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Tips

Public transport in St. Petersburg 

Public transport in general:
You can buy a public transport card, called Podorozhnik (Подорожник) at the ticket office inside all metro stations. The card itself costs 50 RUB and you can top it up at the same ticket office (for examples a 1000 RUB, so everything together will cost 1050 RUB). You can use this ticket at all types of public transport, including Marshrutki. When you enter the vehicle you just touch the scanner at the entrance or the conductor or driver will check it for you.

Trams, buses and trolleybuses: 
Trams operate from 06.00 to 0.00. Tickets can be bought from the conductor who normally wears a special uniform (and/or a red arm band) in cash for a fixed price of 28 RUB. When buying a one-way ticket, make sure you have the exact amount of money or only small notes, since the conductor often doesn’t have any change. If booked, ProfIntern provides you with a 1-month transport ticket, which can be recharged afterwards. Otherwise if you don’t want to pay per ride you can also buy a 1-month pass yourself. If you don’t want to use a top-up pass you can get a month pass for trams, buses and trolleybuses individually for 1350 RUB. A combination pass which allows you to ride all three manners of transportation costs 1700 RUB. 
Keep in mind that trams, and some busses and trolleybuses are affected by traffic, so during rush hour a ride can take very long. 
The tram stops are marked with signs above the tracks or next to the road with the letter T on them. Trolleybuses are marked with a blue sign with a T on them and all bus stops are indicated by signs with the letter A. 
Routes are often indicated on the window on each side of the vehicle, but only in Cyrillic. 
When you are caught without a valid ticket by an inspector the fine will cost you from a 1000 to 1500 RUB.

Marshrutki: 
Marshrutki are small privately owned busses that you can wave down like a taxi anywhere you can find one. When you want to get off you just ask the driver to stop. They run on a daily basis from 07.00 until 23.00. There’s around 10 to 20 people that will fit in the mini bus. The price of a ride is displayed in front of the minibus, but usually a ticket has a fixed price of 36 RUB, which you will pay to the bus driver directly when you enter the bus. Or you can use the top-up public transport pass. The minibuses are usually marked with a K in front of the bus number. Quite often they have a better route infrastructure and are faster than public transport. 

Metro: 
The metro of St. Petersburg has some of the prettiest stations in the world, which are definitely worth a visit. But it’s also a very easy way of transportation. The metro of St. Petersburg currently consists of 5 lines, which are colour and number coded and 67 stations. It operates from 5.45 to 0.20 and runs every 2-3 minutes. The fare is paid by either a metal token (zheton) which can be bought at a ticket window at the station or at special token machines. One ride costs 31 RUB no matter how far you go. You can also by an electronic metro pass for a certain amount of rides, for 1-month or a top-up pass (e.g. a monthly pass costs 850 RUB for students and 2380 RUB for adults). To enter the metro, you put the token into the metal gate or you scan the pass on top of the metal gate on the scanner, which will allow you to walk through. Since a few years, the names of the metro stations are written both in Cyrillic and Latin letters, which makes it easy to navigate. The metro entrances can be recognized by the letter M on top. Keep in mind that the metro can be very crowded during rush hour. 

Tips for public transportation: 
Like in most countries, it is common to stand up for elderly to give them your seat in any means of public transportation. 

  • Stand on the right side of the escalator when going down on the escalator. The left side is for walking only. When you are going up it’s also advised to stand on the right side of the escalator, however during rush hour it can get so crowded that people also stand on the left side. 
  • When traveling per public transport, bring change. In trams, buses, trolleybuses and marshrutki it is common that the conductor or driver doesn’t have any change for big bills. In the metro the machines sometimes don’t work to well with notes, or they won’t have any change back, so to avoid overpaying or stand in the long line of the ticket window, bring exact change. 
  • Get ready to get off the tram, bus or trolleybus before you get to your stop. In rush hour it is difficult to get through all the people to get off. When the bus is empty the driver might not stop at every station, so stand at the door and if available press the stop-button. So make sure you move towards the exit before the vehicle stops. 
  • http://spb.rusavtobus.ru/en/ will show you how to get from A to B by different types of public transport (you can tick the boxes of the transportation you are willing to take) by several different routes.
  • Like in any other country; be aware of pickpockets while travelling. Do not keep your phone or other valuables in your hands and keep your pockets and bags closed. 

Public transport in Moscow

Trams, buses and trolleybuses:
The average waiting time is 5-10 minutes, but in winter or rush hour it can take 40 minutes for the tram to arrive. Trams, buses and trolleybuses all operate from 5.30 to 1.00. The bus stops are marked with yellow signs with an A on it, trolleybus stops are marked with white signs with a T on it and tram stops are marked with white signs with Tp on it. One ride on all vehicles cost 28 RUB. The tickets you can buy from the driver or in metro stations and kiosks near the stops. Almost all transport has turnstiles where you stick your ticket into a machine to pass through. Therefore, it is advised to buy the ticket beforehand, so you don’t hold up the queue by buying your ticket from the driver. Please keep in mind that these means of transportation are bound to the traffic on the road, which can cause longer travel times during rush hour. 

Marshrutka:
Marshrutki are small privately owned busses that you can wave down like a taxi anywhere you can find one. When you want to get off you just ask the driver to stop. A ride with a marshrutki costs 30 RUB. You can directly pay the driver upon entering. Quite often they have a better route infrastructure and are faster than public transport. 

Metro: 
The most efficient way to get around in Moscow is the metro. The metro operates from 5.20 to 1.00. The Moscow metro has 10 lines which are both numbered and colour coded. The brown line goes in a circle and crosses every other line. When you stay in the centre you almost never have to change lines more than once. Entrances are marked with a large red M above the entrance. Tickets cost 28 RUB for one trip, regardless of your destination. You can also buy tickets for 5, 10 or 20 trips. 

  • http://msk.rusavtobus.ru/en/ will show you how to get from A to B by different types of public transportation (you can tick the boxes of the transportation you are willing to take) by several different routes.

Taxi’s in St. Petersburg and Moscow

In Russia you can use any car as a taxi. You can simply lift and agree on a price. However, for foreigners this is not advised. They will most likely overcharge you, when they know you are not from Russia and you of course never know with who you are getting into a car. 
Using official taxi’s is more safe and often even cheaper for foreigners. Try to have change and small notes on you, because it’s often that the taxi driver can’t change a 1000 or 5000 RUB note. In the centre it is easy to flag down a taxi or find a taxi stop. However, when you are not in the centre it won’t be easy finding a taxi on the streets. Therefore, it is better to just order a taxi in advance. You can call a taxi service like Uber (use the promo code 9dpi6 to get 300 rubles on your account for free) or Taxi Vezet (their phone number is 3180318 or order it via taxi apps like Gettaxi, Yandex.taxi or такси 777 (latter in St. Petersburg only). You can connect your credit card to the apps, so you won’t have to deal with paying and change upon arrival. The last app has fixed prices, so the taxi can’t take a detour and overcharge you. Keep in mind that taxi drivers often don’t speak any English. 

Driving

Driving is Russia can not be compared with driving in the United States or Europe. Some drivers drive very reckless and guidelines are not always followed. As a driver and pedestrian you should pay a lot of attention to (other) car drivers. It takes a long time to get used to the traffic and therefore it’s not advised for foreigners to drive when they are only in Russia for a short amount of time. When you are planning on staying in Russia for longer and you have to or want to drive, take some time to get acquainted with the traffic for example traveling by taxi or just while walking. It is also highly advised to take a driving lesson or two, even if you have a lot of experience driving in your home country, just so you can learn the ins-and-outs of Russian traffic. Parking spaces in Russia are very poorly marked and can be a bit confusing. In the centre it’s often very busy and difficult to find a parking spot. In general, parking on the street is free. Always look for signs if you are allowed to park somewhere, even if there’s already a lot of cars parked. Occasionally they all get towed at the same time, when parked in a no-parking-zone. When you are not able to find a parking spot on the street, try look for a parking garage near big shopping malls (parking there is are often for a fee), there’s often enough parking space and you are sure your car won’t get towed. 

Asking for directions

It can be quite exciting to explore a Russian city, like St. Petersburg or Moscow. In general, Russian people are quite polite, and they will try their best to help you with directions on the street. However please keep in mind that there’s not a lot of Russians that speak English well. Try to approach them by using Russian first and ask them if they speak English. When they see that you are making an effort, they will be more likely to make an effort helping you too. It is advised to have a map on you when you explore the city, with both English and Cyrillic letters, so you can just simply point at the map when asking for directions. 

Paying

When paying at the cash register in a shop, don’t expect the cashier to smile. This is not because she/he is rude, but because smiling is traditionally reserved for friends. An automatic Western smile is widely regarded as insincere (although this is changing more and more nowadays). Never pay something by handing over the money directly to the cashier. Almost everywhere (with exception of some taxi’s) you will find a little tray somewhere at the cash register where you should put the money on. The cashier will pick up the money from, and put back the change on that tray. It is believed that bad luck and negative energy will be transferred from the person handing the money to the person accepting the money when it is directly giving by hand. 

Tipping

In a fancy restaurant it is common to tip the waiter. Ten percent is the average tip, but it is up to you to decide how much to give. At the same time, you can politely ask for your change back, if the establishment automatically pockets whatever amount you hand them for the bill. At less fancy restaurants it’s getting more common to leave tip, but this is not obligated. It is advised to give the tip in cash as the waiters don’t always receive the tips that are given by card (added to the bill). Some restaurants automatically add on a ten percent service charge, so check the bill first. If there’s no waiter in a restaurant (self-service) or a bar, tipping is not customary. Tipping in taxi’s is also not necessary, but you can round up the fare. In hotels it is common to give the bellboy a tip in between 30 and 90 RUB and the housekeeper in between 60 and 120 RUB.

Sim card and prices

Calling from a with a foreign SIM card to a Russian or foreign number while you are in Russia, can be extremely expensive. Therefore, it is advised to get a local SIM card. When booked, ProfIntern will provide you with a local SIM card. Otherwise you can buy one at any phone shop. Be aware that when getting a SIM card, it’s regularly region bound. When traveling to another region, calling and roaming will cost more money. You can buy a national SIM card, which usually cost a little extra. There are 5 mobile operators active in Russia; MegaFon (мегафон), MTS (мтс), Beeline (by VimpelCom), Tele2 and Yota (йота)
The easiest and most ‘official’ way of buying a SIM card in the shop of one of the providers. You will need to show your passport and in some cases the invitation letter or your registration certificate. Some shops won’t accept a foreign passport, but most shops will. 

  Megafon, тёплый,приём, (warm welcome) Megafon, вокруг,света, (around,the world) Megafon, мегафон онлайн, (Data-only SIM) MTS, Супер МТС, (Super MTS) Beeline Tele2, Orange Tele2 Black Yota
Set up price 200 RUB 200 RUB 200 RUB 100 RUB 150 RUB 100 RUB 90RUB/month, + 200 RUB Msk: 440 RUB, Spb: 340 RUB
Calls to same providers Free 1.8 RUB/min Calling not available Internet options: 70 MB/day: 7 RUB 3 GB: 350 RUB 8 GB (+8 at night): 690 RUB 18GB (+18 at night): 890 RUB 30 GB (unlimi-ted at night): 1290 RUB Free Msk: Fixed price of 1.3 RUB, Spb: 0.5 RUB 0.75 RUB/min Free You can get a sim card and choose your own minutes and MB’s. e.g: Unlimited internet: 250 RUB, 600 min/month for calling in the whole of Russia: 520 RUB
Calls to other providers in region Msk: 2.5 RUB/min, Spb: 1.75 RUB/min 1.8 RUB/min Msk: 2.5 RUB/,min Spb: 1.5,RUB/,min Msk: 2.3 RUB/min Spb: 1 RUB/min 0.75 RUB/min 0.75RUB/min
Calling outside region Msk:10 RUB/min Spb: 12.5 RUB/min 3 RUB/min Spb: 12 RUB/min Msk:5 RUB/min Spb: 11.95 RUB/min 9 RUB/min 9 RUB/min
Calling outside Russia Europe 55RUB/min Europe 55RUB/min   Europe & US Msk: 35 RUB/min Spb: 70 RUB/min Europe & US: 35 RUB/min Europe & US: 35 RUB/,min
Internet in Russia 70MB/day for free To buy separate 75MB/day for free for the first 15 days. After: 7 RUB/day Extra data: e.g. highway 1.5 package 1.5GB/day: 7RUB 150KB/day for free 1.5GB for free
Internet usage above daily free MB 9.9 RUB/MB 19 RUB/MB if not bought separate 9.9 RUB/MB, *Extra data packages are available Msk: 9.95 RUB/MB Spb: 9.9 RUB/Mb 6.5RUB/MB After exceeding 1.5GB, speed is limited to 64KB

Note: these prices are an indication of the services and prices of the providers. The actual prices can always vary, because of a price change of the provider. The prices in the store are always the end-price. ProfIntern can’t be held accountable when prices may be different. 

Cash and cash withdrawal 

The national monetary unit is the Russian Ruble. Banknotes come in 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000, and there are 1, 2, 5, and 10 Ruble coins. In St. Petersburg, Moscow and everywhere In Russia, payments are made in Russian Rubles or by debit/credit card. It is illegal to pay in Dollars or Euros. It is possible to change money at any bank, at money exchange booths (they are widely spread in the center), and at the majority of hotels and large department stores. Sometimes you need your passport or its copy to change money. The best exchange office is right in the center at Ligovkiy Pereulok, 2. You can check their website http://www.ligovka.ru/ or use google maps to find the route. Another good exchange office is located at the metro station Udelnaya (Удельная) – www.udelka.spb.ru
ATMs (bankomat), can be found at most of the metro stations, banks and large hotels. Credit card use is still in its infancy and not all establishments will take them, even if they have signs that say they will. Before arrival you should contact your bank in order to raise your daily limit, as there might be some problems with money withdrawal. Mind that every withdrawal at in ATM in Russia will include transaction costs. The foreign bank you are withdrawing money from will often charge a 1% commission on your transaction and your own bank can charge you around $5 for each transaction. Inform your bank about the exact transaction cots of cash withdrawal.You should always keep some cash on you as a backup. In Russia the following credit and debit cards are widely accepted: VISA, Master Card/ Euro card, American Express, Maestro. 

Country Bank Money withdrawal at ATM Direct payment in shops
Debit card Credit card Debit card Credit card
The Netherlands ABN AMRO bank 2.25 euro + 1,2% exchange course fee 4% (€4.5,min. fee) €0.15 + 1,2% exchange course fee Free + 2,00% exchange course fee
Spain Santander 2.75% +1.5% cash fee (€2.7 min. fee) *Depending on credit card company 2.75% transaction fee + €1.70 purchase fee *Depending on credit card company
United Kingdom HSBC 3% ATM fee + possible processing fee 2.99% transaction fee + 2.99% ATM fee (min. £3) 2% exchange course fee + possible processing fee 2.80% + a processing fee
United States American Express (when not at an American Express ATM) $2.5 + possible exchange course fee 2.7% transaction fee + 2.7% ATM fee (min of $5) *Information not available *Information not available

Safety

Saint-Petersburg is as safe as an average European city. There is no reason to be afraid of the Russian mafia, as they won’t bother tourists and aren’t as active as in the 90’s anymore. However, like in any other big city, you should be aware of robbers and pickpockets, especially in the subway, underground walkways, night trains/buses and near tourist attractions. Take extra care when you have been drinking, as drunk foreigners are especially vulnerable to assault and robbery. It is not recommended to walk down the streets after drinking too much, best is to take a taxi from a registered taxi company. To avoid any conflict, do not behave in a loud manner, especially not in a language that is not Russian. Take care of your valuables, it is better not to take the original documents with you, take copies instead (you can ask to copy your personal documents at ProfIntern). Also please note that white people assimilate easier, while other ethnicities might encounter some hostile behavior. In order to avoid this, please consider our suggestions above. If you are stopped and searched by people identifying themselves as police, cooperate but be careful. It is very rare that police officers speak English. If they ask for your documents, it is better to show photocopies. If they demand the originals, do not hand over your documents, but show them the relevant pages yourself. Do not for any reason try to bride them! You will get a huge fine for it. If you are searched, watch out for your wallet and other valuables. 

How to get to your destination from the airport

Do not use taxis of people soliciting in the airport. They are often hunting for tourists and ask enormous prices. Please not that to get from the airport to the city center will cost you around 1000 RUB maximum. You can call a taxi by phone (Taxi Vezet: +7 812 318-03-18 or Taksi 777: +7 812 777-1-777) or order one via a taxi app like Uber, GetTaxi or Taksi 777. Taksi 777 has fixed prices (both when ordering the taxi per phone or app), so you know you won’t get overcharged.  

 

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