Travel guide to Russian Federation

» Russian Federation
A trip to the world's largest country is an exciting and intense experience - it is a morass of different cultures, sights and histories. Russia contains cities, desert wilderness and natural scenery - it is a vast place that is impossible to characterise in any simple way.

Facts

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Local name
Rossiyskaya Federatsiya
Capital
Moscow
Size
17,100,000 sq km
Principal Languages
Russian
Principal Religion
Russian Orthodox Christianity
Inhabitants
147,463,480
Government
Republic
Geography
Russia extends 6000 km, from White Russia and the Ukrainian borders in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. The country includes two continents and is, by some margin, the world's largest nation.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

The warmest months in Russia are July and August, which means that it is also the high season for tourists. It is also very humid at this time, so the months just before and after could be an even better time to go. If you visit during the winter you should be prepared for some extreme cold.

Literature

Lonely Planet Russia, Ukraine & Belarus

Local conditions

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Currency

Rouble (RUB). 1 rouble=100 kopek

Net cafes

Quite a few hotels and post offices have access to the Internet, as well as several Internet cafes, which have popped up recently in the major cities.

In case of emergency

Fire department (01) Police (02) Ambulance (03)

Tipping

Both taxi drivers and waiters usually receive a 10-15 per cent tip, but a good rule of thumb is to give a tip, whenever the service has been satisfactory.

Timezone

Russia has 11 different time zones, spread over two continents. As a starting point:- When it is 12.00 in the UK it is 14.00 in Moscow.

Weight and Measures

Length: metre Weight: kilogram Volume: litre

Photography

You can photograph everything in Russia, except military installations, borders, airports and train stations. You should always ask before taking pictures of the locals.

Drinking water

The tapwater is polluted in several places in Russia because of some absurd and ruthless exploitation of the environment - and corresponding heavy industry. It is therefore recommended that you buy bottled water.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz

Behaviour

You should not display wealth too much when in the streets, and it is recommended you leave valuables such as jewelery, watches and electronics back in your hotel room because of the many thieves in the streets.

Business Hours

Shops are open 9.00 to 20.00 (Monday to Saturday), however, the opening hours vary from place to place. Banks are open 9.30 to 17.00 (Monday to Friday). Post offices are open 9.00 t0 21.00 (Monday to Friday). Offices are open 9.00 to 18.00 (Monday to Friday). Museums are open 10.00 to 18.00 (Tuesday to Sunday).

Food and drink

In spite of the popularity of fast and foreign food in Russia, the locals still remain loyal to their culinary heritage. Zakuski, which is a small hors-doeuvre consisting of, among other things, caviar , omelettes, salads and various animal flesh dishes are very common. They are of course flushed down with vodka. The main courses almost invariably consist of beef, pork or lambflesh.

Holidays

New Year's Day, 1 January Russian Orthodox Christmas, 7 January International Women's Day, 8 march The Worker's International Day, 1 May Victory Day of WW2, 9 May The Russian Independence Day, 12 June Constitution Day, 7 October The Day of Reconciliation and Peace, 7 November

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

The camping sites are located far from the cities and usually only open during the summer. The facilities are often poor, and so is the security.

Hotels

Russian hotels range from luxuriant hotel palaces to decayed hovels. You could be lucky and find acceptable establishments between these extremes, they will be far from perfect though.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

Private accommodation is becoming increasingly popular in Russia, and you can find agencies in both Moscow and St Petersburg which rent out private rooms. Often you can choose between self-catering apartments, or Bed & Breakfasts.

Hostels

The hostels operated by non-Russians are the best, as they're more safe and better at guiding travellers on a tight budget. You should book a room before going.

Local transport

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Planes

Russia has a large number of domestic flights all across the country, but you should be careful in choosing one as Russia is also the country with the poorest flight security in the world. If you need to fly somewhere you should choose known foreign companies. Find more information on: http://www.aeroflot.org/index.htm

Bus

Buses are an excellent way of getting around the smaller cities, and they are often the only option in more thinly populated areas. The prices are reasonable, but you need to look out for your luggage in the bus terminals which often function as a magnet for criminals.

Trains

The extensive railroad in Russia will take you anywhere - the prices are low, the trips fairly comfortable, but very slow. All Russian trains operate on Moscow-time, except the subways, which operate on local time.

Taxi

You can always find a taxi in the major Russian cities. They're quite cheap and easy to find in the one of the many taxi-ranks around the cities. If you phone for a taxi, be prepared for an operator who only speaks Russian. You should always agree on the price before going anywhere.

Car rental

Car rental is also an option, if you want to get around on your own. You can only find the companies in a few of the major cities, and the prices vary a good deal. Reserving a car before your trip can be extremely expensive.

Boat or Ferry

Russia's major rivers are usually used for ferry service, and you can travel far, especially in the summer, with passenger ships or actual cruise ships.

Other Transport

The trans-Siberian railroad is perfect for those who travel for the sake of travelling itself. The world's longest railroad is very popular, considering that the trip takes 7-9 days. Maybe this is just why it is so popular. You cross seven time zones and reach around almost a third of Earth's circumference during the trip. Find more information on: http://www.trans-siberia.com/

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