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Despite being the largest country in the world, for a lot of people across the globe Russia is the real terra incognita. There are lots of passionate travelers who get concerned when it comes to visiting Russia, as there are quite a lot of scary stories about it. Here are the top 7 myths about Russia, together with the truthful information about how things actually work.

  • Russia is not a safe place

Right now there are no wars or other armed conflicts; no natural disasters; no revolutions or political and social unrest of any kind; no epidemic dangers. Russia is not more dangerous than any other country in the world. Going there, just follow the general safety rules: don’t leave your things unattended, beware of pickpockets, try not to walk alone in deserted and shabby areas after dark etc. Do not be paranoid – just be reasonable and remember that large-scale politics usually have nothing to do with everyday life of common people.

  • What about Russian mafia?

In 1990s there were too many scary legends about Russian mafia, and at that time they were quite close to reality. However, in recent 20 years things changed dramatically. If there still are any representatives of so-called mafia, they are definitely not interested in tourists, who’ve come to the country for sightseeing.

  • What if a Russian policeman stops me on the street?

The situations when policemen stop people in the streets are not likely to occur. The street patrol usually just makes sure nobody breaks the general rules, for instance, no one is walking on the grass or climbing a monument to Lenin. You may, however, be asked to show your passport (or its copy) and maybe open your bag at a metro station or train station, as these places are considered to be the most popular objects for terroristic acts. However, this is quite universal, and not only about Russia.

  • If I lose my documents, I will go to jail and stay in Russia forever

The general travel tip is to have copies of the most important papers. Also, it is a good idea to have a phone number of your consulate in Russia with you. Losing documents is a pain in any foreign country, and even in your own. However, it is impressive, for instance, how efficient American consulates are – they can issue a new passport for you within a couple of hours. Here you also just need to be reasonable, and you can be sure no one is sent to jail for losing their papers.

  • I will not be able to get off my cruise ship without a visa or a cruise line tour

A lot of cruise lines try to persuade their passengers that if they book a tour with another tour operator, they will not be allowed to disembark without a visa. This is NOT TRUE! If you book with an authorized tour operator, they will arrange your visa-free disembarking and provide a guide to accompany you throughout the 72 hours of your stay. Normally all these tour operators value their reputation greatly, and are very careful about all the paperwork and rules.

  • Can I miss my ship?

This concerns a lot of people who book a tour
with a local operator instead of buying one from the cruise line. Will they bring me back on time? Here again the attention to the reputation of an operator works for you. If someone misses the ship, the operator will never get any customers in the future, so they are also very careful about this. Usually they take you to the ship early, so you have enough time to go through the control and reach your cabin safely.

  • Is it safer to be with a large tourist group than on a private tour?

If you follow common safety rules, it is safe everywhere. However, with a large group there is more possibility to get lost in the crowd, and it is not a secret that crowded places are work base for pickpockets. With a private guide you always have someone to take personal care of you and provide necessary warnings when needed.

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