There is a single line of some 40 km (25 mi) operated by the state railway connecting Caracas and Cúa via Charallave as of 2017.
The bus system is extensive and extremely affordable (in part due to the low price of fuel). Bus terminals are hectic, but it is usually easy to find a bus to any major city leaving within a short amount of time. Short bus rides (2 hours) may cost USthey are usually overly air-conditioned-7, and even extremely long bus rides (9 hours) will only cost US$10-35. The larger buses are typically air-conditioned. In fact, they are usually overly air-conditioned, so it is worth bringing a blanket with you. Buses are an easy and convenient way to get around the country. However, proper security awareness should be exercised as robberies occasionally take place on buses in cities and on highways. It is best to choose bus lines that use a metal detector and bag check to insure no passengers are carrying weapons of any kind.
If you decide to travel by bus a good option is Aeroexpresos Ejecutivo . They have their own terminal in a residential zone of Caracas (Chacao, Bello Campo), and baggage is checked on the buses (as in an airport). The buses are clean, safe and well-maintained, plus the drivers are trained to respect the speed limit (there are many accidents on regular buses on Venezuelan highways, most of them caused by speeding on poorly maintained roads). They are more expensive than a regular bus, but still cheap by American or European standards. You may pay with credit card and buy tickets in advance by phone. Aeroexpresos offers slightly more expensive options for many long routes that include semi-cama seating, chairs that recline extra, and allow for more comfortable sleeping on overnight trips.
For smaller towns, there may not be regular buses. In such cases, one can use cars-for-hire, called “por puestos.” These are typically old and run-down vehicles, but they are affordable. They are more expensive than buses, typically costing UStypically costing US$5-9 per person for a one- or two-hour ride. The main problem is that they typically wait to have a full car (4 or 5 passengers) before undertaking a route. The driver will usually try to convince you to pay for the extra passengers if you want to leave right away. The cars are popular-9 per person for a one- or two-hour ride. The main problem is that they typically wait to have a full car (4 or 5 passengers) before undertaking a route. The driver will usually try to convince you to pay for the extra passengers if you want to leave right away. The cars are popular, however, and one does not usually wait long for a car to fill up. Por puestos are identifiable by signage bearing the name of the streets or destinations they typically drive along or stop at. Avoid traveling alone in a por puesto and avoid ‘pirates’, unofficial taxis that may intend to rob foreigners.
A large road network (which comprises approx. 82,000 km) and historically low fuel costs make Venezuela an attractive country for exploring with your own car.
Many roads are in good condition but there are also gravel and dirt roads for which an off-road vehicle is recommended – especially during the rainy season from May to October. This is why it is important to travel with a good road map (e.g. Venezuela Laminated Map by Berndtson & Berndtson) and to be well informed about distances, road conditions and the estimated travel time. On the web, the site of cochera andina publishes information on nearly 120 routes in the country.
You can rent a car, usually for US$20-50 a day, plus insurance and legal liability. This may make you think twice about renting a car, especially when considering the fact that renting a car with a driver usually costs the same.
Fuel is artificially inexpensive; there are many filling stations in the main areas. For outlying areas, you should fill the tank before you leave or take a reserve canister with you. In the mountains, fuel consumption often increases to over 15 L/100 km.
An international driver’s license is needed to drive in Venezuela. Police will often ask for the license as well as for the frame or motor number during routine checks. Traffic rules generally comply with the international standard. But do not underestimate the sheer chaos of Venezuela’s traffic. Be attentive when driving in Venezuela.
The often ignored traffic rules state that you must drive on the right unless overtaking and give way to traffic in a roundabout. Although the maximum speed limit is 80 km/h outside the city and 60 km/h within the city (at night 50 km/h) local drivers frequently top 160 km/h (100 mph) on intercity highways. The law obligates car occupants to drive with fastened seat belts – which is regularly ignored. If you are in a traffic jam, always other drivers will try to pass. Be aware also that motorcycles are sometimes transporting up to five people, without helmets. Pay attention at night: streets and cars as well as bicycles often have poor lights or none at all. Even “good” roads may have unexpected and deep potholes. For this reason, and for security issues in general, long-distance intercity car travel is not recommended during dark hours.
Good sign-posting is only found on the main roads. Common and especially important road signs are:
- Curva peligrosa: “Dangerous curve”
- Sucesión de curvas: “Winding road”
- Reduzca velocidad: “Reduce speed”
- Conserve su derecha: “Keep right”
Travel within cities is usually via taxi. Taxis are more expensive than any other form of transport, but still affordable when compared to North American or European equivalents. The taxis do not have meters and will charge more at night. This is normal in Venezuela, however all prices are flexible in the Venezuelan economy, so it is a good idea to negotiate the fare for the ride up front. Tipping is not expected and not necessary. The driver considers the tip as part of the fare he is charging and will factor that into his negotiations.
Local buses exist, and usually connect the terminal to the city centre. Bus routes usually remain a mystery to the uninitiated and you can try to read the signals in the windows (going to-coming from).
Caracas has a clean, modern and cheap metro system, which is being expanded. While armed robberies are almost unheard of in the metro, pickpocketing is rampant. Typically, delinquents will aim to distract the passenger and then another member of the group will remove the wallet, or bag in the opportune moment. Its best to keep bags in front of you and avoid unsolicited contact with strangers.