Russia Travel Notes

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Australian Embassy in Russia

10A/2 Podkolokolny Pereulok,
Moscow, 109028
Turkey
Tel    +(7) 495 956 6070
Fax   +(7) 495  956 6170
Email [email protected]
www.russia.embassy.gov.au

Smartraveller

The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers.
www.smartraveller.gov.au

Time Zones

Russia is on GMT +4 time making it 6 hours behind Australia. In March 2011 Russia abolished daylight savings and work on Standard time all year. To obtain the current local time and date in cities and countries in all time zones.
www.worldtimeserver.com

Voltages and Plugs

Russia use 220 volts. Plugs are of the two-round-pronged European type.
www.korjo.com/Adaptor-Guide

Currency

To obtain the most up-to-date exchange rate you may wish to visit
www.xe.com/currencyconverter

The official currency of Russia is the rouble (RUB). This generally cannot be exchanged ouside the country, except sometimes at the border. New rouble notes were introduced some years ago and the old notes are no longer accepted.

The rouble is divided into 100 kopecks.
Coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10 & 50 new kopecks and 1, 2, 5 & 10 roubles.
Notes are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000 & 100000.

Credit Cards and ATM machines

ATMs are the easiest way to access your money. They are common in all tourist towns and cities. Most accept Visa, MasterCard, Electron, Cirrus, Maestro and InterBank cards. ATM’s are often found in secure places, such as hotels and museums. Many of these dispense US dollars as well as Roubles.ATMs sometimes run dry on weekends in smaller towns. 

Credit cards are welcome in nearly all Russian hotels and many restaurants, but many museums and train stations take only cash. Cards most commonly accepted in Russia are American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Eurocard. 

Please note that using a credit card in foreign countries usually requires a new “chip-and-pin” credit card with an embedded microchip and an associated PIN number (the PIN is specific to each credit card). If you have questions about using your credit card in a foreign country, please contact your bank prior to departure from Australia. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Cash

Currency can be exchanged at exchange bureaux and larger hotels, though you may get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Euros are the best choice for those taking cash, followed by US dollars. There have been major problems with counterfeiting in recent years, especially of US dollars, so always ensure that the notes you take are clean and crisp as many places will scan
notes to check their veracity. It is also helpful to have a variety of notes, including some smaller denominations.
Travelers Cheques are NO longer accepted.

Telephone & Communication

Mobile telephones
Most mobile telephones work in Russia and coverage is excellent. Check with your local provider that your phone can switch on ‘Global Roaming’ and that your provider has coverage in the places you are visiting. Mobile phones can be very useful for SMSing  (especially if you get lost!). International calls are often expensive, as is checking your message bank as calls have to be routed through Australia.

Should you choose to purchase a local sim card please check with your local provider prior to departure to make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another sim card.

Internet
Internet access is becoming more available throughout Russia. Many hotels and cafes now offer access, some you need to pay while others have free Wi-fi zones. Avild the hotel business centres as they will be expensive.

If you have Web access while traveling, you might consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype or Vonage, which allows you to make free international calls between online computers and phones, and cheap international calls if you’re calling a normal phone number. Most cybercafes throughout the country will be using these programs already, complete with headset, microphone, and webcam.
www.skype.com    www.vonage.com

Business Hours in Russia

Offices  09.00 – 18.00 Monday to Friday.
Banks   09.00 – 17.00 Monday to Friday.
Shops   08.00 – 20.00 Monday to Saturdays. Larger department stores are also open on Sundays. Opening hours may vary in smaller towns.

Personal Safety
  • We strongly recommend the use of a money belt to keep your cash, cards and travel documents safe. This should be kept under your clothes at all times. This is a precaution that should be taken anywhere due to the difficulties that can be experienced in trying to replace stolen items.
  • Take photocopies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, airline tickets, insurance) and keep one copy securely in your luggage and leave another copy at home.
  • It is generally helpful to take a business card from the hotel you are staying at. This can assist hugely if you get lost. If you also have a key card for your hotel, make sure you keep these two cards separate or you run the risk of allowing a thief access to your room
  • Take extra care in crowded places and try not to ‘advertise’ the fact that you may be carrying valuables by having something like an expensive camera over your shoulder. Put it in your bag or under your coat. And men, try to avoid keeping your wallet in your hip pocket.  Pickpockets and over-friendly drunks are the main annoyances to today’s traveler; you can avoid both by being alert, traveling in groups, and sticking to well-lit areas after dark.

     

What to Pack

Clothing (general)
The time of the year you visit this destination will dictate the type of clothing it is appropriate to bring. It would always be advisable to take a rain coat or a water proof windbreaker. For daytime activities, we suggest a wardrobe that is versatile, casual and comfortable. It is recommended that “layered” clothing might offer the best comfort in a variety of conditions. Always expect the weather to be changeable.

Beyond the normal wardrobe we suggest

  • comfortable walking shoes (very important)
  • sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat
  • folding umbrella and/or light raincoat
  • ladies should have a scarf with them at all times in case it is required to cover shoulders or head when entering religious sites
  • prescription medicines for the full duration of your time away and a written copy of your prescriptions including what they are for, provided by your doctor
  • extra prescription eyeglasses (if required)
  • tissues (pocket or soft pack) and/or a small amount of toilet paper in your day pack
  • if you wish to bring an immersion heater to brew tea or coffee in yourroom, please keep it out of sight as heating devices are officially illegal to have in hotel rooms.
  • please bring any batteries other than AA (ie. watch batteries) as they may be difficult to find.
Etiquette

No attempt should be made to photograph anything remotely connected with the armed forces or in the vicinity of defence installations. Many people do not like being photographed. Always ask before photographing someone, they may try to obtain money from you.

Clothing (Churches, Mosques and Monasteries)
Although ‘foreigners’ do not have to adhere to a strict dress rules, women should wear a head covering (ie a scarf) in active churches. Men must remember to remove their hats in religious buildings. In churches it is polite to stand around the edges of the building, rather than in the centre. It is acceptable for foreigners to light candles.

Some toilets have attendants, so make sure you have some small change to pay with.  We would recommend keeping some tissues in your pocket/handbag as toilet paper supplies can be a little erratic.

Useful websites

Russian Tourist Board
www.visitrussia.com
“In Your Pocket” and select the relevant country or city
www.inyourpocket.com

Climate

We suggest that prior to departure you check the weather forecast for the most up-to-date information.
www.worldweatheronline.com

Average minimum/maximum Temperatures (˚C)

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Moscow -16/-9 -14/-6 -8/0 1/10 8/19 11/21 13/23 12/22 7/16 3/9 -3/2 -10/-5
St Petersburg -13/-7 -12/-5 -8/0 0/8 6/15 11/20 13/21 13/20 9/15 4/9 -2/2 -8/-3