I, an American, visited Russia for the first time. AMA

Continued from

[...]

I am a US Citizen, got a tourist visa, and visited St. Petersburg for three weeks. Here are my pro tips:

Visa:
>DO go through a visa agency because they will make sure you fill out the visa application properly (if you want to know the name of the agency I used, you can ask) but apply far in advance to avoid massive costs for expediting.
>DO apply for the three year multiple entry tourist visa. It is the most generous tourist visa that Russia offers and it is ONLY available to US Citizens. It allows you to stay in Russia for up 364 days per year and up to 182 days at a time without needing to do a visa run.

Travel:
>The only airline that you can get from the USA to Russia is Turkish airlines but be prepared to pay through the nose. The cheaper option, which is slightly more adventurous, is to fly from the USA to Tallinn, Estonia (first cheap) and then take a bus to the Russian border, cross the border, and then take a train to SPb. This will take you another day of traveling but it will save you about $2K round trip.

AMA

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  1. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Continued:
    Money:
    >DO open a Chase bank account prior to leaving the USA and put money in it (enough to pay for any possible expenses). Why? Chase is one of the few banks that still wires money to Russian bank accounts (more on that later).
    >DO bring at least $100 in Rubles (cash) so you can at least pay for transportation once you arrive.
    >DO bring more than enough USD; crisp, undamaged $20s, $50s, or $100s because your Visa/Mastercard/American Express/UnionPay cards won't work (but bring at least one credit card so you can buy a Turkish Airlines ticket to leave the country in case of an emergency). Why USD? Because all Russian banks and currency exchangers will exchange USD and Euros...but the EU doesn't allow you to take Euros to Russia (butthurt belt customs will temporarily confiscate your EUR if you are exiting to Russia).
    >If you anticipate exiting Russia with more than $3K cash, then DO declare your cash to customs upon entering Russia. They should give you a receipt that will allow you take more than $3K cash from Russia.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Money, continued:

      >Once you get to Russia, DO open a Ruble account and a Euro account at Raiffeisen Bank or some other unsanctioned bank that is still in SWIFT. While you are at the bank branch, get a Mir debit card, download the bank's app, and immediately exchange and/or deposit most of your cash. Then use your Mir debit card in Russia from that point on instead of cash. Raiffeisen rapes you on the EUR/RUB spread but it's the best bank for foreigners: Lots of branch locations, they will open a US citizen an account (and issue a Mir debit card) in 20 minutes' time, you can use a US VOIP phone number for their SMS verification, their app is very user friendly, you can call their call center via their app (VOIP; other banks make you call a Russian phone number), and they always have good English speakers available (on the phone and in-person).
      >once you obtain your Euro account's "requisites", DO a test international wire transfer from your Chase mobile banking app to your Euro account in Russia. Once you confirm that you got the money in your Russian bank account, you can send larger amounts in the future without worrying and will no longer need to bring spending cash to Russia (still bring emergency cash, though).

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        if you don't want to be raped by the spread then simply take your cash to a good exchange point, and then find a bank deposit ATM and deposit the rubles there (depositing at the counter costs more)

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Money, continued:

      >Once you get to Russia, DO open a Ruble account and a Euro account at Raiffeisen Bank or some other unsanctioned bank that is still in SWIFT. While you are at the bank branch, get a Mir debit card, download the bank's app, and immediately exchange and/or deposit most of your cash. Then use your Mir debit card in Russia from that point on instead of cash. Raiffeisen rapes you on the EUR/RUB spread but it's the best bank for foreigners: Lots of branch locations, they will open a US citizen an account (and issue a Mir debit card) in 20 minutes' time, you can use a US VOIP phone number for their SMS verification, their app is very user friendly, you can call their call center via their app (VOIP; other banks make you call a Russian phone number), and they always have good English speakers available (on the phone and in-person).
      >once you obtain your Euro account's "requisites", DO a test international wire transfer from your Chase mobile banking app to your Euro account in Russia. Once you confirm that you got the money in your Russian bank account, you can send larger amounts in the future without worrying and will no longer need to bring spending cash to Russia (still bring emergency cash, though).

      Miscellaneous:
      >DO have a US-based VOIP app and phone number, such as Google Voice, for SMS verification purposes. And make sure you change your phone number to that VOIP number on your apps before you leave the USA.
      >Once you are there, DO get a Russian SIM card. It only costs a few bucks and makes your life a lot easier in Russia. Make sure you can pause your plan upon you leaving Russia and know how to unpause it when you return.
      >DO download the YandexGo app so you can get a rideshare the moment you exit the airport (using the cash option before you get a Mir debit card)
      >DO NOT break their laws, such as bringing-in drugs, criticizing Islam, questioning the Holocaust, siding with the West on the Ukraine question, etc. (Remember that Freedom of Speech doesn't exist there.) Just be polite.
      >DO NOT be a SIMP for the very hot Slavic women you will see everywhere.
      >The TripAdvisor Russia forum is a good place for help but it takes days or weeks to get some good answers.

      Legit good tips. Thanks anon

  2. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    How much a self-important butthole do you have to be to make the same thread twice?

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Putin pays him to say russia goodboi russia dindu nuffin.

  3. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Nobody cares. Travel to Russia (Piddorsburg of all places lol) is nothing special.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      The Hermitage is very nice and worth the trip alone.

  4. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Miscellaneous:
    >DO have a US-based VOIP app and phone number, such as Google Voice, for SMS verification purposes. And make sure you change your phone number to that VOIP number on your apps before you leave the USA.
    >Once you are there, DO get a Russian SIM card. It only costs a few bucks and makes your life a lot easier in Russia. Make sure you can pause your plan upon you leaving Russia and know how to unpause it when you return.
    >DO download the YandexGo app so you can get a rideshare the moment you exit the airport (using the cash option before you get a Mir debit card)
    >DO NOT break their laws, such as bringing-in drugs, criticizing Islam, questioning the Holocaust, siding with the West on the Ukraine question, etc. (Remember that Freedom of Speech doesn't exist there.) Just be polite.
    >DO NOT be a SIMP for the very hot Slavic women you will see everywhere.
    >The TripAdvisor Russia forum is a good place for help but it takes days or weeks to get some good answers.

  5. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    [...]

    >ok but what if someone wants to stay for the full 182 days? $10k might be enough for that but it seems like a stretch. or are you supposed to leave, withdraw more money, and then re-enter?
    You can bring in more than $10K but you will have to declare it to customs. You might run into trouble there. They might think you are using it for business purposes or to pay spies. Maybe they will demand a bribe.
    >Also what if someone actually wanted to conduct business there?
    I don't know. I would contact your local Russian consulate and ask.

    [...]

    >you can only stay 90 days in a row as a tourist
    Not if you are a US Citizen with a 3 year multiple entry tourist visa, then it is 182 days.

  6. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    [...]

    >Why the frick would someone go to Russia and break Russian laws?
    Many people are stupid and need reminding.
    >What did you least expect?
    I didn't expect the downtown (aka "city centre") to be so clean and safe. It's is safer and cleaner than any American city. It took me a full week before I could let my guard down.
    >Who made the biggest impression on you?
    Aside from my gf, probably an owner of a burger restaurant coming out and hugging me and bragging how "Amerikan like my borgor!" It was a nice moment.

    [...]

    >Why would anyone want to go to Russia out of all coutries?
    I like to get off the beaten path and avoid tourists and influencers. I didn't see or hear any Anglophone nationals during my trip and the only influencers were the local women. Apparently foreigner tourism is largely dead since 2020 due to the pandemic and the Ukraine situation/sanctions.

    [...]

    >How did you deal with the absence of Russian in SWIFT system? Cash only or crypto?
    I dealt with it by bringing USD cash (and some RUB cash), exchanging it, and spending it until I got a Ruble bank account in Russia, then I used my Mir debit card from that point on. I have heard that you can use crypto but I'm not well versed on it. I heard that fees can be pretty high, there are limited changes that will deposit to Russia (you need a Russian bank account to do that anyway), and I didn't want to risk getting hacked and losing all my crypto. Also, contrary to popular belief, Russia was not kicked out of SWIFT; only certain banks (the most popular ones). Foreign-owned banks and smol banks in smol towns are still in SWIFT. But you have the added problem of finding banks in SWIFT that are not sanctioned by your Western gov. AND finding a bank in your country that does wires to Russia (many don't want to deal with the risk of wiring to a sanctioned person or bank, so they won't wire to Rus. at all). It took me a while to find it.

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >I like to get off the beaten path and avoid tourists and influencers.
      >St Petersburg
      >off the beaten path

      LMAO

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        If it's not off the beaten path, then why did I not see or hear a single native English speaker in Russia? Why did I not see a single Japanese, Latin American, or Western European tourist? My hotel manager said that I was the first American guest they've had since 2020. Now compare that to the "beaten path" (Paris, Rome, Santorini, etc.).

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Saint Petersburg is a completely mainstream tourist destination that is currently a hassle to go to because of Western sanctions. It's the most globohomosexual city in all of Russia, by far.
          Ironically non-anglo firsties don't even need a visa anymore to visit the country.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >Saint Petersburg is a completely mainstream tourist destination that is currently a hassle to go to because of Western sanctions.
            It's not a hassle for anyone in the world who wants to go, especially Europeans due to their proximity.
            >It's the most globohomosexual city in all of Russia, by far.
            Liberal, yes. But globohomo? No.
            >Ironically non-anglo firsties don't even need a visa anymore to visit the country.
            So which is it: it's a hassle or it isn't?
            But you're wrong about visa-free. Andorrans and South Koreans are the only firsties that have visa-free access to Russia.

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              >it's a hassle or it isn't?
              It's a hassle to go there because of the lack of cheap and direct flights and credit cards not working. This is not hard to understand.
              >Liberal, yes. But globohomo? No.
              Delusional.
              >But you're wrong about visa-free.
              Russia introduced an e-visa for non-anglo firsties a while ago. It's not even remotely comparable to getting an actual visa.

              • 4 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                >It's a hassle to go there because of the lack of cheap and direct flights
                Just take a bus from Helsinki. It really isn't a hassle for anyone who wants to go.
                >and credit cards not working
                Just take cash, like everyone used to do before credit/debit cards.
                >Russia introduced an e-visa for non-anglo firsties a while ago. It's not even remotely comparable to getting an actual visa.
                It is a visa because the purpose is to screen and possibly deny you in advance.

              • 3 weeks ago
                Anonymous

                except butthurt finns closed the border already last year
                now you need to take a bus from Tallinn

  7. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    What's good dude, fellkw aмepикaнeц here. I'm going to be visiting St. Petersburg over the summer.
    What did the process of crossing the border look like for you? I've scoured plebbit but there isn't really much information, just fearmongering about getting hooked up to car batteries and such. I'll be crossing via the Tallinn bus route if it helps.
    Anything that's absolutely essential to see in the area? Also, how's the metro system?

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >What did the process of crossing the border look like for you?
      Passport control officer spent about 5 minutes with me but only said a few words to me without asking me any questions (she didn't speak English).
      Customs saw cash in envelopes in my carry-on bag during x-ray inspection and asked if I had cash, I said "yes" then was referred to secondary inspection. They looked through my luggage and counted all the cash. Because I was in the undeclared line, if I had more than $10K (I didn't), they could have confiscated it. They asked me questions about what I was going to use the money for (to pay for my visit), why I had so much money (because of sanctions my cards don't work here), and they also asked about my new-in-box electronics and israeliteelry (gifts). Then they left me go. This could have been avoided if I carried all my cash on my body since they wouldn't have even known. This was at an airport.
      >I've scoured plebbit but there isn't really much information, just fearmongering about getting hooked up to car batteries and such.
      Yeah, all subreddits besides r/russia are shit on this subject.
      >I'll be crossing via the Tallinn bus route if it helps.
      I can't help you since I haven't done that yet but I will because it will save me lots of money over Turkish Airlines.
      >Anything that's absolutely essential to see in the area?
      Not that I can think of. I would plan your visit out, though. Make sure you visit what you plan to because you might not be able to return as soon as you want. Ask the locals what you should see. I would recommend Singer House (across from Kazan Cathedral) just because it's a beautiful and famous American building (read up on the history of it while you are there).
      >Also, how's the metro system?
      Safe, clean, reliable, and (for us), cheap. If you have a Mir card, you can tap to pay at the gates and save yourself 5 minutes by avoiding the ticket counter. Be aware that it's loud, so consider bringing earplugs or noise-cancelling earphones.

      • 4 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Cool, thanks for the reply.
        Are there any cultural faux-pas that you wish you knew about before visiting? Stuff that would be normal in the US but rude there, or vice versa

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          Yeah, blowing one's nose in the presence of others is considered rude there. What's strange is that sniffling your mucous is not considered rude there.
          Littering your cigarette butt is probably frowned upon because I didn't see any butts on the ground, despite everyone smoking.
          I don't recall anything else but I'll keep thinking about it. Good question.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            How the people dress in the city? I've heard it's similar to Americans

            • 4 weeks ago
              Anonymous

              Hard for me to say since I was there in wintertime and also because I hail from a warm climate where casual is the norm. From what I've seen, Saint Petersburgians dress more formally than Americans. Not much but noticeably. The women definitely dress up more. Note that I once read in a EE guidebook that in EE, if you are underdressed but in name brand clothing, then you are given a pass. idk if that's true (sounds moronic, imo).

              >sniffling your mucous is not considered rude there
              extremely common here in Poland too, it’s fricking disgusting India tier behaviour

              Must be a Slavic thing, then. I kept offering people napkins to blow their nose with when they kept sniffling and they didn't do anything. Kek.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            >sniffling your mucous is not considered rude there
            extremely common here in Poland too, it’s fricking disgusting India tier behaviour

        • 4 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          How long does it take to get your visa approved? I'm Australian which is essentially Americas Belarus (maybe more so) so I feel they may take their sweet time accepting me. I want to visit Vladivostok and Kamchatka. Looks beautiful.

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Not that anon (I am OP). Mine took three weeks and that was expedited. Be advised that the 3 year tourist visa is not available to Australians. Consider getting a business visa, which lasts twice as long as the longest-lasting tourist visa you can get.
            https://russiable.com/getting-russian-visa-australia/

          • 4 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            Other American here, mine got processed by the embassy in a little over a week after actually getting there. Seems like they still do their jobs and do them efficiently. I used one of the RF’s subcontractors located next to the embassy in order to mail it in.
            Just make sure you fill out everything accurately, I’ve heard it can take way longer if there are discrepancies
            And if it pisses you off sometimes, just remember that it’s way harder for Russians to get visas to anglo countries than vice versa

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        > If you have a Mir card, you can tap to pay at the gates and save yourself 5 minutes by avoiding the ticket counter
        if you stay longer you can buy a local transportation card which will save some money compared to using credit cards

        • 3 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          I didn't know that. Can it automatically be reloaded every month so you don't have to stand in the line?

          in my life I've had three different russian people ask me if I was russian (I'm not)
          should I come to russia?

          I don't think that matters. It might help you socialize when people try to talk to you in Russian, you say that you only speak English, and that might be a connection that leads you to friendship or love.

          Putin pays him to say russia goodboi russia dindu nuffin.

          If you honestly think that Putin or the Russian government pays people to talk about Russia on

          [...]

          then you' might actually have paranoid schizophrenia.

          [...]
          [...]
          Legit good tips. Thanks anon

          You're welcome.

          https://i.imgur.com/ra289ot.jpeg

          Hi anons just turned 21 from the US, I've taken 2 years of Russian in high school from a super based teacher and currently planning on brushing back up on it/ trying to become fluent. long story but I had a pretty traumatic parental upbringing and didn't end up going to college due to being poor and getting kicked out from my dad for not taking the vaccine (my body my choice lol). Currently neeting in a better position saving slowly. My current plan is to save around 60k in the next few years and hopefully with the exchange rate be able to start a small homestead/ livestock farm with primarily sheep, goats and cows. from what I see land and animals are insanley cheap and Russia banning gmo is something drawing me in, was considering the more southern euro or ossetia caucus regions because of more hospitable grazing land, Thinking of building a Yurt or Cabin to btfo housing market (some companies like Pacific Yurts do international shipping of relatively inexpensive diy kits). I've never really felt at home here, grew up white but a minority in every place i've been constant racial tension in places like Florida, Texas moved schools 7 times never had stable friends other than online. I know some Ivy league friend who got married to a Russian girl and is planning on moving there but he is in a different position (higher end job, savings, index fund investments) Any advice for someone in my position? It's hard to gauge real info and critiques and positives of Russia when alot of english media even stuff like google is censored and most people are blind and ignorant to places outside the US. I've heard they have a worse divorce rate and wages but that why Im thinking to start a small business, I feel waning in my faith alienated politically, and under harsher conditions to start a family like someone could even 30 years ago, not to mention 30 trillion dollar debt stuff like social security and pensions collapsing I feel like im on a slow sinking ship.

          Have you been to Russia before?

          >frozen shitholistan-philes can't stand the heat and redpills from the last time so they made a new thread instead
          Kek.

          If I couldn't stand the "heat" and the """redpills""" from the last thread then why would I link to it in my OP?
          Also, the reason why I abandoned the last thread is that I got busy at work.

          • 3 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            you just buy "podoroznhik" card at any subway station ticket counter, pay for the card, and then deposit as much money as you want to the card itself
            later you can top up the card using machines at the subway stations
            the value will stay there for a couple of years, the discount you get is something 20-30% compared to using bank card

        • 3 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          you just buy "podoroznhik" card at any subway station ticket counter, pay for the card, and then deposit as much money as you want to the card itself
          later you can top up the card using machines at the subway stations
          the value will stay there for a couple of years, the discount you get is something 20-30% compared to using bank card

          Thanks.

  8. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    This sounds like a lot of fricking work tbh. Kek, i'd like to visit Russia one day. But i am young. My best bet is just to wait till Putin dies in 10/15 years time.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >This sounds like a lot of fricking work tbh
      It's not a lot of work at all if you take the easiest path of getting a visa, buying a Turkish Airlines ticket, and bringing Rubles or USD then exchanging to Rubles.
      >My best bet is just to wait till Putin dies in 10/15 years time.
      By that time, the much of the USSR generation will have died off and Russia will be a lot more Westernized. Sanctions will have ended by then, so instead of being a lone Westerner in a major city, you will be one of many.

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >Russia will be a lot more Westernized. Sanctions will have ended by then
        Hugely doubt it.

  9. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    One thing that I can't know second hand is what Russia smells like. What were the scents in Russia?

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >One thing that I can't know second hand is what Russia smells like. What were the scents in Russia?
      Cigarette smoke and incomplete combustion car exhaust (since catalytic converters are not requires in Russia) but only on a busy street. Other than that, I did not notice any smells that weren't specific to locations (such as restaurants). Mind you I went in Winter, so most plants were hibernating.

  10. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    [...]

    >What are the things that stood out to you the most?
    Everyone smokes.
    No cigarette butts on the ground.
    No black people (well, just a few).
    Pharmacies (antekas) are probably the most commonly-found business.
    >What deviated most from your expectations?
    The availability of American goods.
    Sanctions aren't working if one can buy Coca Cola, Budweiser, Huggies, Lucky Charms, and iPhones in any respective stores. Subway, Carl's Jr., Burger King, and Baskin Robbins are still operating. Starbucks, KFC, and McDonald's are now under new names and ownership but it's the same.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Sorry man, realised you were someone from a prior thread and didn't want to double-ask. Appreciate the answers.

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        No problem. It gives other people the chance to see them.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >The availability of American goods.
      That's not something unique to Russia when it comes to sanctioned countries. Same applies to Iran, for example. It's largely a myth that the entire pool of imports is closed. It just takes more effort to establish logistics and is more costly for the end customer.

  11. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    in my life I've had three different russian people ask me if I was russian (I'm not)
    should I come to russia?

  12. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Hi anons just turned 21 from the US, I've taken 2 years of Russian in high school from a super based teacher and currently planning on brushing back up on it/ trying to become fluent. long story but I had a pretty traumatic parental upbringing and didn't end up going to college due to being poor and getting kicked out from my dad for not taking the vaccine (my body my choice lol). Currently neeting in a better position saving slowly. My current plan is to save around 60k in the next few years and hopefully with the exchange rate be able to start a small homestead/ livestock farm with primarily sheep, goats and cows. from what I see land and animals are insanley cheap and Russia banning gmo is something drawing me in, was considering the more southern euro or ossetia caucus regions because of more hospitable grazing land, Thinking of building a Yurt or Cabin to btfo housing market (some companies like Pacific Yurts do international shipping of relatively inexpensive diy kits). I've never really felt at home here, grew up white but a minority in every place i've been constant racial tension in places like Florida, Texas moved schools 7 times never had stable friends other than online. I know some Ivy league friend who got married to a Russian girl and is planning on moving there but he is in a different position (higher end job, savings, index fund investments) Any advice for someone in my position? It's hard to gauge real info and critiques and positives of Russia when alot of english media even stuff like google is censored and most people are blind and ignorant to places outside the US. I've heard they have a worse divorce rate and wages but that why Im thinking to start a small business, I feel waning in my faith alienated politically, and under harsher conditions to start a family like someone could even 30 years ago, not to mention 30 trillion dollar debt stuff like social security and pensions collapsing I feel like im on a slow sinking ship.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      You need Western-based source of income because wagies in Russia, especially outside of the big cities, are in the gutter. You can probably buy a farm with your $60K but you need more to get it started, build savings, etc. Try to get on SSDI. You can live in Russia and SSA will deposit your neetbux into a Russian bank account. Something else you should aspire to do before going to Russia is buying a house in the USA, not only because it will be another source of Western income for you but because you need a Plan B in case you must return from Russia. If you spend 30 years out there and lose your farm, then you're fricked. Always have the option of moving back to the USA without needing to live in a homeless shelter.
      Consider getting an English teacher certification. From what I've hear you can make $1K per month in Russia.
      >I've heard they have a worse divorce rate
      True. Be super cautious marrying, especially a Russian woman. They are notorious gold diggers.
      >and wages but that why Im thinking to start a small business
      What makes you think a small business will be better? If wages are very low, then aggregate demand is likewise also very low. This means less revenue for your business.

      Listen, you are engaging in some fantasies. Having no agricultural experience and starting a farm is very, very hard. And to try to do it without agricultural subsidies/loans is probably impossible.
      If you haven't visited Russia yet, then stop your daydreaming. Go visit, especially the farming areas, and see if that's how you want to live. No about of YouTube videos will replace seeing it yourself. Be sure to meet farmers and ask them relevant questions.

  13. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >frozen shitholistan-philes can't stand the heat and redpills from the last time so they made a new thread instead
    Kek.

  14. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >no pictures
    Shill thread.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      I don't have many to post. I could post a pic of a mosaic at a Metro station.

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