Important Telephone Numbers
The dialling code for Bulgaria is +359.
- Ambulance 150
- Fire Brigade 160
- Police 166
- Road Service 128
- Mountain Rescue Service 963 20 00
- Telephone Information Services 144
- Central Customs Office: (02) 931 15 12
- Sofia Customs Office: (02) 931 41 91 (,..2,..3) ; (02) 931 51 52
- Sofia Airport: (02) 71 70 51
Hazards and Safety in Bulgaria
It is impossible to foresee all hazards and risks, which a tourist could face in a foreign country. The Republic of Bulgaria is increasingly meeting the EC criteria for ensuring safety and security standards and preventive guard to its citizens and guests. Nevertheless, there are some personal safety precautions, which could be kept in mind while you are travelling around the country.
We offer nine “golden” rules, which can help make your experience of Bulgaria a bit safer.
1. Exchange currency upon entering the country or better still, order some in advance. If anyone approaches you outside of a bank or a legitimate exchange desk, offering better exchange rates, please avoid engaging in conversation and politely decline the offer. A firm “Ne! Blagodarya!” (No! Thanks!) is sufficient to deter most potential scammers or ill-intending fake-bill traders.
2. When parking a vehicle,please don’t forget to check whether all doors and the boot are well locked. Leave no documents, bags and valuable articles exposed inside the car. Even paid car parking facilities with CCTV can not ensure that belongings or valuables left visible in the vehicle will be safe and usually will not take no responsibility in the event of a break in or theft. They just guarantee the parked vehicle.
3. Pickpockets in Bulgaria,as well as worldwide often target crowded places like markets, public transport, dark or poor lit streets and alleyways in bigger towns, railway stations, bus stations and airports. Do not leave your luggage unattended. Make sure your wallet and personal belongings are safe. Carry only limited cash, and keep your documents in a safe place. Always have atleast two photocopies of your passport.
4. Leave valuables in the hotel safes, if you don’t need them for the day, any valuables like golden jewellery and ornaments, laptop computers, video-cameras and expensive photo-cameras are best kept in a safe deposit box,rather than rooms or apartment.
5. The local guides of Asia, Africa or Latin America offering tourist city guide services are not typical of Bulgaria. If you are offered guide services without having asked for them, refuse without getting involved. There are reputable guided tour companies out there,but they never tout their services. Trust only guides you can hire from respectable travel agencies and tourist offices.
6. Should you meet or get acquainted with someone, who you suspect is involved in criminal activities, narcotics, or people trafficking or anyone, whose intentions you doubt, please use your common sense and politely exit their company,refusing any and all invitations for meetings or drinks and do not disclose where you are staying.Motorway services and roadside motels, night clubs, bingo halls, fitness centres, and expensive resorts and restaurants sometimes attract such people. Even if you are travelling alone,make an excuse saying you urgently need to join your companions and remove yourself from the person/people.
7. Avoid buying and drinking alcoholic drinks, purchased from small, unlicensed shops. Check whether the excise bands are firmly affixed to the bottle in factory conditions and wherever possible, always stick to brands you are familiar with or buy exclusively through large, licensed vendors.
8. When holidaying on the seaside, use only beaches supervised by life-guards, and strictly observe the rules of safe swimming in the sea. Keep an eye on the flag colour on top of the life guard’s cabin. Do not risk swimming in unknown and risky water, don’t dive or ride a jet or motorboat too close to shore. Choose non isolated locations and always swim or dive near people for eventual assistance in case of need!
9. When hiking in the mountains, always follow the marked tracks. Carry warm clothes, comfortable footwear, a torch light, two pairs of socks, pocket-knife, matches and rain-protecting wear. Ensure you carry enough food for at least one day, warming drink and a litre of water.Always pack an emergency bar of chocolate or if you are a diabetic or have a medical condition,make sure you have sufficient medication with you. Do not risk venturing out alone along unknown paths and risky trails. In winter give up hiking out in the mountain in poor visibility conditions, or without reliable equipment.
If you are a mountaineer, snowboarder or ordinary skier, use only well-tried routes and pistes and frequented ski-runs. Do not go off-piste if you are not familiar with the terrain. Best of all keep in group, next to people who are familiar with the tracks, ski-runs and trails. Hire a good local guide, preferably a professional mountain guide. This would save you long inquiries, much effort and unpleasant experiences, and will guarantee your health and life. Guides can be hired from licensed agencies and tourist agencies. If you are going hiking without a guide, whether alone or in a group, make sure you let someone know when you set off, let them know your destination, the route you’re taking, group size and anticipated time of return. If you don’t know anyone, you can give the above details to a hotel, who in turn can contact mountain rescue in case you do not return by the anticipated time or date!