Russia Travel - Learn about Russia's culture, history,travel,holidays, music and people!
Are you ready to go to Russia?
Russia has so much to offer for you to see! With its more than 1,200 year-old history it has plenty of sightseeing places. Russia is full of contrasts : it has cold winters and hot summer, mountains and flat lands seas and the biggest lake in the world Baikal. Russia streches over 11 time zones. The most Western part is Kaliningrad and the most Eastern is Vladivostok.
Preparation for the trip
Before going to Russia, check the local news coverage and other useful information about the cities that you want to visit. Remember to always follow these tips:
- leave important info like the number of your passport or other documents with a friend or relative;
- carry your ID and the name of a contact person in case of some emergency;
- keep copies of your passport, visa, tickets and your traveler's checks on you separately from the originals preferably at somebody's home;
- you might want to leave credit cards that you are not planning to use anyway and expensive jewelry at home;
- basically keep an eye on your valuables.
Remember, if you lose your passport you might spoil the whole trip because that would take plenty of time and efforts to get it back. Don't forget to make a note of all important info and contacts you might need while traveling (info about for embassies and consulates). It might speed things up if you keep photocopies of important documents in case they get stolen or lost.
Getting a Russian Visa
It is important to state the exact purpose of your trip be that tourism, business, diplomatic relationships and others.There're different visas for each case. It's important not to stay over the limit stated in your visa. And there could be other limitations like sticking to the purpose of your visit so as not getting involved in religious work while traveling on a business visa.
Receiving an invitation normally takes around a month. So plan everything in advance. One of the most important aspects is to get an invitation from an organization that is registered and recognized by the Russian government. If the registration is not up-to-date it could cause problems for the travelers like having to deal with a lot of bureaucracy. It's a good idea to be open about your purpose of visit.
Customs Clearance and Duty Free Zones
Some tips for buying things at duty-free zones Prohibited imports: military weapons and ammunition, narcotics, pornography, loose pearls, fruit and vegetables, live animals.Well basically stuff you are not supposed to bring in any country.
Prohibited exports: same as imports, as well as annulled securities, state loan certificates, lottery tickets, minerals, works of art and antiques (unless you have a permission from the Russian Ministry of Culture)
Seasons in Russia are fairly unpredictable. Sudden changes of weather and temperature are common. But of course summers are noirmally hot and winters are cold. Winters are usually cold and windy. It normally starts snowing in late November. Normally it doesn't get below -20 if you're in european part of Russia.
Choose you clothes according to season of the year. Check out weather forecasts before going. In spring it might be chilly at times, in April and May it gets warmer. A sweater or a jacket is good for this time of year.
Summers are hot and dry, but may be rainy. Remember to take an umbrella. If you plan to do a lot of walking, think about comfortable shoes. At different times of the year, you might need warm boots, waterproof boots, winter shoes and comfortable summer shoes.
It's a good idea to take any pills you may need. Check with your health provider before you depart to make sure you're covered in the event of emergency. Many insurance providers offer special riders that cover emergency evacuation if needed.
Remember the outlets are 220 volts If you have an electric device for 110V, use voltage converter.
If you haven't learned to speak Russian yet and find yourself in a difficult situation, you may ask hotel receptionists, guides, translators or any English-speaking people to help you get around and find your way back to hotel or railroad station.
In big cities of Russia you may buy a map or travel-guide in English with sightseeing places on them. Russian transcription is often found in most subways. If you get lost, you may turn to any policeman or passer-by. More and more people speak English in Russia with each year. The biggest tip is to lear lesson from this website and fell like a Russian in Russia!
Some expressions that you must know:
Hello (formal) - Здравствуйте! (zdravstvuyte)
Good morning - Доброе утро! (dobroe utro)
Good afternoon - Добрый день! (dobriy den')
Good evening - Добрый вечер! (do-b-riy ve-ch-er)
Good night - Доброй ночи! (dobroy nochi)
Good-bye - До свидания! (do svidaniya)
Bye - Пока (poka) (informal)
See you tomorrow - До завтра! (do zavtra)
Please - Пожалуйста! (pozhaluysta)
Thank you - Спасибо! (spasibo)
Yes - Да (da)
No - Нет (nyet)
Where is? - Где? (gde)
What is this? - Что это? (chto eto)
Do you speak English? - Вы говорите по-английски? (vi govoryite po angliyski)
I do not speak Russian - Я не говорю по-русски (ya ne govoryu po ruski)
I do not understand - Я не понимаю (ya ne ponimayu)
My name is John - Меня зовут Джон (menya zovut John)
What is your name? - Как вас зовут? (kak vashe imya)
I'm from England/America - Я из Англии/Америки (ya iz anglii / ameriki)
Hotel - Отель (otel') or Гостиница (gostinitsa)
Airport - Аэропорт (aeroport)
Railroad station - Вокзал (vokzal)
Restroom - Туалет (tualet)
Money - Деньги (dengi)
Of course - Конечно (koneshno)
- I'm lost - Я потерялся / Я потерялась (ya poteryalsya/ ya poteryalas')
In big cities of Russia like in big cities of other countries, take precautions against assault, robbery, or pickpocketing especially in underground walkways and subways, overnight trains, train stations, airports,backstreets, and markets.
Some safety tips for you:
- leave expensive jewelry, unnecessary credit cards and anything valuable at home.
- never display large sums of money when paying outside. Be aware of pickpockets.
- keep your vallet in your inner front pocket, carry your purse tucked securely under your arm and wear your camera on a shoulder strap or bag across your chest.
- avoid hailing cars not marked as taxis. Never accept a ride from a driver who already has other passengers.Could be dangerous!
If you have been the victim of a crime, immediately contact your consulate or consular agency. You should also report the crime to МИЛИЦИЯ (militsiya) immediately, dial 02 from any public phone or 112 or 911 from most cellphones (this you'd better check it differs).
Some museums do not permit taking pictures of the exhibits. Inquire as to whether or not photography is allowed in the museum, if a permit is required, is so how much the permit costs. When in doubt, ask your tour guide or someone else in authority if it is acceptable to take a photograph. The general guidelines for photography:
- You can take pictures of monuments, cultural, educational and medical facilities, theaters, museums, stadiums and squares.
- You might need permission to take pictures of industrial enterprises for non-military products, farms, railroad stations, airports, river ports, dams, construction sites, and governmental and social organizations.
Russian police - Милиция
The police in Russia are called Милиция (mi-lee-tsiya). If you are stopped on the street by them and asked to show your ID and visa, just do it, smile and be polite.It's common practice in Russia, especially in Moscow. Make sure your visa is duly registered.
GSM networks operate in all Russian cities. International roaming works fine, but may cost high dollars. The cheapest option for overseas calling with your cell is to purchase a local SIM card. Remember that once you leave the city where you have purchased your SIM card, you go onto roaming tariffs in another area. Please check back with your cell phone operator in advance to see if your cell phone will work in Russia.
Tipping is encouraged. About 10 to 15% is the accepted rate of tipping for most restaurant waiters. For coat check and luggage attendants, anything from 50 rubles ($1,5) and higher is acceptable, although many people don't tip at all. Cheap travelers! You may also tip drivers, tour guides and housekeeping staff. Note that restaurants are not allowed to add a tip to the credit card charge, so even if you are paying with a credit card, the tip must still be left in cash.
The public transportation system is good in big cities. You may use trolleybuses, trams, buses, mini-buses (маршрутка - marshrutka), taxis and metro. Tram, buses and trolleybuses are inexpensive and reliable but usually packed during rush hours. Tickets are purchased onboard selling lady. Metro is a popular means of transportation in large cities. Mini-buses (so-called Маршрутка) follow a fixed route. When you see the number you want, just hail it down like a taxi. If you want to get out, ask a driver to stop where you need - Извините, можно здесь остановить?
Holidays and days-off Праздники и выходные
Here is the list of major Russian holidays. On these days most offices are closed.
- January, 1 - Новый Год - New Year. New Year's holidays are from December 31st to January 10th and include celebration of X-mas.
- February, 23 - День Защитника Отечесва Defender of the Fatherland Day.
- March, 8 - Международный Женский День - International Women's Day (or simply Восьмое Марта)
- April, 27- Пасха - Easter
- May, 1 - Первое Мая - Spring and Labour Day
- May, 9 - День Победы - the Victory Day
- June, 12 - День России - Russia's Day (Independence Day)
- November, 4 - День Национального Единства - National Unity Day
How much money am I likely to spend daily in Russia?
It depends on what living standards you are used to, but on the average:
- public transportation fare: from 10 rubles (one-way)
- sauna rent : from 700 per hour
- museum entrance tickets: from 250-350 rubles
- a loaf of bread : 15 - 35 rubles
- light snack in café or bar, lunch: from 200 rubles
- nice restaurant visit: from 1000 rubles per person
- taxi fare: from 200 rubles (one way, depending on the area and distance)
- hotel stay: from 2000 rubles per night (you can also stay at apartments they're cheaper)
Russian cuisine is rich and varied because of Russia's vast and multicultural expanse. While in Russia do not miss the opportunity to visit some Russian restaurants.
Soups have always played an important role in the Russian meal. The traditional stable of soups such as ЩИ (Shchee) (cabbage soup), БОРЩ (borshch) (vegetable soup traditionally made with beetroot), УХА (ooha) (fish soup) and РАССОЛЬНИК(rassolnik) (soup with a salty-sour pickle base).ОКРОШКА (okroshka) is considered a perfect summer soup since it has the refreshing taste of КВАС (kvas) and lightness of a salad.
Пельмени is a traditional Russian dish usually cooked with minced meat, wrapped in thin dough. For filling, pork, lamb, beef, or any other kind of meat can be used although pork and beef are most typical. You know Putin treated Obama with pelpmeni with quail. Ural recipe of pelmeni is considered the best.
Пирожки are small stuffed buns (pies) made of either yeast dough or short pastry. They are filled with one of many different fillings and are either baked or shallow-fried. For cooking pirozhki usually use fillings: onion, mushroom, meat and rice stuffing; fish; chopped boiled meat; rice and boiled eggs with dill; mashed potatoes mixed with dill and green onion; sautéed cabbage; sauteed mushrooms with onions and sometimes carrots.
Traditional Russian Блины are made from wheat, buckwheat, and other grains, although wheat blini are most popular in Russia. They may be topped with butter, sour cream, honey, fruit preserves or caviar.
Almost all Russian traditional drinks are original and not present in other national cuisines, such as КВАС, МЕДОВУХА, МОРС (fruit drink) and ВОДКА. Hot tea is very popular in Russia, and Russians prefer to drink hot tea even in summer.
More about Russian Cuisine
Driving in Russia
In Russia people drive on the right side of the road. Eighteen is the legal driving age.You are required to have a valid driver's license and proof of insurance if driving a private or rented vehicle. Please carry a form of photo ID (passport) and your native driver's license with you.
Speed is measured in kilometres per hour (not miles). Speed limit signs are posted along roads. The speed limit in the city is 60 kph, on the highway - 90 kph.
Remember, that fines for breaking road regulations are rather high. You need a hands-free device to talk on your cell phone while driving. No drinki and driving allowed of course. You may be fined up to 3,000 rubles and receive jail time and your driving licence may be be revoked.
Smoking & Drinking alcohol
Eighteen is the legal smoking and drinking age. Usually no ID is required for purchasing cigarettes or alcohol but it's a good idea to carry yuor ID with you just in case.
Smoking and drinking is not allowed in public places - stadiums and sport centres, parks and recreation areas, hospitals, railroad stations and airports. In bars or restaurants there are usually smoking and non-smoking sections(зал для курящих / зал для некурящих).
Most bars and pubs close at 12pm-2a.m. weeknights and 6-7a.m. on weekends. There are some 24-hours bars as well.
You may buy cigarettes and alcohol in shops, including special liquior stores and grocery stores. Usually they close around 11-12p.m. If it is a 24-hour store, usually you see a special note on the door (Круглосуточно).
So where do you wanna go?