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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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  #1  
Old 18 Oct 2008
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Belarus and Western Russia.

Can anyone give advice/useful websites for a trip to Belarus and Western Russia. I hope to go around the Baltic next year and take in the Kaliningrad oblast, Belarus and possibly around St Petersberg. Info on visas, invitations/reputable organisations who sort invitations would be much appreciated. Also what currency to take. I am not going until next summer.( I have travelled around Europe, including Ukraine and Romania, so have a bit of experience of travelling around). Thank you.
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Old 18 Oct 2008
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Visas

Assuming you are GB/EU passport holder you only need visas for Russia and Belarus. Otherwise all other Baltic and Scandinavian states are EU or grant GB citizens visa-free tourist entry.
Kaliningrad is Russia and has the same requirements as 'main' Russia. If visiting both by road you will require a double or multi-entry visa (not needed for flying directly between them).
There are many threads on HUBB describing the process for obtaining Russia visas.
Also look at Russian Consulate If you do not have friends who can persuade the Ministry to issue an Official Invitation, there are numberous agencies who will do this all for you, efficiently and hassle free - for a fee.

Belarus requires separate visa. Start at Belarusian Embassy London
Similar sort of procedure but I have never applied for one. I annually ride UK to Russia and back and avoid Belarus and another Visa, travelling via the prettier more interesting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - depending on my destination. In the scheme of such trips the additional distance is not great

You need separate Visas for Belarus and Russia. Yet the two countries share the same Migration Entry Cards and there is effectivly an open roads border between the two. Like travelling within Schengen EU.
Having a visa for crossing between the two seems needless - though your RUS Visa will certainly be inspected on leaving Russia at other borders to elsewhere.

Presumably the same from Belarus?
Anyone got practical experiance of this?

Last edited by Tony P; 18 Oct 2008 at 15:57.
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Old 18 Oct 2008
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Money

I use ATMs (Bancomats) throughout. But I make sure I use ones in (or on) established, known Banks - avoid the freestanding ones within stores, stations and public places as, I was advised, they can be used as ClonePoints or for other scams.

If you prefer to take cash, Euros, US Dollars and Pounds are readily exchanged in Banks and agencies in all reasonably sized towns and near borders.

Odd quirk - in Russia they often speak/quote prices in dollars but if you produce that number they will not accept them at Par, but apply their own exchange rates on the price and your cash to Roubles. Different rates!!!
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Old 19 Oct 2008
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Here's a useful link, if you haven't seen it:

Driving to Russia by car, camping car, motorhome: Russian car insurance, permit and registration, traffic police - WayToRussia.Net
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Old 19 Oct 2008
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Gill when travelling in russia -( I didnt get into belaraus) I found it best to carry cash (you can get a supply of roubles at the british post office) - russia is largely a cash society. Then as already has been said the larger towns/cities banks are fine for exchange or withdrawing currency. If you do draw money out keep the reciepts to show if required at the border exit point. dont leave with more than you take in -it can cause a delay/problem, I also carried a supply of dollars although I found euros were easy to use in major city areas.
When checking through the border it was acceptable on a bike to go to the front of the queue but make sure that you know exactly what paperwork etc you need. I found it really eased the way to learn a few words of Russian (please, thanks, do i need this, what is this for etc ) I also labelled and or transcribed bit of my vehicle documents into Russian/ along with the bits I needed from them eg Migration card, temp import papers then tick off each bit as you get it - this really helped the border guards know what papers written in English i was giving them and helped them help me it works and I have really sailed through the whole border process each time with lots of smiles and really quite an upbeat process.
Another quirk is paying for the amount of fuel you need before you get it so you need to order say 22 liters of fuel and pay up front so its handy to know or have written down in russian what grade of fuel you want and have a pen/ paper to show you want however many liters - cos if its busy and people are in a hurry it can be fun trying to figure out why they wont give you fuel. But have a great time the russians are generally pleasant polite and really helpful but very reserved (some say miserable - but thats a misunderstanding of their ways). If your looking for somewhere to stay centrally in st Petersburg I can reccomend Vacation Rentals, rent apartment in St. Petersburg, Russia Apartments for rent who rent very central appartments at good rates and the owner is very helpful. You will aslo need to register inside russia within 3 days this costs about 15 dollars per visa - there is a offices in both Moscow and st petersburg wher you can do this yourself or your hotel/appartments should do it normally for a bit of a charge.
Vehicle insurance can be bought at or before border crossings and is not to expensive. Roadside caffinions usually do excellent food as do the truck stops on the main routes. Food is generally really good quality if not a bit heavy and cheap even in the cities.
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Old 19 Oct 2008
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Belarus and Western Russia

Thank you Tony, Motoreiter and adventure950 for all the threads and info. Yes I am Uk citizen. I've found a couple of agencies who do visas and intros, for both Russsia and Belarus : Travel Direct and RealRussia. I don't know if some are better than others, but more expensive than just going through the embassies... thats understandable if they do the whole deal with introductions. Russian borders and petrol stations sound a lot like Ukraine...which was a thoroughly worthwhile visit once adjusted to the cultural differences and road conditions. Its these little snippits of info from people who have been there/live there that make all the difference, together with websites, good accommodation. Is it easy to find accommodation out in the countryside, such as B&B in guesthouses? Thanks again, Gill
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Old 20 Oct 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gill750 View Post
Is it easy to find accommodation out in the countryside, such as B&B in guesthouses? Thanks again, Gill
Never actually stayed out in the boonies, but I wouldn't count on B&Bs. There were a lot of truck stops of variable quality, and I guess a couple of small resort type towns had some little hotels. But really there is always another city within a days ride (even in Siberia) so you don't need to stay in the sticks unless you want to.
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