Russia is known for its unavigable bureaucracy, but thankfully, travel to Russia has become easier since Soviet times. You'll still have to register, and you still need a visa, but Russia travel is as easy as it is enjoyable - if you bear in mind the the following tips.
Visas for Travel to RussiaFirst of all, plan to apply for your visa well in advance of your trip through an embassy located in your country of residence. You will need an invitation (issued by the hotel at which you plan to stay or through a travel agent), and you can use this invitation to apply for your visa. Sound complicated? This system has become much more relaxed in the past few years, so grin and bear it.
Registering Upon Arrival to RussiaTravelers to Russia must register within three days of their arrival. The immigration form received at passport control must go wherever your passport goes - you will get a stamp at your hotel that will complete the registration process. Be sure to register at every new hotel you stay at when moving from city to city. Registration stamps may be checked upon departure or by law enforcement officials who can prey on naive or careless tourists.
Russia Currency and Money Exchange in RussiaThe Russian unit of currency is the ruble. It used to be that it was possible to purchase items in Russia with US dollar bills. This is the not the case any more. Euros and USD can be exchanged almost anywhere in Russia. However, bills must be of new or current issue, without rips, tears, markings or folds. (Be sure to ask your home bank if they can give you cash that fits this description - you will run into some unforgiving bank tellers while you travel in Russia.)
Using Bank and Credit Cards While Traveling in RussiaCash is always your best bet while you travel Russia. Not every place will accept credit cards. Bank machines will accept debit transactions, however, so don't leave home without the plastic. These cannot be found everywhere, so make sure you always have money to last a few days.
Other Money Tips for Russia Travel
- You may take traveler's checks if you are going to Moscow or St. Petersburg, but it is advisable not to rely on them. They can be difficult to cash, and, in smaller cities, completely useless.
- Exchange offices will almost always require your passport for currency exchange.
- Never exchange money on the street. People who offer to do this are shady characters at best, and cannot give you a fair exchange rate.
Vaccinations for Russia TravelDo Get/Update These Shots:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Tickborne Encephalitis (if you plan on hiking or camping, and if your country of residence offers it)