In Hungary we use our national currency: Forint. But what does this mean in practice?
If you planning a trip to Hungary, you must noticed something. Although Hungary is a European Union member, we don’t use the common currency, Euro, but we have our own Forint instead. Biggest shops and all the places of the downtown accept EU money, but it is better to prepare for everything.
So: the “new” Forint was introduced in 1946 and it changed much in the last decades. Its international code is HUF, but we use the symbol „Ft”. These days we have banknotes (500 Ft, 1000 Ft, 2000 Ft, 5000 Ft, 10,000 Ft, 20,000 Ft) and coins (5 Ft, 10 Ft, 20 Ft, 50 Ft, 100 Ft, 200 Ft) and also good to know that the banknotes are going under renewal these days. If you stay in Hungary for couple of weeks, don’t worry, but if you plan for years, please notice: banknotes issued before 2016 will be withdrawn on July 31. After that you can exchange them in banks and post offices, so don’t worry.
But what do these numbers mean? How do you know if something is cheap/expensive? The EUR-HUF exchange rate is now 310 so 5000 HUF means a bit more than 16 Euros. But be aware and never change your money on the airport, because they have quite big surcharge (10-15%). They say Hungary is a cheap place and it’s basically true: a single ticket for the public transport costs about a bit more than 1 Euro, the entrance fee to the world famous Gellért Bath is 18 Euro, a museum ticket will cost you about 5–10 Euros. A nice dinner is 10-30 Euro, a cappuccino is around 2, but there are huge differences.
In Hungary, tipping is very much part of the culture, most people will routinely tip waiters, taxi drivers, hairdressers and even gas station attendants. In the restaurants and bars service charge is not included so you have to do a little math. The basic standard is 10-15%, but I think it’s much easier to round up the total to a nice number than do the math.
Overall, I advise: if you come only for a short trip, don’t change too much money because there are many places that also accept euros and changing Forint back is just another unnecessary detour. And if –somehow- you run out of money, there are currency exchange booths on every second corner.