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Sochi Travel Guide

Sochi Travel Information

Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are standard.

Language

Russian is the official language. Some people speak English, French or German.

Tipping

Hotel bills in the large Russian cities include a 10 to 15% service charge; otherwise 10% is usual. If a service charge hasn't been added at a restaurant, a 10% tip is expected. City Guides and their drivers also expect a small tip and tipping in bars and nightclubs is common.

Safety Information

Travellers are advised against all travel to Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan because of the security situation in the North Caucasus, including the regions of Budyonnovsky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kurskoy. Travellers are advised against all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Elbrus area) as terrorism and kidnapping in these regions persist. Between April and August 2008, there was a series of explosions in and around Sochi. There is a high risk of domestic terrorism throughout Russia, particularly in Moscow and North Caucasus, with suicide bombings and explosions in public areas and on public transport, and hostage-taking is a serious threat. Visitors are advised to be vigilant and to watch out for pickpockets and street crime. There has been an increase in crime, specifically targeting tourists, in St Petersburg and visitors are advised to be cautious on the metro and buses, and should insist on seeing official ID from police officers. Political protests often end in violence and detention; visitors are advised to avoid all demonstrations.

Local Customs

Photography of anything to do with the military, strategic sites, or the airport, is prohibited. It is impolite to refuse alcohol, food and gifts. In Russian Orthodox churches, women are advised to wear skirts and cover their heads with a scarf. It is a legal requirement for visitors to carry passports for identification; copies are not sufficient.

Business

Russian business is conducted in a fashion similar to Western countries with subtle differences. Russians are business-minded so it is not necessary to form personal relations but developing a good network of resident associates is a good idea. Dress is formal and conservative and on greeting a good firm handshake and direct eye contact indicates strength. Business cards are exchanged and it's advisable to get a Russian translation of your details on the alternate side. Business hours are generally from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday.

Communications

The international access code for Russia is +7. When calling Russia from abroad, the initial zero on the area code must not be omitted. The outgoing code is 8 followed by 10 (a second tone should sound after 8), followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 81044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, e.g. 495 for Moscow and 812 for St. Petersburg. Public phones are good for local and international calls; they take phonecards, which can be bought at newspaper kiosks and post offices. Phone booths in airports and major hotels usually take Amex or Visa cards but are generally much more expensive than street phones. Mobile phones work in most large towns and cities. There are numerous local operators using GSM 900/1800 networks, each covering relatively small areas. Internet access is available at Internet cafes throughout the major towns and cities.

Duty Free

The following may be imported into Russia without customs duty: 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco products (over 18 years), 2 litres of alcohol (over 21 years), perfume for personal use, gifts up to the value of US$10,000. Tourists must complete a customs declaration form, to be retained until departure, allowing for the import of articles intended for personal use (including currency and valuables) which must be registered on the declaration form. Customs inspections occur. 250g of caviar per person may be exported, with a receipt proving it was purchased at a store licensed to sell it to foreigners and a licence from the Ministry of Economical Development. Any items or artwork that might have historical value, like icons, maps, coins or paintings, have to be registerd with the Ministry of Culture before departure, which usually involves a 100% customs duty fee.


Travel guide by (c) Globe Media Ltd. By its very nature much of the information in this travel guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. We cannot accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.

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