New York is the city that never sleeps. With 52 million visitors in 2012 we give you some tips for getting around the city, staying safe and what to see and do.
Tipping in New York City tends to run higher than the national average. 15-20% is standard with 20% being more like the norm. Suggest you tip taxis: 10-15%; Hotel Housekeeping: $2 or $3 for each night of your stay. Best to leave something each day rather than wait to the end of your stay to ensure you get good service. Doorman: $1 to get you a taxi. Bellman: $1-$2 per bag. Airport Skycaps/Porters: $2-$3 per bag (these guys can make $75,000 a year just on tips!) Restaurants: as the combined sales tax is 8.875% you can simply double the tax as this will give a generous tip of almost 18%.
Airport Taxis and getting in to Manhattan
You have several choices: Yellow Cabs, buses, airport shuttles, sedan cars, unlicensed cabs and the Subway. The easiest is a Yellow Cab. Find the taxi stand outside your terminal and figure on spending around $50-$55 with toll and tip. There is a fixed rate of $52 plus tolls and tip from JFK into Manhattan. La Guardia will cost you around $35 and Newark does not have a fixed rate and can cost more, depending on traffic, although it is closer to the city. They also have an Airtrain which costs just $5.50 one-way. Buses are about $15.00 and may make a few stops, but they will take you to a central location at Park & 42nd St. across from Grand Central Station and the Hyatt Hotel where it is easy to get a taxi. Off duty limo and sedan car drivers often cruise the terminals and offer rates that you negotiate before getting in to the car. Most hotels and private livery services will arrange a sedan car which can be about $20-$30 more than a yellow cab. Thrifty Europeans have told us that they take the subway from JFK. The airport monorail (Airtrain) runs to Jamaica Rail Station (Long Island Railroad), where there an express connection in to Penn Station (34th St) in Manhattan. New York City subway connections are also available from Penn Station, where Amtrak operate their Acela Express services to Philadelphia, Boston and Washington DC.
Riding the Subway and Keeping Safe
The Subway system is comprehensive but you do need to have an idea of where you are heading (please see Subway map) as it is easy to get on a Downtown train, when you wanted to go Uptown or vice versa (the entrances are on either side of the street and clearly signed). We would suggest you buy a MetroCard (available at Subway station booths, MetroCard vending machines, neighbourhood merchants), which are valid for a year, so you can keep any unused credit for your next trip. But even if your card expires, simply ask the ticket office to transfer the balance on to a new card.
The New York Subway is pretty safe these days, it's clean and air-conditioned with new cars. It is a very quick and efficient way to get around the city. There may still be some safety issues late at night and try to avoid rush hour crowds.
The city is much safer now, but like any city, it is best to stay in populated and lighted areas. Women travelling alone are safe if they adhere to this practice.
New York is a walking city. Most New Yorkers tend to walk everywhere. It is not a big city geographically and around midtown, walking can actually be easier, cheaper and the fastest way to get around unless the weather is too hot, cold or wet! It is also the only way to get to know the city as every street represents a different neighbourhood which you feel the experience when walking.
It is also an island, so a ferry ride or Circle Line cruise is a great experience. It has the best Chinatown area of any city outside of China. Go to Soho for shopping, eating and celebrity watching. Midtown can be pretty sterile and boring for some people but it's worth visiting Times Square, The Rockerfeller Center, Broadway and of course 5th Avenue.
Visitors who want to take in the sights may prefer to buy a New York Pass which gives you access to over 60 attractions in the city including the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, a number of museums and so forth.
Cycling in Manhattan
New York is transforming itself from a city full of four-wheeled vehicles into a city trying to get those on two-wheels to use bikes more. Over 200 miles (320 kilometers) of bike lanes have been built and the goal is to increase this to 1,800 miles of bike lanes by 2030! As a result there has been an increase of 80 percent in the number of cyclists taking to the streets. Visitors will find plenty of places to rent bikes from, especially around Central Park.
Running in Central Park & City Running Tours
Central Park is often said to be the lungs of Manhattan and is a great place to go running. If you like running but are not sure where to go, why not join like-minded runners and do a tour of the city or if you want more serious one-to-one training sign up at City Running Tours, a great way to train or explore New York City with your own professional guide.
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