Home / Frequently Asked Questions
We could write an endless long text about why you should travel with us, but we won’t. Instead, we’ll just ask you to consider the following:
56th Parallel is a trusted licenced and bonded Australian travel company, the founders and staff are from a Russian background, and have extensively travelled within Russia for the past since 2002.
We understand the need to close the gap between expectation and reality, especially in regards to travelling in Russia.
We spend every day working on one goal only – providing an outstanding travel experience in Russia.
We aim to make it easy for travellers to unlock other regions of Russia (not just Moscow and St Petersburg).
We provide guided masterfully crafted tour itineraries to Russia, helping men and women discover the best of Russia through our long-standing cultural relationships and destination expertise.
Fixed Inclusions on 56th Parallel tours to Russia:
There are additional inclusions on various tours. You will be provided with a detailed itinerary which specifies inclusions for your chosen tour, upon booking.
NO, our tours do not include international or domestic flights. However, our team can advise on the best travel options for getting to and from Russia.
Note: if your itinerary includes train travel, we will be happy to arrange that for you. Contact us if this is unclear or refer to your tour detailed itinerary for more information.
The level and type of accommodation on each itinerary is specified on the tour page.
56th Parallel chooses our guest accommodation based on quality standards including service, style, location and facilities. Your comfort and satisfaction are very important to us.
*Please be aware that on some tours to remote locations, we do not have many accommodation options to choose from.
Your guide is key for a great travel experience.
Our guides know their turf very well, they specialise in the region and the activities you choose. They speak English (other languages available). They are with you throughout the entire tour program. They will make arrangements, translate, guide, explain and take care of you. The guide’s goal is to make ensure your travel experience is hassle-free, informative, fun and exciting.
Yes, 56th Parallel carefully constructs itineraries with you in mind. We understand travellers may want to explore on their own. Where possible our itineraries leave you free time to explore the destinations in your free time. Naturally, with so much to discover in Russia, there is always more to see and do. If needed we can help you extend your trip to Russia to allow you a chance to cover all the extra bits. feel free to inquire about tour extensions with one of our team members.
56th Parallel operates either small group tours or private tour parties.
Our group sizes are kept to between 1-16 people.
We want you to have the freedom to move around and get involved. The emphasis on small group tours means that your group won’t overcrowd your personal experience.
Russia attracts a wide variety of travellers from all over the world so you will find that every tour group is a little different. Generally, there will be a mix of single travellers, couples and small groups of friends. Age groups generally range from 30+ to 70+
No, there are no age limits on our tours.
However, to travel independently you must be at least 18 years of age. If you are a family group with young children we recommend you contact us to double check the suitability of the tour you have chosen for young children.
No, if you do not mind sharing a room with another tour participant of the same gender.
Our advertised price is based on a twin share basis to help keep your costs down.
Please inform us in the booking process if you would like your own private room for the duration of the tour, which will attract a single supplement.
Note: sometimes there are no same-sex travellers willing or available to share a room, which may mean you have to resort to paying a single supplement and enjoy a room all to yourself.
Yes, many of our tours are available for departure as a private group, keep an eye on the information on the specific tour you are interested in. The tours which have “guaranteed departures”, usually are small groups with no private option available.
Many travellers use our masterfully crafted itineraries while travelling privately with their own group, not having to join people they do not know.
In addition, our team can provide specialist advice on tour activities, destinations and help you add on or develop an itinerary which works best for your group.
Contact us for more information.
Fitness level recommendation will depend on the tour itinerary you choose to participate in.
We recommend that anyone travelling on one of our active adventure tours should be reasonably fit and certainly have a level of mobility with a relatively good fitness level.
Fitness and activity estimates are clearly marked on the tour itinerary page by stars (we call it action rating) the more starts, the fitter you should be. Click on the star to get more info about the rating.
Yes, some specific active adventures do require you to have the skills required to be able to enjoy that experience. All other travel experiences do not require skills.
For example, Sea kayaking (kayaking tour), Good Ski skills (Heli-ski Kamchatka) among other examples of our active adventures. If you are unsure of whether a particular activity is suited to your fitness level and ability, please contact one of our team members, who can advise if this activity is for you.
The 56th Parallel site is designed to make online enquiry & booking as easy as possible.
To start to enquire online, Select make an enquiry option from the desired tour Page or the contact us page and fill out the form with your information, and any questions you might have. Expect one of us to get back to you within 24 hr.
Please refer to the tour itinerary of interest, for information on guaranteed departures and other departure date options.
In principle, our small group tour packages which are guaranteed departures have set departure dates, other tours are available as a private tour with your choice of departure date.
Yes, many travellers take the opportunity to explore more of what Russia has to offer. We are happy to give you advice and help you organise extra accommodation and transport arrangements prior to and/or after your 56th Parallel tour.
We offer trip extensions to many of our Russia destinations too. If you’re interested in extending your stay in Russia, contact one of our team members.
56th Parallel has a team that designs special interest tours to Russia. Whether you are interested in art, culture, architecture, science, adventure sports, nature or history – our team will work with you to customise a tour to Russia based on your chosen interests.
Note: customised tours require time and expertise to design. they may attract an additional fee.
Yes, and we would be happy to help you further personalise your travel experience. It is highly recommended that you book any optional extras available before your departure date. Optional extra’s are published in the detailed itinerary, which you will receive upon booking, contact us if you need more info.
When planning a Russia tour, you will be best served to plan months in advance, some of our tours fill up 6 months in advance of tour departure dates, others, like the expedition type tours, need even more time in advance for booking 12-18 months in advance.
Booking deposits and payment need to be arranged as early as possible before departure to secure your place.
Please read our booking terms and conditions for more information.
Bookings for customised tours or private tour parties should be booked as soon as possible to make sure we can have enough time to meet your needs and requests.
Yes sure, feel free to have your travel agent liaise with us about your the booking.
We are a travel agent who specialises in Russia, that is most likely why you are considering us for your Russia travel plan. In most cases, it is much easier to deal with us directly and get all the answers rather than getting it third hand.
Note: Travel agents do expect a commision for dealing with us on your behalf. We do not pay a commission to travel agents for something we can do directly with you anyway.
If you insist on having a travel agent be involved on your behalf, we recommend you come to an arrangement with them.
56th Parallel accepts the following payment options in USD and in some cases (upon request) in AUD:
We are unable to accept personal cheques as payment. For more information or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
When your tour booking is confirmed, we will send you a tour-specific pre-departure information pack. Included in this pack will be a packing list and recommendations for any other special items you may need to bring with you.
If you have any questions always feel free to contact one of our team members for more information. Essential on your list of things to bring are an open mind, sense of adventure and an easy-going attitude.
Yes, As part of the visa application you will need a Russian visa support document which we will provide free of charge if your book a tour with us. Depending on your country of residence you will either need a copy of the Russian visa support document. Once you have the document you will need to apply for Russian visa at your local Russian consulate.
We provide concierge visa application services for Australian passport holders.
Get in touch if you have any questions, or visit our visa information and services page for more info.
No, in general, you don’t need vaccinations for travelling in Russia. However, if you are taking prescription medication we recommend that you bring enough to last your entire trip.
56th Parallel will email you a tour-specific pre-departure information pack upon confirmation of booking.
The pack will provide a suggested list of items including. We recommend that you carry any prescribed medications with you and bring enough for your entire trip to Russia.
Asthma sufferers should ensure they have an adequate supply of medicine.
Yes, you must take out comprehensive travel insurance specific to Russia, the activities and the regions included in your tour.
56th Parallel requires you to be adequately insured before we can allow you to participate in our tours. Your policy must cover medical costs in case of hospitalisation or other emergencies and cancellation policy cover.
Information on start and finish locations are included in the tour detailed itinerary pages.
If you need to cancel your trip please send us a cancellation notice by email to [email protected] including all your booking details as soon as you can.
56th Parallel insists that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that cover you in any such event.
Please refer to our Booking Terms & Conditions for more information on cancellation.
Like most other nations and destinations, Russia has its own customs and traditions. For awesome information about Russian customs and traditions have a look here a Fun guide to Russian customs and traditions.
56th Parallel and our tour leaders have fantastic inside knowledge of the Russian dining culture. We ensure that you experience the best and most interesting cuisine at your tour destinations. Our tour leaders’ local knowledge will help you understand menus and they will give you tips on what to try. You will be pleasantly surprised by the delicious dishes on offer.
Most of Russia’s traditional food is made from familiar ingredients which makes it easier to order in restaurants. One of the most popular dishes is Borscht (beet soup) and we highly recommend exploring the many flavours and varieties offered by Russian cuisine.
If you are a vegetarian or have special dietary needs please let us know in advance so we can make sure that you are looked after in local restaurants. Please contact one of our team members if you have any special dietary requests.
Russia’s opera and ballet performances are world-renowned. Shows that cater for international visitors are extremely popular and need to be booked well in advance in Particular in Moscow and St Petersburg.
To ensure availability and reasonable ticket prices 56th Parallel recommend making reservations a few months before the actual performance date.
Like most European countries the majority of Russians understand English to a degree. However, learning a few Russian phrases may help you prepare for your trip and add something special to your experience. Basics Russian phrases can be found here http://petersburgcity.com/for-tourists/phrases-english-russian/expressions/
Despite perceptions, Russia is actually an incredibly safe place.
In the case of you booking a tour with us, you will have the safety and comfort of a private vehicle and driver and one of our tour leaders.
Naturally, there are basic precautions you should take travelling anywhere in the world. We recommend that you carry a copy of your passport and visa with you at all times. Your tour leader can advise on secure storage of your original documents at each of the destinations, usually, a hotel safe will be available in your room. Be cautious, just like most major European cities, Russia also has its share of pickpockets.
56th Parallel arranges all tour dates to ensure the seasons and weather is the best fit for the specific tour activities.
Average winter temperatures range between 0°C and -20°C depending on the region. December, February and March are some of the best months to visit Siberia in winter with great snowfall, frozen lakes and rivers like Lake Baikal which freezes over.
Spring in Siberia happens before your eyes and like most seasons in Siberia, the transformation is very fast into a pleasant and surprisingly warm summer.
Summer temperatures in Russia can reach from +15 to +35°C. The temperatures in summer are cooler in the Altai or Sayan Mountains.
During the brief autumn, Russia turns on the most amazing colour displays. Seasonal transitions tend to be abrupt and so we try to ensure our tours operate at the peak of the season best suited for the activities.
Saying all that, you should always check weather forecast online for indication of latest weather conditions.
Tipping is entirely at your own discretion. Tips are not included in our tour price. We recommend you tip only if you are satisfied with the service and feel comfortable leaving a tip or gratuity. If you do decide to leave a tip, they can be made in US Dollars, Euros and Rubles (recommended).
YES, your hotel has internet and wifi access, also Internet cafes are plentiful in Russia’s major cities as well as free wi-fi in most coffee shops. However, when you’re adventuring in remote areas internet access will be either limited or non-existent.
Yes, we suggest that you check with your service provider before you go to ensure you have international roaming and they have a service agreement with one of Russia’s national telcos. If this is all up and running your mobile phone will work in most Russian major cities.
Mobile network coverage will be limited or non-existent when you’re touring the more remote areas.
56th Parallel suggests that you consider buying a local sim card to help keep your international roaming charges down. Your tour leader will be able to advise where you can purchase local sim cards.
Your tour costs already cover your ground transport, all itinerary activities, accommodation, entrance and activity fees and some if not most meals.
We suggest that you bring your credit card/s and international ATM cards. Most restaurants and retailers will accept credit cards.
USD (US Dollar) is the most favourable currency to use in exchange for rubles. ATMs are readily available and your tour leader will be able to direct you to the nearest ATM either in your hotels or close by. When using an ATM in Russia it is best to choose rubles as this saves you the hassle of exchanging foreign currency and possibly incurring agent fees.
Electrical adapters in Russia use the two prongs round European outlets (see image).
In an emergency, one of our specially trained representatives on the ground will help you take the best course of action.
In the case of a medical emergency in remote areas, your tour leader will use their discretion and arrange the fastest and safest way to transport you to the nearest medical centre.
We require all of our tour participants to take out comprehensive travel insurance which covers these types of emergencies.
If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816