Travelers visiting Venezuela must carry identification. There are military checkpoints on numerous routes, so have your passport accessible if you’re traveling by vehicle or bus; preferably, carry a color photocopy of your passport. If your passport is stolen, this will make dealing with your local consulate easier. The military presence is continuous, although it is seldom a source of worry. Having said that, there are crooked authorities. When your possessions are being searched for drugs, for example, it is a good idea to keep a careful watch on them. A Guardia Nacional (National Guard) soldier may manufacture drugs in order to extort a bribe or steal goods. The penalties for drug usage are harsh, and the weight of evidence is on the accused; the police may also seek bribes using the same tactic.
Venezuela lacks a national train infrastructure, leaving three alternatives for travel throughout the country: automobile rental, buses, and cars-for-hire. Venezuelan drivers are usually aggressive and indifferent about traffic laws. Venezuelan traffic is terrible; drivers are hostile, and everyone wants to be the first. As a result, renting a vehicle is not advised in general. The low cost of petrol, on the other hand, makes this a very cost-effective choice. The insurance will be the most costly aspect of renting a vehicle. The price of 95 octane unleaded gasoline is 0.097 BsF/liter, or approximately US$0.022/liter at official exchange. About $0.09 per gallon.
Do not underestimate the utter mayhem that is Venezuelan traffic. The often-ignored road regulations require you to drive on the right unless overtaking and to yield to vehicles approaching a roundabout. On intercity roads, drivers regularly exceed 160 km/h (100 mph). Seat belt laws that require vehicle passengers to wear them are not always followed.
Traffic signals are often disregarded, particularly at night, not due to a lack of patience, but because drivers do not want to stop their vehicle for fear of being stolen.
Be careful that motorbikes (moto taxis) are sometimes observed carrying up to five passengers, typically without helmets, adding to the road hazards.
When approaching a crosswalk in Venezuela, keep in mind that pedestrians do not have the right of way as they do in the United States and many European nations. If you slow down or stop at a crosswalk to enable a pedestrian to cross, you may collide with an unwary driver.
The bus system is large and reasonably priced (in part due to the low price of gas). Bus terminals are crowded, but it is generally simple to locate a bus to any large city that will depart within a short period of time. Short bus rides (2 hours) may cost 30 BsF (30.000 Bs) (approximately US$7 at official exchange and US$3 at unofficial exchange rate), while extremely long bus rides (9 hours) may cost 100 BsF to 150 BsF per person (approximately $23 or US$35 at official exchange or US$10 and 11 at unofficial exchange rate). Larger buses are usually air conditioned. In fact, they are often excessively air-conditioned, so bring a blanket with you. Buses are a quick and simple method to travel across the nation. However, due to the occurrence of thefts on buses in both cities and on highways, adequate security awareness should be maintained. To ensure that no passengers are carrying weapons of any sort, select bus routes that employ a metal detector and a bag check.
If you prefer to go by bus, ‘Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos’ is an excellent choice; they have their own terminal in a residential area of Caracas (Chacao, Bello Campo) ( [www] ), and luggage is checked on the buses (as in an airport). The vehicles are clean, safe, and well-maintained, and the drivers are taught to drive within the speed limit (there are many accidents on regular buses on Venezuelan highways, most of them caused by speeding on poorly maintained roads). They cost more than a normal bus, but are still inexpensive by American/European standards. You may pay with a credit card and purchase tickets over the phone. Aeroexpressos provides somewhat more costly alternatives for many lengthy routes, including semi-cama seats, chairs that recline farther, and more comfortable sleeping on overnight flights.
Buses may not run on a regular basis in tiny communities. In such situations, cars-for-hire, often known as “por puestos,” may be used. These are usually ancient and run-down cars, but they are inexpensive. They are more costly than buses, usually costing 40 BsF each passenger for a one- or two-hour trip (about $9 US at official and $5 at unofficial). The major issue is that they usually wait until they have a full vehicle (4 or 5 people) before embarking on a trip. If you wish to go immediately away, the driver would typically attempt to persuade you to pay for the additional passengers. However, the vehicles are popular, and one does not typically have to wait long for a car to fill up. Por puestos are distinguished by signs displaying the names of the streets or locations through which they usually travel or stop. Traveling alone in a por puesto should be avoided, as should ‘pirates,’ inauthentic, unauthorized taxis that may attempt to rob tourists.
Within cities, taxis are often used. Taxis are the most costly mode of transportation, although they are still less expensive than their North American or European counterparts. A trip across town will often cost between 20 and 120 BsF. (depending on the city). Taxis do not have meters and will charge a higher rate at night. This is typical in Venezuela; nevertheless, since all pricing in the Venezuelan economy are variable, it is a good idea to negotiate the fee for the trip ahead of time. Tipping is not anticipated nor required. The driver considers the tip to be part of the fee he charges and will include it in his negotiations.
Local buses are available and generally link the station to the city center. They usually cost between BsF 2 and 4, depending on the city. Bus routes are generally a mystery to the inexperienced, but you may try reading the symbols in the windows (going to —- coming from).
Caracas boasts a clean, contemporary, and reasonably priced metro system that is presently being extended. Pickpocketing is common in the metro, while armed robberies are virtually unheard of. Typically, delinquents will attempt to distract the passenger before another member of the gang removes the wallet or bag at the appropriate time. It’s better to keep your luggage in front of you and avoid making uninvited eye contact with others.
Venezuela is an appealing nation to explore by automobile due to its extensive road network (about 82,000 km) and historically cheap gasoline prices.
Many roads are in excellent shape, but there are some gravel and dirt roads that need an off-road vehicle, particularly during the rainy season, which lasts from May to October. This is why it is essential to travel with a decent road map (e.g., Berndtson & Berndtson’s Venezuela Laminated Map) and to be fully informed on distances, road conditions, and anticipated travel time. Cochera andina’s website provides information on approximately 120 routes across the nation.
You may hire a vehicle for $20 to $50 per day, including insurance and legal responsibility. This may cause you to reconsider renting a vehicle, particularly because hiring a car with a driver typically costs the same.
Fuel costs 0.097 Bs/liter, which is equivalent to 0.022 US$/liter – 0.09 US$/gallon – 0.03 €/liter (at official rates) and 0.01 US$/liter – 0.045 US$/gallon – 0.013 €/liter. There are many petrol stations in the major cities. Fill the tank before leaving for remote regions, or bring a reserve canister with you. In the highlands, gas usage often exceeds 15 litres per 100 kilometers.
To drive in Venezuela, you must have an international driver’s license. During regular inspections, police may often request the license as well as the frame or motor number. In general, traffic regulations adhere to international standards. However, do not underestimate the utter mayhem that is Venezuelan traffic. When driving in Venezuela, be cautious.
The often-ignored traffic regulations require you to drive on the right unless overtaking and to yield to traffic in a roundabout. Although the speed limit outside the city is 80 km/h and 60 km/h inside the city (50 km/h at night), local drivers regularly exceed 160 km/h (100 mph) on interstate roads. The law requires vehicle passengers to wear seat belts when driving, which is often disregarded. When you’re stuck in traffic, other cars will constantly attempt to pass you. Also, keep in mind that motorbikes may occasionally carry up to five persons without helmets. Pay care at night: roadways, vehicles, and bicycles often have little or no lighting. It’s also worth noting that even “excellent” roads may contain unexpectedly deep potholes. Long-distance interurban vehicle travel during the nighttime hours is not advised for this reason, as well as for security reasons in general.
Only on major routes will you find good signage. The following are examples of common and vital road signs:
- Curva peligrosa: “Dangerous curve”
- Sucesión de curvas: “Winding road”
- Reduzca velocidad: “Reduce speed”
- Conserve su derecha: “Keep right”