Stay safe in Czech Republic
- Taxi drivers: Beware – negotiate the price before using a taxi or a reputable company (e.g. Liftago, Uber). Prague taxi drivers are known to drive you as far away as possible to make more money. The Prague City Council has introduced a new regulation that all legal taxis must be painted yellow. Public transport is also very cheap, fast and reliable. In Prague, the metro runs until midnight and the night trams run all night, all converging at a central stop, Lazarská.
- Pickpockets: Watch your bags, especially in crowds (curiosities, metro, trams, especially numbers 9, 10 and 22). Watch out for large groups of people pushing you around. Beware of the pickpocket gangs that operate in Prague: They are mainly male, although there are sometimes women; they are all overweight and rely on their size and numbers to confuse tourists. They usually operate on trams 9, 10 and 22 and in central metro stations, mostly when people are getting on and off or on escalators. Only take out your cards when specifically asked to do so. And always keep your wallet and money securely locked and separate from each other. Do not provoke them as they may become aggressive, but keep your eyes open. Pickpocketing charges are rare because legally the police have to catch the pickpocket in the middle of a crime.
- Prostitution: Prostitution is not illegal in the Czech Republic. However, prostitution does not officially exist as a legal activity. Prostitutes do not pay taxes and prostitution is not regulated by the state. The health risk can be very high, especially in cheap brothels or on the street. There have also been cases of prostitutes offering their clients a drink with sleeping pills and stealing everything they had. Pay attention to the age of the prostitutes, paying someone under 18 for sex is a criminal offence (otherwise the age of consent is 15).
- Marijuana: Marijuana is mostly illegal in the Czech Republic, but it is very popular, especially among young people. If the police catch you smoking or possessing marijuana, you should be very polite to them. The reason for this is that under the current law, possession of a “more than small” amount of marijuana is a criminal offence. A “more than small” amount of marijuana is defined as more than 15 grams.
- Ghetto-like localities, mostly inhabited by pure Gypsies, are also feared by ordinary citizens. In these places, the risk of bags, theft or rape is somewhat increased. In some North Bohemian towns (Most, Litvínov, Ústí nad Labem) or in Ostrava, whole districts are affected. In recent decades, the number of homeless people has permanently increased in many peripheral areas, but they are usually not very dangerous.
- Apart from that, the Czech Republic is a very safe country.
Stay healthy in Czech Republic
Grocery shops do not sell over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin. You have to go to a pharmacy (lekárna), which is usually open from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 7 pm. In larger cities there are 24-hour pharmacies, you can find the address of the nearest one in the shop window of the nearest pharmacy. If you are in Prague, the most central 24-hour pharmacy is in Prague 2 – on the corner of Belgická and Rumunská streets – it dispenses prescription and over-the-counter medicines in a small window on Rumunská outside opening hours – ring the bell if no one is there.
Tap water is good, especially in Prague, although in small towns the amount of added chlorine can be quite high.
A well-known hospital in Prague is Nemocnice na Homolce, address: Roentgenova 37/2, Prague 5 (tel. 257 272 350). There is a clinic for foreigners (Cizinecké oddělení) where English-speaking receptionists can make appointments for you. Most doctors speak some English and the level of care is very high.
Central Europe and parts of the Czech Republic are infested with ticks (Ixodes ricinus), which can transmit Lyme encephalitis or Lyme disease. Ticks hide in grass and bushes. Therefore, try to stay on the paths and examine exposed skin after a hike. Vaccination against encephalitis is available and recommended. If you are going to hike, make sure you are vaccinated and wear long trousers. A good insect repellent (containing DEET) may also be helpful.
Ticks like to stick to all soft, warm and well-blooded parts of the body (below the knees and elbows, skin around the ankles, groin, neck area, behind the ears, etc.) and, if not removed, will suck your blood until they are about 1 cm in size. Never try to scratch or rip off a tick, because if you scratch or rip it off, you could get a serious infection. The sooner the tick is removed, the lower the risk of infection. Ask a doctor to remove a tick for you or try to remove it yourself: Lubricate your finger with an oily lotion and gently shake the tick back and forth until it comes off. Then throw it down the drain – do not crush or burn it to avoid infection. Pay attention to the affected area: If a red spot develops in that area over the next few months, see your doctor immediately and tell them you may have Lyme disease. Lyme disease is dangerous but can be treated well with antibiotics in the early stages. Note that the US Lyme disease vaccine is probably not effective against the European strains (B. afzelii and B. garini). Note that ticks can sometimes even be found in city parks, including in Prague.