We were really excited to get to Prague – we had the idea that it was a “cheaper” European country. And it was (by virtue of the exchange rate), except that there were sneaky people who came up with tourist traps to squeeze every Czech koruna out of you.
I recommend watching this video, Janek Rubes is a fantastic Prague journalist who makes videos about Prague.
#1: Currency Exchange Offices
I thought I’d read up enough about Prague to be wary of tourist traps, but fatigue got the better of me. I still get mad at myself when I think about the Euros I’d lost.
For context, 1 EUR should get you 27 CZK, but anything around 26 is good enough since money-changers will keep some money for their service (the reason why they can claim 0% commission).
I didn’t withdraw from the ATM (which is the recommended way to get your korunas) because we did not need a lot of cash for 3 days and the SGD5 (around 3EUR) withdrawal charge (by POSB) was not worth it. You know I preach the plastic gospel; we’d been using credit cards the whole morning to buy breakfast and coffees at the bus station.
But Prague is a little behind on the plastic love; the metro ticket vending machines only took coins. No paper bills, much less plastic cards.
There was no other way, I had to go to the money-changer at the metro station. I only wanted to change 20EUR to cover our transport fees for the next few days, and I thought a bad rate would make only a marginal difference for such a small amount.
Bro, I thought wrong.
For 20EUR I only got 321CZK, which should have only cost 12EUR. That means I lost 8EUR, while trying to save on the 5SGD (3EUR) charge at the ATM. )-:
For the rest of the day I kept seeing money-changers advertising rates ranging from 25CZK to 26.5CZK for 1EUR. It was so frustrating. The worst part was, there was another money-changer upstairs in the bus station whose rate was 25.5 ): Lesson definitely learnt.
We’d run out of korunas by our last day, but we reeeeally wanted to eat some street food. We went to the bank (rate: 25.6) but they charged a 2% commission. At Kotva Shopping Centre, we found an exchange office with the rates above and charging no commission. It was reasonable, and 20EUR got me 512CZK – that’ll pay for 5 deer wursts and a trip to the toilet!!!
#2 Taxi crooks
This was hardly an issue for us since we took the metro most of the time and walked while we were in the city centre. Most of Prague’s attractions were about 10 minutes away from each other on foot anyway.
But, watch this other show by Janek Rubes – Prague vs. Crooks – which is an excellent investigative series into the dishonest tactics that shady taxi drivers use to over-charge tourists.
Use uber to get around if you have to get a cab, it works well and it’s cheaper.
But we were really excited the next day to spot some of the locations featured in the mini docu-series, we even saw Jelinek (chief of the shady taxi driver union) while on our walking tour. You can imagine our thrill – this is the closest we have gotten to a person (in)famous on YouTube.