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A Practical Tourists Guide To San Francisco

Mar 12, 2008
Europeans no longer need a visa when visiting San Francisco, a full British passport is all that is now needed. Airlines will issue you with a Visa waver form on the aircraft before landing and also a Customs Declaration card. They must be handed into Customs when going through passport control.

San Francisco International airport is the main International airport and is 13.5 miles from the city. There is also a large airport at Oakland International and it is 17 miles south east of the city.

When clearing customs you should hand in your customs declaration form, listing all the things that you have brought into the US. You must note that you cannot bring in fresh meat, fruit, drugs and plants.

Disabled travellers will find ramps, wide doors, lifts and other wheelchair provisions in major public places. You should contact your car hire firm for written proof of their policies towards disabled drivers. On arrival in the state, the car hire company should direct you to the local county office in order to claim disabled driver status. Please remember that in some cases you may have to wait up to two hours to get your disabled visitor badge.

European drivers can drive in San Francisco on a full driving licence issued in their own country. However under 25's may find it difficult to hire a car or may have to pay much higher rates of hire and insurance. Many airlines now offer Fly Drive holidays which offer competitive car hire rates.

When hiring a car in the state you must ensure that you have the correct insurance. It is advisable to take out Collision Damage Waver. You may find it to be expensive, but it is essential to take out as it covers you for all conceivable events.

Most hire cars in San Francisco are automatics and come with air conditioning. You now generally find that the main car hire companies are now bases at the airports which makes collecting and dropping off the car much easier.

They drive on the right hand side of the road and it is preferable for first time visitors to arrive in day light in order to familiarise themselves with the road networks.

The interstate roads are the best for long journeys and have anywhere up to six lanes. Please remember that Americans overtake on both sides which can be a shock for foreign tourists on their first visit. Also remember when using a toll road in San Francisco to have money to pay at each toll booth.

The speed limit in the state is 65mph and in outer city limits it is usually 55mph. In built up areas it drops to 30 - 35mph. If you are stopped by the police, wait in the car and be polite. San Francisco police do not appreciate rude drivers.

Drinking and driving is not tolerated in this city and it is regarded as a serious offence. If stopped on suspicion of drink driving, you can be locked up on the spot until you have taken a urine test. You should not drink drive under any circumstances.

If you are unfortunate enough to break down while driving in the city you should wait in your car with the bonnet raised and wait until the Highway Patrol stop to help you.

In San Francisco the standard electrical supply is 110-120 volts and if bringing your own electrical devices from Europe, you must use an adaptor.

Travellers from Europe do not need any inoculations before visiting San Francisco. Water is safe to drink but in some cases may be heavily chlorinated. The city has some excellent pharmacies.

There is no state funded health service in San Francisco and so you must have travel insurance as medical care is very expensive.

When coming on vacation to San Francisco many tourists now rent holiday homes or Villas. This usually works out cheaper than staying in hotels and provides much more independence. It also allows the tourist to get a true feel of the local way of life and culture. Holiday home rental is now one of the fasted growing areas of tourism in San Francisco.
About the Author
Andrew Gibson is MD of Direct Holiday Bookings. It is one of the fastest growing on line travel websites. To see an example of why Direct Holiday Bookings is growing so rapidly have a look at Holiday Home Ireland
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