General Information of Moscow
Best time to visit Moscow
The best time to visit Moscow would be during early spring till mid autumn (May - November). Unless you are interested in the cold Russian winter, which is very beautiful (from my perspective), or if you plan to have some winter sport activities.
Early spring (March, April) the weather is around -6 degrees and the it could be quite unpredictable. Besides that, it is at that time where the ice starts to melt, and the roads get really muddy.
From December till February, it gets dark around 4pm and most tourist spots close early. It can get quite cold especially during February (highest -40).
How much would I spend for a day In Moscow
An average road side meal would cost you around 70 Roubles/2$ (hot dog) till 120 Roubles/4.5$ (a big plate of hot potato salad and a coke).
If you live at a place which provides you cooking utensils, and buy your raw materials from the market (Rinak) , you can make your own meals for around 150 Roubles/5$ a day. Cheaper restaurant prices are around 300 Roubles/10$ (the Uzbek cafes or Azerbaijanese cafes in the market). Fast food (McD, KFC etc) cost also around 300 Roubles/10$ per meal.
A night at in Moscow hotels on the average is around 70-200$, depending on the location and comfort. My best suggestion would be a hostel, if you are travelling alone, which cost around 600 Roubles (20$) for a dorm to 1500 Roubles (40$) for privates. Prices for hostel is counted per head not per room. If you are travelling in a group, the best option would be a serviced apartment, which cost around 90 Euros per night for a 2 room apartment at a good location. For more information see Accommodations in Moscow.
Crime and Danger in Moscow
From my personal experience , the crime rates here change with the season. Nearing winter, ie starting December, there would be more theft cases in the city. Most often at the busiest Metro stations near the center, and on the streets within the center itself.
Skinheads have massively decreased since 7 years ago and they almost do not exist anymore (in Moscow).
But nevertheless, there is still potential danger from drunkards especially if you are travelling alone late at night on the streets or metro which is far from the city center. After 11pm, many of these drunkards will be seen in the metro.
The police are another problem for foreigners. They usually try to find fault with your Visa or Registration, and demand a fee or they will lock you up in the police station. Thankfully, for the past 5 years (as of 2010), the anti-corruption department have been doing a great job in decreasing these corrupted policemen, especially in main cities such as Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Sochi etc. However, many of these corrupted policemen are still around, especially around the less popular cities in Russia. They are on a lookout for the occational tourist (whom are spotted easily), and try to make a quick buck out of the situation.
A good way to go about this situation is to insist on seeing their identification before you show your passport, and remembering their name (They will go to jail if proven guilty of bribery). After that, do not give them you passport, just open it and show it to them. If they insists there is a problem, threaten to call your embassy. (Usually they will not risk the trouble and they will let you go). They will usually charge a fine of 2000 Roubles.
Additional advice on personal safety!
- Do not carry a lot of cash with you
- Always bring along your passport, visa and migration card wherever you go.
- Have the number of your embassy in Moscow inside your phone for emergencies.
- Avoid metros where there is a football match. (Especially after the match)
Passport, Visa, Migration card and Registration
It is compulsary to bring along your Passport, Visa, and Registration wherever you go. Lacking one of these could result in a fine up to 2000 Roubles (usually just a bribe). Lacking a passport could get you into jail (temporarily) or a higher bribe fine.
Every foreign visiter needs a visa to enter and exit Russia. Visa types are differentiated into
- Tourists visa
- Business visa, multiple entry (3 months, 6 months, 12 months)
- Student visa, multiple entry (duration determined by the institution)
You would require proof of health insurance and you would need to certify that you are HIV negative
It is obligatory to be registered within 3 working days, which doesnt include saturday or sunday. (as of 2010). This rule is currently being changed, and has been proposed to be up to 7 working days (as of March 2011). This registration process could be done with any hotel, tourists agency or hostels. Day count would be restarted if you leave the city. For example if you stay in Moscow for 3 days and fly to Saint Petersburg for another 3 days, then back to Moscow for 2 days, you should not need to register.
Please double check the latest law regarding registration to be sure.
Upon entry, you will be required to fill up a small form, which is your migration card.
You will have to keep this migration card with you at all times, and it is needed to exit the country.
The electrical socket is 220 Volts AC, 50 Hz. The sockets are double round-pin plugs. It is almost impossible to find a 3 to 2 pin converter in the shops. So bring one to avoid the unnecessary trouble.
You must be wondering why is this even an issue.
Well.. unlike most other european countries (or any other developed country), there are EXTREMELY FEW public toilets around. Many restaurants only allow customers to use their toilets. There are, however, small public toilet booths around for 20 -30 Roubles (as of 2010), which are extremely foul smelling.
M = Male ; Ж = female
The main phone network providers are Megafon, Beeline and MTS. These could be bought in most shops for around 10-20$. Prepaid services are availabe, and reload coupons could be found everywhere.
Media & Latest News about Russia
The main english news source are The Moscow Times , and Passport Moscow magazine. They are the most reliable source of information about current Russia. They have an extensive list of restaurants, classified based on country of origin and average price for a meal. They also have articles on monthly interesting events in Moscow as well as popular theatre shows. The Moscow Times and Passport Moscow are usually available free of charge at most hotels and hostels in Moscow.