Finally my first foreign trip is completed. And it was Russia. In 11 days covered Moscow, Sochi and St Petersburg.

first foreign trip
Sahil Salim:

This is a very long post,sorry. Will be useful for those who are planning Russian Trip. I traveled from Qatar so skipping the visa and ticket part. Indians need to pay only 145 Riyal while its 327 riyal for Qatar citizen.

1) Immigration. 

Once I give the passport they started discussing and checking all pages carefully. Waited for around 2 minutes and then I show the Qatar ID.  After that they asked for return ticket only and let me go. Am bit tensed because I changed my hostel booking after receiving the invitation.

Every one said its ok to change booking but am worried if they check the booking and invitation it can be a problem. So want to say that don’t hurry in booking tickets for obtaining invitation. Better choose the hotels from or other sites considering all the reviews and no need to change later. If you apply the filter you can book the one which gives free cancellation up to check in date and no need for credit card information.

2) Immigration card. 

It’s a piece of paper same size of our passport. That we need to keep and return while coming back. The hostels also asking for this while check in time. Read earlier that, if we lost it we need to visit police station. So kept it carefully throughout the trip.

3) Money. 

Carried around 950 USD and federal bank gold premium debit card and credit card from Qatar. After seeing that the rates in airport exchange is very low i withdraw cash from ATM using federal bank card.150 ruble atm commission and 1 dollar bank commission. Used federal bank card throughout the trip and no extra cost for purchases. Only the variations in exchange rate will be there. One time i changed 150 USD from bank and got very good rates.

4) Sim. 

In Airport all the companies asked for 1000 ruble. So i took sim from first metro station, unlimited plan from Beeline for 500. It’s one month plan. I was in a hurry so took it and didn’t look for more options. Worked fine most of the time. But sometimes less signal in some places.

3) Transportation.

Took 3 day + 1 day pass in Moscow and 4 day pass in St Petersburg(425+card charge). It works for both metro and bus. Metro is great in Moscow. And in St Petersburg used the bus a lot of time. But both cities need a lot of walking and i loved it.

For taxi Yandex taxi app is used. One problem i faced was its showing wrong pickup location some time. So make sure about the location before confirming the ride. In Sochi the hostel used an app named maxim and its very less rate than Yandex.

But the app works only in Russian language i think. For traveling from airport to city in Moscow used aero express train(500 Ruble).

The ticket can be purchased from the machine in the airport. I can’t find the English version in it so asked help from a family and they helped me get the ticket. In St Petersburg and Sochi used taxi from airport.

4) Food: 

I don't eat meat and it’s hard to find veg and fish. Went to Burger king most of the time in both cities with their fish options. My-My restaurant was also used in Moscow. But most of the staff don't know English and it’s difficult to choose the veg options. But the branch near Kremlin is having English writings and was easy to choose food from there. In St Petersburg Bushe is also good with fish sandwich. Didn't visited any Indian restaurant. Tried the Russian donuts which is mentioned in Elena’s post in St Petersburg and i liked it.

5) Boating. 

Done it with Radisson’s small boat in Moscow. And rate is 600. Done it at evening so that i can enjoy the city in day light and after the buildings are lit up. One thing i liked is that the boat don't have food options and all forward seats.

In St Petersburg done 2 boating. One at day time including the canals and second at night for the bridge opening. Try to take the big route which cover Fontanka river and parts of moyka at day time boating. Also one day i enjoyed the palace bridge opening from the banks. Enjoyed both from the boat and from the land.

6) Plug Adapter: 

One mistake i made was not carrying the right plug adapter. I will add the photo here so that others don’t face the problem. You can carry the same or carry a small European adapter which can fit inside the socket. I traveled to market named Gorbushka to find an adapter and spend around 500 ruble for it. Liked the journey because it’s a place away from the busy city center with almost no tourist.

7) Moscow: 

Try to go early as possible if you want to visit Lenin's Mausoleum without Que. So that you can visit first when it opens at 10 am. Joined the walking tour after that which starts at 10.45. Booked the Kremlin architectural ensemble ticket online and changed at the counter for online ticket, showing my passport. You can also book ticket online for armory chamber and for bell tower you need to take separate ticket from counter.

- Metro is great in Moscow. And after 2-3 trips you will understand how to travel and change lines easily. Most of the stations have English names mentioned but in some station only Russian. Please note the exit number, so that you don’t lose time finding the correct exit.

-You can do the metro tour yourself avoiding the office rush hour and you will be amazed to see the architecture. Check for the list of must visit stations . Arbat Street and Nikolskaya st is good for hangout. I spend half day at VDNKH and liked it so much. Went for a quick visit but stayed there upto 9 pm. I don’t like the Izmaylovo market. Though it looks good it’s just a shopping spot made up to attract tourist with some replica of old buildings.

8) Sochi: 

It’s a nice place to visit with Krasnaya Polyana and some natural places around and the black sea. Very difficult to find English speaking people here. But used Yandex translator app and it helped. Was bit tired due to the night flight and so i took a package to kransnaya polyana, the cable car network to the Rosa khutor top is great.

It gives awesome views from the top and on the cable car if the weather is good. It have total 6 cable lines and out of which one route is only for Russian citizen because it’s in border region. 1400 rubles is the rate and we can use all lines.

I spend most of the time at the top i didn’t get time to explore the river and valley. Please go in the morning to this place. Second day was the best part of the trip. After visiting the beach i went to mount akhun in a taxi and disappointed to see the entry to tower is blocked due to some work. From there i asked for a lift in car and they invited me to join them to the trip to 33 waterfalls. Traveled with them and it was a nice experience. Also visited other attractions in the city and the market street. Visited the Olympic village as well.

In my opinion though Sochi is beautiful its not that great for an Indian tourist point of view. Russians love it because of warm weather, sea and beach.Its beautiful but still i think its better to choose some other city more russian for that money and time.

9) Pobeda airlines- 

One thing which confused me is there luggage policy. The dimensions allowed for the hand baggage is very small. Even my shoulder bag is more in dimension. But don’t worry there is box placed there and if you can squeeze the bag inside the box its fine. Service was very basic but on time. An interesting and strange thing I noticed is that after landing most people claps which i never seen anywhere.

10) Saint Petersburg

It’s just a magical place. I just loved it. The architecture, Palace square, Nevsky Street, the bridges, canals, the river and the street artists. I felt like am in a festival ground for 5 days.Just spend outside upto 2 AM most of the days. I enjoyed sitting in the palace square, be among the street artists and the people enjoying around them, walking in Nevsky Street, one evening spend at the sevkabel. its nice hangout place with a good sunset view.

I just feel so sad to leave the city. Even the St Petersburg airport is so beautiful. Visit the s-189 submarine museum it’s nice. But don’t spent money to visit Cruiser Aurora ship museum. It’s good from outside but nothing special inside worth the ticket.


12) Tourist registration: 

If you are staying in a hotel/Hostel it’s their duty to register. And if you ask they will give a slip regarding our registration. Most places do it free of cost but the st Petersburg hostel asked for 200 rubles but after finding that the Moscow hostel done the registration for all 11 days in Russia, they said no need for registration again.

13) Peterhof. 

The place i got confused regarding the transportation and entry ticket was Peterhof. But the transportation is very easy and cheap if you relay on metro and bus. If you take the metro card then you can use this for the trip without any extra money. From avtovo metro station take the bus. The minibus dont accept card. Better go early morning after booking the lower park tickets and enter at 9 when the park opens.

Then visit the park cover one side of the park. Come to grand cascade opening at 11 am and then take ticket to the palace, see the palace and go back to park to completely cover the park. Once completed you can get out and through the upper park which is free, reach the bus station. Always better to go early.

14) Drinking Water

Buy water from the supermarkets or fill it from the filter in hostel/hotel.The bigger the bottle lesser the money. In tourist places they take 80-120 ruble for half litre.


In some places it’s difficult to find toilets. Use the toilets in cafes or malls. But some malls also charge for the toilets. Some of the parks and most metro stations don’t have toilets. Need to pay 30-60 rubles in most places and some portable toilets are very dirty.

15) Hermitage museum: 

 The online ticket rates are higher if you choose the English option. If you can enter your name and details using translator the rate is less and you just need to scan the barcode to enter the museum. This idea I got from the blog named “Misstourist”. It’s a very useful blog for both the cities. I took the 2 day pass and visited three museums. But the main building is a must visit.

16) Moscow St Petersburg train: 

Book online as early as possible to get good rates. First you need to register in the site and you can then book the ticket. English option is available. Choose the window seat preferably front facing with good view. You can see the seat outline in the site. Some of the seats don’t have view.

17) Russian Language:

A lot of Russian words are similar to English. Some English alphabets sounds same as Russian, but some very different. So I will recommend to go through some YouTube channels which will help you to understand the common words which will be useful for tourists and if you try a little more you will be able to read some basic Russian as well.


Art hostel, Moscow: A clean and nice hostel.Friendly staff. beds have curtains for privacy. Good kitchen. walking distance from metro.15 minutes to red square.It have a plenty of toilets.
Netizen hostel, ST Petersburg : A nice hostel with a good common space.

Most of the people are very friendly. As mentioned earlier one time am invited for the trip for the whole day. 3-4 times some people take great effort to show me the route. They walked with me and make sure am in the right place. One guy came with me to the bus and talked to the driver and informed him the place I want to get down. Some don’t want to talk but I think it’s because they don’t know English.




Moscow 4 days, Sochi 2 days, St Petersburg 5 days.
Expense: 65000 INR including to and fro Moscow-Sochi ticket.
(Doha- Moscow ticket not included which I got in a special offer)

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