The largest country in the world is known for its class-apart art, stunning landscapes and multi-cultural society. For the longest time, Russia had a ‘closed door’ policy which leads to apprehension amongst many to visit the country. However, the reality is that Russia is not scary at all. If traveling to Russia seems like a crazy adventure to you, consider booking yourself into one of the most popular Russia tours and ease yourself into the role of a tourist with the help of a huge group and guide by your side.
Here are some tips from the locals that will help you avoid any pitfalls when visiting Russia:
• Keep a phrasebook handy
Many Russians are not very comfortable conversing in English. However, this statement does not hold true for those working in the tourism industry. Restaurants have English menus as well. But, if you are thinking of striking up a conversation with a passerby, they might not be able to explain their thoughts perfectly in English. This is why you should purchase a phrasebook and keep it in your hand or download one on your phone. Try learning some useful words and phrases before you go to Russia because nothing makes the locals happier than listening to a warm ‘spasibo’ (thank you)!
• Prefer public transport
Public transportation in Russia is excellent and is pretty much the best way to get around most cities, especially the larger cities that have a well-equipped subway system. The undergrounds are very user-friendly since they have English maps, but the personnel are not comfortable with English. So, make sure you know how the system works, where to buy tickets from etc.
• Dress appropriately
It is a common misconception that it is always freezing in Russia and many are greeted with an unpleasant surprise upon arrival. While Russia definitely has chilly winters, summers can be excruciatingly hot and humid, especially in cities like St Petersburg. Research about the weather beforehand and pack clothes accordingly. If you are considering traveling during winters, be prepared for the wet slushy mud that snow melts into and carry a change of socks and appropriate footwear. Make sure you pack warm coats and lots of layers, but go light on the furry hats that shout out loud your identity of a tourist.
• Stay away from tap water
While most Western countries have a system of clean tap water, Russians do not live that way. In fact, opening the tap to see brown water for the initial few seconds is not an uncommon affair. Before we delve further into the chemistry of water in Russia, let us stop at saying that bottled water is the only real choice that you have.
• Respect local customs
While Russians have become more relaxed over many things in the last few years, they are still a traditional society and have certain rules and expectations that tourists should follow. For instance, if you are invited to a Russian house for a meal, guests are expected to follow certain rules like bringing a small gift with them.
Now that you know all about touring Russia like a local, it is time to book your tickets and embark on a memorable journey!