Russia

Russia, Eastern Europe

RUSSIA

Enter the fabulous world of Russia – miraculous and still mysterious to many foreigners, full of cultural and historic treasures, marked with magnificence of Tsar Palaces and Cathedrals and beautiful and unspoiled nature.

We are here to help our clients find reliable, professional and reasonably priced services throughout Russia. We will help you plan every detail of your Russian vacation from getting your visa and airline tickets to reserving hotels, tours and train tickets.  If you would like your trip to extend beyond the borders of Russia Cinderella Travel will make sure you have everything you need for your trip to the Ukraine and other CIS countries as well.

Cinderella Travel makes our clients travel convenient whether you need to travel to the depths of Russia or to the heart of Western Europe.  Our goal is to make sure that your trip will be nothing short of a fairytale.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW 

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So, you have everything ready for your unforgettable trip to Russia; a visa in your passport, your airline ticket, your hotel reservation and a couple of guide books. Your suitcases are packed and you are ready and excited to step on the plane!

Before you go here are some bits of information every travels needs to know for their first visit to Russia.

MOSCOW AIRPORT

Most foreign travelers arrive in Moscow at Sheremetyevo 2Airport. The airport was built for the 1980 Olympics, and for a city of 8 million-plus, it’s relatively small. The airport does not have the best reputation, prowled by cigarette smoke, aggressive taxi drivers and long lines at customs.  Once you are at the airport you will definitely know you have arrived in Russia, and there is somewhat of charm to that.

Once your passport is stamped and you grab your bags, you will emerge and battle through a horde of taxi drivers tripping over themselves trying to offer you a ride into the city. Bargaining skills come in handy when it comes to Taxi drivers. If you don’t speak the language and don’t bargain, be prepared to pay $40USD minimum. An alternative to being whisked away by strong Russian taxi men (was this ever an episode on Sex and City?) there is a taxi desk in the center of the arrivals hall that you can turn to, for a higher price, of course.  A convenient option available to travelers is arranging a transfer through a ground operator.  With prices compatible to a Taxi fare, you will be met at the airport with you name on a welcome board and transported to your exact destination. In most cases we recommend the ground transfer for our clients unless they have a thing for strong Russian Taxi men… And who doesn’t?

The taxi ride to or from the city center should run about a half hour to forty five minutes, depending of course, on traffic.

HOTELS

The majority of travelers chose to stay in hotels during their visit to Russia.

Moscow and St. Petersburg has become a favorite for tourists visiting Russia. Over the last few years the tourist boom has greatly impacted prices for hotel accommodations. Prices have shot up drastically! Finding a decent moderate hotel below $100.00USD a night has become almost impossible. We recommend that you pre-book your hotel through an outlet that has exclusive contracts and established relationships with vendors in Russia, such as Cinderella Travel!  Hint, Hint!

LANGUAGE

Traveling to a country without the knowledge of the language could be a scary thought. Don’t worry; even with a limited vocabulary of “da” and “nyet”, you should be able to get around town without any difficulties. Hotels, tourist agencies, museums and most of the younger Russian population speak English and most of the time will gladly assist you with your questions.

When you are traveling to smaller, more isolated cities English speakers are much harder to find so learning a couple of Cyrillic words is a good idea. Trust us, being able to read signs on the street and in the metro will make your trip much more enjoyable.

MONEY

Carrying a lot of cash at all times is never a good idea, especially if you’re a tourist. Always be aware of the pickpockets and carry your wallets and purses close to you.

Russian prices are considerably lower than those in more developed countries, but if you don’t speak Russian and want to live as a Westerner, Moscow can be a very expensive city.

The easiest way to exchange your money to rubles is to use an ATM. ATMs are widely available in Moscow and St. Petersburg and to a lesser extent in other big cities. You can also exchange your currency at exchange booths that are available on every other corner.

Prices at restaurants and stores are often listed in U.S. dollars but in most places payment is acceptable in Russian rubles. Credit cards are not as commonly used and are mostly acceptable at Western hotels, high-end restaurants and a few stroes.

Sample of Average Moscow Prices

One trip on the Metro: 15 cents
Compact disc (Non-pirated): $4
Movie: $6-$9
Cab ride (10-minute) : $2-$3
Russian beer (500ml): 60 cents
Lunch at a Western-style pizza chain: $7
Big Mac Value Meal at McDonald’s: $3
Issue of The Economist: $2.50
Average cost of parterre seats at the Bolshoi:
(purchased through a scalper): $15
(purchased through the Metropol Hotel): $55-$100
TRAVEL SAFETY

Serious crime against foreigners is rare; however, petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and purse snatching occur somewhat frequently like in most large metropolitan areas. Pickpockets are mostly active in crowded areas such as train stations, markets, shopping areas, sightseeing destinations, etc. Be wise and cautious with your personal belongings in public places.

Some of the precautions to avoid potential problems:

  • Do not show off your money in public
  • Keep enough money for your immediate needs in your pocket, and hide the rest either on the bottom of your bag (which you should carry close to your body) or at the hotel. Messenger or over the shoulder bags is your best option.
  • NEVER wear a bag or purse on your street-side shoulder in order to avoid becoming a target of the “snatch-and-ride”
  • Keep valuables in a safety deposit box at your hotel instead of leaving them in your room
  • Remove any “sparkly” jewelry that may draw a thief’s attention before you go out for a stroll in the city
  • Never carry your passport/visa, credit cards, traveler’s checks or other travel documents in your shoulder bag or fanny pack. (Do people still use those?)
  • Respect the customs of the local authorities and avoid getting into quarrel with the natives
  • Avoid traveling in any areas or sites that are not open to foreigners
 DRINKING WATER

Tap water is not recommended for drinking. Bottled water is offered at most hotels or can be purchased in stores, Avoid buying bottled water from street vendors.

TIPPING

Today, attitudes towards tipping are changing. Tips are now frequently accepted by travel guides, tour bus drivers, porters and waiters in top-class hotels and restaurants. Tipping may not be as generous as it is here in U.S. but is still very welcome and acceptable.

TAXES

Consumer taxes are included in price tags on goods but big hotels and fine restaurants may include a service charge of 10% or more.

USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS

Following numbers are very useful to have when traveling to Russia

Phone Number Service:
U.S. embassy in Moscow
Tel: (095) 728 50 00
Address: Novinsky Boulevard 19/23
  • 01 Fire Department
  • 02 Police
  • 03 Ambulance
  • 08 Weather Forecast
  • 09 Local Telephone Number Inquiry
TRAVELING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

If you are traveling with an infant to any city other than Moscow or St. Petersburg, the following items should be include in your luggage:

  • Blanket for baby to sleep with
  • Baby food and things for the baby drink
  • Baby wipes
  • Bottles
  • Sufficient disposable Diapers
  • Safety seat
  • Extra changes of clothing
  • First-aid kit containing necessary medicines such as antibiotic ointment for cuts and scrapes, allergy relievers and motion sickness relievers
  • Pacifiers, candies, or chewing gum to ease air pressure
  • Toys and books
  • Plastic grocery or zip-lock bags which can be used to carry a variety of sizes for storing soiled diapers, clothes, and shoes
SPECIAL NEEDS TRAVEL
  • Choosing a suitable itinerary
  • Before booking a tour, describe your disability to the operator in full detail to ensure proper arrangements are made.
  • Have a thorough physical examination and consult your doctor about your present physical condition
  • Describe the trip to your doctor and ask for advice.
  • Pack enough medication to last a few days longer than you expect to be away in case of unexpected delays
  • Take a doctor’s note and phone number
  • Bring your adaptive aids such as hearing aids and crutch. If you use a wheelchair, be sure to bring some spare nuts and bolts and specialized tools to dismantle it
  • Check your health insurance policy. If it does not provide for overseas visits, consider requesting your insurer to extend the policy. It is also advisable to take out travel insurance to cover you in the event of accidental injury as well as cover for medical expenses.
  • Check Accessible Facilities for the Disabled

Airlines and airports in Russia have made efforts to improve their facilities. The airport is equipped with lifts and ramps to provide easy access for disabled travelers. Wheelchairs and assistance can be arranged for passengers on the aircraft.

Most top-class hotels have special access facilities. You should contact the hotel in order to reserve any special accommodations if required.

POSTAL SERVICES

There are Post Offices in all cities and towns throughout the country. Domestic mail is fast and the cost is low. The international postal service is also efficient. Under normal circumstances it usually takes 5-10 days for airmail letters or postcards to reach their destinations.

Envelope sizes are standardized in Russia, so always buy them from post offices, hotels and appointed agencies.

A postal code is required when mailing letter.

COMMUNICATIONS

Phone

Russia’s phone system is efficient. Direct long-distance dials and International calls all can be made from hotel rooms or roadside telephone kiosks.

In hotels, local calls are generally free or only charged a nominal fee while domestic long-distance and international calls will be charged a variable service fee. Phone cards are more economical and can be purchased in most large cities.

Internet

Internet services are now widely available in Russia, especially in the major cities. Internet Cafes are spread throughout central locations and one will not be too far away from you at any given time.  Most four and five star hotels provide a high speed internet connection, for an extra fee, of course.

MEDICAL

Standards of both medical care and the availability of medicines can vary a great deal between one region and another.

In major cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg medical facilities are good. Some hospitals have special sections set aside for foreigners. There will be doctors and nurses who speak English. They are well qualified and competent so you will receive good medical care. Medical fees are reasonable and immediate payment is required.

Often, only primary health care is available in rural and remote areas. This is why you must make sure that you are in good health before you travel. It is essential that you take all recommended precautions so as to avoid accidents or illnesses.

Most hotels will have access to a doctor. Should you require treatment, contact your front desk, and they will arrange for you to either see a doctor or be taken to a hospital.

ELECTRICITY

The electrical current on European Continent is 220 volts. If you plan to bring any electrical appliances, you should purchase an adaptor.

EMERGENCY

If you’ve lost something, notify the hotel, tour group leader, transportation authorities or the police. If credit cards or traveler’s checks have been stolen, inform the issuer as soon as possible.

If you lose your passport, you should report the matter as soon as possible to your embassy or consulate in Russia.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Cameras and video cameras should be declared upon entry to Russia.

**Taking pictures is forbidden in most museums and palaces.**

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