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You may think you are being cautious, but even the most savvy of travellers can get caught out. It all seemed so obvious when we think back, were the words of a victim who fell for one of the city's most common restaurant and bar scams.
The scam reported by many male travellers is one which starts with an ego boost. Two attractive women will approach you in the street asking if you want to accompany them to a bar. The next thing you know, you are enjoying a meal or drinks, but when the bill arrives, the intention of the new friendship is made evident.
Two frightening sights - a bill of up to thousands of dollars and Hungarian men of barbarian proportions standing over you, waiting to escort you to the nearest ATM.
Taxi drivers can also be involved in the scam. They will suggest bars to take you to, because they are getting a commission from the owners who are waiting to rip you off.
Most of the places that have been reported to be out to get you, are located in Budapest's fifth district, on or near the main tourist street, the Váci utca.
It's best to avoid bars and clubs that can't be easily accessed from street level, for example a place that you can only get to by elevator. Also be wary of places that don't clearly display menus.
If you walk into a club that ticks those boxes and also happens to have their own ATM, you are asking for trouble.
There have also been reports of drink spiking, particularly in strip clubs.
Many tourists have warned about the Milady Nightclub - formally known as Nirvana, for it's corrupt and violent antics. It's located at V. Szent Szent István krt. 15.
Another kind of scam occurs in many bars and restaurants, not just ones you are led to by women on the street. If you are clearly a tourist, the establishment may swap menus to one with higher prices when you go to pay, or not show you a menu to start with at all. So make sure you always verify the price prior to the purchase, and look out for any hidden costs.
If you unfortunately experience a scam or personal crime, report it immediately to the Hungarian National Tourist Office. Open 24hrs, 7 days a week with English and other foreign language speaking staff, they will help you with finding your nearest police station and also filing a report. Call them on 438-8080.
Another handy source is the Tourinform Office which provides information in both English and German. Located in one of Budapest's busiest tourist areas, they are open from 8am to 8pm and will point you in the right direction for any Hungary travel related queries. You can find them at Sütő u. 2., 1052 Budapest.
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