The UK is short-hand for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. So understanding the lay of the land is a good starting point when visiting the UK – it’ll certainly help with understanding some of the accents!
The United Kingdom is renowned for many things… The Royal Family, James Bond, Real ales, Buckingham Palace, Welcoming country pubs, Rolling green hills are just a few things that appear in mind.
Tourists gather here in the millions; in particular, it’s the world’s eighth most prominent tourist destination. So you may be traveling over to ‘Old Blighty,’ whether for trade or leisure. We’ve assembled some tips from the Brits to assist you on your route.
Check Visa and Passport
Citizens from various English-speaking countries do not need a visa when going to the UK for tourism purposes and can usually stay visa-free for up to six months. However, please verify your specific visa circumstances before traveling. The UK Government website has a means you can employ to check your visa specifications, depending on your nation of residence. Generally, please hold a valid passport for the complete duration of your stay. In addition, always stay up-to-date with the most current travel regulations before going off on every trip.
Money & Currency
The UK’s currency is the Pound Sterling. As with any trip, it’s good to hold some cash to give for when you arrive. ATMs are abundant in the UK, and as long as you’ve reported to your bank that you’ll be using your card overseas, you shouldn’t have any problems withdrawing cash. Unlike the US, where it is an unspoken rule that tipping 15-20% is demanded in restaurants, tipping is customary but entirely discretionary in the UK. Likewise, tipping in bars is fine, but Brits will often tip taxi or minicab drivers for good service, in which event it’s usually 10-15% of the fare.
If you’re unhappy and want to see a doctor in the UK, firstly don’t bother – the health system is called the NHS (National Health Service), and you should quickly be able to consult a doctor if you need to. Of course, it’s always necessary to have sufficient travel insurance that incorporates medical costs when you travel abroad.
If you’re within London, then public transport is your most reliable friend. Unfortunately, the capital’s busy, historical, and narrow streets are a nightmare for many new drivers to travel – plus, there are also Congestion Charge fees for driving within enough of London, so it’s best shunned. However, London’s network of trains, buses, and Tubes is extensive and can get you all over the sprawling metropolis, even during the wee hours. In addition, a ride on an iconic red double-decker bus is a great way to do a bit of sightseeing – some of the buses have fantastic routes traversing across the whole of London.
While we’re on the carrier, there’s the little thing of Tube etiquette. The London Underground is an ancient institution – it was inaugurated in 1863, making it the world’s oldest underground railway network. With up to five million commuter journeys per day on the Tube, commuters and Londoners usually want to get to where they’re going quickly. As a result, many visitors gain the most of the contactless travel on London’s transport. So if you have a contactless credit or debit card, you can tap in and out of Tube stations and buses with just your card – the correct fare will be taken from your account, and fees will still be capped at daily limits.
There are infinite regional accents in the UK. Television may have you holding that Received Pronunciation (The Queen’s English) is the standard British accent. But that’s not accurate. From Liverpudlian to West Country, Cockney to Geordie, Midlands to Welsh, Northern Irish, Scottish… the list goes on. There aren’t many countries that boast as many accents in such a tiny landmass as the UK!
Most of Britain’s galleries and museums are free to access, which has been in position for well over a decade. And as a guest of the UK, it is something you should get the most of, including the British Museum, Tate Modern and Natural History Museum in London, Coventry Transport Museum, World Museum Liverpool, National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, and that’s just scraping the surface.