DO bring an adaptor if you plan to use American appliances. The Czech Republic uses the 220V system common throughout Western Europe; plugs have two rounded prongs. You will need a voltage converter, or (if your appliance has a 120/220V switch) a plug adaptor to use your electrical appliances, PCs, etc. in the Czech Republic. The adaptors are available in hardware and travel stores throughout the US.
Country Code: 420; when calling from the US, dial 011-420-area code-number.
City/Area Codes can have between 1 and 3 digits; e.g., Prague is 2. These codes are preceded by a zero when calling from another area code within the Czech Republic; the zero is dropped when calling from abroad, thus: When calling from the US, dial 011.420.2.local #. When calling from Europe, dial 00.420.2.local #. When calling from within the Czech Republic but outside of Prague, dial 02.local #. When calling from Prague, dial just the local #.
Local numbers can have anywhere between four and nine (yes, nine!) digits--there is no "standard length" for a Czech phone number. If you can't get through although you have the correct area code, the number has probably changed. (Unfortunately, this happens quite often.) In that case, call us at 212.288.0830, ext. 101 or 105 or call directory assistance at 120 (from the US, call 011.420.2.120).
Calling from a public phone: You will need a telephone card, which you insert into a slot in the lower part of the telephone. Follow the prompts on the display, always available in several languages including English. There are also coin-operated telephones, which are somewhat less reliable and harder to find.
DO buy a telephone card--you will probably need one sooner or later. These are available from larger post offices, airports, railway stations, metro stations, big department stores, kiosks, and hotels. There are several types of these cards, usually from 50 to 150 units.
When calling the US, you can simply dial 001, followed by area code and number; you will pay around $1-$1.30 per minute. Alternatively, you can use the following US-based direct-dial services:
DON'T bring your cell phone. Your cell phone is most likely 800MHz. In the Czech Republic, the current standard is 450MHz. Therefore, your cell phone won't work there. If you want to use a cell phone, you have to purchase or rent one--contact Eurotel or Radiomobil.
Internet access: Some business hotels include Internet facilities and dataports in the cost of the room. There are numerous Internet cafes in Prague, especially in the center.
In general, the Czech Republic is a very safe country, and you'll feel comfortable walking around at any time of day or night. The two things to look out for, especially in Prague, are:
Stay alert, and they'll never get you. Predictably, pickpockets (individuals or organized gangs) plague mostly Prague's "tourist spots," crowded subway, and trams, taking advantage of visitors who gaze at the sights or read their map and don't pay attention to their bags and pockets. DON'T carry valuables in an open or easily accessible pocket of your pants or backpack, don't leave your bags unattended, DO use a money belt or a safely zippered inside pocket to keep your money in. Whenever you find yourself in a crowded area, especially on the tram or subway, hold on to your belongings and don't be distracted by the pushing and shoving that might be going on around you. The application of these common-sense precautions is enough to protect you.
Overcharging foreigners is, unfortunately, still a frequent occurrence in Prague, although the situation is s-l-o-w-l-y improving. To avoid "being taken for a ride," DO use reliable radio taxi companies like AAA (tel. in Prague 1080), hotel taxis, or public transit (see our separate sheet on Transportation).
DON'T use any of those shiny new Mercedes cabs waiting in places like Wenceslas Square, Old Town Square, etc. Always request a receipt printed by the meter, not one written by hand.
OPENING HOURS & SHOPPING
Credit cards (AmEx, Visa, MasterCard) are accepted in most major stores.
Opening hours: For shops and banks, the hours of operation are generally 9-5 (some shops, especially those in the country, still hold rigorous lunch breaks between 12 and 1pm); banks may close as early as 4pm. On Saturday, most stores close at noon and are closed on Sunday. Only large department stores and shops catering to tourists (glass, jewelry, souvenirs) are open throughout the weekend (usually 10am-6pm). Restaurants are usually open every day from about 11am to 11pm.
Museums and cultural monuments (castles, chateaux, galleries) are usually closed on Mondays and on days following public holidays. They are open on most holidays except Christmas and New Year. Their opening hours vary, but none are open after 6pm.
NOTE: The Jewish Museum in Prague is closed on Saturday and all Jewish holidays.