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Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

Pickpockets loiter at the Astronomical Clock, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the entrance to the Old Jewish Cemetery, and on central metro lines and trams 9, 22 and 23.

Don’t hand over money or passports to anyone stopping you on the street and claiming to be a plain-clothes police officer – insist on going back to the police station. Avoid the park in front of Prague’s main train station after dark. Most of Prague’s taxi drivers are honest but those operating from tourist areas may overcharge their customers (even Czechs). Phone a reputable taxi company, or look for the red and yellow signs for the city’s ‘Taxi Fair Place’ scheme, indicating authorised taxi stands in key tourist areas.

If your passport, wallet, or other valuables have been lost or stolen, report the loss to the Prague 1 Police Station (Jungmannovo nám 9; Můstek). For thefts, you’ll need to obtain a police report and crime number so you can secure a new passport from your embassy or consulate.

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Beware of men who claim to be plain-clothes police officers investigating counterfeiting or illegal moneychanging. They approach tourists and ask to see their money, which is returned after being examined. When you check your wallet you'll find that a substantial amount of money has been taken. No genuine police officer has the right to inspect your money.

Another ploy involves a 'lost tourist' asking for directions (usually in halting English). Once you have been in conversation for a few minutes, two of the tourist's 'friends' interrupt, claiming to be plain-clothes policemen and accusing you of changing money illegally. They will demand to see your wallet and passport, but if you hand them over they are likely to run off with them.

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While you're there

Medical services

Emergency treatment and nonhospital first aid are free for all visitors to the Czech Republic; in a serious medical emergency (eg suspected heart attack), call 112 (English- and German-speaking operators available).

Citizens of EU countries can obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which replaces the old E111 form in the UK; this entitles you to free state-provided medical treatment in the Czech Republic. Non-EU citizens must pay for treatment, and at least some of the fee must be paid upfront. Everyone has to pay for prescribed medications.

There are plenty of pharmacies (lékárna) in Prague, and most city districts have one that stays open 24 hours. In Nové Město you'll find it at the district clinic (224 946 982; Palackého 5, Nové Město; 7am-7pm Mon-Fri, 8am-noon Sat; metro Národní třída). In Vinohrady go to Lékárna U sv Ludmily (222 513 396; Belgická 37, Vinohrady; 7am-7pm Mon-Fri, 8am-noon Sat; metro Náměstí Míru).

For emergency service after hours, ring the bell - you'll see a red button with a sign zvonek lékárna (pharmacy bell) and/or první pomoc (first aid). Some prescription medicines may not be available, so it's wise to bring enough for your trip.

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American Dental Associates (221 181 121; www.americandental.cz; 2nd floor Atrium, Stará Celnice Bldg, V celnici 4; Nové Město; metro Náměstí Republiky) Entirely English-speaking.

Canadian Medical Care (235 360 133, after hrs 724 300 301; www.cmc.praha.cz; Veleslavínská 1, Veleslavín; 8am-6pm Mon-Fri; tram 20 or 26 from metro Dejvická) A pricey but professional private clinic with English-speaking doctors; an initial consultation will cost from US$50 to US$200.

Na Homolce Hospital (257 271 111; www.homolka.cz; 5th fl, Foreign Pavilion, Roentgenova 2, Motol; bus 167 from metro Anděl) The best hospital in Prague, equipped and staffed to Western standards, with staff who speak English, French, German and Spanish.

Polyclinic at Národní (Poliklinika na Národní; 222 075 120, 24hr emergencies 720 427 634; www.poliklinika.narodni.cz; Národní 9, Nové Město; 8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri; metro Národní třída) A central clinic with staff who speak English, German, French and Russian. Expect to pay around 800Kč to 1200Kč for an initial consultation.

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