country code: RU
languages: Russian, other languages
EU membership: no
NATO membership: no
GPS: 60 00 N, 100 00 E
Russian Ruble: RUB
1RUB = 0.037 USD
1RUB = 0.029 EUR
Travel advices and warnings Russia
||Citizens of most non-CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries must obtain a visa prior to arriving in Russia. Citizens of following countries do not need a visa: Argentina (90 days), Bosnia and Herzegovina (90 days), Brazil (90 days), Chile (90 days), Colombia (90 days), Croatia (3 months, invitation required), Cuba (30 days), Hong Kong (14 days), Israel (90 days), Macedonia (90 days), Montenegro (90 days), Nicaragua (90 days), Peru (90 days), Serbia (30 days, only biometric passports), Thailand (30 days), Turkey (30 days), Venezuela (90 days).
|Staying in Russia
||Russian law doesn't require you to carry your passport and registration card with you, but if you fail to provide a valid ID to a police officer upon request they have a right to hold you for up to 3 h for "identification purposes. " These random passport checks are not common but still carry your passport with you at all times. This generally applies to more populated areas like Moscow due to the higher immigration influx larger cities; in other rural and less populated urban areas, passport checks occur quite rarely. It is also good to have a copy of your passport, visa, migration card and the registration form in case you happen to come across a dishonest/corrupt police officer. It's much harder to ransom a copy of a passport than it is the original, and you can always make another copy. Just remember that a photocopy of your passport is not recognized as a valid ID by Russian law, so having a copy may not always help.
||Travel time can vary from several hours to several days. Note that there are more types of train between the two capitals than between any other two cities in Russia. Apart from ordinary trains, there are rapid trains (Sapsan) that run by day only and cover the 650 km between Moscow and Saint Petersburg in 4 hours. Some of the overnight trains are quite luxurious - these include the traditional The Red Arrow service and the newer, fake-Czarist-era Nikolaevsky Express, complete with attendants in 19-century uniforms. Sheets, towels and prepacked breakfasts are included in all the better trains. Shared bathroom facilities are located at the end of the train car. There are special hatches that one may use to secure the door of the compartment from the inside during the night.
||Coins are issued in 1, 5, 10, and 50 kopek and 1, 2, 5, and 10 ruble denominations. Banknotes come in 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 ruble values. The 5 ruble note is not issued anymore and is very rare in circulation. The 1 and 5 kopek coins are of little use, as their value is low; in many stores prices are rounded up to the nearest 10 kopeks and many people refuse to accept these coins. As of April 15, 2009, one US dollar is equal to 33. 39 rubles and one euro is equal to 44. 45 rubles.
||There is a number of cheap food/goods chains.
- Perekrestok (Перекресток)
- Carousel (Карусель)
- Auchan (Ашан)
- Magnit (Магнит)
- Pyatyorochka (Пятёрочка)
- Lenta (Лента)
- Atack (Атак)
||Russian cuisine derives its rich and varied character from the vast and multicultural expanse of Russia. Its foundations were laid by the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of plentiful fish, poultry, game, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, buckwheat, barley, and millet provided the ingredients for a plethora of breads, pancakes, cereals, kvass, beer, and vodka. Flavourful soups and stews centred on seasonal or storable produce, fish, and meats. This wholly native food remained the staples for the vast majority of Russians well into the 20th century. Lying on the northern reaches of the ancient Silk Road, as well as Russia's proximity to the Caucasus, Persia, and the Ottoman Empire has provided an inescapable Eastern character to its cooking methods (not so much in European Russia but distinguishable in the North Caucasus). Russia's renowned caviar is easily obtained, however prices can exceed the expenses of your entire trip. Dishes such as beef Stroganov and chicken kiev, from the pre-revolutionary era are available but mainly aimed at tourists as they lost their status and visibility during Soviet times.
||Vodka, imported liquors (rum, gin, etc), international soft-drinks (Pepsi, Coca- Cola, Fanta, etc), local soft drinks (Tarhun, Buratino, Baikal, etc. ), distilled water, kvas (sour-sweet non-alcoholic naturally carbonized drink made from fermented dark bread) and mors (traditional wild berry drink).
||Hotels in Russia may be quite expensive in metropolises and touristy areas. If you do speak a bit of Russian and are not entirely culture shocked, it is much smarter to seek out and rent a room in a private residence. Most Russians are looking to make extra money and, having space to spare, will rent it out to a tourist gladly. Native Moscovites or residents of Saint Petersburg would rather rent out to tourists than their own countrymen: foreigners are considered more trustworthy and orderly. Expect to pay 60-70 USD a night (usually with breakfast prepared by your host), and the accommodations will certainly be very clean and proper if not modern. When it comes to home/family life, Russian culture is very warm and inviting.
||When buying items, it is best to keep your money folded backwards with small bills on the outside and larger on the inside and bring out your cash only when actually handing it over. Also, separate larger sums from smaller ones and keep the former hidden on your person.