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No shots or inoculations are required for entry to Hungary. To be on the safe side, bring enough of any prescription or other medication you may need. It is also good practice to bring along a copy of all prescriptions in their generic form in case you run out of any medications, but you will need a Hungarian doctor to write a prescription for the pharmacy to dispense it. Not all medications available in other countries are available here, so the doctor may need to substitute. Over-the-counter medications are readily available from a pharmacy, but sunscreen and other toiletries can be purchased at local shops.

Common Ailments

Dietary Red Flags -- You will see many people carrying bottles of water, but the tap water is perfectly safe to drink. If you have food allergies, explain it strongly to the wait staff for them to take you seriously. Vegetarians will find it a bit difficult to navigate the meat-loving Hungarian menus. In non-vegetarian restaurants, innocent dishes could very well have meat included in them without it showing in the English translation. Press the staff for details. For those with religious restrictions, this is especially important. I have ordered a beef dish, only to find it accompanied by a piece of pork chop. I have included Kosher restaurants in this guide and one Indian restaurant that serves Halal dishes.

Bugs, Bites & Other Wildlife Concerns -- Lake Balaton has had an increasingly bad mosquito infestation and for whatever reason, they have decided not to continue the annual spraying as of this writing.

There have been instances of wild boar sightings in the Buda Hills. Mothers with babies are extremely protective and will attack anyone who is perceived as a threat.

Respiratory Illnesses -- Budapest can get smoggy at times during the summer, but it never lasts longer than a few days before it blows off. Outside of the city, the air is clean.

Extreme Weather Exposure -- Budapest has been known to have sudden non-predictable storms with torrential rain and heavy winds that seem to come from nowhere. These occur at the end of spring and end of summer, but they pass within hours.

What to Do If You Get Sick Away from Home

For American-type care, we recommend the First Med Center, I. Hattyu u. 14, 5th floor (tel. 1/224-9090; www.firstmedcenters.com), a private outpatient clinic with two U.S. board-certified physicians and several English-speaking Hungarian doctors. There is an OBGYN on staff, and an ultrasound machine on the premises; referrals are available for specialists. It does have a growing list of U.S. insurance companies that it has contracts with and may be able to direct the bill. Otherwise, payment is expected at the time of service (credit cards accepted), but the office will provide coded invoices in English in a form acceptable to most insurance carriers. The clinic is located in a modern building on the street ending at the Mammut shopping mall, just a few minutes by foot from Moszkva tér (Red line).

Also recommended is the Rózsakert Medical Center (tel. 1/391-5903) located in the Rózsakert Shopping Center, II. Gábor Áron u. 74-78/a. It has the largest pool of American-trained physicians in Hungary with doctors on call 24 hours.

Another suitable facility is IMS, a private outpatient clinic at XIII. Váci út 184 (tel. 1/329-8423), with English-speaking doctors; it's reached via the Blue metro line (Gyöngyös utca). The same drill applies with respect to payment and insurance claims. IMS also operates an emergency service after hours and on weekends at III. Vihar u. 29 (tel. 1/388-8257).

Safety

Overall, Budapest is one of the safest cities in Europe. There are problems with pickpockets on crowded buses, trams, or metros. Caution should also be taken in crowded shops.

The U.S. government as well as others cautions travelers against patronizing certain bars and clubs. You can view the list here: http://hungary.usembassy.gov/tourist_advisory.html.

Due to some political issues, there have been demonstrations that have suddenly erupted during various times of the year. For the most part, they tend to localize in the park in front of the U.S. Embassy, in front of Parliament, and at Heroes Square. In the past, there have not been any threats to tourists, if you just stay clear of those areas on the day of the problems. Most of them are short-lived, so will not disrupt your stay. Your accommodation should be able to give you a warning if something happens to occur during your stay.

Gay travelers should take care and caution during the time of the Gay Pride events, which are no longer specific dates due to problems in the past. They are now held at varied times each year. The conservative right has demonstrated and attacked marchers in the past. Otherwise, there have been no problems for tourists.

Women who are scantily clad may find men will give them the sexist wolf-whistles and comments, but other than that they are harmless. Until recently, men beyond 25 years old or so did not wear shorts in public during warm months, but this is slowly changing. Many men do not wear hats, but a cap is usually a sure sign of a tourist.

Drinking alcohol on the street, when not seated at a cafe, or on public transportation is illegal.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.