It is generally safe to travel around on your own, although some petty crime exists. A thing to watch out for is bicycle theft, and it is advisable not to leave valuable things in your car. Mind the forest roads, collisions with wildlife animals can easily occur.
Much like Estonia and Lithuania, roads are congested with traffic and accident rates in Latvia are considerably high. Take care while crossing the road as most drivers can be reckless.
When visiting bars and restaurants in Riga, make sure you know the price before you order and follow your spending, so no cheating is possible. Beware of scammers who strike up conversations out of the blue and invite you to visit their favorite club or bar; this is often a favorite way for the mafia how to rob the foreigners, and the police are unlikely to help if you get scammed. The Police of Latvia (http://www.vp.gov.lv/?sad...) has a website with advice for travelers.
Emergency phone number: Fire/Police/Ambulance 112.
If bitten by a dog, wild animal or a snake, seek medical attention immediately. Snakes are not venomous in Latvia, except for the European Adder which is a possible death threat if no treatment is received within the next few hours after the bite. A dog or cat bite can carry the risk of rabies. Mosquitoes carry no disease and are only an annoyance in the summer months.
Forest ticks can be abundant from May-September, depending on previous year's weather, especially in brushwood/scrub areas, but also occasionally in town parks. Their bite carries the risk of tick-born encephalitis (http://en.wikipedia.org/w...) infected ticks can be quite common, vaccination possible before season and Lyme disease (http://en.wikipedia.org/w...) -- less common; delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to disabilities.
There is no problem turning to any doctor or hospital to seek medical help, just by paying an outside patient fee. However, it can prove difficult to obtain medical assistance in many rural areas, as the service can be slow and unresponsive; therefore, it may be a good idea to bring your own first aid kit. There are virtually no air ambulance helicopters in the country, except for the army, so when exploring sparsely-inhabited, remote areas on your own, it's important to be well-prepared for emergency situations. If you get to a doctor, he/she will probably only speak Latvian and Russian.
Few drugs are available without a prescription; bring your own medicine if you require it.
If you need to seek medical attention of a doctor, be prepared to pay a fee under the table; in Latvia, it is estimated that 1 in 4 doctors take "private donations" to see patients.
Tap water is safe to drink; however, most locals prefer to boil it before drinking. Purchasing bottled water is an alternative.
Latvijas Pasts (http://www.pasts.lv/en/) is also reliable and a fast way to send letters and parcels up to 10kg.
If your GSM phone works in Europe it will also work in Latvia. For extended local communication it is much cheaper to buy a local prepaid SIM card. These cards and separate renewal vouchers can be easily bought in gas stations, kiosks or supermarkets. All brands are more or less equal although if you plan to talk a lot you should check beforehand which rating option to choose because that can easily tripple or halve your costs. Any local customer care center for particular operator will explain you the options. Look for these logos in Airport or in Riga - LMT (http://www.lmt.lv), Tele2 (http://www.tele2.lv), Bite (http://www.bite.lv).
With recent price wars the price of mobile internet has really gone down. You can have mobile internet in your phone starting as low as 0.25 LVL per day (http://www.okarte.lv/eng/...). All prepaid SIM cards come with a manual in English, Russian and Latvian.
Internet spots are available in cafes, libraries and airports. Most hotels will provide free wireless access spots for laptops.
If you can't find free wireless spot, try Lattelecom WLAN. A wifi card is need to connect to Lattelecom WLAN (http://www.wifi.lv/). A WLAN area can be found around any Statoil gas stations. Internet at no charge is also available in most public libraries, some have free wireless access points as well.
To call from a public phone you need a phone card telekarte. It costs 2,3 or 5 LVL. International calls are possible from every public phone.
One should be cautious when mentioning Latvia in the context of the USSR to ethnic Latvians. Latvia became a USSR province after World War II, and praise of the Soviet or Russian regimes is unlikely to be understood or appreciated by Latvians, especially young ones.
It is very common to give up your seat for an elderly passenger on the public transport in Latvia. It is also considered polite to let women board a train or bus first.
There are many waste containers and trash cans on the sidewalks and near most stores. Littering is considered a very bad manner and may be fined.
Also, you do not need to specially greet, smile or offer help to people. Latvian citizens are not so easy-going in relationships. Friendship is seen as a very serious affair that develops in the long term.