Maracaibo

Travel Guide South America Venezuela Maracaibo

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Introduction

Maracaibo is the capital and largest city of Zulia State and the second largest city of Venezuela. It has more than 2 million people and it's famous for its typical music, big shopping malls and beautiful parks. It is called "La Primera Ciudad de Venezuela" (The Most Important Venezuelan City) because of its development.

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Sights and Activities

The bridge over Lake Maracaibo. Built in 1957 over Lake Maracaibo, is recognized as one of the most impressive buildings in Venezuela. It's also the largest concrete bridge in the world.
Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Chiquinquira. In downtown Maracaibo dedicated to the apparition of the Virgin Mary to a native Venezuelan in colonial era.
Palafitos in Santa Rosa de Agua. To the north of Maracaibo, these buildings are created by native Venezuelans on top of the water with wood.
Santa Lucía. The most beautiful colonial area in the city with a European style and narrow streets.

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Getting There

By Plane

La Chinita International Airport (MAR) is the national and international airport of Maracaibo.

By Bus

There are bus connections from Caracas, Barquisimeto, San Cristobal, Valencia and others cities of the country.

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Getting Around

Taxi: Taxi service is generally cheaper in Maracaibo than in other cities in Venezuela including Caracas due to high offer and lower demand. Always use a taxi from a taxi service, either by requesting it directly through the phone or walking to a taxi service spot. Never take a taxi off the street, no matter how 'legit' it might look. Anyone can put a taxi sign on their car (the plastic dome is attached by a couple of elastic strings). Most businesses in Maracaibo will aid a tourist searching for a taxi so don't be afraid to ask in a McDonald's or another shop for help locating one. Hotels have their own taxi services.
Subway: It's the most modern and secure way to get around in the city. It is a new system so it has only 6 stations that connect the southwest to the center. Libertado station is 200 m north of the bus terminal (but be careful if you walk).
Bus: Mugging is very common in bus routes, general advice is, if you can afford a taxi, take a taxi. If you cannot, use common sense, do not wear watches, chains or anything that might incite muggers.
Walking: Maracaibo has a good layout and good sidewalks, caution should be taken if walking during the day because of the extreme heat and solar radiation. Extreme caution should be taken if walking during the night, it's advised to take other forms of transportation if possible.

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Sleep

Hotel Union. 84a calle 4 - 60. US$11 per double per night.
Maracaibo Suites, ☏ +58 261 783-4533. US$35 a night a room. Very good service.
Gran Hotel Delicias, ☏ +58 261 797-6111. US$120 a room.
Hotel Aeropuerto, ☏ +58 261 787-5881. Fairly good mid-range option with a pool, restaurant, rooms have a/c. Not very close to the airport or to downtown Maracaibo, but 300 m east of El Varillal metro station.
Maracaibo Cumberland, ☏ +58 261 722-2224. Calle 86-A, between Av Santa Rita and Bella Vista. Another costly option.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, ☏ +58 261 730-2700. Av Circunvalacion 2, Zona Industrial. Luxurious 5-star business hotel in the industrial area near the airport.
Venetur Hotel Del Lago, ☏ +58 261 792-4422. Avenida 2, El Milagro. An aging 5-star hotel, in a much more central and commercial point.
Kristoff, ☏ +58 261 796-1000. Av 8, (Santa Rita) and Calle 69, Maracaibo. Quite costly.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes, often incorporated in the above-mentioned 'communication centers' are increasingly common, and even small towns usually have at least one spot with more or less decent connections.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Venezuela has international country telephone code 58 and three-digit area codes (plus an initial '0'), and phone numbers are seven digits long.
Area codes beginning with '04' - e.g. 0412, 0414, 0416 - are mobile phones, while area codes beginning '02' - e.g. 0212 (Caracas), 0261 (Maracaibo) are land lines. A single emergency number 171 is used in most of the country for police, ambulance and firefighters.

Public payphones use prepaid cards which cannot be recharged but are easily available in shopping centers, gas stations, kiosks, etc. Phone boxes are common in the cities and do not accept coins. The vast majority are operated by the former state monopoly, CANTV, although some boxes operated by Digitel or Movistar do exist, particularly in remote areas. CANTV prepaid cards can be used only in their booths.

More popular today are the ubiquitous 'communication centers' or clusters of phone booths located inside metro stations, malls, or like a normal store in the street. Most of these communication centers are operated either by CANTV or Movistar, and offer generally cheap phone calls from a normal phone in comfortable booths equipped with a seat. A log is made of all your calls and you pay when exiting the store.

Mobiles operated by Movilnet, a division of CANTV, start with the 0416/0426 code and use the CDMA 800 MHz system and GSM/HSDPA 850 MHz. Rival Telefónica Movistar, formerly Telcel, start with 0414/0424 and use both CDMA & GSM/HSDPA (GSM/HSDPA 850 MHz). Digitel is another operator with a GSM/HSDPA (GSM/HSDPA 900 MHz) network and its numbers start with 0412. It is possible to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card for Digitel's GSM phones, but make sure your phone is unlocked. A pay-as-you-go Digitel card is working straightaway when bought from any official retailer. The cost of the card is around 20 VEF (new bolivares). Top up vouchers from 10 VEF. The cost of a text message abroad is 0.3 VEF. Please note that from Movilnet phone you are not able to send a text message almost to any European network. A Digitel phone allows to send a text message to almost any European network (tested) and Movistar may let you send a text message to any european network but is not reliable as Digitel for this purpose.

You may use your phone with a foreign SIM card in roaming. Check: www.gsmworld.com or call to your operator for roaming information to Venezuela. Movilnet and Movistar will require quad-band phones for European users, Digitel will work with any European phone. Tourists from other than European countries should check their phones if the phone will work with the above bands.

Post

Venezuela's state-owned postal is slow, unpredictable and not widely used. Postal offices are few and far between, although they are still probably your best bet for sending postcards back home. For mailing within Venezuela, courier services such as MRW, Domesa and Zoom are the most popular. These usually guarantee next day delivery.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 10:25 on Jun 23, 20 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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