Home / Frequently Asked Questions About Travelling to Russia
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:
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 masterfully crafted tour itineraries to most locations in Russia, helping people fully enjoy a travel experience in Russia by using our long-standing cultural relationships and destination expertise to optimise every step of the experience.
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.
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 likely arrange that for you. Contact us if this is unclear or refer to your tour detailed itinerary for more information. The detailed itinerary can be downloaded from your chosen Russia tour page.
The level and type of accommodation on each tour itinerary is specified on each specific tour page.
56th Parallel chooses guest accommodation based on quality standards including service, style, location, value for money and facilities. We do a lot of homework since your comfort and satisfaction are very important to us.
Most trip prices are based on 3 or 4-star hotels. some of our adventure tours include camping days.
*Please be aware that on some of our tours to remote locations, we do not have many accommodation options to choose from.
Your Tour guide is key for a great travel experience.
Our Russia tour guides know their turf very well, they specialise in the region and the activities on tour. They speak English (other languages available). They are with you throughout the entire tour program. Your guide will make arrangements, translate, guide, explain and take care of you during your time in Russia. The guide’s goal is to ensure your travel experience is hassle-free, informative, fun and memorable.
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 small group sizes are kept to between 2-16 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.
Private tours can be any number of travellers, and allow you more flexibility in many aspects of your Russian trip itinerary.
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+ and they can be from Australia, USA, UK, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, or any European country.
No, there are no age limits on our tours.
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.
*Our adventures have been enjoyed by travellers as young as 12 and as young as 85.
No, if you do not mind sharing a room with another tour participant of the same gender, (providing they want to share also).
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 may/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 in Russia are available for departure as a private group (your group only not joining others), keep an eye on the information on the specific tour you are interested in. The tours which have “guaranteed departures”, usually are small groups tours, the rest are usually private departure tours.
Many travellers like to book one of our masterfully crafted itineraries as private group tour, rather than joining a group of people they do not know.
Some of that advantages of a private tour are the Flexibility of the itinerary to suit your pace, desires and creativity. Our team can provide specialist advice on tour activities, destinations and help you add on or develop an itinerary which works best for your private group.
Contact us for more information.
Fitness level recommendation will depend on the specific Russia tour itinerary you choose to participate in. Most of our Russia tours are easy-going sightseeing type tours which do not require a high level of fitness.
Anyone travelling to Russia on one of our “active adventure tours” should be reasonably fit and certainly have a good level of mobility and fitness.
Fitness and activity requirements are clearly marked on the tour itinerary page by a traveller icon (we call it action rating) the more travellers, the fitter you should be. Click on the icon to get more info about the ratings.
Some of our more active adventures do require you to have the skills required to be able to enjoy that specific experience. All other travel experiences do not require skills.
For example, the Sea kayaking in Kamchatka (kayaking tour) or the (Heli-ski Kamchatka tour) among other examples of our active adventures. If you are unsure of whether a particular activity is suited to your fitness level and skills, please contact one of our team members, who can advise if this activity is suited for your skill level.
The 56th Parallel site is designed to make online enquiry & booking as easy as possible.
The actual Booking of a tour Can be done by completing the Booking Form.
Usually, while you browse our website, in order 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.
Some of us like to hear a voice and have a chat with us first. We welcome you to call us +61 2 93889816
Please refer to the specific tour itinerary of interest, for information on guaranteed departures (fixed dates) 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 the departure date, as long as the season and weather allow for it.
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 various logical trip extensions to many Russia destinations, before or after your trip. If you’re interested in extending your stay in Russia, contact your trip advisor and let them know.
56th Parallel has a team of expert Russia trip designers. 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, timing, budget and needs.
Note: customised tours require time and expertise to design, they may attract a planning fee.
We would be happy to help you further personalise your Russia travel experience. In order to make sure that you enjoy the optional activities offered, please make sure our Russia travel expert knows about your needs by emailing them, stating what you would like to add from the list of available options.
It is highly recommended that you book any optional extras for your Russia trip 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 trip to Russia you will be best served to plan months in advance, some of our tours fill up months in advance, others, like the expedition type tours, need even more time in advance for booking, like 12 or more months in advance.
A Booking deposit payment need to be arranged as early as possible before departure to secure your place and logistics associated for your trip.
Please read our booking terms and conditions for more information.
Bookings for bespoke/customised tours in Russia should be booked as soon as possible to make sure we can have enough time to meet your needs and requests.
Yes, feel free to have your travel agent liaise with us about your Russia travel plans.
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 regarding commissions.
56th Parallel accepts the following payment options in USD and in some cases (upon request) in AUD:
For more information or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
After 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 for this specific tour.
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 is 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 you book a tour with us.
Depending on your country of residence you will either need a scanned copy of the Russian visa support document or an original. Once you have the document you will need to apply for a Russian visa at your local Russian consulate or Russian Visa centre.
We provide concierge visa application services for Australian passport holders. If you prefer the a visa professional to take care of the visa application process for you, get in touch we will take the hassle of this process away from your hands.
No, in general, you don’t need vaccinations for travelling in Russia other than usual vaccination that you would have had in your country. For more information on Vaccinations when travelling to Russia click here.
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 to include. 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, covering the activities you plan to partake and the regions included in your tour.
56th Parallel requires you to be adequately insured. Your policy must cover medical costs or other emergencies as well as cancellation policy cover.
If you plan to do any specific activities that might carry higher risk, please make sure you are insured for them also.
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 covers you in any such event as cancellations.
Depending on the timing of the cancellation you may be able to get a refund. 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 more information about Russian customs and traditions have a look here a Fun guide to Russian customs and traditions.
We have also lately written an article about Russian Traditions, Ethics, Do’s and Don’t’s while in Russia Called – A guide to Russian Traditions, Culture, Customs & Etiquette
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 to international visitors are extremely popular and need to be booked well in advance in Particular in Moscow and St Petersburg. Plan at least 3 months in advance if you want to enjoy a show in the Bolshoi or Mariinsky.
*Most of our tours that visit Moscow and St. Petersburg include options to enjoy a show or two. Let our team members know you are interested and they will book tickets for your group.
Your guides are English speaking and will be supporting you with any translations you may need.
Most hotel and hospitality staff speak English, but learning a few Russian phrases may help you prepare for your trip and add something special to your experience.
*Russian people love and appreciate it when a foreigner tries to speak Russian, it opens many doors and breaks the ice in many situations, so give it a go for sure.
Despite perceptions, Russia is actually an incredibly safe place.
Booking a tour with us, you will have the safety and comfort of a private vehicle, driver and one of our tour leaders to guide and support yours needs while on tour.
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.
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).
As a rule of thumb:
Restaurants: 5-10% tip
Guides: US$10-20 for every day they spent with you.
Drivers: depending on the time spent with you, a small % tip should be sufficient. or same as guide (but lower scale).
YES, Russia actually has one of widely available internet. Of course, your hotel has internet and wifi access, also Internet cafes are plentiful in Russia 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, but just in case, 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. Wifi will be available in base camps.
56th Parallel suggests that you consider buying a local sim card to help keep your international roaming and data 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 excursions and activities, accommodation, entrance and activity fees and the specified meals.
Best practice for carrying/dealing with money while on tour in Russia is to bring your credit card/s and/or international ATM cards. There are ATM’s available for withdrawals (if needed). That way you can control the amount you need and only withdraw what you need.
All restaurants and retailers will accept most 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.
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 make the best first course of action. So always contact your trip leader (guide) first.
In the case of a medical emergency in remote areas, your tour leader will use their discretion and arrange the fastest and safest way deal with the situation and if needed, 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.
Russians, in general, treat tourists well and are curious to get to know people from other countries. Locals may seem serious and unwelcoming to you because they will typically not smile to strangers. That does not mean they do not like you, that is just the culture in Russia.
A lot of people asked me: “I am American, the relationship between the US and Russia is sour now. Will local people hate me because I am American?”. The answer is no. Russians understand that you are not in charge of politics in your country and they like that you decided to spend your vacation to see their country.
If we did not cover something in the above FAQ's feel free to ask and we will provide an answer in a jiffy.
If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816