Russia Traveler Tips
Don't forget to remove your coat indoors: It's
considered rude not to. And make a note of which cloak
room you've left your belongings in when attending a concert or
ballet or visiting a large museum. There are often many,
scattered over several floors.
Don't be surprised at the amount of pushing, shoving and
elbowing in subway stations and in other crowded places.
Do take along a gift of wine or flowers when invited to
someone's home - but make sure there are an odd number of
flowers (a Russian superstition).
Do be prepared to remove your shoes when invited to a Russian
home (you'll probably be furnished with slippers).
Do dress appropriately when visiting religious sites. A woman
should cover her head with a scarf and wear a long dress or
skirt; a man should wear long pants and a shirt with sleeves.
Don't neglect to declare all electronic equipment on your
customs form when entering the country. Simple consumer
electronics like laptop computers are usually allowed in without
problems, but more sophisticated equipment may be subject to
restrictions or more detailed documentation. Inspectors may
seize equipment if all the appropriate paperwork is not in
order. Contact a Russian embassy for more information.
Electricity throughout Russia is 220 volt/50 Hz. The plug is the
two-pin thin European standard. Be sure to bring your own
converter as most places in Russia do not carry them.
All prices are generally quoted in rubles. Currency can be
freely converted at banks, hotels or kiosks. Traveler's checks
are hard to cash. Credit cards are accepted in most places that
work with foreign tourists. Some may turn down American Express.
Visa and MasterCard are known, hence - more widely honored. ATM
machines are widely available in major cities, but note: they do
not have letters on the key pad, so if your PIN includes
letters, do remember them as digits!
Despite the recent rapid improvements in the telecommunications
infrastructure, telephoning in Russia can be difficult and
expensive. Best bet is to use the phone at your hotel or use
AT&T, Sprint or MCI's USA direct services. Tokens or calling
cards are required for street pay phones, which can be purchased
at newsstands, in some stores, and many kiosks.
Time is GMT +3 for both Moscow & St. Petersburg.
Remember to bring any medications you may need. Check with your
health insurer before you depart to ascertain your coverage in
the event of emergency. Many insurance providers offer
specialized riders which can cover emergency evacuation. We do
recommend buying a travel insurance.
Water quality varies widely in Russia. Your best bet is to drink
and brush your teeth only with bottled water which is widely
available in supermarkets. Be careful to avoid ice and raw foods
Crime situation has considerably improved in Russia over the
past couple of years. Moscow and St. Petersburg are a lot safer
than many American cities. Precautions include not flaunting
valuables, or walking alone at night through city outskirts or
In Russia, taxi fees are usually negotiated with the driver
ahead of time. Do not use gypsy cabs or accept rides in cabs
that already have a rider. We shall be glad to provide you with
airport transfers by our company car.
Tipping is increasingly expected at restaurants. Tip 10-15%
depending on service. It is typical to round up the amount due
to the next round figure.