM's ,one trick i have learned is to take out an odd amount ie 2900Kc or 3900Kc ,that way you will also get some smaller notes.
There is a change machine at the lockers in the main train station (Hlavni) always handy to get some coins though the largest note it takes is a 200KC.
The taxi situation is still a bit of a problem as there are many unlicensed cabs touting for buisness in and around the main train station,if you need to use a cab use AAA cabs ,they have english speaking dispatchers,
http://www.aaa-radiotaxi.cz/
Old town Square is still a good walk if you have heavy luggage,might be worth getting a cab but check with the driver first and agree a price,that sort of distance should be a good bit less than 350kc,your accommodation provider might also be able to arrange a pick up for you.
BTW the train station is under going major refurbishment ,the majority of work is done but when i was last there in November there was stiil quite a bit of work going on.
not sure on this but i think the cab stand is on the right hand side of the main concourse as you head towards the main door ,i am pretty sure it is just past the public toilets though don't quote me on this,there should be signs up for the taxi rank.
if you go out the main door you come to a small park area and have to cross this to a road,very little chance of a cab there.
i will be back in Prague in May staying right across from the main entrance to the train station,if you remind me before you go i will try and check up on the state of the train station and on the taxi situation. I will most likely at some point be walking from the train station to the old town square and will try and time it.as I will be attending the Czech Beer festival i will not guarantee the accracy of my info though.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 10:28 AM
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basingstoke2 and i have been posting at the same time but i think generally we are talking much the same.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 10:39 AM
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I know we walked to the train station from the old square and some was uphill. No wheels on luggage. But the other way from the train station to Wenceslas square is about 5 minutes and walking will be down a grade, so that's a plus. From the beginning of the square, perhaps about 15 minutes, tops to the old town. It will be busy everwhere, but if you chose to walk with luggage, you will have company with people pulling their luggage. So, 20 minutes tops, but have a good street map. Good information from basingstoke2. We have been scamed by taxis [Krakow] and had my pocket picked [Paris]. My son-in-law lost his camera on a Paris subway. As you know, that's how it is in many European countries. Richard
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 11:03 AM
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My two friends last year were robbed inside a cab by the driver in Prague after a night at the club. I'd like to think this is an outlier, but it has been known to happen late at night. The warnings may be valid
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 11:26 AM
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Thanks for the information about ATMs, taxis, and pickpockets (as well as the recommendation for Bellevista maitaitom). And not to worry - it takes more than pickpockets and shady cab drivers to scare me away from a place.

I'll contact our hotel about transport from the train station. A pre-arranged pickup would be ideal. On Yahoo maps, it looks like our hotel is about 1/4 mile from the train station as the crow flies, more like 1/2 mile on streets. We are staying around the corner from the old historical square - the one with the astronomical clock. Did I misread the distances on the map? That isn't beyond the realm of possibility.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 11:58 AM
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just looked at it on google maps and they suggest a walking time of 20 minutes and a distance of 1.7 kilometers

Walking directions to Old Town Hall (Staromestská radnice) and Astronomical Clock (orloj), Staroměstské náměstí 1/3, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město, Czech Republic
Suggested routes
1. 20 minsWilsonova and Václavské nám.
1.7 km
2. 19 minsWilsonova
1.6 km
3. 19 minsWilsonova and Růžová
1.6 km
- more info »
Hlavní nádraží

1. Head southwest on Wilsonova
210 m
2. Sharp right to stay on Wilsonova
51 m
3. Turn left to stay on Wilsonova
250 m
4. Slight right at Václavské nám.
50 m
5. Turn right to stay on Václavské nám.
600 m
6. Turn right to stay on Václavské nám.
84 m
7. Continue onto Na můstku
120 m
8. Continue onto Melantrichova
270 m
9. Turn left at Staroměstské nám.
Destination will be on the right
16 m

Old Town Hall (Staromestská radnice) and Astronomical Clock (orloj)
Staroměstské náměstí 1/3, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město, Czech Republic
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 12:16 PM
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Just curious, what is the name of your hotel?
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 12:28 PM
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I use ATMs all the time in Prague, I imagine the cautions are just for safety -- that it isn't safe to carry around a lot of money on you. There can't be any other logical reason I can think of. To be honest, I never take out more than the equiv of $200 from an ATM anywhere when traveling (barring something very unusual like needing a down payment on an apartment). I think a lot of folks don't thin it's a great idea to walk around with $500 on you. Why take out so much, anyway? If you don't carry it around on you, you'll be leaving it in your room, another bad idea.

I've never taken a taxi in Prague, I take airport shuttle vans from the airport and sometimes private drivers arranged by the hotel. That is a common service in Prague, the rates are reasonable (meaning close to taxi).

They still have more exchange booths in Prague than in lots of other cities. I don't know exactly why, but some of them don't have too bad rates, actually. I have found the money market in Prague more competitive than some other cities, but I still don't think I used anything but the ATM the last time I went.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 12:30 PM
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BTW, I think there can be a problem using bank ATMs sometimes in Prague if you mean inside an actual bank. There are plenty of ATMs run by banks, of course. But it kind of looked to me those inside banks had locked doors and only customers could use them (I think they had a card or PIN or something to get in a vestibule where the ATM was).
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 12:33 PM
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I used an ATM machine inside a bank vestibule. You used your ATM card to open the door to access the machines.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 01:40 PM
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Our hotel is the Hotel and Residence U Tri Bubnu on U Radnice.

Christina - I leave my extra cash in my room as a matter of course, using the safe in the room. I leave my passport and extra cards in the room safe as well, and in many cases my laptop and other electronics. I've never had a problem and I can't think of anyone that I know who has had anything stolen out of a hotel room safe. So unless you know something I don't, leaving cash in the safe isn't a bad idea.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 04:43 PM
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You could go out the main entrance on the lower level at the main train station and when you get outside make a left on the sidewalk. Walk about a block and a half on this sidewalk and you will be at the top of Wenceslas Square. Wenceslas Square and Vaclavske nam are the same place. At the top of Wenceslas Square is an AAA Taxi stand. It would probably be best to take a taxi to your hotel but if you want to walk, go to the bottom of the Square and continue on the narrow street. Follow the crowds and they will take you to Old Town Square.

The only time that I have had a serious problem with my ATM card was in a bank lobby. The ATM machine kept my ATM card. There was no one at bank that could speak much english. I am from U.S. and they are 7 hours ahead of my bank. They told me that my ATM bank would have to unlock my card. They could do nothing. My ATM is from a small bank with 8-5 hours. I had hard time getting ahold of someone at my bank because of the time difference. When I go back to bank in Prague they tell me that they sent my ATM card to a central processing place and that they would send it to me in U.S. I never saw my card again. I had to get new ATM card from my bank.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 05:54 PM
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I have been to Prague 3 times and taken a cab at least 40 times - including from the train station to the hotel. We had trouble only with one driver - and it was obvious he was trying to scam us. (He had an attitude, ignored my comment we were doing a roundabout route and refused to pull up in front of our hotel - claimed he wasn;t allowed to stop there. So we got out at the corner gave him what we felt was fair and ignored him when he cursed at us. I told him to call the police if he had a problem - and he left.)

Undoubtedly it is better to have some idea of what a trip should cost. And getting in a cab late at night possibly the worse for the evening's entertainment isn;t a great idea. (Not an excuse - but also not smart.)

I would not hesitate to take a cab in Prague. But then I know I won;t let myself be scammed.
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Old Mar 11th, 2011, 04:40 AM
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ttt
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Old Mar 11th, 2011, 08:48 AM
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If you want a good website about Prague, try http://www.livingprague.com. It has lots of good recommendations for sites to see, restaurants, lodging, etc.

We found plenty of ATMs available in Prague. We were dumb and forgot to plan on needing cash to pay our hotel (to get the cash discount). So on check-out day, it was a very good thing that we had three ATM cards to pull money from, since the max amount on one card was not enough. We should have planned ahead, but luckily we had the back-up cards.

Our pensione ordered a cab for us, to and from the train station.

At Wenceslas Square we saw obvious pickpockets working the crowds across the street. They were not successful, but were clearly thieves. Did not like the square because it is so chock full of chain stores and tourist traps. But the surrounding neighborhood is charming. We found a monastery or convent close by, that had a gorgeous garden open to the public. Forgetting exactly where, though, as we were just wandering around to get a feel for the neighborhood.
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 02:51 AM
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The "gorgeous garden" is the Frantiskanska Zahrada or Franciscan Garden which used to be part of the adjacent church. You can access it from five different places but the easiest is from Jungmannovo Namesti in the corner behind the statue of Josef Jungmann. Beautiful in late summer as it is also a rose garden and offers one of the nicest places in the city to sit down and have a break. Also a public toilet next to it (for practical purposes....)
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