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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.
Once you are in Russia, it is a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport and visa with you at all times. Note that the registration in the hotels costs 1 USD per passport, but the price of registration in new minihotels usually differs from 20 USD to 40 USD per passport. If you come to Russia like a guest, not like a tourist, and stay at Russian home, you should be registered in a police office.
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!
Despite the recent rapid improvements in the telecommunications infrastructure, telephone service is expensive in Russia. Your best options include using your hotel room telephone . If you are away from your hotel, pay telephones are located at Metro (subway) stations. The phones accept ruble coins, special metro coins or telephone cards. The telephone cards can be purchased at newsstands and Metro stations .
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 emergency evacuation
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.