If you are planning on traveling to Russia, there are a few things that you should be aware of. From culture to laws and customs, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle if you aren’t prepared.
Russia has over 100 different ethnic groups living within its borders, which makes up for a diverse country full of unique cultures and traditions across regions throughout the nation.
Russia is the largest country in the world, covering an area that spans over 17 million square kilometers.
Russian Culture Mix
The culture of Russia was formed by some combination of Slavic, Finno-Ugric, and Turkic influences. Which means it has a rich history all its own throughout centuries of development.
Cities like Moscow are considered among the most expensive cities for travelers to visit, with prices being higher than any other major city across Europe or North America, making travel very costly overall.
Russia Federal System
Russia has a federal system of government. Each district has its own laws, customs, and taxes, making it difficult for travelers who aren’t aware of these differences making travel planning more complicated than necessary.
The average Russian citizen will speak around 140 different languages or dialects. But this heavily depends on what part of the country you visit since some regions emphasize one language over another, like Tatar being common in Kazan. At the same time, other places like Chechen may be spoken elsewhere. It’s also worth mentioning that there are various religions throughout Russia, including Eastern Orthodox Christianity, while others practice Islam, so keep an open mind when traveling to this region of the world.
Russians love their vodka, consuming around 18 liters per capita annually, making them one of the biggest consumers worldwide alongside other countries like Belarus and Ukraine. While there is no legal blood alcohol content level, driving under the influence will land you in jail. This means that drinking and driving are never worth the risk, even if it’s legal within Russia. Although if you do plan on shooting a bit left and indulge in their vodka, make sure that you have a car crash attorney on speed dial. Additionally, Russians tend to not use crosswalks when crossing roads, so don’t assume pedestrians have the right of way like they do in other countries around Europe or Asia.
Russia has one of the highest smoking rates, with nearly 25% of adults lighting up regularly. This makes it an unpopular habit among locals compared to other countries like China, where only 15% smoke frequently. Also, keep in mind that there aren’t any laws protecting non-smokers from secondhand cigarette smoke. So try your best not to sit near anyone who’s puffing away at their next meal or during any downtime throughout your trip.
Do not drink tap water. Instead, ensure you have bottled or boiled water before drinking it.
Don’t be surprised if your hotel is overbooked when checking in. Sometimes Russian hotels are known for doing this at random times to save on rooms they don’t need, so keep an eye out for this.
Missed In Translation
Don’t assume that just because you can see a sign in English means it is translated correctly, especially when going to far out places with larger cities and towns. It may have been mistranslated or an incorrect version of the phrase used. So keep this in mind if you’re traveling around Russia’s wilderness regions where people don’t speak much English at all.
Wifi is available in most places around Moscow. However, certain parts of town may have trouble connecting, especially older buildings or office complexes that aren’t as modernized yet. There are also many cafes and restaurants along main streets, which will allow wifi access depending on the business’s policy.
After arriving in Moscow, you’ll need to change your currency to Russian rubles (RUB). This shouldn’t be an issue for those who bring euros or US dollars as a backup. However, it is still good information for those planning their trip ahead of time and ensuring they have enough money for things like transportation, food, and any activities they plan on doing while in Russia. It will also make exchanging at the airport much easier since there are many kiosks set up throughout the terminals where one can do so very quickly without worrying about finding another place nearby where exchange rates might not be as favorable. The best places we found were either Mayakovsky Square or inside Red Square if that is where the traveler is arriving from.