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Bosnia and Herzegovina is a small, heart-shaped country in southeastern Europe, with a history that covers everything from Roman annexation and Slav invasion to around 500 years of Ottoman rule. It gained independence from socialist Yugoslavia in the 1990s and is, today, a culturally diverse country of refreshingly hospitable people.
If anything, the destination is made for romantic backpackers, who can explore its craggily beautiful landscape and medieval castle ruins, or enjoy its cities for their vibrant art scenes, magnificent Turkish-era architecture, and traditional barbecue restaurants. Major drawcards include the reincarnated historical centres of Sarajevo and Mostar, the resort town of Neum on the Adriatic coast, the Kravica Waterfalls near Ljubuski, and Medugorje, the Catholic pilgrimage site where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in the 1980s. Sports enthusiasts will relish the bargain-value skiing and raftable rivers.
Adventures in the wilderness and marvellous city breaks are the order of the day in Bosnia and Herzegovina, all at prices that make it one of Europe's best-value destinations.
The best time to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina is from May to October, when it is warmer and drier. Winters are very cold and often there is a lot of rain, snow and wind. The climates are different for each province, with Bosnia experiencing much higher rainfall than Herzegovina. Average temperatures in Sarajevo range from 31ºF (-1ºC) in January to 66ºF (19ºC) in July.
The currency in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the Konvertibilna Marka (BAM), comprised of 100 pfeninga. Some Euro notes (but not coins) are accepted. The Euro and US Dollar are the preferred foreign currencies. Credit cards are generally accepted at top hotels and restaurants, and ATMs are available in the major cities. Banking hours are from Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm.
Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian are the official languages. English and German are also widely spoken and understood.
230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
US nationals: US nationals require a passport valid for at least 3 months following the departure date from Bosnia and Herzegovina. A visa is required for visits exceeding 90 days.
UK nationals: UK nationals require a passport valid for at least three months following the departure date from Bosnia and Herzegovina. A visa is required for visits exceeding 90 days.
CA nationals: Canadians require a passport valid for at least 3 months following the departure date from Bosnia and Herzegovina. A visa is required for visits exceeding 90 days.
AU nationals: Australians require a passport valid for at least 3 months following the departure date from Bosnia and Herzegovina. A visa is required for visits exceeding 90 days.
ZA nationals: South African nationals require a valid passport and a visa. South Africans who hold a Schengen visa or multiple-entry visa from certain countries will be allowed to stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 30 days.
IR nationals: Irish nationals require a passport valid for at least three months following the departure date from Bosnia and Herzegovina. A visa is required for visits exceeding 90 days.
NZ nationals: New Zealand citizens require a passport valid for at least 3 months following the departure date from Bosnia and Herzegovina. A visa is required for visits exceeding 90 days.
Travellers are advised to hold return or onward tickets, all documents required for their next destination, and sufficient funds, as well as a valid passport. It is recommended that passports be valid for a minimum of six months after departure from destination. Visa requirements vary depending on nationality.
There are no serious health risks in Bosnia and Herzegovina but vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A and B, as well as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Medical facilities are limited, especially outside Sarajevo and major towns, so travellers should make sure they have adequate health insurance.
Tips of up to 10 percent are expected in high-end restaurants but only if guests are completely satisfied with the service. It's normal to round up the bill and possibly add a bit extra at bars and cafes, and for taxis.
Most visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina are trouble free but there is an underlying threat from terrorism and attacks could occur in places frequented by travellers. Visitors should take normal precautions to avoid mugging, bag snatching and pickpocketing, and should avoid public demonstrations. Unmarked landmines and unexploded ordnance present a risk, especially in the countryside and in isolated mountainous areas.
Bosnians observe very traditional hosting etiquette, often offering guests cigarettes, coffee and sweets. Many locals are keen to talk about the war era and how the country has changed since then, but foreigners should generally listen in these situations, rather than offer opinions. It's polite to remove shoes before entering a home or, in many cases, s hostel or guesthouse, and both sexes should cover legs and shoulders when entering a mosque or church. Smoking is acceptable in most places.
Business people tend to dress well in Bosnia, choosing the latest styles from Italy. Men opt for ties and dark formal suits, while women often wear dress suits with matching tops and bottoms. Punctuality creates a good impression so it's important for foreigners to arrive on time or slightly early, even though their Bosnian counterparts may be late. Business is conducted in quite a formal manner and shaking hands is a common greeting. Foreigners should use appropriate titles when greeting business people and allow some time for social discussion before turning the conversation to business. Business cards are required and translation facilities are available on request.
The international access code for Bosnia and Herzegovina is +387. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Travellers can purchase local SIM cards for unlocked phones and almost all hotels and most cafes offer free WiFi.
Travellers may import 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos or 250g of tobacco, 1 litre of spirits over 22 percent and 2 litres of wine, 60ml of perfume and gifts to the value of around US$ 113 without incurring customs duty.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 337 1500.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7373 0867.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 236 0028.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Embassy, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 (0)2 6232 4646.
United States Embassy, Sarajevo: +387 33 704 000.
British Embassy, Sarajevo: +387 33 282 200.
Honorary Consulate of Australia, Sarajevo: +387 (0) 33 206 167.
South African Embassy, Athens, Greece (also responsible for Bosnia and Herzegovina): +30 210 610 6645.
Embassy of Ireland, Ljubljana, Slovenia (also responsible for Bosnia and Herzegovina): +386 (0)1 300 8970.
New Zealand Embassy, Rome, Italy (also responsible for Bosnia and Herzegovina): +39 06 853 7501.
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