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Siberia Travel Info & Advisor
Travel to Russia is a unique opportunity to get acquainted with Russian history and culture. Russia spans eleven time zones and two continents and is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. This is a great country with an array of rivers, forests and towering mountains. Now you have a chance to explore its land of striking beauty and diversity, from magnificent capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg, to the measured life of Siberian cities. The whole new world is waiting for you to be discovered. Selena Travel Mongolia features east Siberia - Irkutsk, Lake Baikal and Buryat region. There are number of tours in Irkutsk and Lake Baikal area are provided by us. So, you're advised to pack for the Siberian weather, travel condition etc. Irkusk is a major city of eastern Siberia.
You may also want to have enough closing for the entire visit so you don’t have to worry about laundry. If your trip is long, laundry service will be available at your hotel. However, laundry services are way overpriced in most of the hotels while there are no Laundromats here at all. Though, since airlines baggage restrictions are getting tighter we recommend one bag per traveler (20 kg) and a smaller carry on (8 kg). Trains allow having up to 35 kg baggage. If you bring more you might be required to pay luggage fees.
Banks: Vneshtorgbank at Ulitsa Sverdlova, 40 is recommended. Open 9am-6pm Monday-Friday. It has a good exchange rate, and commission for travelers’ checks is 0.5-2% of the face value of the check (Visa, American Express), depending on the type of operation and currency. Accepts Visa & MasterCard.
Safety condition in Russia In spite of common concern Russia is relatively safe country. Coming to Russia is no more dangerous than visiting any other European county. It is about having some common sense: do not carry all your money with you, do not walk alone at nights, etc.Make sure you have our emergency number and your Embassy number at all times when you leave the hotel. It is also reasonable to pick up hotel’s card at reception desk. In case you get lost in the city, you can always show it to a cab driver to bring you back to your hotel.
Russia is safe for travel, but there are basic precautions that you should take when visiting any country. First of all, keep your passport and money in hotel safety deposit boxes (in-room or at reception desk). It is also recommended to have passport with you while being outside of the hotel, however, many people choose to have a copy instead while keeping passport in the hotel safe. If you are encountered by a Russian police officer (which is rather unlikely) you will be asked to show your ID.
In Russia there are 2-nd class carriages with 4-berth compartments (2 bottom shelves and 2 upper shelves above them). These shelves are good enough to sleep unless person is a lot taller than average. Linens are always included into train ticket cost. In all trains meals can be ordered in a restaurant car attached to the train (meals cost is not included in to ticket price). Restaurant car is usually in the middle of the train near the 1st class car. You may want to ask your carriage attendant about that.
One can take his own snacks/food into their cabin in all trains. Most Russians would do this, since restaurant car meals may be very regular, but overpriced as if it is a real fancy restaurant. Russians would normally bring drinks, snacks, cookies, hardboiled eggs, instant noodles/instant potatoes, smoked chicken, etc. Beware though, that there is no refrigerator provided, thus, pick food that can be kept at least some time without it.
Many westerners bring from home instant coffee, chocolate, dried fruits, nuts, etc. Please, take your own mug into the train to have instant coffee, etc. Hot boiling water is provided free of charge any time of the day. Though, it may be rather hot in summers, so please be sure to visit supermarket before the train trip to buy some cold drinking water to take to the train.
Each train car has its car attendant. This lady is in charge of keeping overall order. Besides, she makes hot boiled water in the tea pot. It is provided free of charge for anyone to make tea/instant coffee. Very often car attendant also sells tea bags/instant coffee, snacks, etc. One can purchase food from them if he runs out of his own stock or also easily buy food from many vendors on station platforms when train stops. If traveling in the sleeping car “without services included”, make sure you bring your own toilet accessories including towel, soap and toilet paper.
Money in Russia - Russian Currency: The national currency in Russia is called the Russian Ruble. One ruble is made up of 100 kopeikas. At the present time coins of 5, 10 and 50 kopeikas as well as 1, 2, 5 and 10 rubles are in circulation. However, kopeikas do not have much buying power and are mostly used for giving change in large supermarkets. Paper banknotes are 10, 50, 100, 500, 1 000 and 5 000 rubles. In Russia, payments for all goods and services are to be made either in Russian rubles cash or by credit (debit) cards. It is possible to exchange money at any bank, at exchange booths and at the majority of hotels.
Here is example of the prices tourists may face:
Cash: You cannot exchange your currency to Russian rubles in your homeland due to the unpopularity of rubles abroad. But there is no problem finding an ATM in or near your hotel. When you use your credit card in a Russian ATM you will withdraw cash in Russian rubles. ATMs might use an exchange rate that is different from Russia’s Central Bank official rate but still can be better than exchanging cash US dollars in commercial banks. You can exchange money at the airport but we advise against this as airport exchange rates are usually high. It is possible to exchange money at any bank outlet, at exchange booths on the streets and at the majority of hotels.
The rate of the Russian ruble today is 32 Rubles for 1 US dollar. We recommend that you carry anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 rubles (approximately $100-$300) with you at any time for emergencies, taking a taxi or shopping in some smaller stores that accept only cash.
Credit Card: In Russia VISA, Master Card and Maestro are widely accepted. JCB and Diners Club are much less common. Euro card and American Express are hardly accepted anywhere. If you carry any of those two we would advise to apply for VISA or Master Card to use it for this trip. You may bring one or two of your credit cards if you prefer to make purchases this way. But it is always a good idea to have a bit of cash with you for emergencies as well. When you travel outside of big cities (e.g. Baikal, Altai, Russian villages, etc.) we advise you to have enough cash for your personal expenses since it may be a problem with credit cards there.
Travelers' Checks: If you bring travelers' checks, you can cash them either at American Express Travel Offices (of which there are only 2 in Russia, by the way) or at a local bank. Beware though that you will be charged a 1% to 3% commission for cashing your checks. Major hotels or American Express Office suggest locations for obtaining cash advances on credit cards. Unfortunately, it is impossible to use travel checks to pay for goods and services and you will need to cash them into rubles. Please do not countersign your checks at the bottom before you get to the exchange office, as your signature must be verified by a certified officer to disburse your money.
While it preserves much of its ancient synthetic-inflexional structure and a Common Slavonic word base, modern Russian exhibits a large stock of the international vocabulary for politics, science, and technology. A language of great political importance in the twentieth century, Russian is one of the official languages of the United Nations. Although the international prestige of the language has waned since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the positions of Russian as the lingua franca of much of eastern Europe and northern Asia has only strengthened.
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