Passports and Visas
All passengers require a machine-readable passport valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip, with appropriate visas. You should carry your passport with you at all times to ensure against its loss or theft in hotels. Check with the Russian Consulate to determine if any visas are needed. Securing required documents is the responsibility of the traveler. This information is a guide only and it is essential that you check all current passport and visa rules with your travel agent before departure.
Russia uses rubles and kopeks. One ruble equals 100 kopeks. Bank notes come in denominations of 10, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 rubles. Coins are in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 rubles and 1, 5, 10 and 50 kopeks. You can change US dollars at banks and currency exchange agencies for the best rates, hotels and some shops can also change them for you, but the rate will likely be much higher. ATMs are also an efficient way to get money in the local currency.
Russia has 220 V at 50 Hz, with a type F or C socket (F types are in new buildings; C types are in older structures). America's electrical currents are 120 V at 60 Hz, with a type A or B socket, so you'll need a converter and an adapter.
Wireless and wired Internet access is widely available in major cities throughout Russia. Many of the hotels we use offer this service free or at a small charge. There are also Internet cafés in main cities that allow you access, usually for a small charge.
Phoning home from another country can be expensive. All hotels will add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room. This charge can be very high. It is always cheaper for you to use public telephones (payphones) if your cell phone is not set for international calls. Your Travel Director can explain how to dial internationally if you are unsure.
Most stores are open from 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Grocery stores are generally also open on Sundays.
You'll find a wide range of items to choose from. Some attractive buys to bring home included ceramics, porcelain, glass, jewelry, lacquered boxes, traditional Matryoshka dolls (the wooden dolls within dolls), amber, lace and vodka.
We suggest the following tipping rates: Hotel housekeepers $1-3 per day (or the equivalent in the local currency), Taxis 10-15% of the fare on the meter, Restaurants and bars, if it is not included as a service charge, 10-15% of the total bill.
Within cities, try the metro, tramway or trolleybus. Even if you don't take the metro, visit the metro stations. They are an experience in and of themselves! Taxis are also available and can be hailed on the street, hired at a rank or reserved by phone. Official taxis are yellow with checkered signs on the doors.
To travel from one city to another, the train is an excellent choice.
Generally, casual jeans or slacks, shirts, sweaters, a jacket and comfortable walking shoes are all you'll need. If you plan on an evening at a nicer venue, dressier clothes may be called for. You are usually smart to pack clothes that can be layered, in case of unexpected cooler weather.