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Money in Russia

You want to get the best deal on money when you go abroad, but it can be hard to know what the best deal is. Our handy money guide will show what you can book in advance to cut down on the money you need to take, where to get your money and what will be available as you travel.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

What are the currency rates?

The currency of Russia is the Rouble, if you are taking the Trans-Siberian Mongolia's currency is called the Tughrik₮ and Chinese currency is the Renminbi ¥.

Exchange rate data for 17 May 2016

  GBP-RUB USD-RUB EUR-RUB
ECB exchange rates 93.11 65.24 73.87
Typical cash rates 85.66 60.20 67.96

The rates shown above are the current European Central Bank exchange rates for today, however, you will not be able to buy (or sell) Roubles at this rate and it is for reference only. The "cash rate" shown is the rate that you will typically be able to buy your Roubles at in the UK.

What sort of money should I take on the Trans-Siberian?

Russian currency is the Rouble₽, Chinese currency is Renminbi¥, and these can both be obtained in advance. Mongolian currency is called Tughrik₮ and can only be obtained in Mongolia, we recommend taking US dollars $ to exchange for Tughrik₮ as they tend to have the best exchange rate.

In major cities, like Moscow, St. Petersburg and Beijing you'll be able to use card in most places. Mastercard and VISA are widely accepted with American Express much less so.

While it is worth having a card with you, especially for emergencies, cash is still the most useful. Along the trans-siberian you won't be able to use card on the trains or at smaller train stations as the card processing machines are not able to pick up an internet connection. You'll also find smaller stalls and market places will only accept cash so make sure you don't miss out on exciting goods! 

What will my money buy?

This entirely depends on how you want to travel! You can expect to pay more in big cities, the same as  you would in London or New York but you can normally find something to suit your budget regardless. It's advised to be cautious of things like taxi rides as you will tend to be charged more as a tourist, if you want to cut down on this you can prebook taxis with Real Russia so you have the price upfront. 

Use our budget planner here to get an idea of daily costs :

Where can I change money in Russia?

Changing money in Russia is not difficult, in many respects it is a national past time! However do not change money with people on the street offering a "better rate" as this is illegal.

Generally, you can change money in exchange booths, which you'll see on every practically every street. These offer better rates than hotels or banks, though, if you want to draw money using your credit card a bank or ATM is the better option. If you use your card to withdraw cash in a bank you will need to show your passport and it can take 30 minutes or more to complete the transaction. Note that most banks and ATM's will charge a percentage to issue the money even with a debit card, typically this is 1% to 1.5%.

To change money, all you need to do is hand over the cash and in some cases your passport. In official exchange booths or banks you will be given a document that details the exchange, please keep this in case you are asked on departure by the customs where you got your money from. Please see the section below on importing and exporting money.

It is much simpler to get your money in advance and avoids any language difficulties but it is good to be aware of the process.

Do I need to Tip?

The typical etiquette is to tip between 10-15% of the bill. Tips are given in cash and directly to the waiter you're tipping. 

There is no need to tip in bars and restaurants with no waiters.

What can I book in advance?

A lot of your trip can be booked in advance which cuts down on how much money you'll need to carry with you in the first place. It also means, when you go on your travel, you can just enjoy your adventure. 

It isn't just big things you can book in advance, like trips to Lake Baikal or a night tour of St. Petersburg, but smaller everyday expenses.

We can organise transfers from train stations to your accomodation and around the city, guided tours and if one of our many tours or excursions takes your interest we can often pre-book lunch on many.

Importing and Exporting Money

There are strict regulations on importing and exporting money. You can important up to $10,000 (or equivalent) and export $3,000 (or equivalent) without declaring it at customs.

If you export between $3,000 and $10,000 (or equivalent) it must be declared on departure. For anything imported, or exported, over the equivalent of $10,000 you'll need to provide proof that you've imported it into the country or legally obtained it whilst in the country.

If you complete a declaration form stating you are bringing in over $3,000, or equivalent, it needs to be stamped by a customs official or it will not be valid. Declaration forms are freely available at ports of entry.

If you obtain any money from a bank, make sure to keep all documents.

Be aware: If you fail to complete a declaration form on arrival or if you don't get it validated your foreign currency and non-declared items may be confiscated when you exit Russia and you can be fined.