Both, taxi payment by the hour and by the kilometer, are widespread in Vladivostok. An average tariff for taxi services within the city is 5 - 7,5 € per hour, and then - 2,5 € per every 20 minutes. The average cost of taxi ride outside the city (in Primorsky Krai) is 25 € per hour. In case of payment by the kilometer, taxi services cost 0,5 € per kilometer; at that, the minimum sum of order is 6 € (up to 3 km). The cost of taxi ride also depends on the number of people per auto.
Note that it is more profitable to take a taxi with payment by the hour at rush-hours, when the vehicles often have to stand in traffic jams. If you need to travel at night, when the roads are free, or at close range it is better to take a taxi with payment by the kilometer.
Be careful when choosing a taxi cab. We exhort you to use only legal taxis and not to get in car to private carriers, as it's not just a question of money, but of your safety, too. In addition, always keep in mind the tariffs and don't allow short-changing you. For instance, the average cost of taxi ride from the city core to the airport is 25-30 €. A ride in opposite direction (from the airport to the city core) might be 10 € more expensive.
Prices in catering establishments in Vladivostok are pretty high and are not very different from the ones in Moscow. Thus, in a cafe or at a fast-food restaurant you may eat for 10 - 13 €. Average bill at the economy-class restaurant makes up 20-25 €, at the middle-class restaurant - 35-45 €. The cost of dinner at the elite restaurant will be higher - from 80 € up to several hundred Euros.
The most affordable alcoholic drink is beer - 1,5 - 2 € per litter. Homebrewed beer costs 5 - 10 € per 0,5 litter. Average bill at the beer bar makes up 15 €.
Stationary connection. In order to make an international call from the stationary phone in Vladivostok, dial 8, wait for a beep, then dial 10 (code for international calls), then sequentially dial country code, city code, and telephone number. To make a long-distance call within Russia, you need to dial 8, wait for dial tone, and then dial the code of the needed city and the telephone number without pauses. If you make a call within Vladivostok, you don't have to dial city code.
Vladivostok has seven-digit city dialing, therefore, if you call here from other Russian city or from abroad, you need to dial the three-digit code - 423. For example, to call to Vladivostok from abroad, you must dial 0, wait for dial tone, then dial 0 again, then - 7 (code of Russia), 423 (code of Vladivostok) and the seven-digit phone number.
Besides stationary phones, you may use services of "Pochta Rossii" public telephones to make international and long- distance calls. They can be found in any district of Vladivostok.
Mobile connection. As a rule, upon arrival in Vladivostok, your cell phone will be automatically registered in the network of Russian cellular operators. If it doesn't happen, we recommend contacting your operator and ordering roaming service. However, roaming is pretty expensive in Russia's territory; therefore, it is more convenient to buy a local SIM-card.
There are three large cellular operators in Russia - MTS, BeeLine and Megafon. You can buy a SIM-card at the operating company's official representative office or one of mobile connection shops. You will need to show your passport and to name the place of your residence / stay in Vladivostok, in order to do this. Russian SIM-card costs about 10 € and, as a rule, the same amount is automatically credited to your account. It is possible to update your account using special terminals, which are easy to find just about anywhere in the city.
In order to make an international call with a cell phone, you need to dial +, then sequentially dial country code, city code, and telephone number. When you call a Russian cell phone, dial the number in the international format: +7 (code of Russia), then - code of cellular operator and cell phone number.
Public telephone. Two basic types of public phones are used in Vladivostok: local and all-purpose. You can use the local one to call within the city, and the all-purpose one - to make local, long-distance and international calls.
You can call from a pay phone with the help of a single Primorsky Krai's telephone card, which is available in call centers of "Pochta Rossii" and at distribution shops.
National operator of mail service in Russia is "Pochta Rossii" (literally: Post of Russia), which provides services on sending written correspondence, packages, parcels in and outside the country. Its offices can be easily found in any area of Vladivostok. They work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Cost of "Pochta Rossii" is rather low: for example, sending a letter to Europe or America costs about 1 €. However, the national postal operator of Russia has two major drawbacks - low delivery speed of mail and parcels (a letter to Europe is delivered on average in 2 - 5 weeks), and insecurity (letters and parcels often don't reach their destination at all).
Many international courier services of express delivery have their offices in Vladivostok; DHL, FedEx, TNT Express, UPS are among them. Their services are much more expensive, but the reliability of these companies is substantially higher too.
It is no problem to get an Internet access - both wired and wireless - in Vladivostok. Currently, the majority of city hostels and hotels of different level have Wi-Fi access points that give visitors an opportunity to enjoy high-speed Internet access. Many Vladivostok's restaurants and cafes are also equipped with Internet access points. There are also Wi-Fi zones at Primorye capital's train station and airport.
In addition, street internet is fairly common in Vladivostok. The Park of Honorary Citizens, the Park of Twin Cities at the intersection of Pogranichnaya Street and Semenovskaya Street, and the city's central square have free Wi-Fi access points.
You may also connect to the Internet with a cell phone, if your device supports GPRS, or one of 3G standards. In Russia, all cellular carriers provide the mobile Internet access. Thus, it's better to buy a Russian SIM-card upon arrival in Vladivostok - this will help to save on roaming.
Vladivostok also has a lot of internet cafes, which provide access to both, wired and wireless Internet. The cost of one hour work on the Web typically doesn't exceed 1-2 €.
The standard world practice to leave tips in restaurants, bars and hotels isn't wide spread in Vladivostok, the same as in whole Russia, yet. It's up to customer whether to tip service personnel - for instance, at the restaurant, - or not. At that, the common level of compensation is from 5 to 10 % of the check amount. Consider that in some facilities tips might be included in the bill (in most cases - 5% of the check amount). Tips are generally uncommon in taxis and at hairdresser's.
Vladivostok offers various accommodation options - from popular among youth hostels to hotels with superior comfort, but cost of living in Primorye capital is hardly affordable. Thus, the night in a hostel costs about 30 - 40 €. Double room with breakfast included at the middle-class hotel is 90 - 120 € per night, Suite is 120 - 150 € per night. In addition, in anticipation of the APEC summit, two five-star hotel complexes of the world famous chain Hyatt were opened in Vladivostok.
Ticks are the insects whose stings you should avoid in Vladivostok in the first place. It is believed that in populated areas, on average, one tick out of 25 is a carrier of the encephalitis virus. In remote areas, infected ticks are less common, but they are still a significant risk. The risk of coming across a mite is particularly high in the late spring and early summer. Therefore, it is better to refrain from hiking and walking in the woods in this period. At the same time, you can safely rest on the river spits and islands - these insects are extremely rare here.
If you do decide to go on nature, remember the basic safety precautions: wear closed clothes and use special repellents against ticks. But the most reliable protection against this dangerous insect is timely vaccination.
Another insect that may disturb Vladivostok's guests is Byelonozhka, or gnat. Contrary to the mites, gnats don't carry any serious illnesses, but their stings cause unpleasant sensations. Stung skin gets covered with red spots, often - blisters and swellings that trigger severe itching. As a rule, gnats attack people in woods and near the water. Therefore, going on nature, wear closed clothes and treat them with special protection means against insects. Being stung, don't scratch the wound and, if possible, immediately contact an allergist.
Regarding reptiles, racer and tiger grass snake are often seen in Vladivostok and its outskirts, viper and copperhead snake are less common. Generally these snakes avoid contact with people and attack only, if there is a danger for them. Therefore, snake bites are usually accidental. Snakes live mostly at screes and dry southern slopes. Therefore, you should be careful in such areas, especially when climbing up and grabbing hold of the rocks and bushes.
The bite of any snake - even of nonpoisonous - is far from pleasant experience, and therefore, in case of bite, try to see a doctor as soon as possible.
There are no officially required vaccinations for entering Russia. However, in order to secure yourself against possible health problems and to make your visit to Vladivostok more comfortable, it is worth having immunizations against such illnesses as:
- hepatitis A (often combined with vaccination against hepatitis B)
- tick-borne encephalitis
- typhoid fever
If you intend to stay in Primorsky Krai's territories for over 6 month, it is recommended to get vaccinations against tuberculosis, cholera, meningococcal meningitis and Japanese encephalitis.
If you regularly take some medicine, you should take it with in the first place. In a whole, the most necessary drugs can be always purchased in Russian pharmacy stores without prescription (including some antibiotics). There should be no problems with drug names: they are specified in Latin, too.
Nevertheless, it is recommended to have the following medicines with:
- aspirin, paracetamol and other antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and anesthetic preparations
- antihistaminic preparations (in case of disposition to allergic reactions)
- drugs against diarrhea
- catarrhal preparations (including cough lozenges and syrop)
- protective means against insect bites
- adhesive plaster
- antiseptic and antibacterial agents
- sun block (if you travel in summer).
Medical insurance valid in the Russian Federation's territory is required from foreign citizens who need visa to enter the country (it is specified in visa requirements). The citizens of the countries, that have concluded special agreements on visa-free regime with Russia, are not required to have medical insurance to enter Russian territory.
However, considering that Russian health care system is underdeveloped and medical service is inferior in its quality to European standards, we recommend that, coming to Vladivostok, you provide yourself with medical insurance that is valid during the whole period of your stay. Formalizing health insurance in your country, make sure that the company has its service centers in Vladivostok. If it doesn't, your insurance company must reinsure you by its Russian partners.
Important! Remember that most medical insurances protect only against emergencies and sudden illnesses, and therefore, if you have a chronic illness, you should obligatory consult your physician for possible exacerbation in Russia in advance.
Condition of the water distribution system in Vladivostok, as in most Russian cities, is far from perfect, and therefore it is better not to drink the tap water. At the very least, it is worth boiling the tap water before drinking or putting it through a filter (iodine or chlorine). But it's best to consume bottled drinking water, especially since it is readily available and inexpensive.
At the same time, it is safe to brush teeth and wash fruits and vegetables in tap water.
National currency of Russia is ruble, RUB (original abbreviation is rub.). One Russian ruble equals 100 kopecks. There are coins at par value of 5, 10 and 50 kopecks (1 kopeck is very rare) and of 1, 2, 5 and 10 rubles in circulation. Banknotes at par value of 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 rubles are in free circulation and are issued.
You may exchange currency for Russian rubles at any bank or currency exchange office in Vladivostok. US Dollars and Euros are accepted for exchange most often. You may also exchange Japanese Yens and Chinese Yuans without problems here. Most banks place no commission on currency exchange, in some banks and currency exchange offices it can constitute up to 3 % from the sum of exchange. Consider that, as a rule, old and damaged banknotes are not accepted for exchange.
In private exchange offices exchange ratio is usually more beneficial than in banks, as well as at the airports, railway stations and in popular tourist centers. Be careful and don't exchange money in the streets and with individuals: firstly, it is illegal, and secondly, there is a high probability to swallow the bait of swindlers.
Although the most widespread form of payment in Vladivostok is cash, large hotels, restaurants and malls often accept credit cards: usually Visa and MasterCard. But there might be problems when paying with American Express and Diners Club cards, while these paying systems are not spread enough in Russia.
Cash machines can be found at the airport, train station and sea terminal, in the foyers of many hotels, in supermarkets and just in the streets. Be careful when withdrawing money at the ATM in the street, if possible use ATMs located in crowded places, or better use terminals installed in banks.
Most ATMs are designed for Russian national currency - ruble. However, there are also cash machines, where you may withdraw needed sum in US Dollars.
You can cash traveler’s checks in a number of city banks in Vladivostok. Consider that Russian banks generally operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and apply banking commission of 2-3% for this transaction, which makes using traveler’s checks disadvantageous.
In Vladivostok, the same as in whole Russia, banks usually accept American Express checks issued in US Dollars. Local banks work with Thomas Cook checks less often.
Remember that you can’t pay with traveler’s checks in Russia, but only cash them in a bank.
Currency. The same rules as for import apply to the currency and other funds export from the Russia’s territory. You may export Russian and other currency in cash, as well as traveler’s checks for total sum of up to 10 000 US Dollars without written declaration. If the sum of exported cash and traveler’s checks exceeds this limit, you have to write down all exported funds in declaration.
If you export securities from Russia, mandatory declare them regardless of their nominal value.
Goods. Goods for personal consumption (clothing, toiletries, personal jewelry, portable photo and video equipment, etc.), whose cost doesn’t exceed 10 000 US Dollars can be exported from the Russia’s territory without duty payment. If customs officials decide that the exported goods are intended for production or other commercial activity, or their total value exceeds 10 000 US Dollars, general taxation is applied.
There are also products that can be exported from Russia in limited quantities without paying customs duties. These goods include fish and crustaceans - up to 5 kg; sturgeon caviar (black) - up to 250 g, salmon roe (red) - up to 250 grams (original packaging and receipt from the store is required), as well as medicines - 1 packing of special form for retail sale of each item.
When crossing the border by private vehicle, up to 20 liters of fuel can be exported duty-free, not including fuel in the vehicle tank.
Alcohol and tobacco goods. There are no legally set limits on the export of alcohol and tobacco goods in the Russian Federation. However, you should consider the corresponding rules on import of alcohol and tobacco in the destination country. Regarding ethyl alcohol in volume of up to 5 liters, the rates of customs duties at the flat rate of 22 Euros for 1 liter are applied.
It is prohibited to export from Russia: arms, ammunition, explosives and radioactive substances; narcotic, psychotropic substances and potent drugs; poisonous and toxic substances; products of non-ferrous and precious metals worth more than 25 000 US Dollars; protected species of flora and fauna; objects that have historical, artistic, scientific and cultural value, as well as objects that belong to the cultural heritage of Russia.
As for the art and antiques, the export of paintings, sculptures, icons, old coins, medals and orders requires a special permit from the Ministry of Culture of Russia, the export of commemorative coins made of precious metals requires a permit from the Central Bank of the Russian Federation. In this regard, souvenirs and mass production goods are not considered works of art. However, if you doubt the value of an item purchased in Russia, keep the receipt, which states its value. If you have purchased an expensive item, which is reckoned among cultural values, declare it in order to avoid troubles at customs.
Currency. You may import up to 10000 US Dollars (or the equivalent of this sum in any other currency including Russian) to the Russian Federation without written declaration. If the sum that you intend to import exceeds this limit, you have to write it down in declaration. Remember that, in order to avoid problems at the customs control, you must not only have the declaration at hand, but also inform customs officials about the sum you are importing
The mentioned above declaration rules apply to traveler’s checks too. If the total sum of the traveler’s checks, which you intend to import, equals or is less than 10000 US Dollars, you don’t have to declare them. If the sum of your traveler’s checks exceeds the stated norm, you must declare it.
Important: if you bring both, cash and traveler’s checks, to the Russia’s territory without declaration, their total sum can’t exceed the equivalent of the 10000 US Dollars. If you import the higher amount of funds, you must register written customs declaration.
At that, you may declare any sum of cash or traveler’s checks if you wish.
Goods. Goods for personal consumption, whose cost doesn’t exceed 1500 Euros (if brought by plane – 10000 US Dollars) and whose weight doesn’t exceed 50 kg, can be imported to the Russia’s territory without duty payment. Consider that natural diamonds, fish and seafood whose weight exceeds 5 kg, sturgeon caviar whose weight exceeds 250 g and other similar goods don’t fall under ‘goods for personal consumption’ category.
If you import goods whose cost exceeds 1500 Euros or whose weight exceeds 50 kg, you must pay the duty payment, which constitutes 30% from the cost of the goods above permitted standard (but no less than 4 Euro per 1 kg).
Alcohol. You can import up to 3 liters of strong drinks of any alcoholic content (including beer) per person older than 18 years of age. If you import more than 3 liters of strong drinks, you must pay the duty payment, which constitutes 10 Euro per liter. It is prohibited to import more than 5 liters of alcohols to the Russian territory, though.
Tobacco goods. Import of tobacco goods is restricted to 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 50 cigarillos (narrow cigars), or 250 g tobacco per person older than 18 years of age. If you bring tobacco goods of one type, 400 cigarettes, 100 cigars, 200 cigarillos and 500 g tobacco is allowed.
Declaration is necessary for precious metals and stones in any form and state (except for personal jewelry and other household products); weapon, ammunition, explosive, radioactive, narcotic, psychotropic, poisonous and toxic gases, and strong medicines; art and cultural values, as well as the radio transmitter and receiver systems with operating frequencies above 9 kHz.
It is prohibited to import to the territory of the Russian Federation: printed, film, photo and video products of pornographic character, and also products containing elements of office or state secret, promotion of fascism, racial, national and religious hatred; objects of wild flora and the fauna being under the threat of extinction, their parts and products derived from them; vegetables and fruits without the appropriate phytosanitary certificates; and samples of military-style weapons and ammunition (a number of samples of cold, pneumatic and gas weapons also falls under this category).
To understand, what visa type you need in order to register your entry to Russia, you must decide on the purpose of your trip and its duration. Depending on these factors Russian visa can be tourist, business, transit, private, work and educational.
The tourist visa is issued, if the purpose of your visit to Russia is tourism (visiting exhibitions, cultural actions, excursions, sightseeing etc.). Such visa is the most suitable if you know precisely, where and for how long you are going to stay without deviations from the planned route. The tourist visa can be single and double, it is valid during 30 days. Extension of such visa is impossible.
The business visa is issued, if you come to Russia with business purposes. Such visa is most suitable for those foreign citizens who don't know exact route of their trip, are going to stay in Russia’s territory longer than 30 days or intend to visit Russia often. The business visa can be single, double and multiple. Single and double business visas are issued for a period of 1 and 3 months, multiple visas are issued for 3, 6 or 12 months. In case of obtaining the annual multi-visa you have the right to remain in Russia’s territory for no longer than 90 days over the 180-day period.
The transit visa is issued, if you travel to some other country through Russia’s territory. Stay in the Russian Federation with such visa can’t exceed 72 hours. There are single and double entry transit visas. Such visa can’t be prolonged.
Keep in mind that you don’t need transit visa if you stay in the international zone of the airport in order to change planes (your stay can’t exceed 24 hours).
The private (guest) visa is issued, if you travel to Russia in order to visit your friends or relatives. This visa type allows staying in the Russian Federation’s territory for up to 90 days. The private visa is issued for the term from 1 to 90 days. It is valid for single entry and can’t be extended.
We’d like to mention that private visa obtaining procedure is quite complicated, and, therefore, even if you are visiting your friends or relatives in Russia, it is advisable to apply for the tourist or business visa instead.
The work visa is necessary for those citizens who work in Russian companies. It can be single and multiple. The single entry work visa is issued for the term of up to 90 days; multiple entry visa is issued for the period of work permit’s validity (it allows to stay in the country without limitation on days of stay). This visa type is the most difficult and expensive to obtain.
The educational visa is given to foreign students, visiting Russia for the purpose of educational exchange or study. As a rule, such visa is issued for the period of up to 3 months, but can be extended through registration of the multiple entry visa for the whole term of study.
Cost of the Russian visa varies depending on its type, urgency of registration and the country where the visa application is submitted. Therefore, you should consult the Russian Consulate in your country for exact information on visa costs. At large, you can go by the following figures. The US citizens are charged 131 US Dollars for registration of the single and double entry visa (tourist, business, transit), the EU citizens are charged 35 Euros, the Japan citizens - 1000 JPY. These tariffs are valid for visa registration within 7-10 working days.
To extend the period of stay in Russia’s territory, you must personally address yourself to bodies of the Federal Migratory Service, and you should do this in advance at that – before your visa expires. It is necessary to submit visa extension application, detachable part of the arrival notice, request from the inviting party, two photos 3×4 cm and the receipt on fee payment.
A visa can be prolonged for no longer than 10 days, provided that total period of stay of the foreign citizen in the Russian Federation doesn't exceed 90 days over the 180-day period.
In case of certain circumstances (need of emergency treatment, serious illness or death of the close relative living in the Russian Federation, etc.), and in case of natural calamities, the visa can be prolonged for the term necessary for taking departure measures conditioned by developed circumstances.
Visa extension applications’ period of consideration usually doesn't exceed 20 days.
Important! The foreign citizen, who didn’t exit from the territory of the Russian Federation upon visa termination or didn’t apply for its extension, can be called to administrative responsibility: up to deportation from Russia and subsequent ban on the right of entry to the country for five years.
Citizens of the most foreign states need visa to entry to and to stay in the Russian Federation. The CIS countries and the ones having concluded special agreements on visa-free regime with Russia are exceptions.
At the same time, the term of stay in Russia’s territory is restricted for residents of a number of countries who don't need visa to enter the Russian Federation. Thus, citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Guatemala, Israel, Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador have the right to enter Russia without a visa and to stay in its territory for no more than 90 days over the period of 180 days. The visa-free regime also applies to such countries as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cuba, Macedonia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey and Montenegro, but the residents of these states can stay in Russia’s territory without visa for no more than 30 days. Entry to Russia for longer term needs visa registration.
Citizens of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine have the right to enter Russia for unlimited term without visa.
Citizens of other states have to obtain visa, in order to enter the territory of the Russian Federation.
Russian visa of any type can be issued in Russian Federation’s consulate in the country of your inhabitancy or in the country where you have residence permit or work permit with validity period of at least 90 days. In order to apply for a visa, you need to submit a number of documents to the consulate. This list depends on visa type and can be essentially supplemented by one or another Russian Federation’s representative office abroad.
The tourist visa is the most frequently requested visa type. The following list of documents is necessary for its registration:
- original of the international passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond intended stay. The passport must have at least two blank pages;
- two visa application forms filled and personally signed by the applicant (you can get the form directly at the consulate or download it on the consulate’s website). EU citizens may provide one application form. US residents must fill in special visa application form (in one copy).
- two identical color photos 3 x 4 cm. Japan and the USA citizens must provide only one photo;
- original or fax copy of confirmation of the invitation from the Russian tourist operator or hotel on the blank in due form. Only the Russian travel agencies that are properly registered with the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia or Departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia in the regions of the Russian Federation have the right to confirm visas for foreign tourists;
- originals of the travel documents – only for citizens of Algeria, Angola, Afghanistan, Vietnam, India, Iraq, Iran, the People's Republic of China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Syria, Somalia, Turkey, Chad, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia;
- for European Union citizens – medical policy that is valid throughout Russia, in original and copy;
- receipt on consular fee payment.
The same list of documents is necessary for obtaining the private visa, but, instead of confirmation from the Russian tour operator, you must submit the original of the official invitation from a citizen of the Russian Federation, registered with local department of the Federal Migratory Service at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, at the place of their permanent residence (registration) in Russian Federation’s territory.
The same list of documents is valid for registration of the transit visa, however, instead of the invitation it is necessary to provide: originals and copies of tickets or transport documents for entry to and exit from Russia, and also the visa to the country of final destination, if required.
The same documents are required for obtaining business visa, educational visa or work visa. At that, the invitation must be issued by legal entity (enterprise, profit organization, educational institution), registered with local department of the Federal Migratory Service at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, with Representative office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia in the region of the Russian Federation or with Consular department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.
Visa registration takes from 7 to 10 working days (in some cases – up to 21 days), depending on the country, where the visa application is submitted, and the visa type. Urgent registration of visas within 1-3 days is also possible.
You must register your visa within 72 hours (except for days off and holidays) upon arrival in Russia. You can do this in the hotel where you stay or in local department of visas and permissions (OVIR). Registration can be completed by the company that issued your invitation.