NEWS ABOUT GEORGIAN VISA : No visa needed any more for citizens of EC, USA and Japan! : The Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili
has put tourism in Georgia high on the agenda. 2 june 2005 the Georgian parliament decided to abolish the visa need for visitors from EC, USA and Japan.
These people can from now on travel to Georgia without a visa and stay for
90 days !! Also look at the visa prices at the web site of the Georgian consul. Do count on that
your international passport must be at least 3 months still valid upon entry in Georgia. For further information check with the Georgian embassy or consul in your country or the dept of foreign affaires in Tbilisi : phone : 00995-32-284747.
Water : Georgia has enormously much spring water, outside Tbilisi you will only find the mineral rich naturally gazed Borjomi water. Almost all water that is streaming in the nature or comes out of a well on the street is drinkable.
Safety during travel in Georgia :
Abkhazia : in this moment it is not recommendable to travel to Abkhazia, as long as the conflict remains unsolved the area remains unsafe.
Also the Pankisi valley (including Achmeta and Omalo) remains unsafe. In the Pankisi valley lives the Kisti, an ethnical Chechnyan people,
that still have good relations with Chechnya itself via a route over the Caucasus. It is an area that have been surrounded by many rumours, after the terrorist attack on the 11th of september 2001 it was said that Chechnyan rebels and Arabian fighters linked to the attack were hiding in Pankisi. Afterwards it seems that it was only USA and Russia trying to strengthen their influence in the area. Finally it has been more or less proved that the rumours were false, the so called terrorists turned out to be smugglers. For travelers wanting to visit Shatili in the amazingly beautiful mountain area of Tusheti should better check well about the latest reports about the situation in Pankisi and Chechnya before heading off.
In Svaneti you are safe as long as you have a guest family, the whole village protects a guest from unfriendly villagers, but if you don't have a guest family no body will back you up in case of problems.
Internet access and cafes : in Tbilisi there are many internet cafes charging 2 lari per hour, 1 lari in non peak hours.
Except in Kutaisi and Batumi internet cafes are not frequent in the rest of Georgia. In
super markets you can buy cards with which you can get on the internet with your personal laptop. After installing the card you get instructions in english of how to get on line.
Slide film :On Rustavi in Tbilisi slide film is available.
Sending parcels : The Georgian post service
seems to have gotten a lot better recently, I sent a packet from the main post office in Tbilisi, David Aghmashenebi 44
(close to metro Marianishvili), it cost me 85 lari for 7.5kg. As opposed to other countries Georgia sends only air post, no sea or land post, and there for it is a bit more expensive. The service seems to work well though, after 2 weeks my parcel arrived in Belgium. Don't forget : give a low value on the content of your packet since you have to pay an export tax in Georgia which is a percentage of the value of the goods. Also count on that even if you write gift on the parcel you (or the person receiving it) will probably have to pay an import tax, in Belgium 10 euro.
Nature reserves in Georgia : There are only a few well marked out nature reserves in Georgia, one of them is the WWF Borjomi-Kharagauli nature reserve, an area with walking paths with guides available. See www.borjomi-kharagauli-np.ge or
email firstname.lastname@example.org for info,
Georgian Eco Tour phone 250937 or mobile phone 99578449,
Travel information about Georgia on the internet :
Accommodation and Budget hotels in Georgia -
Georgian hospitality : Right in the centre of most Georgian cities is still the enormous flat block Inturist Soviet hotel standing like a gigantic memory from the past. Many of the hotels are filled with Georgian refugees from the conflict in Abkhazia, although this is no longer the case in Hotel Iveria in Tbilisi. The word refugees sound worse than what it mostly is, it is Originally Georgian families that have been living in Abkhazia but had to flee as things got worse between the two regions. They are simply friendly families waiting to go back home. Most new hotels are very expensive, count on 50 dollar per night and there are not many hostels or
Luckily this lack of accommodation is well compensated by the generosity and hospitableness of the Georgian people. The chance that you get invited to the home of a Georgian family is big. If you are fortunate enough to get invited to stay with a family a gift will be very much appreciated, and is probably also expected according to Georgian tradition I think. They also often give you a gift when you leave, apart from having fed you, given you a bed, presented you to all their friends, probably made at least one feast meal etc... Good gifts are
: Swiss knives/Leatherman, perfume, torches, books (Ali and
Nino in English or German is a very good choice, a nice photo book about Georgia that can not be found in Georgia except in Prospero`s
books on Rustaveli in Tbilisi, flowers, Georgian cognac; wine is not a good gift since every family has already 500 litres of it. A book with colour pictures of Georgia is also a nice present,
Georgians are extremely proud of their country. During the last few years the number of bed and breakfasts & guest rooms have exploded in number. You pay 5-10 dollar per night and 5 dollar for meals; this is a very good solution to the lack of cheap hotels. In this travel guide you will find a number of guest families that have allowed me to put their details in this guide. Now when many tourists can travel to Georgia without visa I think and hope that tourism will increase and many of the guest families will get money enough to start up little guest houses.
Making telephone calls : to call from Georgia to Belgium is cheap, 0.7 lari per minute.
Exchanging money in Georgia
Exchange rate :
the Georgian currency,
the lari, is quite stable and has not fluctuated much during the last
5 years; there are many exchange offices all over the country, the exchange rate in mid july
2005 was : 1 euro = 2.21 lari
(GEL), 1Euro = 1.82 lari (GEL).
Costs and budget for traveling in Georgia : Georgia remains cheap to travel around in, but take care : mainly along the Black sea coast and in Kutaisi many salesmen multiply the price by 4 when they sell to a tourist and you better always check your bills.
An average monthly salary is
40 lari (for the happy ones that have a job!), the monthly pension is 14 lari, social help does not exist.
A good job costs between 1000$ (shop assistant)
and 5000$ (policeman). There are no selections or interviews, you buy a job in Georgia. It is expected that the new Georgian president Saakashvili will try to stop these kind of corruption and mafia practices but it will not be an easy job.
Watch out for false 10 lari bills,
rather ask for bills of 5 lari when you exchange money.