Travelers who are worried that Armenian ATMs may have problems with pins that are more than 4 digits - do not fret.
The HSBC ATMs around Yerevan accept 5 digit pins (and possibly 6 digit pins) Just remember to hit "OK" after you are done entering your pin.
There are plenty of local and regional bank ATMs in Yerevan and other Armenian cities, but they do not seem to have cirrus/plus/etc logos anywhere. So if you want to play it safe....global bank HSBC does and they have many branches in Yerevan. There is a branch right on Republic Square by the Marriott, one at Zartvnots Airport and there are two more ATMs on Mashtots Ave near Republic Square - with one across from the SAS supermarket.
Homestay, hotel or camping. . . I tried all three options in Armenia, and I enjoyed all; it just depends to adapt to the situation: cheap hotel in Yerevan, small hotel and homestay in small cities or villages, camping in the wilderness!
This here is just a general review about accommodation; be warned it is not exactly cheap to sleep in Armenia, and specially in Yerevan . . . compared to local income.
This being said, either in hotels or homestays, you are always heartfully welcomed (except once, in my case), people are helpful, and this is the most important.
I am now in Germany on my way home from 16 wonderful days in Armenia and have seldom, if ever, had such a wonderful trip. I visited the Genocide Memorial, the Manuscript Repository (They do not like to call it a museum because "it is a research institute."), Echimiadzin, Kor Vidl, several other sites but most importantly, I fell in love with the Armenian people. I do not think that I have ever learned as much nor been as overwhelmed by a people group as quickly as I was by the Armenians.
If you are reading this and I have not been working on my Armenia pages, please encourage me to do so. Thanks!!
Fondest memory: The unbelievably positive attitude of the people. The younger ones especially seem to be very willing to forgive the Turks for the genocide.
Favorite thing: Getting a visa at the Goergian boarder is easy and free at least for EU, American, and a few other nationalities. Leaving Armenia is a bit more formalized than entering Georgia. Once get your visa stamped at the gate you walk across the bridge to the Georgian customs office. No forms to fill out..they will ask you if you are a tourist and then stamp your passport or it may take a minute as mine did while the officer went to double check with his boss. After that your bag makes a quick trip through the xray machine and then welcome to Georgia. If you took a mini bus don't worry the driver will wait for everyone as the locals can take longer than the tourists from time to time.
Being the yank that I am I had to buy a tourist visa at the airport when I got off the plane.
The airport in Yerevan has has been redone but when you get into the main immigration area you need to go first to the exchange desk or ATM which is probably faster and get some cash for your visa. Mine cost 15,000 dram. The line takes a bit so if you can use the ATM please do and get in the visa line as quick as possible. There are girls in the area that will help you with the visa form if need be but it's pretty straight fwd. I just wrote down a hotel from a guide book and put it down even though I had no idea where I was staying. Once you get your visa then you can head over to the immigration line where the fun begins....this may take awhile depending on how many flights are arriving... be patient and have fun.
Fondest memory: The imigration line reminded me of the one in Moscow..hurry up and wait. At least the immigration lady was nice when I made it thru the line.
In the end of Mesrop Mashtot Poghota, up some stairs, is the splendid Matenadaran, a museum/library with a great exhibition of ancient manuscripts. On display are among other things the oldest illustrated Armenian manuscript, the oldest printed book in Armenian and the oldest periodical in Armenian. But there are also works written in Greek, Latin, Persian and Arabic.
There is a research institute connected to Matenadaran and as Matenadaran has got more than 15 000 manuscripts and 100 000 documents that’s good.
Matenadaran is one of the highlights in Yerevan and absolutely worth a visit. It is open between 10 - 16 Tuesday - Saturday.
Many people often wonder about the visa situation in Armenia. The region used to be notorious for changing its policies due to previous political problems but now it is straight forward. Almost every EU national can enter without a blink of an eye and US, Canada etc can enter for 21 days for $30 US which you pay at the border control. The entire process takes about 15 minutes if you are travelling from Tbilisi by mini van and about 2 to 3 hours if travelling by public bus from Georgia. Please note that many big buses running from Georgia will demand to see your visa before you head off to Armenia because they do not want to wait (meaning the locals) for foreigners who naturally take longer. Overall, easy and reasonably priced.
Accurate as of late October 2006
You can very easy get an Armenian visa via Internet and that’s what I got in 2003. It costs 60 dollars and take only two business days to issue. You apply for the e-visa at www.armeniaforeignministry.com
The e-visa can only be used if you are entering to the airport in Yerevan.
When I arrived at Yerevan airport most people seemed to apply for the visa there. It cost 30 dollars and you just had to fill in a paper.
So the last alternative is much cheaper, but if you want to have everything ready before leaving the e-visa is what you should have.
In 2006 I knew there was no problems to apply for the visa at the airport and I got my transit visa as I arrived for 20 dollars. A single entry visa is 30 dollars. You can’t apply for a multiple entry visa at the airport, and you can’t pay in Euros.
Our hotel, the Ani Hotel, was not far from the Opera Square. Even to the former Lenin Square and Vernissage it was an easy walking distance.
So we walked a lot in Yerevan downtown. Yerevan lies in an earthquake area. They told us there could be several small shocks a day. Most of the time you don't notice it, when you are walking or travelling in the bus or car. But I felt some tiny shocks early in the morning in the hotelroom.
Fondest memory: People in the street asked my friend 'Is she an artist ?', because of the colourful trousers I was wearing. 'No', he said, 'she is an architect'. 'Sorry, sorry', was the answer. We don't know exactly why, but it was a funny conversation anyway.
When we were in Yerevan it was a very rainy period. We went to a viewpoint, from where you can normally see the Ararat.
And as we allready thought it was too cloudy to see much. Anyhow we went to the viewpoint in the hope to see a glimpse of the Ararat. The result you can see at the picture. No Ararat today !
Well, while traveling in Armenia, mostly which was done with taxis, we were told that most cars run on gas.. Yeah, it's natural gas, not petrol!! Cars have a tank in the trunk where they fill them at gas stations with natural gas and go on their way....
Our taxi driver's car was equiped with both.. A natural gas tank and a petrol tank.. A switch was placed next to his seat by the gear where he would choose which fuel to choose when.. Natural gas would power the automobile less than petrol would so when we needed to go up a steep hill, he would flick the switch to petrol and off we went.. Natural gass also was a lot cheaper in price than petrol...
I asked the gentleman in the photo if I could take a picture of him filling natural gas in the tanks and he agreed.. We were just about to go off on a two day driving trip to the northern regions of Armenia..
When visiting different parts of Armenia, be it all the way north or east towards the mountanous Nagorno Karabakh, we witnessed many different varities of beautiful and colorful butterflies flying in and out of the trees and flowers...
From a natural history source, I read that Armenia has over 270 different species of butterflies. A country which is 1/5 the size of the state of Florida in the U.S has many beautiful butterflies at different sizes and colors.. We were fortunate to see different colored butterflies around the monastaries we visited and I took a picture of a few of them...
One hint for collectors of butterflies: At the most famous bazaar or shopping area in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia called "Vernisage" which is open on saturdays and sundays only.. You can find one person who sells preserved Armenian butterflies which he caught himself displayed in a nice frame for a negotiable price.. The price I was able to bargain for was US $20 for a medium sized frame. They are beautiful, trust me.....
While in Armenia, we took a guided tour for only one day out of our vacation because we preffered to tour the country on our own time with a taxi.. But, for a non-Armenian speaking tourist, having a tour guide who speaks multi-languages is definitely a plus..
I will provide here the tour guide and services information since I was pleased with their help. They provide transportation, refreshments and ofcourse a guidence during the tour..
Tel in Yerevan: 56-04-95
Favorite thing: There are two buses/marshrutkas to Khor Virap. They depart from the BACK side of the Sasountsi David railway station (use the metro underpassage) at 11 and 13.30 (check www.armeniainfo for exact departures) and cost 400 drams each way. Tell the driver about your intentions so he'll drop you at a crossroad about 1 km from the monastery as the bus continues to nearby villages. In my case the driver was kind enough to inform me about times when the bus returns. Anyway, you have about an hour and a half to get to the monastery see it and get back which is enough as the monastery is rather small or additional 4 hours if you decide to take the afternoon bus.
This is a new guidebook about Armenia and Karabagh published in July 2004.
The Stone Garden Guide: Armenia and Karabagh
This is the homepage of the publisher who have other guidebooks:
Stone Garden Production
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