GEORGIA TRAVEL GUIDE

TIME ZONE Offset UTC +4 GET Georgia Standard Time

Country Code 995

ELECTRICITY 220 V, 50 Hz. two round-pin plugs are used

WI-FI & CONNECTIVITY There are three operators in Georgia: Magti, Geocell & Beeline. All of them have 4G networks and good coverage. All cities are covered with high speed 4G networks, the coverage is a bit worse in rural areas and quite poor in high mountains. Magti even offers a 4,5G network.

All three have service centers on the central street – Rustaveli avenue in Tbilisi. Visit here is the easiest way to purchase a SIM cards. Other than that, mobile operators have service centers almost in every district of Tbilisi and in all major cities in Georgia. Magti is more expensive, but with the best network performance. Geocell has very interesting buckets for mobile data and Beeline has the cheapest prices, but somewhat poor coverage in rural areas. In general, approximately for 10 USD per month you receive unlimited minutes, SMS and quite a lot of internet data.

We have “Tbilisi Loves You” free Wi-Fi in Tbilisi central areas but with poor performance.

Almost all hotels, hostels and Airbnb places, restaurants and cafes in major cities have free Wi-Fi.

To be on the safe side you can buy a 3G or 4G Mobile Wi-Fi modems with a SIM card and get a rule data as a gift. Just activate internet, connect any of your devices, put modem in your backpack and enjoy Georgia while being connected. You can ask for modems in any of the mobile operator’s service centers.

 

CURRENCY The National Georgian ₾ LARI (GEL) is the only official currency of Georgia. According to the currency ranking most popular exchange rate is GEL to USD rate, next comes EURO, Turkish Lira, Pound sterling, and Russian Ruble.

Exchange Rate: http://currency.boom.ge/ 

In major cities, like Tbilisi, ATMs are everywhere. All you need to do is walk out to the street and look around, and you will likely find one. That’s good news for travelers, since Georgian local bank websites are written in Georgian, so their ATM locator tools aren’t as useful, unless you speak local language. However, if you plan to visit regions, stock up on cash beforehand, as ATMs are a less common in small towns.

If you need to find a local ATM, look for one of these banks: TBC Bank, Bank of Georgia, Liberty Bank, Basis Bank

VAT: The VAT and VAT reverse charge rate is 18% in Georgia.

Both traditional and reverse VAT-s are payable only for business operations conducted in the territory of Georgia.

DRIVING RULES, LICENSE AND AGE

Here is all information on how to drive around, what documents you will need and what rules you should know:

  • Driving is on the right side of the road.
  • In Georgia, legal age for driving is 18.
  • The speed limit is 50-70 km/h in residential areas: towns, cities and villages (pay attention while passing rural areas); 110 km/h on highways; In other areas it’s 80 km/h unless indicated otherwise.
  •  It is compulsory to wear seat belts for front row seats.
  • Children under 7 years of age must sit in child safety seats.
  • There is a zero tolerance policy towards driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Any license which is printed in Latin or Cyrillic alphabet is valid on the territory of Georgia during one year after your arrival.
  • If you rent a car, any driver who is 21 year’s old and has 1 year of driving experience is allowed to drive a rented vehicle.
  • Any additional driver is automatically insured under same conditions, only if primary driver is present in the vehicle.

ROAD CONDITIONS IN GEORGIA

  • Main highways are mostly in good condition.
  • Village roads or roads to remote areas are often in bad or very bad condition, so make sure that your car is suitable for the route you are planning to drive. 
  • The road network in Georgia consists of 1,603 kilometers main or international highways, that are in good condition and some 18,821 kilometers of secondary and local roads that are generally in poor condition. Only 7,854 km out of over 20,000 km Georgian roads are paved. 

MOTORWAYS

Georgia has a small motorway system, that is currently under development. Essentially when the motorway will be finished it will link Tbilisi-the capital and Batumi-Georgia's second largest city. The multilane road is part of the S1 highway, which runs from Mukhatgverdi (Tbilisi West) until Agarebi, a village near Khashuri, and has a length of 110 km, bypassing Mtskheta and Gori.

ACCOMMODATION

Featuring a wide array of local and international brands, newly built hotels, guest houses  and chalets in tasteful settings, accommodation is both plentiful and affordable in Georgia. Hotels provide buffet breakfast, private bathroom facilities and air conditioning. 

In the remote areas like Ushguli, Tusheti, etc  there are guesthouses with private and also shared bathroom facilities, they usually have HB service included for BB price. 

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL

Georgia is one of the most unique tourist countries in the world, that aims to help visitors discover its diversity and richness, leaving them with a lasting desire to return back.

Our goal is to improve constantly quality and sustainability in our business. We actively promote Georgia to international markets as an unique tourist destination, thus contributing to growth of tourist flow, which directly impacts development of the country’s economy and culture. 

BEST TIME TO TRAVEL

Georgia is an all-year-round destination. Every season here has its beauty. Its climate is very diverse, with the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea playing a major role.  

  • Spring is mild and sunny, with few rainy days in April. The best activities at springtime are exploring the capital, taking day trips or even hiking the lowlands of the country. 
  • Summer in Georgia is dry and hot. July and August are the best months to hike the highlands and mountain regions of Georgia, as well as visit the coastal city of Batumi to swim in the Black Sea. Note that this period is also quite humid in this part of the country.
  • Autumn is similar to spring, but a bit colder. The country becomes painted with multi-colored trees and frost-covered grounds. One of the best things to do during this time of the year in Georgia is to hike in the lowlands and various mountain ranges for picturesque landscapes. Visit the coast to catch the last warm days in September, and more importantly, participate in the vintage season and harvest some wine grapes.
  • Winter in Georgia is cold and snowy pretty much everywhere except Tbilisi. It rarely snows in the capital, and when it does, the snow melts in couple of days leaving behind muddy streets. However, you can go to other parts of the country for beautiful snow-capped slopes and enchanted forests. The best thing to do in the winter is to visit ski resorts and indulge in sports activities. Ski season here lasts until April.
NATIONAL HOLIDAYS IN GEORGIA 2021
Date Day Holiday Name Type
1 Jan Friday New Year's Day Public holiday
2 Jan Saturday New Year's (Day 2) Public holiday
7 Jan Thursday Orthodox Christmas Day Public holiday
19 Jan Tuesday Orthodox Epiphany Public holiday
14 Feb Sunday Valentine's Day Observance
3 Mar Wednesday Mothers' Day Public holiday
8 Mar Monday International Women's Day Public holiday
20 Mar Saturday March Equinox Season
21 Mar Sunday Nowruz Observance
9 Apr Friday Independence Restoration Day Public holiday
30 Apr Friday Orthodox Good Friday Public holiday
1 May Saturday Orthodox Holy Saturday Public holiday
2 May Sunday Orthodox Easter Sunday Public holiday
3 May Monday Orthodox Easter Monday Public holiday
9 May Sunday Victory Day Public holiday
12 May Wednesday St Andrew's Day Public holiday
26 May Wednesday Independence Day Public holiday
20 Jun Sunday Fathers' Day Observance
21 Jun Monday June Solstice Season
28 Aug Saturday Day of the Assumption of Mary Public holiday
22 Sep Wednesday September Equinox Season
14 Oct Thursday Svetitskhovloba Public holiday
23 Nov Tuesday St George's Day Public holiday
21 Dec Tuesday December Solstice Season
31 Dec Friday New Year's Eve Observance

TRAVEL HEALTH

  • Travel-medicine experts recommend to visit your doctor at least one month before your trip, to get vaccines or medicines you may need. This way you prevent illness while away and protect people around you.
  • The CDC and WHO recommend the following vaccinations for travelling to Georgia: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia,  influenza and rabies. 

INSURANCE

Georgia is a safe country to travel. Yet to avoid misunderstandings in case of accidents, please make sure to check your Travel insurance details with your travel agent before the trip. 

SAFETY & SECURITY

Georgia is considered a safe country for travelers with one of the lowest crime levels in Europe. Local government strives to ensure the safety and security of its citizens and institutions within the borders of the country, recognized by the global community. Georgia is guided by international laws and principles and therefore, recognizes that safety is inseparable in terms of citizens’ interdependence, as well as in the international system, because the safety cannot be achieved at the expense of the other state’s security. Take extra precautions after dark in unfamiliar areas as robbery and mugging cases are reported from time to time. 

CUSTOMS & DUTY-FREE: IMPORT AND EXPORT REGULATIONS

  • You can bring 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 50 cigarillos, 250 grams of other tobacco products, as well as 4 litters of alcoholic beverages to Georgia without declaring it at customs. There are allowances for importing up to 30 kg of food not exceeding 500 Lari without declaration, once in a calendar day. 
  • It is prohibited to import explosives, drugs and medicine containing narcotic essences, pornography and literature that communicates false information on the political system.
  • Export permit issued by the Ministry of Culture required for pieces of art, together with a photo of the item.
  • Imported non-commercial goods in excess of 20 kg per one sort of goods are subject to tax of GEL 1.- per kilo.

PETS: Cats and dogs must be accompanied by a pet passport and veterinarian health certificate. If shipped as cargo, invoice must be presented.

SUGGESTED PACKING LIST: Pack comfortable clothes: 

T-shirts and tank tops, Long-sleeved / short-sleeved shirts, warm Sweaters and fleece jackets for mountainous areas. 

Comfortable walking shoes and socks ✓ Boots ✓ Rain jacket, windbreaker or umbrella ✓ Hat or sun visor ✓ Sunglasses and glasses case ✓ Sunscreen and face lotion with SPF ✓ Cell phone and charger ✓ Personal hygiene items  ✓ Cologne/perfume ✓ Shaving kit and extra razors ✓ Pain and fever relievers (also children’s strength if you are traveling with kids) ✓ Allergy medicines ✓ Prescription medication (if you take any) with the label/script so that you can refill if needed and not be questioned by officials

LUGGAGE 

Important points to be complied with by passengers prior to the flight

  • When purchasing your tickets, do not forget to learn the exact time you need to be at the airport prior to your flight.
  • Obtain information from the airline regarding safety procedures for the destination and departure countries.
  • For your own safety, please prepare your own luggage and do not accept any items or packages given to you to be delivered to someone else.

FLIGHT SAFETY

  • Check your health before travel
  • Always pack your own bag
  • Ensure what you are carrying is not a restricted or prohibited item
  • Do not place flammable liquids, lighters, matches, gasses or aerosols in your suitcase
  • Keep your passports and documents safe
  • Keep your medications in a separate bag
  • Keep your gadgets in a separate bag
  • Do not accept any packages from strangers
  • Attend to your bags and possessions at all times. Do not leave bags unattended even for a very short period. Do not forget, unattended luggage will be confiscated and/or destroyed by the Security Staff
  • Do not joke about having weapons or bombs to indicate terrorist activity. Do not forget! Such statements may lead to misunderstandings
  • Drink water to avoid dehydration
  • Pay attention to the flight attendant safety briefing at the beginning of your flight and read the safety briefing card
  • Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry in Georgia

TRANSPORT SAFETY

  • Always wear a seat belt
  • Don’t walk in the bus when the vehicle is driving
  • Refrain from talking to the driver and distracting him while he is driving
  • Follow any safety instructions provided by your driver/guide
  • Make sure you know where the fire extinguisher and emergency Exit is

HOSPITALITY OF GEORGIANS

Through decades Georgians have developed a reputation of being friendly, hospitable nation, which implies a noisy cheerful feast with endless toasts with magnificent Georgian wines. They have exceptionally strong traditions of hospitality, chivalry, and codes of personal honor. Georgians believe that guests come from God. Friendship is prized highest among all the virtues.

One of best known national monuments in Georgia is Kartlis Deda-Mother of Georgia. The 20-meter-tall aluminum statue-wearing Georgian national dress and holding a cup of wine in one hand and a sword in the other symbolizes Georgian national character: wine stands for hospitality and the sword represents Georgians love of freedom.

COMMUNICATION STYLE 

Georgians are friendly and oriented towards relationships. They are not afraid to express their emotions. Do not be surprised if locals display happiness, anger or extreme disappointment. Similarly, Georgians can be emotive speakers. When discussing a topic, they may raise voice and use hand gestures. 

LOCAL CUSTOMS & ETIQUETTE IN GEORGIA

Being one of the oldest cultures in the world, Georgia has social norms and standards of etiquette that are much different from the Western world. Learning Georgian rules of etiquette will help you understand how to conduct yourself in Georgia so that you can build better relationships, succeed at work, and enjoy a warm relationship with your host family and co-workers.

MEETING AND GREETING

  • When you meet someone for the first time, shake hands and say "gamarjoba" ("hello"). Once a relationship warms up, Georgians will quickly move to a kiss on the cheek.
  • When addressing people only close friends or family use first names.
  • First names may also be used with the word "Batono" ("Sir") or "Kalbatono" ("Madam") immediately afterwards, which brings a sense of formality.
  • Most people would expect to be addressed with their appropriate title followed by the surname.

GIFT GIVING ETIQUETTE

  • As with most European and North American nations, gifts are usually given at birthdays and at Christmas.
  • In Georgia they also have "name days" - these are the birth dates of Saints whom people are named after.
  • Gifts do not need to be expensive and it is more about the thought and intent behind the gift.
  • If you are invited to a Georgian home, bring flowers, imported sweets or chocolates to the hosts.
  • Give an odd number of flowers. Even numbers are given for funerals.
  • Gifts do not need to be elaborately wrapped.
  • A small gift for the children is always appreciated.
  • Gifts are not necessarily opened when received.

DINING ETIQUETTE

Georgia is a hierarchical society. People with age, position and power deserve your respect. The elderly are generally held in high esteem. Therefore, they should be greeted first and served first.

  • Table manners are generally unfussy and relaxed.
  • Meals are above all a time to get together and enjoy.
  • Your Georgian host will make sure you are comfortable, well-fed and happy.
  • If in doubt over etiquette then either watch what others do or simply ask.
  • Table manners are continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • Keep your hands visible when eating and try not to rest your elbows on the table.
  • The oldest (or most honored) guest is usually served first.
  • Try all the dishes if you can.
  • You will be offered second and third helpings and accepting them will please the host. Therefore try to take smaller first portions.
  • Finish everything on your plate.
  • Expect lively conversation during the meal.
  • Do toast your host family before you leave the table.

BUSINESS MEETING AND GREETING

  • Georgian business culture is less formal than in other countries.
  • Shake hands with everyone upon arriving and leaving.
  • Maintain eye contact during the greeting.
  • The person of the higher status should initiate the handshake.
  • It is polite to wait for a woman to extend her hand.
  • Academic and professional titles are commonly used with the surname.
  • Always wait until invited before moving to a first-name basis.

CAMERAS & RECORDING DEVICES

Tourists can take photos of locals, but you must always ask permission before you start recording. In remote areas like Tusheti, Mestia or Ushguli some people don’t like to be photographed and the foreigners must respect their decision. Once taking photos of State buldings, Airports ask your tour guide if it’s acceptable. 

DO NOT! 

  • Don’t leave the table without asking the tamada (toastmaster) for permission to propose a toast, especially if you are a man.
  • Blow your nose in public.
  • Engage in public displays of affection.
  • Stare at strangers if you are a woman.
  • Do feel free to enter a church, but make sure that you are dressed appropriately. Women are not allowed to enter a church bareheaded. Shorts, bathing suits and low-necked dresses are not appropriate.

TIPPING THE GUIDE AND DRIVER 

Tipping is not obligatory in Georgia, but it is always received with gratitude: 

Tipping at restaurants and cafes: you can leave between 5 to 15 percent tip to the waiters. 

Tipping tour guides: the groups usually tip the guide 2 USD per person per day and driver -1 USD per person per day

Tipping hotel staff: Hotel bellhops and doormen may also be tipped upon the tourists’ kind will 

SHOPPING is an important part of travelling abroad.  is an important part of travelling abroad.  

The best shopping places in Georgia are: 

  • Galleria Tbilisi- a multifunctional shopping centre, which revived the city and filled it with a new energy. This is a destination for everyday needs, where it is possible to stop, entertain, dine, get various services. Galleria Tbilisi is one of Georgian Co-Investment Fund`s (GCF) investment projects in Hospitality and Real Estate sector. 
  • Tbilisi Mall- the first and largest unique development in the Southern Caucasus to meet globally recognized standards. It is the first modern center combining leisure, retail and entertainment in the region. Like all RAKEEN projects, Tbilisi Mall blends innovative, ecologically green architecture with the natural habitat. Its architectural concept is both contemporary and suitable for its surroundings, reflecting the culture and contemporary demands of the country. Located within easy reach of the city center, Tbilisi Mall provides a new, exciting family destination experience for Georgia’s residents and tourists and offers a broad range of high street and internationally famous brands. The Mall occupies total of four floors and spans approximately over 74,000 m². It comprises up to 250 retail units, 2,000 parking spaces, a 15,000 m² hypermarket and a 1,000 m² entertainment center. The outlets of well-known retail brands, department stores and banking facilities line the concourse. Other features include a multi-screen cinema, distinguished food court and a family entertainment center on the upper levels. Tbilisi Mall also benefits from a multi-story free-of-charge car park, spread over four underground levels. Tbilisi Mall changes your shopping experience, allowing customers of any age and interest to spend valuable and interesting time in the mall. Here, you can spend loving, playful, chic and adventurous days by yourself or with your friends and family.
  • East Point- the open concept shopping and entertainment center, where you, your friends and family can dive into the depths of fashion industry and the heart of amusement world. The center displays  innovative architecture, a good brand mix, unique offers and customer-oriented service. Shop, dine and have fun- all in one space. 
  • City Mall- it's a new space in the central district of the capital, where anyone can shop, have lunch break and enjoy free time. Shanghai Mitsubishi elevators and escalators will help people to do these all.
  • Dry Bridge Flea Market - located in Tbilisi’s historic Old Town near the Dry Bridge offering tourists: paintings, sculptures, beautiful carvings, exquisite icons,  vast assortment of antique, such as hand-made jewelry, old military medals from World War II, Soviet style cutlery, pottery, old enamel, vintage cameras, fabrics and many more.

READING LIST

These are the best English language books for you to read to learn more about Georgia:

  • The Making of the Georgian Nation by Ronald Grigor Suny- follows Georgian history, from the first millennium B.C., through the years of Russian and Soviet rule in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to the rise of an independent republic in 1991, which also started the ethnic and civil war, and prospects for Georgia’s future.
  • Stories I Stole by Wendell Steavenson - Annoyed with working for Time magazine in London, Steavenson relocated to Georgia on an impulse. The story describes her time in twenty episodes, formed from experiences all over the country–stories of love, friendships, horse races in the mountains, wars and refugees, fixed elections, broken hearts, a room with a thousand roses, and drinking sessions. This collection of stories is certainly a page-turner.
  • For the Love of Wine: My Odyssey Through the World’s Most Ancient Wine Culture by Alice Feiring- tells the author’s story as she meets Georgian winemakers, farmers, bishops, silk spinners, and artists from Tbilisi to Batumi. She had dinners with them, tasted and collected various recipes, and gained an impressive knowledge of the country’s wine scene. Feiring meets interesting people like a craftsman of qvevri wine, Stalin’s last winemaker, and as she gets to know them she begins to understand the bottomless depth of love and admiration Georgia has for its wines.
  • Please Don’t Call It Soviet Georgia by Mary Russell- an English traveler and author of The Blessings of a Good Thick Skirt, Mary Russell shares her impressions of the start of nationalism in Georgia and the country’s transition to a “European” country after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The book is full of her own photographs taken during her travels throughout the country.
  • Bread and Ashes: A Walk Through the Mountains of Georgia by Tony Anderson - the author started his journey through Georgia in 1998 and wanted to visit the mountainous regions of the country. In particular, he planned to explore Tusheti, Khevsureti, Svaneti and Racha to see if those communities shared the same culture. What he found was quite interesting. All the way from Azerbaijan to Svaneti, Anderson discovered villages where the old beliefs, customs, and traditions strongly survived despite of the years of Communist dictatorship and all unfortunate challenges that have since taken place.
  • A Little War that Shook the World: Georgia, Russia and the Future of the West by Ronald D. Asmus- as the title suggests, A Little War that Shook the World is about a very short war between Georgia and Russia that took place in August 2008. It is a captivating glimpse at the analysis of relationships between Russia and the West, and the failure and dissolution of the Western Alliance. It also talks about the destiny of Eastern European states in a period of financial crisis.
  • Ali and Nino: A Love Story by Kurban Said-this famous novel is a love story between a Muslim Azeri boy and a Christian Georgian girl set in Baku in 1918-1920. It masterfully traverses the difficult landscape rendered by “European” rule over an “Oriental” culture and transports readers to Azerbaijan’s capital during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic period.
  • Granny, Iliko, Illarion and I by Nodar Dumbadze- having a powerful autobiographical element, the novel is one of the favorite books for all Georgians. A realistic story of an orphaned Georgian boy as he grows up and eventually attends university in Tbilisi. Dumbadze uses relatable anecdotes throughout the book and his tone in the novel is both humorous and nostalgic.
  • A Man Was Going Down the Road by Otar Chiladze- the author investigates Georgian implications of the myth of Jason, Medea, and the Golden Fleece, forming his own interpretation of the Greek myth. Meanwhile, the novel also follows recent circumstances of an idealist who unconsciously sabotages his family.
  •  Journey to Karabakh by Aka Morchiladze- the author’s Journey to Karabakh is set in the 90s and follows a young Georgian man who travels to Armenia to buy cheap drugs, but gets lost on the road and accidentally ends up in Karabakh, a disputed area between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The man is taken as a prisoner first by the Azeris and then again by the Armenians. After spending such a long time away from home, he realizes there might be nothing waiting for him back home if he escapes.The book became a best-selling novel in the country and even inspired two feature films of the same name.