Business Hours -- Most banks are open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 1pm and 2:30 to 4pm (many stay open to 5:30pm on Thurs). Most businesses and stores are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (many stay open to 8 or 9pm on Thurs) and Saturday 9am to 2pm. On langer Samstag (the first Sat of the month) stores remain open until 6pm. Some (very few, actually) stores in Munich observe a late closing on Thursday, usually 8 or 9pm.
Currency Exchange -- You can almost always get a better rate at a bank than at your hotel. On Saturday and Sunday, or at night, you can exchange money at the Hauptbahnhof exchange, Bahnhofplatz, which is open daily from 6am to 11:30pm.
Dentists & Doctors - For an English-speaking dentist, go to the Klinik und Poliklinik für Kieferchirurgie der Universität München, Lindwurmstrasse 2A (tel. 089/51600; U-Bahn: Goetheplatz), the dental clinic for the university. It deals with emergency cases and is always open. For 24-hour medical service, go to Schwabing Hospital, Kölner Platz 1 (tel. 089/30680; U-Bahn: Scheidplatz).
Drinking Laws -- As in many European countries, the application of drinking laws is flexible. Laws are enforced only if a problem develops or if decorum is broken. Officially, someone must be 18 to consume any kind of alcoholic beverage in Germany, although at family gatherings, wine or schnapps might be offered to underage imbibers. For a bar or cafe to request proof of age of a prospective client is very rare. Drinking and driving, however, is treated as a very serious offense.
Beer, wine, and liquor are sold at most local supermarkets; many in Munich are open until 10pm. Munich doesn't have restrictive closing times for bars, many of which stay open until dawn, depending on the individual owners.
Drug Laws -- Penalties for illegal drug possession in Germany are severe. You could go to jail or be deported immediately.
Pharmacy/Drugstores - For an international drugstore where English is spoken, go to Bahnhof Apotheke, Bahnhofplatz 2 (tel. 089/594119; www.hauptbanhofapo.de; U-Bahn/S-Bahn: Hauptbahnhof), open Monday to Friday 8am to 6:30pm and Saturday 8am to 2pm. If you need a prescription filled during off hours, call tel. 089/557661 for locations of open pharmacies. The information is recorded and in German only, so you may need to get someone from your hotel staff to assist you.
Safety - Munich, like all big cities, has its share of crime, especially pickpocketing and purse and camera snatching, but it is generally a safe city. Most robberies occur in the much-frequented tourist areas, such as Marienplatz and the Hauptbahnhof, which is particularly dangerous at night. Use caution and common sense.Electricity -- In most places, the electricity is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles. Therefore, a transformer will be needed for U.S. appliances. Many leading hotels will supply one when asked. Otherwise, bring your own.
Embassies & Consulates -- Offices representing various foreign governments are located in Munich. A United States Consulate is at Königstrasse 5, 80539 München (tel. 089/2-88-80). Canada maintains a consulate at Tal 29, 80331 (tel. 089/2-19-95-70). A Consulate General Office for the United Kingdom is located at Möhlstrasse 5, 81675 (tel. 089/21-10-90). The Australian government does not maintain an office in Munich, but if you should need assistance, contact the consulate in Berlin at Wallstrasse 76-79 10179 (tel. 030/8-80-08-80). New Zealand's embassy is also in Berlin, Friedrichstrasse 60 (tel. 030/20-62-10).
Emergencies - For emergency medical aid or the police, phone tel. 110. Call the fire department at tel. 112.
Holidays -- The following public holidays are celebrated in Bavaria: January 1 (New Year's Day), January 6 (Epiphany), Easter (Good Friday and Easter Monday), May 1 (Labor Day), Ascension Day (10 days before Pentecost, the seventh Sun after Easter), Whitmonday (day after Whitsunday/Pentecost), Corpus Christi (10 days after Pentecost), August 15 (Feast of the Assumption), October 3 (Day of German Unity), November 1 (All Saints' Day), November 17 (Day of Prayer and National Repentance), and December 25 and 26 (Christmas).
Hospitals -- Munich has a large number of hospitals with English-speaking staffs. Your hotel can put you in touch with the one nearest you. The German word for hospital is Krankenhaus. A good recommendation is Städtisches Klinikum München, Bogenhausen (tel. 089/92700; www.kh-bogenhausen.de).
Internet Access - Chances are, Wi-Fi will be available either free or for a nominal charge at your hotel. WiFi is free at any Starbucks. You can send e-mails or check your messages at the EasyEverything Internet Café, Bahnhofplatz 1 (tel. 089/55999696; U-Bahn: Hauptbahnhof). It’s open daily 7:30am to 11:45pm. For a current list of internet cafes sorted by location, go to www.muenchen.de/internetcafes.
Language -- Many Germans speak English, and English is usually spoken at major hotels and restaurants as well as in principal tourist areas. Nevertheless, a good phrase book to carry with you is German Berlitz Phrase Book or the Berlitz Surviving in German, available in most big bookstores.
Laundry & Dry Cleaning -- Look in the Yellow Pages under either Wascherei or Waschsalon for a coin-operated laundromat near your hotel.
Legal Aid -- Legal aid in Germany is administered by the Länder, a government agency. By federal law, anyone lawfully present in Germany can ask for legal aid. Forms to apply for legal advice and aid are available from any local courthouse or from a local lawyer. A visitor should also consult his or her local consulate.
Lost & Found -- Be sure to tell all your credit card companies the minute you discover your wallet has been lost or stolen, and file a report at the nearest police precinct. Your credit card company or insurer may require a police report number or record of the loss. Most credit card companies have an emergency toll-free number to call if your card is lost or stolen; the company may be able to wire you a cash advance immediately or deliver an emergency credit card in a day or two. Visa's emergency number outside the U.S. is tel. 410/581-9994 or in Germany 0800-811-8440; call collect. American Express cardholders should call collect tel. 336/393-1111. MasterCard holders should call collect tel. 636/722-7111. If you need emergency cash over the weekend when all banks and American Express offices are closed, you can have money wired to you via Western Union (tel. 800/325-6000; www.westernunion.com).
Mail -- Street mailboxes are painted yellow. It costs 1.70€ for the first 5 grams (about 1/5 oz.) to send an airmail letter to the United States or Canada, and 1€ for postcards. All letters to the U.K. cost .70€. To mail a package, go to one of the larger post offices in Munich. The Postamt München (main post office) is across from the Hauptbahnhof, at Bahnhofplatz 1 (tel. 01802/3333). If you want to have your mail sent to you, have it addressed Poste Restante, Postamt München, Bahnhofplatz 1, 80074 München, for general delivery. Take along your passport to reclaim any mail. The office is open Monday to Friday 7am to 8pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm, and Sunday 9am to 3pm.
The decimal monetary system in Germany is the euro (€), which is divided into 100 cents (written as “c”). There are 2€ and 1€ coins, as well as 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c coins. Banknotes are issued for 500€, 200€, 100€, 50€, 20€, 10€ and 5€.
Newspapers & Magazines -- The International Herald Tribune is the most widely distributed English-language newspaper in the city. You can also find copies of USA Today and the European editions of Time and Newsweek.
Police -- Throughout the country, dial 110 for emergencies.
Taxes -- As a member of the European Union, Germany imposes a tax on most goods and services known as a value-added tax (VAT) or, in German, Mehrwertsteuer. Nearly everything is taxed at 19%, including vital necessities such as gas and luxury items such as jewelry. Food and books are taxed at 7%. VAT is included in the prices of restaurants and hotels. Goods for sale, such as cameras, also have the 19% tax already factored into the price. Stores that display a tax-free sticker will issue you a Tax-Free Shopping Check at the time of purchase. When leaving the country, have your check stamped by the German Customs Service as your proof of legal export. You can then get a cash refund at one of the Tax-Free Shopping Service offices in the major airports and many train stations, even at some of the bigger ferry terminals. Otherwise, you must send the checks to Tax-Free Shopping Service, Mengstrasse 19, 23552 Lübeck, Germany. If you want the payment to be credited to your bank card or your bank account, mention this. There is no airport departure tax.
The country code for Germany is 49, and the local code for Munich is 89. To make international calls from Munich, dial 00 and then the country code, local code, and telephone number. For example, if you want to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial tel. 001 202/588-7800.
Munich follows Central European Time, which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Between April and September, the clocks are set forward by an hour, making the time GMT+2. So, most of the year, when it’s noon in New York and 5pm in London, it’s 6pm in Munich.
Tipping -- If a restaurant bill says Bedienung, that means a service charge has already been added, so just round up to the nearest euro. If not, add 10% to 15%. Bellhops get 1€ per bag, as does the doorman at your hotel, restaurant, or nightclub. Room-cleaning staff get small tips, but you should tip concierges who perform special favors. Tip hairdressers or barbers 5% to 10%.
Toilets -- Use the word Toilette (pronounced twah-leh-tah). Women's toilets are usually marked with an "F" for Frauen, and men's toilets with an "H" for Herren. Germany, frankly, doesn't have enough public toilets, except in transportation centers. The locals have to rely on bars, cafes, or restaurants -- and using them isn't always appreciated if you're not a paying customer.
Useful Phone Numbers -- U.S. Dept. of State Travel Advisory (tel. 202/647-5225, staffed 24 hr.); U.S. Passport Agency (tel. 202/647-0518); U.S. Centers for Disease Control International Traveler's Hot Line (tel. 800/232-4636).