Hungarian is the official language spoken by about 93 percent of the population, with Roma the main minority language. In Budapest, most people involved in the tourist trade know sufficient English, although in remoter regions, English-speakers are comparatively rare.
A dual currency operates here, with both the forint (HUF) and the euro accepted at a number of places in the major cities. There is, as yet, no firm date for the euro to become the only official currency. ATMs, banks and currency exchange outlets are easily found in the cities and smaller towns, and most hotels, upscale restaurants and shops will accept major credit cards. Smaller outlets, local restaurants and market traders are unable to accept cards due to high processing charges, with the forint your the best bet. Even upscale hotels and restaurants prefer payment in forints, and may give a very poor exchange rate if you offer euros.
Hungary is in the Central European Time Zone, set one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Voltage in Hungary is 220-240/50Hz, and the usual European plug and socket arrangement is standard here. Two round-pin Europlug and Schuko plugs are in use, with many visitors needing to bring a plug converter. Electrical appliances set to 120-140V cannot be safely operated unless a step-down transformer or voltage converter is used.
The dialing code from outside Hungary is +36, followed by a single number area code and a seven-figure telephone number. Hungary’s three major cell phone providers are T-Mobile, Vodaphone and Pannon, with very little difference between their rates. Coverage across the country is good, but all three operate on GSM bands, which is useless for visitors from the USA. Unlocking your cell phone and buying a pay-as-you-go SIM card from a Hungarian provider is the best solution if you want mobile access.
Visitors to Hungary are allowed to bring in 250 cigarettes, two liters of wine, a liter of spirits and any amount of money, although you may only take one million forints out of the country when you leave. Customs allowances on your return journey to your home country depend on the destination, with those en route to the USA allowed 200 cigarettes, one liter of alcohol and gifts not to exceed the value of US $400. UK citizens are allowed an unlimited items including cigarettes, wine and spirits, as long as they are for personal use.
Tourist Information Office
Tourist Information Office, Budapest: +36-1-438-8080 or http://www.budapestinfo.hu/home_en.html
Embassies in Hungary
US Embassy: +36-1-475-4400 Australian Embassy, Budapest: +36-1-325-1391 Canadian Embassy, Budapest: +36-1-392-3360 UK Embassy: +36-1-266-2888
Emergency services: 112