The Dos and Don'ts of visiting the UK
I recently visited the UK for personal reasons while it wasn't my first time visiting the place, this country has different customs, practices, and manners compared to the States, Canada, and other European countries.
Today I will share 10 tips based on my recent experience in London and what you should be aware of when visiting this picturesque city.
Tip #1 - British people drive on the right
Unlike other parts of the world, citizens in the UK drive on the right instead of the left.
It can be really confusing for pedestrians when crossing the street as everything is done on the opposite side compared to countries like Canada, the United States, and some parts of Europe. So always check for the signs guiding you where to look when crossing the street.
Tip #2 - Use public transportation
UK has a very well-established transportation system with double-deckers, trains, TFL, and a well-connected metro system. The metro system in London is so well done that you can use it from Heathrow Airport and go to your desired destination easily. When arriving in London for the first time, It is highly suggested that you don't use the black taxis because they can be really expensive and can go up to 200 GBP.
Tip #3 - Get an oyster card or use your contactless bank card
If you are moving around London, it is highly recommended that you use an oyster card that you can top up with transportation tickets or even be able to use your own contactless bank card as a transportation card. For the latter case, you won't need to top up your card with tickets or anything, you just tap using your own credit card and you will be charged accordingly based on the zones you will be going to.
The amazing thing about using public transportation is that there is a daily cap where after certain usage of the oyster card/contactless, you won't be charged anymore and you can freely use public transportation for the day.
Tip #4 - Be aware of pickpockets
London is such a crowded city that you can have pickpockets stealing from you at very touristy areas, airports, or even on public transportation. So always be alert about where you keep your belonging in public.
Tip #5 - Bring cash and budget well
London is a very expensive city, starting from food, transportation, accommodation, and shopping. Make sure to budget really well before traveling to London and always bring extra cash for emergencies.
Tip #6 - Take advantage of the FREE Museums
London makes it easy when it comes to visiting museums; they are indeed free. I remember visiting the British Museum a long time ago and it was indeed free to enter.
Maybe things have changed since then, but it's worth trying and calling prior to seeing if nowadays the visits to the museums are still free.
Tip #7 - Pay a visit to the food markets
London has many options when it comes to eating out and one of them is food markets. There are many places one can visit such as Camden Market, Borough Market, and more. The beauty of these markets is the variety of culinary fresh options for you to try at a very reasonable price.
Tip #8 - Don't always use a car to drive
London can be notoriously crowded. It seems no matter what time of the day, there is massive traffic on the streets which are very narrow, to begin with.
It is very unreasonable to use a car during the day especially because there are congestion fees applied to many areas of the cities and a lot of parking lots require payment.
So if you are moving around the city either use public transportation or go around after certain hours when you won't need to pay any fees.
Tip #9 - Bring a raincoat and umbrella
The weather in the UK can be really bizarre. While the weather forecast may predict a sunny and warm day ahead, the weather in the UK can be really unpredictable. It can change at any time during the day and you can most likely expect four seasons in a day, so always be equipped with an umbrella or a raincoat.
I went in the month of May/June and even though the days were roughly warm, it would get really cold during the evening and a jacket was a needed
Tip #10 - Go for their desserts
London is a very cosmopolitan city with people from all around the world.
While there, you can expect to try typical South Asian food ( all halal), Italian meals ( cooked by real Italians), Afghani food, and more. Each part of London has areas dedicated to a certain ethnicity. For instance, East London is an area where you can expect to eat a lot of Bengali, Indian, and Pakistani food.
What I loved about London while I was there is that they have an immense number of dessert places open till late where you can enjoy delicious pistachio and rose milk cakes with a cup of foamy cappuccino. I highly recommend it!