Russia General Information
Region: North & Central Asia
Until the collapse of the USSR, there were restrictions on religious worship, although most of these were swept aside during the latter part of the 1980s. The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest of the Christian denominations with between 35 to 40 million followers. There is also a substantial Roman Catholic following. Such a vast country would have a fair representation of various religions and there are large groups of Muslims, Jews and Buddhists in different parts of the country.
Most people in Russia speak Russian, although some of the minority groups in Siberia and the Far East have their own language. Not much English is spoken outside of the major cities. The Russian language and all of the other minor languages use the Cyrillic alphabet.
Area (sq. km):
17,100,000 square meters
Russia’s time zones span 9 hours. Moscow and St Petersburg are GMT + 3 hours, whilst Irkutsk and Lake Baikal are a further 5 hours ahead, at GMT + 8 hours (the same time as China, Singapore, Malaysia and Western Australia).
When To Travel
The climatic conditions vary dramatically, ranging from northerly polar conditions through sub-arctic and humid continental to sub-tropical and semi-arid conditions in the south. The summers can be quite warm with the temperature reaching as high as 30 degrees Celsius, but it can drop to -35 degrees Celsius in winter. Both Moscow and St Petersburg are warm from mid-May to early-September, but the first snows start around December and can stay on the ground until early-April.
The best time to travel through Russia is in the late spring, summer and early autumn months (May-September).
Useful Travel Facts
Russia uses European two-pin plugs (220V/50AC) - round pins with no earth connections.
The standard of food has risen since Soviet times, but the so too have the prices. Traditional meals are typical of much of eastern Europe; comparatively bland, rich and heavy on meat and potatoes and pickled vegetables. Moscow and St Petersburg offer a broad selection of restaurants and international cuisines (at international prices), whilst local fast-food equivalents, street kiosks and markets cater to a more restricted budget. Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and dairy products are widely available, even in remoter regions such as Siberia.
Travelling conditions in Russia are fairly basic and the roads are in very poor condition, so a train journey is definitely the most comfortable way of crossing the country overland. Please be prepared for long travelling days and nights, but enjoy the experience of travelling through one of the world’s greatest landmasses and revel in the ever-changing scenery. When in the big cities (Moscow and St Petersburg), be sure to catch their underground Metro rail systems. The metro stations, especially those in Moscow, are works of art in their own rights and attract many tourists.
RUSSIA VISA INFORMATION:
All travellers to Russia (regardless of nationality) will require a visa, obtained in advance of travel with a letter of invitation from the Russian authorities. In order for us to arrange this letter you must provide your full passport details at time of booking. Please note that Russian visas are date specific and cannot be extended once issued.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
Most nationalities require a visa for Russia. You will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI), sometimes called a Voucher or Visa Support Letter in order to apply for your visa. You can obtain your LOI online through our local partners in Russia. Instructions and a link to the website will be sent to you at the time of booking. Read the instructions carefully and fill in the online application form. You will then be able to download your LOI instantly. Please note that we will add 3 days to the LOI duration before and after your trip dates for your convenience. If you are planning to stay longer than these dates please let us know as we will need to manually request a LOI to fit your specific travel plans.
The LOI included in the cost of your tour is for a Single Entry Tourist Visa. LOIs for other types of visas may be organised at your own expense and paid directly to our local partners, Parallel 60 (www.parallelsixty.com)
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You must apply for your Russian visa in advance. Visas are not available on arrival or en-route. Once you have received your LOI it is your responsibility to apply for your own visa either directly at an embassy or by using a visa agent. We do not recommend trying to obtain your Russian visa outside of your home country or place of residence as your application may be refused.
Use ONLY the information and dates on your LOI when filling in your visa application. There is no need to reference Peregrine Adventures or include a copy of your itinerary as Parallel 60 is the official inviting organisation, not Peregrine. Do not be concerned if the destinations and accommodation listed do not match your Peregrine trip exactly. This information is for the purposes of obtaining the visa only, not an indication of where you must travel and stay in Russia.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Letter of Invitation (LOI)
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4)
* Flight or other transport details - if required
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
Please be aware that visa extensions are NOT possible in Russia.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:
Train tickets in Russia are booked with passport numbers. Please make sure you provide us with your correct passport number. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip. If we receive changes to passport numbers less than 30 days prior to departure we cannot guarantee purchase of train tickets.
We do NOT recommend travelling on multiple passports for trips that involve border crossings by train. This can cause difficulties with train ticket bookings and cause significant issues delays at Immigration.
WARNING – MIGRATION CARDS
All foreign citizens entering Russia are required to fill in a migration card. The entry portion of the card will be retained by Immigration upon arrival. The stamped exit portion of the card must be kept with your passport during your stay in Russia and submitted to Immigration upon departure. If you are not given a migration card at Immigration on arrival you must request one, even if the immigration official says that you do not need one. Loss or failure to receive the exit portion of the card will result in you not being able to travel on our trip as all hotels require this card for registration and may result in significant delays or fines upon departure.