Dear World Cup 2018 fans,
Below you may read my tips if you decide to visit Russia and now plan your trip.
These tips will be helpful to people who manage their trip by themselves and who want to use maximum from their budget and to save money as much as possible. Other fans would not even read this forum as they have already booked all included hospitality packages from FIFA :)
Normally, when I meet new people abroad and when they understand that I am from Russia, I always hear something like that: “Oh, it shall be very cold in Russia now” despite of the season. Dear readers, Russia is very big. It may very cold in one part and hot in the other. European part of Russia and South of Russia, where host cities are located, is normally experiencing very warm weather in mid-June – mid-July with day temperatures more than 25C. Take it into consideration while planning your trip.
As you may have been noticed the prices for accommodation are higher (sometimes much higher) than at other periods. “Invisible hand of the market” or greed... Anyway, more demand – higher price.
Proverbial Story here on Forum is accommodation in Saransk city. No hotels available on all services (including FIFA), only apartments that are rented out by locals at a price equal to the price of going to the moon (and back) per night :)
Me in the same situation. I live in Moscow and won the ticket to the match Peru – Denmark in Saransk. Have not settled yet where to stop for 1 night.
My recommendations based on the feeling of the situation are the following:
- Prices will be anyway higher than if you compare them to prices month before or month after the WC. Just accept it.
- Still it does not mean that you have to pay astronomic prices. If you are flexible and modest use as much as possible:
1. Free night trains between the cities which are offered by Russian government. Good chance to save money for nights in hotels and apartments. Trains will be new and quite comfortable. Google for reviews of the trains that were used in Confederations cup in 2017. Uncomfortable issue is shower. It may be hot outside for that period of time and the need for shower increases.
2. Check Booking, Hotels, and AirBnb on a permanent basis. New offers will be added from time to time. I know that a lot of people thinking of renting out their homes to visitors but have not done it (my wife and I as well).
Some entrepreneurs are going to organise tent camps with basic facilities at a good price (in Moscow e.g.) and the government plans to make a camp in problematic Saransk city (according to latest news). Anyway, there are plenty of people here on forum who managed to find very good offers. Luckies wonder if the hotels would not cheat them :) At least the confirmation from a reputable service like Booking is a guarantee. I assume if the hotel will unilaterally send you away, Booking shall find another option free of charge.
3. Look for accommodation in neighbour cities to host cities. E.g. PENZA is in 150 km from SARANSK. About 2,5 hours drive. ULIYANOVSK in 240 km. 3,5 hours drive. Normally taxi is not expensive. E.g. I just put now in YANDEX TAXI the route SARANSK- PENZA = 2100 rub ($35). You can share it with all passengers. Sure when the demand is be higher the prices will be also higher, but still better than $3000 per night in Saransk. For TAXI tips look below.
4. Try to return to Moscow if you have gaps between matches. Moscow is 15mln city and the issue with accommodation is not so tough. Besides there are cities of Moscow Region (region around Moscow) which a closely connected to Moscow where you may also find good options to stay in.
5. Consider renting a car for your cities configuration. See below by tips for renting a car.
In Moscow I recommend the following:
1. Search accommodation where you can reach any metro station by foot, even at the last stations. Metro in Moscow is very comfortable and cheap. You may get quickly to the city centre and to both stadiums that are in WC.
2. If option 1 above is impossible for you for any reasons, try to search cities beyond MKAD (big circle road around Moscow). Most of these cities are connected with Moscow by suburban train (they are honestly speaking not good, but cheap (about $1.5 one way) and can take you to the Moscow city centre within 1 hour). So, look for places that are close to the suburban train stations where you can get by foot. Use maps.
DAILY BUDGET. HOW TO SAVE MONEY
Difficult to tell what to budget as it depends a lot on a person.
In general: food and drinks in restaurants and cafes is not more that in average European city, or even less. Public transport, taxi – much less than in average in Europe.
If you want to save money on food, use chain restaurants as MacDonald’s (btw it is MUCH CHEAPER and tastier that in Europe).
In Moscow (as I live in Moscow) among really very cheap I recommend:
GRABLI (chain cafes)
MU-MU (chain cafes)
BB BURGERS (chain)
KRUZHKA (chain beef bars and food. The cheapest beer in Moscow in bars)
Non-chain cheap places to eat:
LYUDI KAK LYUDI
Use supermarkets to buy drinks and snacks. Just for understanding: average price for bottle of water (Russian) - $0.5, for bottle of beer: branded but brewed in Russia - $1.5, imported - $3-5.
APPLICATIONS TO DOWNLOAD FOR YOUR PHONE
I highly recommend to download the following application to your phone or iPad before you arrive.
YANDEX MAP – good maps of Russian cities (better than google)
YANDEX METRO – metro map for Moscow and St Petersburg. With an option to calculate the route, travel time etc.
YANDEX TRANSPORT – for surface transport in Moscow. Can see all the busses/trams/trolleys on the map in real time and their route + bus stops where you can catch them.
YANDEX NAVI (if you plan to drive in Russia) – the best navigator for Russia with traffic indication.
UBER, YANDEX TAXI, GETT – taxi services. Recommend to download them all.
INTERNET ACCESS AND MOBILE
I assume all of you will need internet on your mobile and tabs. Is there life without internet now? :) Mobile internet in Russia is very good and cheap. In general, you can connect to any operator among: MEGAFON, MTS, BEELINE, TELE2, YOTA. They will be more or less the same.
In my personal view MST has the best coverage. So I recommend MTS.
At the same time would also recommend this option to tourists groups: https://www.yota.ru/store/modem/router-yota… - mobile wifi router that can connect up to 8 devices and can work up to 6 hours autonomously. Works only in YOTA operator.
Router price – 2900 rub (= $47). Sim card for it with UNLIMITED internet (really unlimited) on a maximum 4G speed for 1 month – 1400 rub (= $22).
If you are going to use free trains between the cities internet connection normally will be only when you go near big populated locality.
WHAT AIRPORT TO CHOOSE IN MOSCOW TO ARRIVE
There are three airports where 90% of flights are arriving: SVO, DME, VKO. They are all in about the same distance from Moscow city centre, all of them are connected by good train service to the city centre. In my opinion, you may ignore the question of where to arrive, unless you have a connection. If you have a connection and need to change the airport, I would recommend to take MINIMUM 3 HOURS in your schedule only for drive.
There is also a new airport ZIA in Moscow. There is no train service to it, it is located much far out from Moscow. I have never been there, only few flights are now for that airport. If you by chance arriving in ZIA, please, check additionally all the issues.
Other host cities have only one airport.
A lot of taxi drivers will attack you when you arrive in the airport or at the train station. Remember a rule: IGNORE them absolutely. There is a very high risk that you will be cheated with price. Download for your phone the following applications: UBER, YANDEX TAXI, GETT. These are the services that will offer you the best service and price. You will be charged from your card automatically or you can pay by cash (you choose). In UBER and in YANDEX TAXI you just type the address or the place you want to go and it shows you the price WHICH IS FINAL AND WOULD NOT BE CHANGED (works for Moscow and St Pet, not sure for other cities as in Samara Yandex worked on taxometer) unless you stop the car or change the destination. So, before your trip you can just check the price in all services. As for me, normally, UBER is the cheapest among them, GETT has the best service.
These services (or some of them) shall be working in all (or almost in all) host cities of WC.
If you are a company of people, sometimes YANDEX offer is a tariff where you can order a van for up to 6 passengers which can be cheaper per person. Just check in application before you order.
All services have English version (automatically if your main phone language is English).
PUBLIC TRANSPORT MOSCOW:
Public transport in Moscow is very good (cannot say the same for other cities) and cheap. Buy TROYKA card and you can use it almost all public transport of Moscow. It works like a PAY AS YOU GO CARD. Card costs 50 rub and you just top it up. One ride costs about 35 rub irrespective the distance of your trip. If you make a change from bus/tram/trolley to metro and vice versa in 1,5 hour each trip will be cheaper. Card can be used for all people in your company. Just apply it before you enter the transport. YANDEX METRO and YANDEX TRANSPORT application for your phone will be of great help when you plan your trip by transport.
CAR RENT IN RUSSIA
Car rent services are not so popular as in Europe or USA. There are some car rent services in Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi. In other cities they are “imitations of car rent services” with the same imitation of service (based on my personal experience). So, if you going to book – than only in abovementioned cities.
At the same time do not even think about actively using a car IN MOSCOW. A lot of traffic and little space for parking + payment for street parking. No sense! Public transport will be more convenient and much cheaper!
The only reasons to use a car rent in my opinion are the following:
1. You use the car to move between the cities. To do that you shall not be afraid of long distances and dual band roads (when you need to switch to oncoming band when overtaking a car). Even so, consider distances between your cities. E.g. if you have to drive from St. Pt to Yekaterinburg or Sochi – it is too long trip.
2. YOU SAVE MONEY AS BY THE CAR YOU MAY STAY AT THE PLACES FAR OUTSIDE THE HOST CITIES.
3. You are free on where you go and move
4. You do not carry on your luggage.
So, consider cities of your matches. Look up the distance between that and the time to move. Calculate if you can save money and if it will be reasonable for your trip.
The petrol price - about 40rub/litre ($0,70).
Toll roads: there are some between Moscow and St Pt and on the way from Moscow to the south. I highly recommend using them! About $3-7 per one segment.
Fines for breaking speed limits:
up to 20 km/h = free (so you can drive TRAFFIC SIGN + 20 km/h)
from 21 to 40 km/h = 500 rub. $8.5.
from 41 to 60 km/h = up to 1500 rub. $25.
from 61 to 80 km/h = up to 2500 rub. $42
more than 81 km/h = 5000 rub $85
Fines are issued by automatic cameras. If you are caught by police, starting from 61 km/h breach your driven license will be withdrawn.
Normally the speed limit is: locality – 60 km/h, outside locality 90 km/h.
If you are going to drive between the cities make sure you have unlimited mileage in your contract.
Use guarded parking at night and when you leave your belongings in the car.
Thank you for attention. Hope it can be helpful to some of you! If you think there are other questions needed to be observed please do not hesitate to comment.
If you are also local and think that the tips can be amended (especially for other host cities), please, also do not hesitate to comment.