Russia still has a sort of dual-pricing system, according to which foreigners are charged often 3 to 10 times more at theatres, museums or sights than Russian citizens. This price system is a relic from Soviet times when tickets for Russians were said to be subsidised.
The photo shows the entrance fees at the Kremlin, where foreigners are charged 300 Rubles, whereas Russians only pay 70 Rubles.
If you are with Russian friends then you should them get the tickets for "local" prices. This procedure seems to be quite common ...
Sometimes at kioks in parks (i.e. in Exhibition Centres etc.) prices for food (Schaschlik etc) are given in Rubles per 100 grams. After enjoying your meal, you will have a surprise: We paid 30 Euros for two small Schaschlik meat and two bottles of bear.
Unique Suggestions: Be careful, especially with "extremely friendly" service staff of such street restaurants. They suddenly speak your language (english, german etc). But it is a real trap for foreigners.
If you want to see Lenin then plan your day accordingly. The tomb is only open between certain times and closed on odd days like Monday and Friday.
We arrived 10 minutes before it was due to be closed and the soldiers around red square wouldn't let us go through until we each gave them 500 rubbles. As it's free to see Lenin's tomb we thought 500 rubbles is daylight robbery and therefore we didn't pay. As such we didn't get to the Lenin, so if you want to see him don't do what we did and plan in advance!
On Jan. 9 a new law amending the "Law on the Protection of Consumers' Rights" came into force that is intended to make scrambling for a calculator unnecessary. While businesses will still be able to set prices in hard currency or "U.E." -- the Cyrillic acronym for Uslovniye Yedinitsy, or conditional units -- they are now required to list the equivalent ruble price as well.
Unique Suggestions: Quite often you will see prices displayed in UE which many assume means US dollars. However, since the dollar weakened off, many shops started showing prices in euro, which at the moment at 30% higher than dollars (1 euro = 1.3000 USD).
However, the deceipt does not stop there. Shops and restaurants also fix the exchange rate at non-market levels. So, for instance, today 1 USD = 28.000 rubles, but the store, restaurant or even your hotel may state 'its' rate of exchange is fixed at 30.00 or even 33.00 for example. That means you as a consumer may end up paying 9-18% more for the item than you intended.
Fun Alternatives: Therefore, check beforehand whether the price is in dollars or euros and what the exchange rate is for rubles. Even western hotels will not hesitate to cheat you. They will quote a price in dollars, then charge you in rubles as required by the law, and then rake in the difference between the official exchange rate and their own house exchange rate. On a hotel bill of $500-1000 that can make a difference of $90-180 for a business traveller over 3-days.
Better to use that money for souvenirs or a nice meal out.
Whenever you have to buy a ticket for something, ask in Russian. The prices for Russians are usually much lower than the ones for foreigners, so if you ask in Russian you might be lucky and be charged as a Russian. Of course, you must learn a few Russian first. It's extremely useful, if not essencial, to know some Russian in Russia.
In the departure hall I have found a small cafe that sell espresso coffee for 120 roubles (almost 3.50 euros). Well, they cannot even imagin what espresso is and that coffee was a s-h-i-t.
Unique Suggestions: Don't drink coffee there.
Fun Alternatives: An alternative is to take a flight to Milano or Roma and enjoy a REAL espresso for 0.80 euros.
Tourist items get really expensive if the seller knows your a rich Western tourist.
I don?t like hagling prices, so usually I just walk away and the price suddenly drops by about half.. I also would tell them I was a poor student, which I had a little success with. My Russian was MUCH better when I was there, and occasionally I could convince them I wasn?t American, which usually made the price less too. Perhaps they thought I was Canadian..(I think they thought I put on a good show.)
Unique Suggestions: the Old Arbat is the most expensive place to buy tourist stuff... There is a market, although I can?t remember how to get there, which is much cheaper.. look on someone elses Moscow page, I?m sure they can name it.
Matrioski get home best is packed tightly in clothes.. Vodka too, but wrap it in plastic.. You don?t want to smell like a drunk if it does break.
Fun Alternatives: Look around.. fixed price stores in malls such as GUM might be a little higher then a really well hagled price, but you don?t have to work for it.
For a very simple lunch (100gr fish,little salad, some fries, and a beer), at the SELF SERVICE above Restaurant i paid 720 Rublia, about US$26. Ridicoulous price for a country with average income about $400 per month. A coffee costs around $3.5.
Fun Alternatives: If you are staying there long...Bring your sandwich and drink along!!:))
Don't buy concert or theatre tickets at the big hotels, the prices are enormously inflated. Get a local to show you where to buy. When I was there they were sold in little cabins dotted round the city, but the cabins were getting stolen all the time .... (presumably tickets and all!)
It is common practice in Moscow to charge one price to Moscovites and another (more expensive) to tourists. Often they will try to conceal this, and if you challenge locals they will often pretend not to understand and play dumb.
Unique Suggestions: Speak Russian or have your wits about you and negotiate.
Fun Alternatives: Make friends with some Russians and buy things through them!
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