Travel tips - Russia
Do not forget to apply for a Russian Visa at any Russian Embassy of your country before you come to Russia. Normally Russian travel agencies and hotels provide Visa Support letter necessary for Russian Visa application. Please, contact the Russian Embassy of your country for more information. If during your tour to Russia you plan to visit Finland, Estonia, Ukraina or other neighbour Russian country and come back to Russia, do not forget to apply for double entry Russian Visa.
If you have an expired visa, or your visa was lost, you must apply to the territorial division of the Office of the Federal Migration Service (FMS) of Russia in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
Once you are in Russia, it is a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport and visa with you at all times.
To call from a cellular / land line:
- To another country: before the country code, you should dial "+" ("+" — "country code" — "city code" — "subscriber number") / "8" — "beep" — "10" — "country code" — "city code" — "subscriber number";
- To another city in Russia (Russia country code is '7'): dial "+7" — "city code" — "subscriber number" / "8" — "beep" — "city code" — "subscriber number";
- To another cellular phone number of another country: the phone number dial without any changes / "8" — "beep" — "10" — "phone number".
A foreign citizen who arrives in Russia for more than 72 hours should get a migration registration. The registration should be taken by an inviting party:
- a hotel (if you're staying there);
- friends, relatives;
If you plan to stay in the city for less than 72 hours (excluding weekends and holidays), no migration registration is required!
IMPORT / EXPORT OF MONEY
For plastic cards' users — if you have a plastic card, you can carry any amount of currency across the border, without completing a customs declaration form.
The amount of cash, imported to Russia without completing a declaration form, should be less than 10 thousand U.S. dollars. You should complete the declaration form and choose a "red" corridor, if you have more than 10 thousand dollars.
Without the declaration, you can export currency and Russian rubles equivalent to 3 thousand U.S. dollars (1.9 thousand Euros) in cash. If physical person exports cash in an amount exceeding the equivalent of 3 thousand U.S. dollars, he needs to complete the customs declaration. 10 thousand U.S. dollars (6.3 thousand Euros) is the maximum amount you can take outside Russia without affirmative documents.
If you have lost your passport you must report the loss to your country's diplomatic mission (consulate), where you will receive a "certificate of return" to your country.
It is also necessary to report your passport lost or stolen to the Russian police.
The quality of the water in Russia varies from place to place. It is recommended to drink and brush your teeth with bottled water.
Electricity in Russia is 220 volts. The European standard 2-prong plug is used. Be sure to bring a converter with you, since it is difficult to purchase in Russia
In St . Petersburg, as in any large city, you should watch out for pickpockets working in public places, such
as on crowded public transport (especially at metro electric trains) or in markets and other touristy spots.
As a precaution, it is better not to flaunt valuable items. Keep money and documents in inner pockets, don't leave your baggage unsupervised, have an eye on your handbag . Stand as far as possible from Gypsies, including the children. Walking out late alone in deserted dark areas (courtyards and parks) or after drinking would make you a good target for offenders. Since the collapse of Communism, crime has increased in Russia. However, it is still safer than many American cities.
In general, stores are open from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm from Monday to Saturday. Large department stores and supermarkets are open from 9:00 am until 9:00 pm, without lunch breaks, seven days a week. A number of supermarkets are open around the clock, seven days a week.
St.Petersburg is a large metropolitan agglomeration spread over a vast territory that is why the city has a well-developed vehicle system, which includes buses, trolleybuses, trams, taxis, automobiles, a subway, and a railway system connecting the city with its suburbs.
Taxi fares are negotiated before you begin traveling to your destination. Avoid taking unlicensed cabs, as these drivers generally look to take advantage of foreigners. Also note that driving from (or to) airport is quite expensive even for American standards. It is safer and cheaper to order airport and train station transfers in the travel agency where you book your staying.
Tipping is increasingly expected at restaurants. Tips should be between 10 and 15%.
CURRENCY , CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS:
All prices are generally quoted in Russian rubles. You may exchange currency at hotels, banks, and currency exchange kiosks. Traveler's checks are hard to cash. Credit cards are accepted in most places that work with foreign tourists. In Russia the following credit and debit cards are acceptable: VISA, Master Card/Euro card, American Express, Diners Club, Maestro . 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!
Most big hotels offer Internet access to guests for a fee. There are also quite cheap internet cafes in Saint-Petersburg.
Time is GMT +3 for both Moscow & St Petersburg.
Both Moscow and St. Petersburg are:
+8 hours Eastern Standard Time (New York City, Washington, D.C., Miami, Boston)
+9 hours Central Standard Time (Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas)
+10 hours Mountain Standard Time (Denver)
+11 hours Pacific Standard Time (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle)
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
Whatever the season may be, it is wise to bring your umbrella and a windproof raincoat or jacket. In winter it can get very cold outside, but hotels and homes are reasonably well heated. In spring it might be chilly at times, but in mid-May it gets warmer. You can wear shorts in summer, though these might prevent you from entering churches.
If you are from one of those countries where they drive on the left (Britain, Australia, etc), be aware when crossing
the road. We drive on the right here.
In Russia narcotic drugs are strictly controlled by law. Do not carry any non-medicinal drugs with you.
Think before you pay. One and the same thing may be costly in one place and much cheaper in another.
Russian people are generally very friendly. Although do not forget about your personal safety - do not walk alone
at night, do not talk to strange-looking individuals.
You do not have to drink vodka if you do not want to, even when your Russian friends try to convince you must.
It's not a matter of politeness it is a matter of personal desire.
In case of emergency (theft, assault) contact the nearest police station or dial 02 for the duty of the police department (dial 112 from mobile phone).
INTERACTION WITH THE POLICE
If the policeman addressed to you:
- Do not worry and do not panic.
- Police officer when applying to you, should say hello, tell his military position, rank and last name, and then briefly indicate the reason and purpose of addresses.
- At the request of a police officer, you must show your national passport.
In case of the police officer's incorrect address, please, write down his name, police department and, if possible, the number of his badge. You should know that police officer stopped you on the street, is not entitled to make any financial transactions (demand payment of fines, taxes, etc.), and he should treat your documents carefully and shouldn't make any marks in it.
Do not worry if you will be proposed to follow a police officer.
PAYMENT AND PURCHASES
All prices in Russia are generally quoted in rubles. Almost everywhere you can pay with plastic cards (Visa, MasterCard, less frequently Diners Club and American Express). Exchange money only in specialized exchange offices. Do not change money with help of unknown people on the street! The city has many ATMs, including ones that work 24 hours.
Many large grocery stores, supermarkets and entertainment centers are open 24 hours. During holidays and weekends, most shops are open. Information about the shop's opening hours is always written on the front door.
In St. Petersburg shops alcoholic beverages can't be sold from 22:00 to 11:00
Content of more than 15% can't be sold from 23:00 to 7:00 in the morning. There are also age restrictions on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products — sales to children under 18 are prohibited.
To use a subway, you should buy a token or a plastic card, which is designed for a certain number of trips (or for the whole month) at the underground station.