PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Serbia is the Republic of Serbia Dinar / the RSD (I will refer to them as S$s). At the time of writing, US$1 = S$105.
We have just spent 4 nights in Sofia, Bulgaria …
… and 3 nights in Nis, southern Serbia.
Back in Bulgaria, we made an off-season, summertime visit to Borovets which is a famous ski resort.
It was now time to compare Borovets to the famous ski resort of Zlatibor in Serbia. Again, we were going in the off-season / summer …
I pre-purchased my ticket to Zlatibor to ensure that I got a seat. They take your ID / Passport details. The main bus company out of Nis is Nis Ekspres. Their bus to Zlatibor leaves at 10:30am. The bus is schedule to arrive in Zlatibor at 4pm. The price was S$1,540 (about US$15).
You have to pay S$60 for each piece of stowed luggage. Each item is ticketed for security. Normally, I would take my backpack on board with me and have it at my feet (because there is only enough room on the overhead shelf for small items).
However, this was not Latin America nor S.E.Asia and I felt that my luggage was safe. So, with such a long trip, I made a rare exception and stowed both my backpack and my suitcase. I padlocked up the main compartment of the backpack (that contained my laptop) just in case …
The bus stops several times on its way to Zlatibor including: Aleksinac, Pojate, Krusevac, Vrnjacka Banja, Kraljevo, Cacak, and Uzice. We had rain on the way and some roadworks. We arrived in Zlatibor 1.5 hours late.
I alighted and went to collect my bags … my backpack (with my Laptop computer) was missing …
RETRIEVING MY MISSING BACKPACK:
The bus driver realised his mistake immediately. He had given my backpack to a girl that got off in Uzice. He had not checked the ticket numbers properly. Her bag was still on the bus. Our backpacks looked totally different … why should had taken the wrong one I do not know. I suspected foul play. The driver took my contact details, called head office, and asked me to return at 7am the next morning.
I returned to the bus station at 7am the next day. The same bus and driver were making the return trip to Nis. He did not have my backpack. He asked me to check with the Zlatibor Bus Station ticket office regularly to see if they had any news.
That afternoon, at 4pm, the ticket office gave me a note with the girl’s name and phone number. Because she had to buy her bus ticket with an ID, they had been able to find out who she was and track her down. She was 50kms north in Bajina Basta. I was expected to contact her and sort it out from there.
I went to the police instead. They contacted her directly and organised for her to send it to Zlatibor by bus the next day. I was given the time that my backpack was to arrive in Zlatibor: 1pm.
I was there waiting at 1pm. So was a policeman. My backpack was on the bus.
I got the backpack home. Someone had tried to force the padlock. They had failed. The padlock had done its job. Everything was there … including my laptop.
Nis Ekspres could have been more helpful … having to solve the problem in Serbian didn’t help. But, involving the police brought the problem to a swift conclusion.
It is bounded on the north by Mount Tara, to the east by the Veliki Rzav River, to the south by the Uvac River and to the west by Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Among the most popular places in Serbia for tourism, Zlatibor’s main attractions include health tourism, skiing, and hiking. The town of Zlatibor has grown over the years from a group of vacation homes to an urban community with diverse amenities. Tourist facilities include modern hotels, holiday centres and cottages, sports grounds and skiing tracks.
The ‘Tourist Era’ officially began on the 20th August 1893, when the King of Serbia decided to establish a health resort here.
The very centre of town has the ‘action’ including the nightlife.
I preferred the beauty of the holiday homes in the back streets … with only a short walk into town as and when I felt like it.
This is what GRANDPAckers can expect to find within 1km of the Town Centre at short notice in early August:
PLEASE NOTE: HOTELS usually display prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES. But many search sites (like HOTELS) don’t provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter, so be careful with some of the cheap hotels and make sure that you read the room details. HOTELS does not do well in the Serbian marketplace.
AIRBnB / HOLIDAY RENTALS:
PLEASE NOTE: Other sites (such as Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO are also worth a look).
GRANDPAckers can find accommodation in the City Centre within our price range. BOOKING.COM offers a wider range and better value for money than Hotels and AirBnB.
I used BOOKING.COM to book a Double Room (single occupancy) at an Homestay. I wanted to get out of apartments and back into an hostel / homestay where I could meet people. This Homestay had excellent reviews. I paid S$1,295 / US$12 per night for 3 nights. Once there, I extended to 4 nights. The Homestay did not have a name … just an address: ’24 Rujanska’. Booking.com and Google Maps had the Homestay located in the wrong place. It was hard to find. It is, actually, located opposite the Kristal Restaurant.
The 3 rooms on this floor shared a kitchen …
The bathroom had a bath with a handheld shower rose.
Nice location. Nice street. Nice garden. Nice family. Nice room. Nice facilities. Excellent Value For Money. This Homestay deserves its high review scores.
It had only 3 negatives:
- The wifi was poor and unreliable … I definitely needed my own SIMcard;
- I would have preferred a wall-mounted shower rose (I find handheld ones fiddly);
- The shower went hot and cold if someone else was using water.
WHERE TO STAY:
For the best experience, I suggest that you stay a few 100 metres out from the town centre. You get the best of both worlds.
Have a look yourself:
EAT & DRINK:
There are several supermarkets around town. This makes an ‘Aparthotel / Apartment option’ viable.
JELA ZA PONETI:
To translate for you … the food on the menu is the bottom 3 lines. We had the traditional ‘Komplet Lempinja’ Breakfast for S$230 which was fresh toasted bread filled with some sort of milk cream that tasted like cheese.
At the top of the menu, you find a shot of Raki for S$70, a 500ml beer for S$140, and a litre of wine for S$600. We had our Breakfast with a Raki 🙂
Breakfast is not normally included in Serbia. Expect to pay an average of S$450 each for a cheap local Breakfast with tea / coffee.
Expect to pay an average of S$450 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.
Expect to pay an average of S$750 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / 500ml Beer.
Obviously, if you had your own Aparthotel with a kitchen, you could bring in groceries and eat for half of this price … but, for comparative purposes, this is not GRANDPAcking Standard.
The Bus Station services many local and long distance routes … including routes to neighbouring countries.
There are banks and ATMs in town.
INTERNET / WIFI:
Don’t trust your hotel to provide good wifi in our GRANDPAcking price range.
There are 3 main providers in Serbia: MTS, Telenor, and VIP. I chose the 2nd biggest: Telenor.
MTS and VIP offer 1 week tourist voice and data prepaid packages (with free SIMcard) for about S$300.
I need data: I don’t use voice nor SMS. Telenor offer a 15 day prepaid data only package including SIMcard with 10GB for S$545 (about US$5). This was perfect for me and my 2 week stay in Serbia.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
WHEN TO GO
Situated at an elevation of just over 1,000 metres, Zlatibor is a climatic resort, characterised by a cool alpine climate, clean air, long periods of sunshine during the summer and a heavy snow cover in winter.
WHAT TO DO:
WALK TO SPOMENIK:
When I get to Romania, Armenia, and Georgia I hope to see a lot more of these beautiful interiors.
Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.
My costs are broken down into:
- Cost of Existence: The basic costs of just being there
- Cost of Living: The additional costs that make being there fun
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):
I DID NOT EXIST within GRANDPAcking standard: I shared a bathroom … but, to be honest, it didn’t feel like a shared bathroom.
My accommodation was S$1,200 / US$12 per night.
I already had my working and topped up Telenor SIMcard.
I averaged S$880 each day on Food and Water.
My COE worked out to be about S$1,664 (US$16) per day.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
I LIVED to GRANDPAcking standard.
Living Costs: I averaged about S$125 / US$1.25 per night on drinks.
Entertainment: I spent S$1,920 on my day trip to Mokra Gora.
Other: I bought chocolates for the ladies at the Bus Station for helping me retrieve my backpack.
In / Out Costs: My public transport costs were S$1,660.
My total COL was about S$2,548 (US$24) / day. This was only 46% of my budget.
COSTS FOR 2 GRANDPAckers:
Again, costs are broken down into Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL).
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):
Accommodation: I have booked you something at a long term rate of US$21 / night.
Transportation: I have budgeted a return bus trip on a local bus each week to somewhere within a 1 hour drive.
Communications & Fees: I have budgeted two 15 day Telenor 10GB SIMcards.
Food & Water: Your budget averages about S$3,350 (US$33) / day for 2 people. This is to eat all of your meals in Cheap Restaurants.
Your COE is about S$5,558 (US$53) / day. This is 1% OVER budget.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
This leaves you nothing to LIVE on.
If you are looking for a quiet, mountain retreat with great scenery and pleasant walking trails, you should consider Zlatibor.
Your problem is that Zlatibor is so popular … prices are ‘hyped’ accordingly … with the main problem the cost of dining out.
MY SUGGESTION: Come in July / August. Book an Aparthotel / Apartment at a monthly rate. Find somewhere in one of the beautiful back streets. Bring in groceries and eat most of your meals at home. Enjoy.
Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? MAYBE.