Travel Tips

When to come - summer or winter?

Russia basically has just two seasons, summer and winter! The spring and autumn pass by so quickly that it is best to talk mainly just of these two. Summer generally lasts from late May until the end of August. September can also be quite nice but by October prepare yourself for rain and snow and in November, the snow begins in earnest. Russia in the summer is beautiful. The weather is usually balmy and in St. Petersburg, it stays light well into the night. The White Nights last from June to July and it will stay light until 1.30 in the morning and never really get too dark. Summer is an excellent time to travel but be prepared for more tourists in the major cities. Museums may be a little crowded but it is not so bad – nothing compared to the crowds in Venice or London for example. The theaters and ballets operate in summer but many of the major companies are on tour during this period. The atmosphere in the streets is electric in summer – Russians love to get out and stroll at all hours. It is very festive and we are sure that you will enjoy it.

The winter is also a good time to visit. Russia turns into a wonderland of snow and sparkling ice. If you dress warmly, the cold should not bother you. There are hardly any tourists in the cities and this is truly the best time to visit museums or see the ballet or theater. All major theater companies are at their home bases – the Mariinsky, the Bolshoi and more are all at the ready. The atmosphere is also very festive on the streets with Russians all bundled up and hurrying to one warm restaurant or theater to another. New Years is Russia's largest holiday and it is a lot of fun to be in Russia during the holiday season. In short, any time is great for visiting Russia.

Weather

The climate really depends on the region because Russia is large and one place may be completely different from another. Summers can actually be quite hot because much of Russia is landlocked - generating a hot continental climate in the summer (Siberia for example). In the areas where you will most likely be visiting, the typical summer temperature is in the upper 20s and low 30s Celsius or the mid 70s to mid 80s Fahrenheit. In the winter, it is typically -20 to -10 Celsius or -4 to +14 degrees Fahrenheit. In rare instances, it can get VERY cold – down to -40 Celsius and -40 Fahrenheit but this is not typical in Moscow and St. Petersburg. It is typical in Siberia!

What to pack

It all depends on when you are coming to Russia. If you come during the late spring and summer, you should take comfortable shoes, underwear, bra, jeans, cotton or light wool pants, tee shirts, button downs or polo shirts, a light spring jacket, sweater, sweatshirt. Perhaps a cap and sunglasses - remember during the White Nights it stays sunny until well past midnight in St. Petersburg. You may want to bring some nice clothes if you plan to go "out on the town" or visit a theater in Moscow or St. Petersburg. You could also bring your bathing suit if you'd like to sunbath on the Gulf of Finland or on the Russian countryside.

Winter of course is a different story. Moscow is cold, Siberia is colder and St. Petersburg can be humid and cold – not a very pleasant combination but if you dress in layers, you should have absolutely no problems. Winter in Russia can be beautiful. Take all of the above summer items plus warm sweaters and sweatshirts, long underwear and warm, woolen socks, a sturdy pair of warm, waterproof boots, a warm, winter jacket, warm gloves, a warm wool or fur hat, and earmuffs if your hat does not cover your ears.

In Russia, especially in the big cities, you can buy everything you need for personal care that is available in the USA and Europe. However, if you are used to some specific brands, you may want to bring these products with you. Please make sure you bring a supply of any prescription medicines that you may be taking. Many are available in Moscow and St. Petersburg but all are not. It is always a good idea to be safe rather than sorry.

Money

Russians use roubles, a currency that is virtually unconvertible outside of Russia. You can find the rouble dollar exchange rate on http://www.cbr.ru/eng/currency_base/daily.aspx. In most Russian cities, it is quite easy to exchange hard currency for roubles. Be aware that rates can differ substantially - this is especially important if you plan to exchange large sums of money. Visitors can use practically all banks or exchange posts.

ATM machines

ATMs, called bankomats in Russia, are becoming more and more popular here as more Russians receive debit and credit cards. As anywhere in the world, the ATM owner will take a commission, usually equal to $3 for each transaction, therefore, it is best to take out larger amounts at one time rather than always pay the $3. The exchange rates at ATMs are usually quite good - it is the commissions that you have to worry about.

Traveler's Checks

Banks in major hotels in St. Petersburg and Moscow and the main branches of the largest Russian banks will accept traveler's checks - however only the most popular brands (American Express, Cook, etc.). Traveler's checks are ok, but it is best to bring cash, and for additional funds use a bankcard to get money from an ATM machine.

Tipping

Tipping a small amount is customary at restaurants and bars but isn't anywhere near as widespread as it is in, say, the US. For example, you might want to leave a 50-rouble tip for a meal that costs 500. Generally, the tip amount is between 5% and 10%.

Communications

Cell phones

Russia uses the GSM network so it is compatible for all of Europe but incompatible for cell phones from the USA. This makes communicating by cell phones for Europeans quite easy and communication by cell phones for Americans impossible! However, it is quite easy to purchase a cell phone at a reasonable price from one of the many mobile phone stores and payment centers that you see everywhere in the centers of any Russian city. Currently, you can buy a decent cell phone for the equivalent of $80 USD including a SIM card and connection to a local network. Most people in Russia use prepaid cellular services, in other words, they purchase prepaid phone cards. Russia has 3 main cellular telephone networks - MTS, Beeline and Megafon.

Internet

Every major Russian city has internet cafes and most hotels provide internet (either for free of for an extra fee, check with your hotel for more information). Also wireless internet connections are becoming more popular in Russia. You will find dozens of Wi-Fi hotspots in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Many of them are free, some charge $5 - $10 per hour. Ask your tour guide or the Express to Russia office for more information for where to get online.

Voltage requirements

The electrical current in Russia is 220 volts AC, 50Hz and electrical equipment uses 2 pronged, European, circular shaped sockets/plugs. Try not to bring much electrical equipment with you but if you must bring a laptop, check if it can take the 220 volts (most do) and also purchase a plug adapter to make sure that you can plug it into the differently shaped, circular, European electrical outlets.

Presents and souvenirs

Typically, you can buy things in Russia for friends that you may meet but it might be a good idea to take some nice cosmetics (lipsticks, eye shadow, etc.), body creams for women and perhaps silver dollars or some other interesting souvenir from your country for the men. Things such as photo books of your country or the region where you are from also make a nice gift.

You will have many opportunities to buy Russian souvenirs while in major Russian cities. There are a lot of handicrafts that can be purchased that are intimately related to Russia: nesting dolls, lacquered boxes, traditional Russian outfits - sarafans and head-dresses kokoshniks, wood carving and painted figurines khokhloma wood crockery and many other nice souvenirs. You can also negotiate prices and get decent discounts at the street shops if you are willing to try!

Medical help and prescription medicine

If you have a serious problem, the Express to Russia staff will help you to arrange a trip to medical centers in St. Petersburg or Moscow. Be aware that these clinics charge Western prices or may be even more expensive than your typical Western hospital or clinic. Some of them may accept your insurance but most will not, therefore, it is best to keep all of your bills that you have paid and submit them to your insurance company. It also may be a good idea to purchase travel insurance for your trip just to make sure that you will be covered. Please make sure you bring a supply of any prescription medicines that you may be taking. Many are available in Moscow and St. Petersburg but all are not. It is always a good idea to be safe rather than sorry.

About Vamana

Welcome to Vamana, the ideal destination for planning the dream holiday of your choice. We invite you to visit and explore our website and know our products which are all unique not so much in destinations but in the way they are put together and the service quality that you can expect with Vamana. Our dedicated staff makes sure that you are taken care and your holiday experience is great!

We look keenly into every enquiry that comes across and take prompt action by responding to the request and getting in touch with the client. We also hear to the specific requirements of the client and come up with a customized version of any itinerary. We also customize tour packages based on the budget parameter or custom design a tour. We always keep the client informed about the tour and the related events so that he enjoys his travel without worrying too much about schedule and other tour requirements.

We have tour programs capturing all the exclusivity and diversity of Indian sub continent has something to offer to everyone…and this experience gets further refined by your association with Vamana.

AIR / TRAIN TICKETS

We offer the best deals on the Air Ticket Booking for domestic as well as International flights. We offer online booking for air tickets to and fro to any destination in India and abroad. We offer flight booking in India for business as well as leisure tours.

Read more: AIR / TRAIN TICKETS

RUSSIAN VISA

Visa Invitation Letter for Russia

According to Russia immigration law, each foreigner must obtain Visa Invitation to Travel to Russia for any reason (personal, study, work, business, visit relatives/friends, etc.). This requirement helps Russian authorities to better control illegal immigration and be able to see who comes and leaves the country.

Type of Visa

  1. Tourist Visa
  2. Business Visa
  3. Student/Education Visa
  4. Private/Family Visa

Russian Tourist Letter of Invitation/Visa Support

Tourist visa can be obtained on the basis of invitation from a Russian tourist agency and/or hotel, registered with the Department of Consular Services of Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

Duration

No. of Entries

Price

Time Taken

14 Day

Single

45 USD

2 Working Days

Document requirements

  • Color scans copy of passport first and address page
  • Travel date
  • Cities to visit

Russian Business Letter of Invitation/Visa Support

If you travel to Russia more than once a year; if you stay for more than 30 days at a time, or just need more flexibility, Russian Business Invitation is a way to go. Business visa support allows you to obtain visa for up to 12 months (not possible with tourist visa) and enter/exit Russia multiple times.

Duration

No. of Entry

Price USD

Time Taken

90 Days

Single Entry

140

16-17 Working Days

90 Days

Double Entry

160

16-17 Working Days

180 Days

Multiple Entry

190

23-24 Working Days

365 Days

Multiple Entry

220

23-24 Working Days

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

If you obtain 12 months multiple entry letter of invitation/visa, according to Russian migration laws you cannot stay in Russia for more than 90 consecutive days. You have to leave country for at least a day and then re-enter for another 3 months.

Documents requirement

  • Color copy of passport first page and address page
  • Date of travel
  • Duration of stay
  • Working place address and contact detail
  • Designation in case of business visa invitation

Private/Family Visa Invitation

This type of Russian visa is for those who have relatives or friends in Russia able to get a Private Invitation.

Important:

Since the procedure to acquire a Private Visa Invitation is time consuming and difficult (especially for your friends or relatives), we recommend traveling on a Tourist or Business visa.

Period of stay in Russia:

From one day to a maximum of three months. It is valid for one entry only.

Visa Invitation:

Private Invitation issued by the local department of the Federal Migration Service (FMS, formerly PVS) by the request of an individual.

Terms and price of Visa Invitation:

Though the price is not high, the procedure may take up to three months.

TOURS TO RUSSIA

Russia Tourism

Russia is the largest country in the world with total area of 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi). Its history that excites you, Russia offers a good measure of this too. Moscow and St. Petersburg has an abundance of museums, art galleries and guided tours through the older parts of the cities that features some sightseeing activities of monuments and old Russian architecture.

Russia enjoys a great potential for both in-country tourism development and foreign tourists reception. Everything is here for it - a vast territory, rich historic and cultural heritage and wild nature in many of its regions.

Russia’s territory stretches for 10 000 km from east to west and almost for 3 000 km from northern latitudes to subtropical areas in the south. A variety of landscapes provides opportunities to develop many types of tourism. Russia has sea resorts at the Black Sea in the south and the Baltic Sea in the north-west which makes it suitable for beach rest, medical treatment and rehabilitation. Ultima Thule gives visitors a chance to observe polar lights or take an ethnic tour to northern peoples, or take part in deer safari on tundra lands.

The presence of mountains provides opportunities for mountaineering (rock climbing, caving, hiking, rafting along rapid mountain rivers and skiing, mountain biking and delta plane sports) as well as rehabilitation at mineral water resorts.

Full-flowing and wide rivers like the Volga, the Yenisei or the Lena give excellent possibilities for cruises, fishing and various types of rafting. Other cruising destinations include north-western waters of Russia. As a rule, numerous lakes are picturesque and clean. Lake waters are clean not just by appearance: in Karelia and in the Baikal it is drinkable.

The forests of the Central Russia, foothills of the Caucasus, Siberian taiga and the Far East are full of animals and birds attracting hunting tour lovers. In Russia, there are enough of places with wild virgin nature which creates ideal conditions for environmental routes development. As compared to many European countries, a tourist who travels over Russia may meet no people for quite a long time. In Siberia, you may drive along a highway laid across forests for several hours and meet no cars! Yet, it is rather possible to encounter a brown bear in adjacent woods. In Astrakhan Region, on your way to the fishing camp in the delta of the Volga River, a forester will show you a flamingo, pelicans and other rare bird species. Horse riding around the Altai Krai resembling fairytale worlds will leave no nature lover indifferent.

Russia’s rich history bears the traces of Vikings, ancient Slavs, Mongols and Tatars, Scythians, Swedish, Greeks, Genoese and other peoples. Our ancestors inherited certain features of their appearances, faiths, cultures, languages and traditions. This factor stimulates internal tourism development and makes Russia’s peoples interesting for each other. Grand princes, monarchs and emperors adjoined and lost lands and peoples; travelers went deep into the virgin lands of the North, Siberia and the Far East and discovered new spacious valleys, rivers, seas and oceans. Democratic and authoritarian rulers replacing one another, built palaces and mansions, established museums, destroyed Christian churches and Buddhist temples; left us their mausoleums and grand multi-storey buildings, powerful power plants and at the same time, camps for the repressed, corn fields, entered space, created unique armaments and restored temples. All these events made Russia the country any visitor may now explore and experience at an excursion tour.

In addition to natural and historic and cultural attractions, there certain social factors having a positive influence over tourism development, that is a high purchasing power of foreign currencies and freedom of travelling over the major part of the country’s territory including areas prospective from the tourist point of view such as the Far East, Sakhalin, the Kurile islands, the Urals, the North of Russia as well as Nizhny Novgorod and Samara which were formerly closed for foreigners.

Domestic and external tourism in Russia is characterized by a variety of types. Among the ones developing the most rapidly, one can name environmental, sportive, extreme, mountaineering, cognitive, recreational, cruise, fishing and hunting, event-oriented and gastronomic types of travelling. Individual and young people’s tourism is also becoming more and more popular.

Moscow :

Moscow is believed to be about 850 years old. The first record of it in the chronicles is dated 1147. Many centuries ago, the town was built on seven hills. It is rather difficult to discern them now, with exception of the Borovitsky (“Pinery”) Hill, where one of the 20 Kremlin towers stands. The Kremlin (this word means “a steep hill” in Greek) and Red Square are definitely the main Moscow sights, symbols of all of Russia. Moscow is a real megapolis: the city extends out 40 kilometers from north to south and over 30 kilo meters from east to west. The population of over 10 million (including the vicinities) makes Moscow the world’s fifth largest city; also, over a million visitors, mostly tourists, come here daily. All those who have business in Moscow, and those just passing through, try to delay their departure for one or two days, willing to learn more about the city.

St. Petersburg :

St. Petersburg, the most European city in Russia, celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2003. The city’s immediate destiny was to become Russia’s new capital. St. Petersburg is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Since 1918, the capital of the state has been returned to Moscow, but “Peter” has maintained its unofficial status of second capital. The city’s population today exceeds 5 million (including the vicinities), making St. Petersburg the world’s largest city from its latitude to the North Pole. The city’s man road is the fashionable and elegant Nevsky Prospekt, which is 4.5 kilometres long Many residents of St. Petersburg make a promenade along this central prospect into a lively ritual.

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