I travelled the country for couple of weeks as an independent female Pinoy (early days with a friend) and relying on the mercy of public and private vehicles.
Arrival from airport we took the yellow bus (arriving at 8am) instead of taxi. Fare was 0.50 tetri and will culminate to central station. From station took the metro to Didube and head out to Kazbegi (Stepantmida). Didube station at first sight was chaotic to the eyes and all vehicle signage on local language but you will know which to take because people will shout the name of the places i.e Kazbegi. We managed to find a good deal. Skeptical at first but we gave in to the haggling and turned out it was a good choice. The transpo was a private Honda and the fare was 10 GEL each (the same as marshrutkas). Along the way we asked the driver to stop at some interesting places to take photos (can’t do this with marshrutkas). The trip lasted for about 3 hours. Never bothered to reserve a room in Kazbegi but instead walked around the center and looked for houses if there were sign that it’s accepting guest.
Kazbegi’s a small town. We only stayed for 2 nights and three days. Did some hiking in Juta village (need to hire private vehicle and better to find other traveller to split the expense). Road to Juta was bumpy with a very long way down to the bottom of the river. The highlight of Kazbegi was the walked up to the Tsaminda Sameba. We were lost and made our own trail and ended up on the side of the mountain where a ruined stoned structure stood. From Kazbegi went back to Tbilisi and this time using the marshrutka.
Tbilisi to Telavi via Ortachala station and ridden the yellow marshrutka #133 (0.80 tetri) from Freedom Square. The vehicle left at 9 am and fare was 7 GEL. Travel time 3 hours. One can explore Telavi and surrounding sites in a day or do it on slow pace. Taxi (note that taxis do not have any meter on them and both must agree on a price before the traveller hopped inside) was 45 GEL and driver brought us to and waited – Nekresi Monastery, Gremi, Tsinandali, Alaverdi and Ikalto.
From Telavi to Signaghi marshrutkas departure was in the afternoon so best bet to hire a taxi. Going rate between the 2 areas was 40 GEL but we did have it for 35 and shared the expense with another traveller. Trip was 2 hours. Signaghi was a quaint little town and can explore it by mere walking. Going to Signaghi won’t be completed unless traveled to Davit Gareji (an hour and a quarter to two hr drive). We had the taxi for 80 GEL. Signaghi to Tbilisi fare was 6 GEL and ending in Samgori station.
Tbilisi to Gori (an hour and half travel to two) and 3 GEL for the fare. Stalin museum, Gori fortress among others can be seen. Half day was alright (at least for me).
Tbilisi to Svaneti (Mestia) - to lessen the accommodation cost I traveled by night to Zugdidi. For a bed then must buy ticket ahead but like me who travelled on a whim then only a seat will be available for 14 lari. Departure was 2100 and arrival in Zugdidi at 6 am nest day. On the train station men will approach you and will ask Mestia. Fare was 20 lari for 5 hours. Breathe taking scenery with greens and snow cap mountain and rivers and falls. Easy to find an accommodation in Mestia and sometimes driver will hand you homestay info. Basic homestay was 20 lari all around Georgia and all depends on your bargaining skill and I have mine for 15 GEL. It was raining continuously in Mestia when I get there so instead of 5 days as planned I shortened it in two then head to Ajara region.
Mestia to Batumi via Zugdidi. Total travel time around 7 to 8 hours. Total was fare 35 GEL. I never travelled on the areas around Batumi. The sea was alright with me and stayed and walked around the Bulvari park and the shore. No white sand rather rocky shores. The fact its sea and its sunny was fine with me and a little rest in Batumi.
Tbilisi transport was pretty easy. The metro was really efficient and friendly to use. The station was announced in English as well so no worries being not able to drop off to destination. A walked around the city even at night with friends up to the hill – Nariqala Fortress or to radio tower was quite safe. Museum hopping and bath house were some of the things to do in the capital aside from the food to try as well.
To sum it all, Georgia was a wonderful country and friendly even for solitary female traveller. Hey I even drank beer in the middle of the day at the bottom of a statue of some General from WWII.