True Lithuania

Warnings and dangers

Lithuania is generally a safe country. The crime levels are on par with those in the USA. However, unlike the USA and many other countries, Lithuania has no unsafe districts or ghettos and the crime is spread fairly evenly. Districts with many bars (e.g. Vilnius Old Town) may be less safe at night due to drunk people, however, common sense helps.

Lithuania is sheltered from natural disasters. There are no deadly earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis, hurricanes or floods. Massive evacuation due to natural disasters is never required. Winter cold and summer heat take some tall but mostly among the homeless.

However, history has proven that aggressive neighbors can be deadlier than any natural disasters. Lithuania stands between East and West and in 1795-1991 suffered long occupations and genocides by the great powers, primarily Russia (a third of Lithuanians lost under 1940-1941, 1944-1990 Soviet occupations alone). While a foreign invasion may still be more likely in Lithuania than in the USA or Western Europe, the chances are slim (the last act of aggression took place in June 1991 when Russian soldiers massacred six Lithuanian customs officers).

On the positive side, no people have been killed or injured in terrorist bombings in the entire Lithuanian history.

While a decade ago many drivers would disobey rules and become a danger to others, campaigns against so-called "war in the roads" have curbed this (the accident rate is now similar to other European countries).

Given all of the above, the most likely nuisances for a foreigner in Lithuania are not outright crime or disasters but falling into some sort of tourist traps. Don't worry: Lithuanians are quite introverted and won't come to solicit.

That said, the group of people most notorious for cheating is the taxi drivers. A foreign tourist may be overpriced 10 times and more and some drivers are not even negotiating; out-of-town Lithuanians are also overpriced although less. Therefore it is suggested not to use taxi services in Lithuania.

In the unlikely event one gets into trouble in Lithuania and would seek outsiders' help, he/she should clearly indicate this (by asking/screaming). Lithuanians tend to be libertarian-minded and stay out of other persons' business as long as nobody gets harmed. So, for example, a streetfight is relatively unlikely to be reported to the authorities (as it would be assumed that both parties want to fight).

There are some beggars in the main tourist areas (Vilnius and Klaipėda old towns) who may approach you. Never give them anything: the ones approaching tourists are not poor but rather use this as a lucrative job. They earn sums larger than an average salary as foreigners frequently hand out sums of money based on the prices in their own homelands while in Lithuania they are lower. These beggars have invented stories which they could tell in multiple languages. Take note that Lithuania is richer than most of the world; there is an effective social security system and malnutrition is unheard of.

Should you encounter problems 112 is the emergency phone number (as in the rest of the European Union).

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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  1. Do You really do not recommend to use any taxi services? Aren’t there any taxi companies to be trusted in Lithuania?

    • Some taxi companies in the main cities are said to be more reputable than others. E.g. “Vilnius veža” tax company is owned by Vilnius municipality and has been established in order to provide an more reputable alternative to the bad reputation commercial taxi services.

      That said however, much eventually depends on a particular driver and they may believe that a foreigner is less likely to know or dispute prices. Therefore, if not absolutely unavoidable, taxis should not be used in Lithuania, especially by foreigners. If you do use one however try to
      1)Call for a taxi rather than flag one at the street or, God forbid, at the airport.
      2)Pre-agree on price / ask for an approximate price while on phone (or before entering the taxi if you flag it down instreet). Note that if the driver refuses to negotiate this does not mean that the price is not 4 times larger than normal; some just expect that after failing to negotiate you will accept the offer anyways.
      3)If you can talk to locals (other than taxi drivers or people that may get a cut by calling you a taxi) ask their opinion on an acceptible rate and choose another company/driver if such rate will be unavailable.
      4)Call the police if obviously overcharged (in smaller cities however the policemen may be bad at English).

    • no as soon as you speak English the price will be double, but if you stay in the old town you dont need a taxi everything is in walking distance and you can ask your hotel to pick you up. get the price first

    • If you staying in Vilnius or other bigger towns – ask in hotel or people you renting acomodation from about transport. Never take taxi of the street. Call cab or use app. Always check price ahead (there are some new apps you can check price before calling out cab) If calling out cab in dodgy part you may even ask for safe word, so you would not jump in to wrong car as offten cabs are unmarked, especially if you are alone. I would say same works not only for Lithuania but other countries too.

  2. This is a warning to any expats that may find themselves ill here in Lithuania: When I first became ill, I was passed from one doctor to the next – with none of them recommending anything except multiple exams and medications – and the 7-8 doctors I saw all wrote different and conflicting diagnoses in my health booklet, but none considered it serious enough or cared to do anything more. Finally I collapsed one day, bleeding internally, and was taken to the hospital, where they did a sloppy ileostomy surgery and left me to die in a re-animation room. After 1 month in a coma, I woke to find that my legs had been allowed to atrophy and I was covered in bedsores. While I was transferred from department to department as I recovered, I found that no one ever appeared to know much about me – so much for “reading a patient’s chart” or caring.– and the simple fact that forgot to take out my stitches on time – and when they did, missed and forgot to take out a couple stitches, is just one example of what sloppy ignorant care they are capable of. The absolute worst thing is that no one could speak English – as I am an American, and my Lithuanian and Russian are very poor – especially in trying to indicate what was wrong with me. The highest level of English was very low, and this was from only a handful of doctors and nurses. After a while, my wife and I noticed that all the relatives and patients were constantly giving “gifts” to the nurses and doctors – everything from candy to straight cash. The level of care and attention I received improved a little as soon as I started giving the medical staff “gifts”. i have been able to re-learn to walk a little, but I am still very weak and will never be as healthy as I used to be. They left me with an ileostomy that doesn’t work well, and I am in constant pain and discomfort from all the complications that occurred from the poor care and attention I received. The things that happened and the situations I experienced in the Hospitals are simply too ridiculous to believe. Some of the nurses and doctors should lose their jobs or be punished for what they have done. My experience has been unbelievable and horrible in many ways, and I am lucky to be alive! I could write several pages about the completely idiotic things that happened to me, but the most important thing to understand is that Lithuanian healthcare is not very good at all unless you can bribe your way through it. Everything is “all show and no go” at the medical hospitals and facilities.

    • Dude, you expect that 7000 miles away someone will speak YOUR language? WTF? You should have realized that all humans need food and money to survive, so you should be thankful for any care and give them money, gifts or at least smiles and ask them what am I doing wrong? Retard American….

    • Typical Americans.I have been to Lithuaina many times & have never had any problems with the medical services.I have also visited the states on many occasions & if I can revel one fundamental truth to you then this is it.If you were visiting America & you fell sick if the doctors & hospital didn’t understand you & if you didn’t give them money then you would end up in one place,THE STREET !!!!

      Thankfully there are some country’s like Lithuaina that won’t turn you away & put you on the street unlike your own country.I have some travel advise for you.Its quite simple.

      STAY AT HOME PUSSY.

  3. OMG! I find Lithuanians aggressive and scary in a way Chechens or some rough ruggid Russians or Mexicans are. I’ve been to Columbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria, Greenland, all these dangerous places, but Lithuania tops them all in a shockingly way, very safe during the day mostly, but, just be careful out there, these people are extremely tough, scary and dangerous and they don’t take NO for an answer. The good thing is that they have a great moral codex where they would not kick you when you’re down and they will help you in any way they can if you’re in trouble, if you’re their guest they will never allow you to be hurt and they will keep their promises, so be safe, be kind and you will be fine. And God forbid do not ever whistle at them or tell them you will F… their Mother or anything like that!!! My experience talking.

    • uh well.. good tips but those pretty much applies to anywhere. especially the last sentence

    • I’m from Ireland & I am well travelled & I don’t believe you have ever been there.Ive also travelled the Middle East as a security consultant so I can easily say I’m qualified to respond to your comment.I think idiots like you should stay off these forums as you clearly don’t have a clue about the country or its people or culture.in short your a idiot.

  4. Hello, I am considering moving to Lithuana for a few months to pursue further training in my career, and although it pains me to ask this I feel that this issue is unfortunately still rampant no matter where you go. Even in my own country. Without further ado, are there many racists in Lithuana? I am of Chinese descent.

    Also, the place that I might move to is Vilnius. Are there many Chinese food shops there? Will I have difficulty communicating with the people there? I can speak English, but unfortunately not Lithuanian or Russian :/ Thank you for your time, and if my post sound insensitive, I apologize.

    • Hello / Nin hao,

      There were Chinese restaurants in mid-1990s already (soon after Lithuania declared independence) and there are multiple now in every main city. However, in Lithuania Chinese restaurants are considered somewhat upmarket, there are no cheap food stalls like in the China’s night markets. But “upmarket” in Lithuania is still not that expensive, it is possible to dine for 5-10 EUR. See more in “Restaurants in Lithuania“.

      There are many East Asian tourists and visitors in Lithuanian cities and I don’t think there are any negative opinions about them.

      Ethnicity in Lithuania is a relatively popular subject and an important part of personal identity. So, one may encounter questions, jokes and chit-chat about ethnicities, but there is absolutely nothing negative in that, its just another subject like personal habits, weather or sports (in fact, I think the views towards ethnicity are rather similar in China / Hong Kong). Likely because Lithuania did not participate in colonialism it did not develop the Western-style “political correctness” that made small-talk about ethnicities a kind of taboo in some Western societies. See more in the article “Ethnicities in Lithuania“.

      30% of Lithuanians and 80% of young Lithuanians speak English, more in Vilnius. See more in the article “Languages in Lithuania“.

      Also you may read the article on “Society of Lithuania” on Lithuanian cultural norms.

  5. Oh dear,after reading about the American guys experiences in hospital,it’s scared me a little!

    I am due to have an operation over there in Spetember,although private…..Will I be cared for????

    • Everything should be ok.

      As I write in the section “Healthcare in Lithuania“, the private and public medicine standarts differ greatly. While in fact both are often staffed by the same doctors (who are well-trained and professional), some Lithuania’s doctors may work far more seriously and pay more attention to patient when working privately. When working on taxpayer’s payroll these doctors might (ilegally) decide to only provide the same level of attention if they are bribed by the patient. Of course, this does not applies to every Lithuanian doctor, but, unfortunately, it happens (as a legacy of the Soviet system), and from what I understand it happened to the American person who commented above in a Lithuanian public medicine system.

      However, Lithuanian private medicine is generally the same as anywhere in the Western world: you pay an official fee and in return you receive the best attention particular doctors could provide.

    • Don’t listen to that idiot he has not a clue what he’s talking about.

  6. Please note that if you are using official taxi companies it is 99% safe and they always use meters. There are numbers of companies that are using brand new cars and even give you receipts. It is not true that lithuanian cabs definitely will robb you!

  7. Dear Juliette – Yes, be scared, but here’s some advice that will help you avoid the worst of the Lithuanian Public Healthcare system.
    1. Don’t use or enter the Public System – contract with a private clinic and pay them “gifts” upfront before you go under their care. Avoid Klaipeda, and if possible, travel to the Kaunas and Vilnius clinics – they are far superior.
    2. Don’t count on being able to communicate with them in English – the level that a few can speak is so low, that misunderstandings can happen easily – especially with nurses – remember that a nurse is one of the lowest paid professions in Lithuania, and that nurse training institutions don’t emphasize learning foreign languages – when it comes time for a new nurse to graduate, a simple gift to the right teacher will assure that a lack of English is overlooked.
    3. Attitude towards patients – due to the old, soviet mindset, which still exists to some extent, you may ignored if you ask questions or complain – “the customer/patient is always wrong”. Imagine telling a nurse that a bandage or dressing is causing extreme pain, or that a fluid transfusion has been done incorrectly, missed the vein, and that your leg, or foot is swelling up. Don’t be surprised if they yell at you in frustration that a patient should question them.
    4. Arrange for an advocate that can speak fluent Lithuanian and English – someone you can contact quickly if needed – pay them good money, and make sure the staff know you have this person available, and that they can also contact them.
    5. Again, I have to stress communication – you may be told that your care staff “speak English”, but due to the their lack of practice, the actual level and medical vocabulary may be limited – For example, the Klaipeda Seaman’s Hospital has a plaque prominently displayed in its gastrointestinal reception floor on the wall, proudly proclaiming the international language proficiency of its staff – it’s bullshit. Like I said, “all show, no go”.
    6. In most facilities, you are expected to provide ALL supplies – toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water, towels, soap, sometimes even medical supplies, etc. One time I ran out of paper towels, and a nurse refused to change my leaking colostomy bag until my wife ran to the nearest shop, bought some, and came back.
    7. If a nurse or staff member becomes hostile to you, contact your advocate immediately and register a complaint/pazymas – don’t threaten them – do it.
    Lithuanian Hospital staff responsibility for their actions/negligence is rated as one of the lowest factors for all EU Nations. Hospitals are very rarely ever sued for malpractice here, and they are quick to manufacture evidence that they were never responsible – things get hushed up really fast.
    Knowing these things – I would emphasize again to NOT ENTER the LithuatThere may be little or no arrangement for aftercare once you leave – my feet and toes were in horrible shape by the time I left the hospital – again, stupidly, I trusted the advice of Mano Seimos Gydytojas (My local family doctor for our area) who sent me to a public clinic where they didn’t even have the proper medical equipment to deal with the ingrown toenails and damage – the old, Russian nurse who worked on my feet cried and apologized the whole time she painfully used what looked like a pair of metal cutters to chop off parts of my toenails. (Later, I did the work myself at home with a Dremel tool and a set of X-Acto knives).
    Yes – there are plenty of trolls and ignorant people on this forum that will tell you that they had a procedure done well, and they were very happy with the results – But, if you will have a serious, dangerous procedure – Don’t Take Any Chances!
    Why do I call myself DeadManWalking? It’s because my wife was told “Why do you keep visiting and asking us over and over about him? – He’s going to die. This demonstrates Lithuanian diplomacy and empathy in their Public systems – and when I insisted on an aftercare visit to assess the damage caused to by abdomenal wall from them forgetting to take out some sitiches, the surgeon who did the the second operation, as the 1st was a failure, Dr. Razbadauskas’s first words were “What, You are alive!?

    • While what you write here can be true for Lithuanian public medicine, the standarts at private medicine (which Juliette asked about) differs greatly. For example, you are not expected to bring in your supplies in private clinic (official fee covers it all), the job quality is better and the attitudes there are “patient is always right” rather than “patient is always wrong” (more contact, explanations, etc.).

      After all, these private clincs are often doctor-owned and their revenue (and thus doctor’s earnings) directly depends on their service (if it is bad the patients won’t come back nor recommend the clinics, and go to the competitors instead).

      On the other hand, in public clinics the wages are fixed and they have little initiative to try better – the government funds them in any case.

      Regarding seemingly insensitive doctor comments, there are two possibilities: on the one hand, these may come as the same disrespect towards patients stemming from “patient is always wrong” attitude (in public hospitals).

      However, on the other hand, many doctors may just believe some “dark humour” would help make the situation more optimistic. The latter thing is cultural; Lithuania doesn’t have the “political correctness” (like in the US) and in many cases Lithuanians don’t mind or prefer it this way. So if the doctor says something that would not be acceptible in the USA this does not necessary means that the doctor is not taking his job serious enough – there may be a cultural difference as well.

  8. Thank you Augustinas – That is why I told Juliette to stay away from any and all forms of Lithuanian Public healthcare – hospitals, clinics, etc., and that I recommended the private facilities in Kaunas and Vilnius. As far as behaviors, attitudes, culture, etc., – I am not a tourist or a casual visitor – I have lived in Lithuania for over 15 years and own a business here. I am more than aware of the reasons for all these things and why they exist. But – I never knew the extent of the sheer incompetence, inconsiderateness and cruelty that many people could exhibit until I spent many months under the care of publicly-funded institutions here. Political correctness? I have little use for it. Don’t make excuses – America is simply too large and diverse to make any “like in the US; all you Americans” types of assertions. On the contrary, it is far easier to make these types of generalizations for a population as homogeneous as here, and as soon as – if ever – society here ever wakes up to the fact that they are their own worst enemy, then I will continue to advise people to never come here – even as tourists. And yes – I’d leave here in a minute if I could, but I’m very disabled now, and own a home and have a family here. Best wishes to you and your pursuits.

  9. Can you guide me about Siauliai , as I am an Indian and brown skinned , so is it safe city for me ?

    • Avoid Siauliai. Go to Vilnius.

      • While Šiauliai has some negative reputation among Lithuanians, in reality crime statistics in Lithuania are extremely even and there are no „truly unsafe“ cities or districts in the way there are in United States, for example.

        That said, as elsewhere, it is wise to avoid dark empty places at night and some drunk people may be looking for trouble.

  10. BEWARE!!! Alvydas Minkevicius BEWARE!!! Yes, he is a fraud. Took my money, made me wait 18 months and did nothing. He is fraud and scam. There is no immigration, no lawyer, nothing. Only cheating and taking your money.

    He seems legitimate, having webpage, shows himself an immigration lawyer but he is just a cheater, nothing else. Don’t waste your time.

  11. I feel I must balance the negative views on the Lithuanian health care system. We live in Palanga. My wife is Lithuanian, I am not. Last summer I brought her to the emergency ward at Palanga hospital late one evening, because she had severe stomach pain. After examination she was sent to Klaipeda (public) hospital by ambulance. Gynecological problems were established as well as the need for a big surgery. Me and my wife had long conversations (in English) with the surgeon about possible treatments and numerous x-rays (including CT), ultrasounds and analyses were made.

    My wife had the surgery, everything healed without complications, the doctor and the nurses were fantastic in their care for every detail. My wife stayed in the hospital one week after the surgery, to check that everything was ok and start the post-surgery gymnastics. Then she was transferred to a “sanatorium” for 15 days of care. Daily wound care, doctor’s examinations, gymnastics, treatments.

    Cost? Zero. Includibg the original hospital visit, ambulance, surgery, hospitalisation, sanatorium, food, treatments, medicine. And no, we don’t have any private insurance. Just the compulsory, state medical insurance. And no, we didn’t give money or expensive alcohol to anyone. But we did give the nurses some chocolate on leaving the hospital as thank you for their extraordinary care.

    Because she was Lithuanian, you might say. Well, I spent 10 days in the state “Republic Hospital” in Klaipeda. Was very well treated. The doctors spoke English, but few of the nurses. One spoke German.

    Nothing negative? Both hospitals had ultra modern medical equipment, but the buildings were a bit run down (are now being renovated). The showers and toilets were not up to western standards. Yes, you were expected to bring your own toilet paper. Food was acceptable in quality, but no more. All necessary medication was provided free of charge, but both me and my wife were recommended to use some additional cremes and the like, which we, if we agreed, were expected to provide and pay for at the hospital pharmacy. The cost was in the region of 20€. Also, my wife was recommended to wear a special supporting corsette for a few weeks. The 40€ for that we had to pay ourselves.

    In short, we are very pleased and would compare the medical standards (if not the “hotel standard”) to those of Germany (where we lived for five years) – a country that has the best public medical care in Europe, if you ask me.

  12. When my filipina girlfriend in Dubai and I toured Europe she specifically loved Lithuania as it was very quiet and found it relaxing. A huge difference from the hustle and bustle hot Dubai city life that we have. The taxis we rode were luckily honest and did not rip us off. We plan to go back to Lithuania again soon after a positive experience

  13. Hi everyone,
    Is Šnipiškės safe? I booked an apt with airBnB around Kareiviyi & Kalvarijy street… As I understand, I will have to take the bus every day to go/come back to the center (20 min).
    Any advice are welcome
    Thx

    • Šnipiškės is in Vilnius ;o) forgot to mention..

      • There are no “unsafe districts” or “unsafe areas” in Lithuania in the American sense (i.e. ghettos). So while somebody may tell you that Šnipiškės is unsafe, in reality, the safety in Vilnius districts is nearly uniform. In fact, it is the most prestigious area (the downtown) that is somewhat less safe due to the high number of bars and, therefore, drunk people.

  14. I wish to move to Lithuania with my family. I think Europe is much safer than USA. for Asians i am not sure which country is safer nowadays. As i am an Asian & a Muslim fella and i have lived in Britain for some years and took all the racist abuse they could give. But i generally think that avoiding illiterate group of people generally saves from a lot of trouble. Especially from getting beaten up in streets. . Because sensible people will not get into physical fights. I wish to know how Lithuanian people react to Muslim folks on a handshake level ?

    I hope positivety will prosper.

    • Historically, Lithuania has the Europe’s northernmost pre-modern Muslim community, dating the 14th century and often helping to defend Lithuania (see http://www.truelithuania.com/sunni-islam-in-lithuania-108 ).

      However, much of that was destroyed by the atheist Soviet occupation. Vilnius mosque was destroyed by the Soviets. Soviets had outlawed Hajj and, more or less, they have banned the Quran itself. Unable to profess their faith or, many Lithuania’s Muslims became irreligious and Lithuanians no longer had a connection to Muslims.

      After Lithuania became independent the religion was allowed again and searching for pre-Soviet faith became popular. Lithuanians of the 1990s were extremely tolerant people to various faiths and opinions.

      Recently, however, as Lithuania has joined the European Union, negative opinions on the Muslims have been imported from the Western Europe through the Western media directly or through the experiences of the Lithuanian emigrants to the West. Namely, there is a belief held by some in Lithuania that Muslims are necessarily radical or hateful. Additionally, there are numerous Lithuanian radical atheists (their beliefs dating to the Soviet era though often re-aligned their allegiances to the Western far left atheism) who may consider all the religious people to be “stupid” (see http://www.truelithuania.com/irreligiousness-atheism-in-lithuania-2733 ) – and they see Muslims as among the most “irredeemably religious”. ~30% of Lithuania’s population now claim they wouldn’t want Muslims as neighbors.

      I don’t think, however, in Lithuania such sentiment is related to education. Some of those “radical atheists” are also among the more educated people.

      All that said, there is still much of that 1990s atmosphere of religious tolerance in Lithuania where people see various religions with interest rather than fear. There are no regulations on Muslim clothing or prayer so far as there are in France, for example, and, in fact, Sunni Islam is even allowed to get state support as one of the Lithuania’s traditional religions. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if that would change with further Western opinions and practices imported, as Lithuania is Westernizing rather quickly in many spheres.

      I have no experience with Britain, I don’t know how likely it is to “get beaten in streets” for being a Muslim there, in order to compare it with Lithuania. In Lithuania, many of the people I mentioned above may insult a religious person for his/her beliefs (or insult God) but most definitely wouldn’t start a fight.

      In conclusion, after all, it may be so that it is always the best to live at a location where one’s culture prevails. There, you can enjoy being yourself, celebrating your culture the best. If the people of your group are in the majority, it is very unlikely that it would ever face discrimination (unless there would be foreign occupation) – whereas everywhere else the situation may change. Therefore, perhaps, if your goal is to feel the most welcome, it would be the best to check Asian Muslim countries for migration. Some of them have been improving greatly economically and with your experience in the West, you could get a good job.

    • Im Lithuanian, atheist born in free lithuania. there are many things and situations that may make you feel uncomfortable. In handshake level you will be just fine, even if person is concervative in negative way (everyone must be hetero and lookno different from others blah blah) lithuanians keeps themself for themself, especially older generations …who are more concervative. So may find old lady staring at you in a buss stop, but not meaning anything bad.
      For your own safety avoid super nationalist drunk groups of people. Hard to spot ahead, so in general, avoid drunk people especially if they outnumber you.
      If practicing your religion – look up ahead where you can find a pray place (mosque or pray group).
      Diet. Woah. Good luck. Lithuanian diet is pork and potatoe based. Situation is getting better especially in countryside.if eating out – even if meal doeant seem to contain pork or even meat all together – double check with kitchen. You may find pork grissles in least expected places.

  15. I read some negative things about their post office when shipping internationally from America. Just shipped a few packages opting for the “prepaid” all customs and taxes paid for $200 usd more using DHL and sure as shooting my package is delayed in customs, very frustrated. My friend in lithuania said that customs there are in his bad english “very negative and difficult”.

  16. to avoid customs are there local websites to shop from, perhaps a amazon equivalent for electronics etc in Lithuania. Thks in advance

    • There are, e.g. varle.lt . However, the prices may be higher than in the USA, as the sales taxes (VAT) are generally higher in Lithuania. However, such taxes are applied on the US imports as well, although if the import is very cheap, then taxes may be not applied.


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