You and your friends have planned a trip to Santa Monica, a town about 40 minutes outside of downtown Los Angeles.Read More →
Traffic in LA is NO JOKE! If you plan on getting anywhere by a car, then give yourself an extra 45-60 minutes.
Los Angeles runs on Pacific Standard Time (PST). LA is 3 hours behind New York and 2 hours behind Chicago. As well as, 8 hours behind London, and 15 hours behind Hong Kong. Without calculating for daylight savings.
The United States offers a Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) that allows visitors from certain countries to stay for up to 90-days. Click here to apply for the ESTA Visa. The process takes 10 minutes and is a good option for those that seek to work or study in the U.S.
For tourism all countries are allowed entry into the United States except for the following:
- North Korea
For visits that are less than 90-days, there are options for leisure and work.
The B-1 Business Visa is specifically for coming to the States for meetings and/or conferences that are not for immediate employment in the U.S for a U.S company.
The B-S Tourism Visa is for leisure tourism for a stay of less than 90-days.
The DS-160 form must be completed to apply for these visas, and an interview with the U.S Embassy or consulate must be done. After the documents are submitted, and the interview is reviewed, the embassy or consulate will notify the submitter of whether or not their visa was accepted.
With a dream and a cardigan, hopping off the plane at LAX is a surreal experience as many celebs travel in and out of this airport. Being one of the most crowded airports in the world, you may want to come up with a game plan for what to do once you land. LAX offers Wi-Fi to travelers as well as charging stations throughout the airport. In addition, there is a shuttle service between terminals and a designated area for Taxi and Ride share pickups. ICE Currency Exchange booths are located throughout the airport. You can find more information on financial services here.
Los Angeles is a safe city for solo traveling but it doesn’t hurt to take caution. Since driving is one of the best ways to travel around, it is important to familiarize yourself with the area so that you know exactly where you’re headed.
You could supply yourself with pepper spray as a precaution as it is legal in California. Know that cat calling is not uncommon but it does not pose a threat a majority of the time.
Like any city, being careful with your money and aware of your surroundings is always advised. Skid Row and South Central are two areas that are not advisable for tourists to travel to.
LA is known to have gorgeous weather year round averaging in at about 263 sunny days per year. The average temperatures during the wintertime (Dec-March) get as high as 59 Fahrenheit, and the average summer (Jun-Sept) averages at a high of 86 Fahrenheit.
Springtime (March-May) is an optimal time to visit the city as the temperature often ranges from 61-68 Fahrenheit.
English is the most popular language spoken in LA, but almost 50% of Los Angles County natives speak a language other than English. As one of the largest and most diverse counties in the United States, 38% or 3.3 million residents speak Spanish and 11% or 925,000 speak an Asian or Pacific Islander language. In total, there are about 224 different languages spoken in LA which include Korean, Filipino, Armenian, Chinese, and Persian. You should be able to get around this linguistically diverse city even if your English isn’t fluent.
It is very possible you will see a Hollywood star roaming the streets of Los Angeles. Remember, they are people too! Make sure to be respectful of their privacy and needs.
I-5 and I-405 are the two main freeways in LA and more often than not are they filled with traffic. Make sure to leave yourself a 35-45 minute cushion time to account for this possibility.
The United States currency is the US Dollar ($ USD), nothing else is accepted in Los Angles restaurants. Luckily, currency conversion is available in multiple locations within the city. From banks to private currency exchange businesses, it will not be difficult for you to find somewhere to convert to USD.
Tipping is important in LA. The United States has the practice of tipping engrained in almost everywhere you go. A good rule of thumb is to to leave a tip between 15 and 20% when dining in. While gratuity isn’t obligatory, it is highly common for customers to leave a tip and is a sign of respect for the hard workers.
It is also customary to tip your tour guide 15- 20% and 10% for your ride-share drivers.
LA’s standard voltage is 120 volts, with a two or three-pronged plug. For those traveling internationally, you should be prepared to bring an adapter.
The plugs look like this:
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power rules LA tap water to be safe to drink for the most part. Most of its water comes from the Sierra Nevada and the Colorado river as California has difficulty supplying its own for the masses. Depending on where you are staying it is recommended you check exactly where the water supply is coming from. To be on the safe side, you can bring a water filter which will do the trick! You can also just stick to bottled water if you prefer.
Finding free Wi-Fi is fairly easy in LA, especially in public areas. Parks, Hotels, and Downtown LA all offer free wifi spots. Pershing Square, Griffith Observatory, Echo Park Lake, Reseda Park, Venice Beach and various Museums are a few tourist locations that provide these spots. Just understand that high speed Wi-Fi could be an issue as many utilize these services.
The Los Angles Public Library and a number of cafes offer free Wi-Fi to patrons so that may be a better option if you are in the city for work. You can also bring your own personal hotspot if you’d prefer to ensure your connection isn’t interrupted while on the go.
Depending the area of the city you’re in, public transportation may or may not be tourist friendly. Renting a car and rideshare apps, such as Uber and Lyft are quite common to use. If you’re feeling the desire to blend in like city natives, the public transit system consists of metro buses, dash buses and metro rail trains. Though depending on how far you need to travel, you may have a few connections.
Los Angles is a great scene for gay travelers as 40% of the West Hollywood, WEHO, population identifies with the LGBTQ community. A majority of residents and tourists are a makeup of open minded people and the gay nightlife scene is unmatched. Sunset Boulevard, WEHO, and Silver Lake contain a majority of gay clubs, drag shows and so much more. In recent years, Downtown LA has begun to open more gay friendly establishments as well. GayLA4U offers a full guide of the best locations to travel if you are part of the LGBTQ community or an ally!
Sustainability is important in LA culture and you can find eco-tourism in thrift stores, farm to table restaurants and of course hotels.
Hybrid Car Rental
One way to reduce your carbon footprint in the city of LA is by renting a hybrid car. Driving is a common mode of transportation in the city and will give you the freedom to explore at your own pace.