Spending money in Minsk
I am very hard core budget traveler, believe me. And I try to have a detailed preparation for trip including and how, how much and where is possible to pay less for the same quality and prices and all usually information on spending money in new city/country.
I exchange about 11-12 euros in Minsk. I don't remember how rate was in summer 2011. The course was fairly stable, I think. The current rate of exchange offices can be found on the website http://infobank.by/1311/ItemID/15/Default. aspx. or on the website of the National Bank RB http://www.nbrb.by/statistics/Rates/RatesDaily.asp
Payment cards issued by national bank, eg. Visa, Maestro, Diners, Master card etc., may be used, but due to the significant cost of conversion, it is recommended cash obtained by exchanging foreign currency in local exchange offices. I always use cash and, since I am not planning to buy anything particular, I exchange small amount of money.
Maybe some of following information you find a useful:
1. The public transport in Minsk are cheaper then European average and for one ticket (for bus or two existing metro lines) is 2.500 BYR, and the line for a taxi (van) 7000 BYR.
2. Food and services of restaurant are on average already at the European level. I find some restaurants very cheap, McDonald's is higher then my choice of diner. Some restaurant in center are expensive. Just carefully look at the menu.
3. Accommodation in a single hotel room costs between 60 and 150 euros, but has the luxury hotel where the prices are substantially higher. It is possible to find a cheap hostel.
4. Cloth are not so cheap on some places but I didn't planning to buy anything.
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
Small town spirit
I find a Minsk very safe and somehow tourist friendly and somehow not. Its wide streets and huge pedestrian zone contribute to this. When you walking trough Minsk you hardly to see any locals.
But minutes you enter in some small crowd you start to feel like "strangers". Been Slav and I think not so different then local by my look, you can feel and heard that people around it asking "Where you come from?" or "Is it a stranger?" I remember that was happens to our group when we enter to Cathedral of the Holy Spirit and attendant to holly services. It was a lovely experience and we meet some locals that felt genuine excitement to meet their brothers and sisters that come so far.
The most positive experience was in small market when I "talk" to saleswoman on our local languages (same Slavic root). And lady after me ask her "Is she a stranger?" refers to me. "No", said saleswoman "she is ours". Off course, refers to Slavic roots.
The most negative experience was on outdoor concert where we attended by accident. Some evidently drunk guy try to start conversation with several girls in our group. Apparently, if you don't response when their like then their will try to draw attention to themselves with any less polite gestures.
Just be in your crowd and your be just fine. Outdoor concerts or some public events are not the same as political demonstrations or some public violence. So, I am not try to conclude that always happens. It is just observation and impression that Minsk yet didn't often part of touristic trail. I hope it would change soon.
- Road Trip
- Religious Travel
Export and import permited
I heard from guides (and read on some internet reassures) that for export the picture from Belarus, you will have to obtain a special permit from the Ministry of Culture of country. I didn't bought a picture, so don't know how process goes.
This review I find very interesting so I take a task to write a more useful information.
Detailed information can be found on the website of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Belarus www.customs.gov.by in Russian, English and Germany language.
- Arts and Culture
- Business Travel
- Luxury Travel
Don't exchange much money to local currency
As you may know, Belarus is in economic crisis and in shortage of foreign currency reserve at the time of writing in August 2011. The authority has introduced some measures to restrict outflow of foreign currency.
When I tried to exchange the local currency equivalent to 20-30 euro in the Minsk airport before departing to Moscow, a bank could change it to only 200 Russian rubles (about 5 euro) and give back the rest unchanged.
Therefore I recommend that you exchange money to necessary minimum of local currency (for purchase of water etc), and use a credit card to pay for something.
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
in all my time i never had any trouble in minsk to me it seems very save when i,m there i feel saver then being in england just like any where just use your commen sense when i,m there i just try not to speak english the only problem with belarus is there culture of drinking. try not to go to some of the villiges by your self . also just ignore the airport the staff who work there are horrible don,t expect anybody to be freindly it won,t happen just keep your mouth shut and get out of here as soon as you can i could say more about this place but i won,t horrible place !.
Belarus, Minsk is not a holiday destination
Closed, unfriendly people who are not used to deal with tourists.
The only thing they can think about is how to get to your money.
To rip you off is a practical joke to them.
I came by train from Germany and I paid 90 euro for the ticket . When I needed to buy a trainticket for my journey back in the main trainstation, nobody could speak English but a "nice" young lady who spoke english offered to "help". I paid with Rubbels and later I found out that I paid 140 euro for the ticket.
So the friendly girl and the cashier made 25 euro both, that's why they smirked at each other.
Everybody is trying to make some extra money.
Minsk is safe just don't get involved in demonstrations. Learn some Russian before you. Absolutely no one speaks English. Even a word. Hhaving lived there for a number of years I can say that Lukashenko is not unpopular with people in Minsk and especially the whole of the country. You probably just mixed with the minority who are against him. There will be no revolution as Belarus is heavily tied in wth Russia and there is no way Russia will allow Belarus to go pro-western. So even is there is an uprising it with be quickly snuffed out either by lukashenko or with the help of Russia. I know many people in Minsk and even the few people who moan about Lukashenko decide to vote for him during elections. It may be a dictorship there but he is well liked.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Avoid public demonstrations
Minsk is really a quiet and safe place, probably the safest capital city I've even been to, or at least that was my feeling. That's probably also due to the fact that in Belarus there's an authoritarian regime and police (miltsia) is everywhere, expecially in the capital city and expecially in the centre, close to the presidential building.
So the only danger you could have is if there's some public demonstration for democracy going on. People in Minsk are not happy about Lukashenka's regime even if in the country's capital city the level of life is quite high, also compared to neighbouring countries.
I think there's not much time left before a real uprising of Belarusian people asking for real democracy. By now there has been several public demonstrations, with arrests and fightings with the police. People are scared and time is not ready for a revolution yet.
BTW, unless you are particolarly involved into the fight for freedom, it's surely a good idea to stay away from any public demonstration.
Better days will come: Жыве Беларусь!
Please bear in mind that you are probably going to need to purchase approved Health Insurance on arrival in Minsk. For this I can recommend the following organisation:-
16 Rakovskaya Str.
(open - 9.30-17.30)
The processing fee is USD1.00 but please remember to bring with you a valid passport.
...more dangerous as private taxi drivers (in my opinion they are not) are policemen from the "Milizija". Avoid to contact them! Belarus ist definitely the less democratic european part of the former U.S.S.R.
Whatever your expectations may be - I've been to Minsk a couple of times and experienced it to be as safe as any other bigger town. Stay away from dark areas at night, don't visit the outskirts more often (or later) than necessary, don't use private taxis, and - don't show off if you're walking around with expensive equipment. Just as everywhere, isn't it...
I would suggest you not to use...
I would suggest you not to use public transportation during rush hours (8am-9am; 5pm-7pm). Even local people hardly could bear such an adventure. Everything is overcrowded, passengers get nervous of that, so their behaviour changes accordingly.
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.
- Save money, Book now!
- Booking.com Excellent choice, Low rates