Romania Travel Tips

As many of you know, I’ve been to Romania a few times. OK, I’ve been a lot. I love the country and I consider Cluj my second home. I get a lot of questions about traveling to the region so a few years ago I wrote these travel tips and I keep them up as things change. It includes everything from hotels, to restaurants, to power adapter advice. If you have questions that aren’t covered, restaurants to add, or corrections to make, please let me know through the contact section of my blog.

Table of Contents

Travel Arrangements
Phone
Currency/Cash/Exchange
Travel
Electricity
Getting Around
Hotel
Language
Restaurants
Gifts

Travel Arrangements

  • A travel visa is not required for American citizens to enter Romania.
  • The best route is Charlotte, Munich, Cluj. You’ll leave Charlotte early evening and get into Cluj just after lunch. Then you can clean up, hit the office for a few hours and try to stay up until 9 or 10 PM that first night.
  • Currently I stay at the Lol et Lola Hotel, just around the corner from the SFP Offices. The best way to book the hotel is via email.
    • Lol et Lola Hotel
    • Mention Patrick Turner and Imre Miko from Small Footprint for a corporate discount.
    • Not a bad room in the place!
    • Good free breakfast every morning including items you can grab on your way out.
  • For a slightly more authentic experience try:
    • Pensiunea Siago
      • http://www.pensiuneasiago.ro/eng/
      • office@pensiuneasiago.ro
      • +40 (264) 422 422
      • Strada Republicii 33, Cluj-Napoca 400000, Romania
      • Good breakfast. Ask specially for cooked eggs from the lady in the breakfast area.

Phone

  • Right now, while you’re reading this, turn off data roaming on your mobile phone. You will likely never use this and leaving it on will likely cost you money at some point even if you’re being careful.
  • Call your carrier and ask them to enable international service. This doesn’t cost anything but simply enables your phone for international use in case you might need it. It does nothing negative.
  • Your carrier usually has packages for international use. Go ahead and call them now to make sure they’re available. AT&T and Verizon both have a $10/day plan. The day rate only applies on days you use voice or data. T-Mobile customers have free international 2G data & SMS.
  • Many places have wi-fi (pronounced “wee-fee”) hotspots (restaurants, stores, hotel, etc). You can just ask a server or other employee for help and they’ll often enter the password into your phone for you.

Currency/Cash/Exchange

  • Call your bank and credit card companies before you leave the US to let them know you’ll be using your ATM and credit cards internationally. They’ll probably ask for dates so be sure to leave yourself some flexibility in case of delayed flights home (or you’re having too much fun to go home!)
  • The local currency is the RON or LEI. You can’t use Euro or any other currency in Romania.
  • No need to get RON beforehand. You’ll pay a lot for RON in the US or at the airport exchange counters.
  • The most cost effective way to get RON cash is to use an ATM in Cluj. You’ll get the best rate from your bank this way.
  • Get as much as you think you’ll need during your trip as your bank probably charges a per transaction fee, not a percent of the transaction. I usually get RON 200-400 (USD 50-100) on my first ATM visit.
  • Don’t use your CC to get cash. Period. They start charging interest immediately.  
  • Break large bills when you can so you can use smaller bills to tip, for snacks, etc.
  • Most locations in Europe use credit cards with a chip. Of course this is less of a problem now in the US but if your card doesn’t have a chip, get another for the trip.
  • In Europe credit card machines use a PIN. You probably don’t have one yet since this hasn’t been implemented in the US yet. That’s OK. When they ask for a PIN just hit the green or OK button. Then the receipt will print out and they’ll probably ask for a signature. If they look confused, just say “no pin, signature card” and they’ll figure it out. Most places understand what’s going on these days though. Of course for ATM machines your debit card will need a pin.

Travel

  • If you have favorite soaps, lotions, contact solutions, bring plenty. You can find just about anything you might need in Cluj but it won’t be the brand you prefer (most likely.) Note that most hotels do provide soaps, shampoos, lotions.
  • Going east, sleep as much as possible. Do what works for you (melatonin, wine, bourbon) and get to sleep as soon as you can when you get on the plane. Wear an eye mask, ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Skip the meals on the long flight and try to sleep as much as you can. If you’re restless, just keep your eyes closed and try to get comfortable. Your best outcome is to wake up when you land in Europe. When you wake up in Europe you’ll be mostly on the right time zone.
  • Going west just take short naps but try not to sleep too much. Try to stay up when you get home until 9 or 10 and then try to stay asleep until your normal wakeup hour. Again, this should mostly get you over your jet lag.

Electricity

  • Plugs in Europe are different from the US. They’re a different shape and voltage (220).
  • Don’t worry about bringing adapters for your laptop/cell phone/tablet/reader though. We have plenty and will have them ready for you when you arrive.
  • Don’t bring a hair dryer. It won’t work on the 220 volt service. The exception is if you want to have a nice poof of smoke in your bathroom.
  • Speaking of 220. It rocks. You won’t believe how fast your stuff charges! I’m sure it’d kill you faster if you touched it, but hey you get a quick charge!

Getting Around

  • Cabs are very cheap and generally trustworthy. (The exception is cabs from the airport can be nefarious.) Otherwise, use them with trust. It’s about 5-6 dollars to the airport.
  • Everyone pretty much speaks good English and they like to engage.
  • Don’t leave important objects unattended – there are thieves maybe more than in USA.  
  • If driving, don’t get scared, people know what they are doing even if doesn’t look like.

Hotel

  • Have your passport ready for check in.
  • Put your key in the slot near the door to get the lights on. Don’t forget it on the way out.
  • If your bathroom smells bad, put the stopper in the shower. Just be sure to pull it back out before you take your next shower.
  • Breakfast is usually served each morning with cold cuts cheeses breads some fruits and fried eggs.
  • Don’t touch the hot water pipe. It’s hot.
  • The Kleenex dispenser by the toilet is not a Kleenex dispenser.
  • All windows and doors both tilt and swivel. Turn the handle up to tilt down. Turn the handle down to swivel open.
  • Often opening doors/windows turns off a/c units.

Language

  • Multumesc – Thank you
  • Boonuh Sarah = Good night/Hello said at night only
  • Saloot = Hello independent from time of  the day
  • La Revedere – Good bye

Restaurants

  • Here’s a list of Cluj Restaurants recommended by SFPers.
  • Here’s an article on the top 10 pizza places in Cluj.
  • Ursus is the best “local” beer. I like the unfiltered kind.
  • The water is safe to drink everywhere.
  • There won’t be anything on a restaurant menu that you won’t like.
  • Servers won’t stop by without being summoned because it’s considered rude and rushing the customer.
  • Many locations take credit cards but you’ll need to tell them when you’re asking for the check that you want to use a card. If you wait until you get the bill it could be too late to use the card. They’ll bring the machine out to you and be a little surprised when your card doesn’t ask for a pin. Then you’ll just need to sign. You won’t be able to put the tip on the card so be sure to have cash with you and pay ~10% tip (or less).
  • 10% is plenty for a tip.
  • There is a law on the books passed early 2016 that forbids smoking INSIDE restaurants. This is very nice. Some believe the law might change–it’s again in debate–so you might see people smoking inside next time you come. For now it’s very nice!

Gifts

Thinking of a nice gift to bring the team in Cluj? Chocolate! Anything chocolate from anywhere!

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