Practical information Georgia

  • Georgia
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  • Georgia
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Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Georgia
Georgia : the key figures

Area : 26,916 sq mi km2

Population : 4,600,000 inhabitants

Georgia : Travel Information before you go!

Flights

The most practical way of getting to Georgia from the UK is via Germany. London-Munich: 3 hrs. Munich-Tbilissi: 3 hrs 45 mins.

Airports

Tbilisi airport is located 11 miles from the centre of town, reachable by taxi (the ride can be negotiated to about £8 if there is no meter) or by bus (about 50p). The departure tax is about £6 for international flights.

Security

Due to strong tensions linked to questions of political and electoral order that prevail over Adjaria, the Minister of Foreign Affairs recommends not visiting Georgia.
Due to Chechnya's crisis, the risk of being taken hostage is present in the whole area of the region bordering the Russian Republics of Northern Caucasia. It is therefore highly unadvised to go there. Also, it is not very wise, even if it is only to travel through, the secessionist provinces of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia. The Zugdidi and Tsalenjika districts, bordering Abkhazia must be avoided, due to a high concentration of refugees. To get to Sanetia, you must be accompanied by a Georgian because there are risks of assaults. In other regions, travelling around is fairly safe, even if there is persistent crime. In particular, you must avoid travelling at night in cities. As soon as you arrive, for more security, inform the British embassy of your presence in the country.

Languages

The official language is Georgian, using a unique alphabet in the world. Armenian, Russian, Azeri, Ossetian and Abkhaz are also spoken.

Required travel documents for

A passport valid for six months after your return date, a visa and an invitation from Georgia are required. It is better to have a return ticket.
It takes about five days to get a visa. It costs £10 for a month and £15 for a stay of three months. For stays of more than three months, you need a special authorisation from Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At your arrival in the country, fill in a custom form to indicate your money and goods, in order not to be taxed on your way out.

Religion

75 % of the inhabitants are Orthodox, 11% are Muslim and 8% belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Currency

The local currency is the Lari (GEL). Most expenses are paid for in cash, as only major hotels and banks accept travellers cheques. Credit cards are not much use here either because there aren't any ATM machines and very few establishments accept them. Foreign exchange offices only accept Dollars and Rubles, and pounds can only be exchanged over the counter at a bank. Due to the significant fluctuations in the rate of the Lari and because of pickpockets, it is not a good idea to change too much money at once. Banks open from Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 5:30pm.

Local transportation

Due to the dilapidation of infrastructures and means of transportation, it is not easy travel around Georgia. Domestic flights have been shut down. There is only one weekly flight that links Tbilisi to Batoumi but the (old) fleet of Georgian Airlines is not well maintained. The train network is not very dense, in bad condition, trains are slow and booking is mandatory. It is not recommended to travel alone or at night. The bus system is well-developed, but the bus fleet is old and rides are therefore not comfortable.
Roads are not well taken care of, there aren't any signs, drivers are little civilised and petrol stations are not frequent, so there are many factors that make accidents more frequent and discourage car rentals. To drive in the country (driving on the right), an officially translated domestic driving license is sufficient, if not, use an international license. It is not mandatory to have insurance (local insurances are not reliable). In case of an accident, call the police to draw up the accident report. For security measures, never take hitch hikers as several cases of road pirates have been reported. Local legislation punishes the slightest presence of alcohol in the blood. Tbilisi is served by buses, trolleybuses and a metro, but it is easier to get around by taxi. Due to the prevailing insecurity, you must only take official taxis, without anyone else already inside. The cost must be negotiated before you set off.

Health

No particular vaccination is required, but vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, hepatitises A and B (high endemic zone) and the typhoid fever are strongly recommended. Tuberculosis has not been eradicated, thus you must be well immunised.
Some wandering dogs have rabies. Do not get too close to animals you do not know.
For longer stays in the forest, in particular in summer and fall, it is preferable to be vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis.

The cold chain is not always respected, and certain food are out-of-date. By precaution, you better bring the right medicines in order to avoid a gastroenteritis. It is preferable to drink water in bottles and peal fruits and vegetables (risks of diphtheria).

Due to the lack of medical infrastructure, it is essential to subscribe to an assistance insurance and bring your own medicines, after making sure they can be transported legally.

Electricity

220 V. Electricity can function sporadically, between November and March. Bring a pocket torch.

Taxes and tips

In a restaurant or on a taxi ride, always round up the bill to the next whole number.

Telephone

To call Georgia from the UK: 00 + 995 (country code) + area code (32 for Tbilissi) + personal number.

To call the UK from Georgia, dial 00 44 + number without the first 0.

Georgia : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

Georgian Embassy
4 Russell Gardens
London
W14 8EZ
Tel: 020 7348 1942
Fax: 020 7603 6682


At the destination

British Embassy
GMT Plaza 4 Freedom Square
Tbilisi 0105
Georgia
Tel: (995 32) 27 47 47
Fax: (995 32) 27 47 92 (995) 32 987 115.

Tourist secretary of State
80 avenue Chavchavadze
380062 Tbilissi
Tel: (995) 32 - 92 78 23 or 95 33 75
Fax: 995 32 923 306
Open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 9:30 pm

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