Before coming to a foreign country, every tourist should learn its traditions and its customs in order to know how to behave. The following advice will help you to avoid difficult situations and teach you how to avoid trouble when visiting Russia.
Every tourist should know that:
The first person that you will meet in Russia will be a customs officer. You have to remember that you are only allowed to bring up to 200 cigarettes (or 250 grams of tobacco) and a maximum of 2 liters of alcohol into Russia. You can see the full list of prohibited and restricted imports here.
The level of safety in Russia corresponds to the level of safety of any other developed country. However, you should always remember some basic safety rules that will keep you out of trouble.
As in any other country, there are pickpockets and hustlers in Russia. You should be careful not to leave your belongings unattended and not to accept dubious offers from strangers.
You should also know certain telephone numbers available nationwide in Russia that you can call in case of an emergency. The number for all emergency services is 112. The rescue and fire service number is 101. You can call the police by calling 102, and an ambulance by calling 103. It also might come in handy to learn the telephone numbers of the Consulate and the Embassy of your country before the trip.
Russia occupies a large territory spread over 9 time zones. You should always bear this fact in mind when traveling from one region to another, especially when you go on a railroad tour across the country.
The climate of every region is different. Depending on the place you are going to visit, you might need different things, including: sunscreen, a swimsuit, warm clothes, and insect repellent.
People speak many different languages in Russia, even though the official language is Russian. Almost all Russians know the Russian language, and some of them understand or speak English. However, in the smaller towns you are probably going to need an interpreter. In the shops and malls even in the capital, some assistants might not be able to understand English. In the tourist destinations, such problems should not arise.
The Russian monetary unit is ruble. One ruble is approximately equal to one hundred kopecks. Russian shops accept only rubles. Be sure to exchange your currency when you arrive. Please note that many exchange offices only exchange US dollars and euros for rubles. While it is not always the case, you might only be able to pay with VISA and MasterCard credit cards in big cities. Shops do not accept American Express cards here. Therefore, you should always carry local currency cash with you, but not too much. This is one of the most important pieces of advice concerning money.
In big cities, you can get almost everywhere using public transport. There are buses, trams, trolleybuses, minibuses, and the metro in big cities. Different transport applications are in English and they can help you use public transport. Transport fares are different in each city. Be sure to learn about them beforehand. The most popular means of transport to use between cities are buses and trains. You should think about your route in advance. Bear in mind that there are different time zones and check whether the time on your ticket is local or Moscow time.
The working hours of restaurants, shops, banks, etc. differ and are established for each place individually. During holidays, many places either work on a shorter schedule or do not work at all.
In Russian restaurants and cafes, it is considered polite to tip waiters. It is up to you to decide how much to tip, but it is usually not more than 10% of the price of your order. In taxis, you can leave up to 100 rubles, which does not depend on the cost of the trip, or you can choose not to leave a tip. You can also give tips at gas stations or to your guide, but this is not that common.
The mobile communication is of GSM standard in Russia, and LTE networks are deployed in big cities. Therefore, we advise you to buy a local SIM card so that you always have access to the internet. You will need a passport if you want to buy a SIM card.
Russia is a comfortable country to travel with children. Nevertheless, if you are traveling with a child we advise you to buy insurance. It is also important to make sure you have packed all the necessary documents.
If your child needs to constantly take medicine, it’s better to take it with you. The import of many drugs in Russia is allowed, and only a few will require a prescription. Before the trip make sure to check whether the medicine you are going to bring is on that list.
Russia is not the best place for disabled people, as there are not enough facilities for them. Even some stations on the Moscow metro do not meet the needs of those people. So, bear this in mind when planning your trip and think of who can help you when you travel.
Finally, remember that not all information about Russia that you can find online is trustworthy.