Travel information
Health services
In order for admission to Russian Federation a medical expense insurance with 30 000 USD reimbursement is necessary. The most widespread types of risk that the insurance should reimburse are impulsive diseases and accidents. Before starting their trips to Russia, foreign tourists usually execute such insurances in companies where their lives are insured. Anyway, it is very important to make sure that the company has its service centers in the places that the tourist is going to visit. If there are no such centers, in most cases, the insurance company reinsures its client in some company of its Russian partner.
In Moscow, in the case of emergency there is always an opportunity to get free consultation or help of a highly qualified doctor in the Sclifosovsky Scientific-Research Institute of Ambulance. The assistance will be rendered apart from citizenship day and night. The address of the Sclifosofsky Hospital is Bolshaya Sucharevskaya Square, 3 (telephone number: +7 495 680-41-54). If domically aid is needed, you can call a doctor from Semashko Second Municipal Clinic (tel. +7 499 238-38-40). In such case, you will have to pay for the attendance. In other cities it will be better to turn to your travel guide or to the first-aid post or the reception of the hotel you are staying at.
Banking accommodation
Russian native currency is ruble that is equal to 100 kopecks. Coins in circulation are: 1, 5, 10, 50 kopecks, 1, 2, 5,10 rubles. As for the bank notes, they are: 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 rubles. You can exchange currency (Euro, USD) almost in all the banks and in any change in the streets of Moscow, hotels, supermarkets, railway stations and airports. The exchange rate is fixed by the Central Bank of Russia. At the moment it is equal to 24 rubles for 1 USD and 36 rubles for 1 EUR. The majority of changes in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other big cities are open 24 hours a day, however, before visiting less populated places, it is better to provide yourself with ruble cash, because you will find it difficult to exchange currency late in the evening or at night. In Russia investment banks work with sole proprietors from 8-30 to 19 o 21 o`clock on weekdays, Joint-stock commercial Savings Bank of the Russian Federation (Sberbank) is open from 8-30 to 19-30 on weekdays and some offices of Sberbank are open on Saturdays from 8-30 to 14-30. However, the exchange rate in Sberbank is a bit lower than in other banks. Credit cards and travelers cheques are accepted restrictedly in big cities, hotels and big supermarkets. Charge commission for the cheques conversion into cash is usually equal to 2 – 3 %. Money transfers can be accomplished by TT, Western Union or Money Gram.
Official holidays
There are quite a lot of festive dates and several nonworking days when the majority of the organizations, enterprises and offices are closed. The nonworking days are: The New Year holidays – 1,2,3,4,5 of January Christmas – 7 of January Defender of the Fatherland Day – 23 of February International Women`s Day – 8 of March The holiday of Spring and Labour - 1 of May Victory day – 9 of May Russia Day – 12 of June National Unity day – 4 of November If a festive day aligns with Saturday or Sunday, an extra nonworking day is always announced.
Emergency calls
You can inform of a conflagration, gas leak, call the police or the emergency ambulance from any public pay telephone, using these free telephone numbers: Conflagration, fire – 01 Militia (police) - 02 Ambulance – 03 Gas leak – 04 Rescue service – +7 495 937-9911
Souvenirs, presents
The list of craft goods and manufacturing articles that are in request of the tourists as presents and souvenirs, is quite long. As a rule, it mainly depends on the place you are going to visit. Those who visit Moscow and Saint – Petersburg, usually buy Gzhel and Leningrad china ware, Matryoshkas (Russian nesting dolls of different sizes), painted Zhost trays, coloured Alexandrov woolen shawls, wonderful Palech caskets with varnished miniature paintings, wooden spoons, vases and other ware of talented Gzhel master hands. Smolensk and Kostroma regions are famous for their fancy linen tablecloths and lacy bedclothes. In Tula region you can buy shiny little souvenir samovars, in Ural region – jewellery and hacks made of semi-precious stones. And, of course, it will be impossible to leave Vologda and Orenburg regions without buying articles of the thinnest lace or weightless downy kerchiefs made by local handywomen. In other words, Russia will never leave its guests without wonderful souvenirs that can be bought in every little corner of the country. Apart from different handicraft articles, local food can also be considered "a traditional Russian souvenir" . It can be black and red caviar, vodka of various labels and sources of production, painted gingerbreads from Tula and Russian chocolate that is remarkable for high content of cocoa. It is better to buy souvenirs in different gift shops, little art shows or large trade centers. A little gift shop can always be found in the hotel you are staying at. Original souvenirs of high quality can be found on some artistic vernissage. Your travel guide will tell you all the necessary addresses. By the way, a present that you buy in an antique shop, may cause problems on the customs, because you will need a set of special documents to take your purchase out of the country. The employees of travel agencies can help you execute such documents.
Working time of the shops
The majority of food stores are open from 8 or 9 A.M. and work until 8 or 9 P.M. Ware stores usually open a bit later – nearly at 10 A.M. and work until 7 or 8 P.M. Big trade centers usually finish their work an hour later. "Ashan", "7-th Continent" and "Perekrestok" supermarkets have the longest working days, and some of them even work 24 hors a day. All the central stores and big trade centers work without breaks and holidays. In some shops, that were built in the beginning of last century in different cities of Russia, you can feel yourself like in some museum or palace: from the inside they are decorated with mirrors, paintings, mosaics and fretworks (for example, food stores "Eliseevsky", situated in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg).
Post, internet
It is quite cheap to send a letter in Russia: a letter that weighs 20 g will cost twice or thrice less than 1 trip on public transport. It will take 2 or 3 days for the letter to be delivered over 500 km distance. It takes a week to deliver a letter to the place with flight connection. As far as cities that are significantly distant from region centers are concerned, delivery can take 2 -3 weeks. An ordinary letter to a foreign country will cost 0.5 USD and a registered one will cost nearly 1 USD or 1 EUR. Air post from Europe, Japan or the USA is delivered to Moscow in 5-7 days. It depends on the transport connection, how long it will take to deliver mail to smaller remote populated places. A parcel that weighs 10 kg (or less) from Russia to some foreign country is paid at 6 USD at each kilo. In addition, you will have to pay about 13 USD for service. In big cities you can make use of services of such companies as Fedex, DHL, EMS. You can use Internet service in Russia as well. In many hotels rated from four stars and higher, the Internet access is in the rooms already. In other cases, hotels, as a rule, have their own equipped business-centers. In the cities with population over 200 000 people, various Internet-cafes and Internet-clubs are widespread. The cost of being online flutters from 0.75 to 1.25 USD (you will have to pay in rubles).
Transport (municipal, international)
In the capital and other big cities of Russia there are several widespread means of transport, as a rule: metro (underground), bus, trolleybus and tram. The price for a single trip on surface public transport is 15 rubles if you buy a ticket beforehand or if you pay to the conductor, and in case you buy a ticket from the driver, it will cost you 50 rubles. A single metro trip costs 50 rubles. In other Russian cities the prices for the public transport tickets can be lower. It`s very convenient and economical to buy a transport card for several trips and for several different means of transport. The most popular means of transport in Moscow is metro that consists of 11 lines. Almost 160 stations are open from 5-30 A.M. to 1 A.M. It`s important to note, that some of the underground stations are real works of art, as they are designed with mosaics, glass paintings and bass-relieves. Some travel agencies even organize special excursions in Moscow underground. In the suburbs of Moscow 5 passenger airports are situated: Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, Vnukovo and Bikovo. The biggest one is the Domodedovo airport. International flights are made from Sheremetyevo, and Domodedovo and there are also charter flights from Vnukovo. The majority of the domestic flights are from Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo. A flight from Moscow to Saint-Petersburg will take less than an hour, a flight to Samara – 1,5 hours, a flight to Ekaterinburg – 2,5 hours or so, a flight to Novsibirsk - 4 hours and if you need to fly to Chabarovsk – it will take you almost 7 hours. There is a plenty of buses and mini-buses that will take you to Moscow from the suburbs where the airports are situated. You will have to pay for transit. There are representations of different travel agencies, local and international car rent services, changes, taxi order in international airports etc. There are nine railroad stations in Moscow: Belorussky, Kazansky, Kievsky, Kursky, Leningradsky, Pavelecky, Rijsky, Savelovsky and Yaroslavsky. The most part of trains to Europe depart from Kievsky and Belorussky railroad stations. Train is one of the most popular means of traveling through the huge Russian territory. It will take you only one night to get to St.-Petersburg, Pskov, Petrozavodsk, it will take you a day to get to the cities of Volga region such as Cheboksary or Nijny Novgorod, to Kiev (Ukraine), to Minsk (Belorussia), to Riga (Latvia). It will take you a little more than thirty hours to get to Ural: Perm, Ekaterinburg, Omsk and also Russian Black Sea coast: Anapa, Sochi. A trip to Novosibirsk will take three nights and two days and a trip to Chabarovsk can take more than 5 days. The connection between big cities is carried out with the help of commuter trains that are considered a very convenient, popular and economical means of transport. As a rule, there are also special buses that will take you to the city of your destination right from the landside area. You can go to Baku by bus from Kursky railroad station and near Kievsky railroad station you will find buses that can take you to Kaluga or Bryansk, for example. It`s not difficult at all to rent a car in big cities, however, the traffic is so hard that serious traffic jams take place quite often. Besides, the quality of roads that connect different cities is quite low sometimes. Petrol isn`t expensive in Russia – it cots nearly twice less expensive than in Europe. Taxi cars are yellow-coloured, with black checkers above, as in many other countries. State cars lead the calculation on the basis of kilometrage and for-profit ones take payment according to the amount of minutes spent. At the average, the price for the taxi in Russia is lower than in many European countries, but it`s higher than in Turkey, Tunisia or Thailand.
In big Russian cities telephone numbers consist of 7 figures, in smaller ones they mainly consist of 6 figures, whereas in little towns telephone numbers have 5 figures. From 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. higher tariffs are working, but in the evening and at night they are usually three times less expensive. Tariffs differ. It depends on the telecommunication company. It`s more advantageous to use Internet-cards to make phone calls – it will help you reduce your expenses. The order of dialing a number, telephone codes of the cities and the prices for phone conversations can be found in the telephone book in your hotel room or in the international/long-distance phone box near the hotel reception. In order to make a phone call to Russia, you need to dial 7 (the country code), then the city code (495 for Moscow and 812 for St.-Petersburg) and then the subscriber`s number. In order to call to another country, you need to dial 8, then 10, then the code of the country and the subscriber`s number in the end. Phone calls from the hotel are quite expensive, that is why it will be a lot more economical to use long-distance phone boxes. You can buy special cards for such phones on every metro station. As for the rent of the mobile phone, the conditions of service provisioning, operator`s service and tariffs, you can get al this information in the hotel or ask your travel guide all the necessary questions.
The habit of leaving tip in restaurants, bars and nightclubs is quite widespread among Russian people. In restaurants of international chains of hotels and some other places of catering of high-class payment for the service is usually included into the bill. In most cases, if you are satisfied with the service, the tip can be equal to 5 – 10 % of the bill.
You may find all actual information about customs control on the site :
Traditional Russian dinner consists of 3 courses. The first one is usually a meat potage with cereals and vegetables, the second course is fish or meat with some garnish (rice, buckwheat porridge, potatoes, pasta, stewed cabbage). The third course is a drink: compote, fruit-drink, juice or jelly. Rye and wheat bread are very popular in Russia, so a lot of bread is always served. A lot of courses such as borsch (red-beet soup) with sour cream or "solyanka" (a dish of stewed cabbage and meat with spices) - have a very rich original taste because of the variety of ingredients. They are really worth tasting. Mayonnaise sauce that is produced in Russia, is praised even by the French, and the classical "Olivie" salad (that is called "Russian salad" all over the world) contains a lot more ingredients than the salad that is usually served in Europe. Pickles are extremely tasty. They are considered the best snack for vodka as well as caviar. It will be more convenient to have lunch or dinner in the center of Moscow: during a walk down the Arbat or Tverskaya street or after visiting the Kremlin. In the afternoon the restaurants are usually not overcrowded. Your dinner will cost you nearly 20 USD per person and a light lunch of 3-4 courses will cost only 10 USD. In the evening a visit to the restaurant will cost not less than 30 USD per person (without alcohol drinks), and as for the best restaurants of the city – a meal there will cost you at least twice as more expensive. If you don`t want to spend much money and time on your meal, you can visit one of the "Elki-Palki" restaurants (a chain of restaurants situated in the biggest cities of Russia). There are a lot of seats and there is very fast service. Those who can`t do without beer and sausages, French fries and steaks, there is a plenty of "fast-food" restaurants all over Russia.
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