What you have to know before traveling to Russia

Cultural customs that are necessary to know before traveling to Russia

When we propose a trip to a city we ask some general questions. Questions, which surely will make the journey more bearable. Such questions, like: What type of tip should I leave? What are the typical greetings? Or what are the cultural customs to follow? Here is important information for you to know before traveling to Russia.

Of course, each country is unique and also has its own particularities. In this article, we want to show you Russian customs and how you should behave yourself before traveling to Russia.

The greeting as the key that opens all the doors

Priviet or No Priviet

Many times we search in the dictionary or translator, the word “hello” in Russian and we come out that it is “Priviet” (Привет). So it’s not unusual to see how many tourists are saying this word to the people in restaurants, cafes, hotels, etc. “Priviet, privet, priviet”. The truth is that this is a mistake that can fall very badly to certain people because it is an informal greeting. It is not used if the person you are talking to is not well known. Imagine that someone would tell to an older man “What happened kid?” Well, that’s the same impression that the Russians feel when a stranger approaches with this greeting. Many of them are very nice and understand that you are a foreigner and are making an effort to communicate and help you.

The Russians are the people who do not get involved until they know each other. They tend to have a lot of respect for each other, this even happens among young people. The formal word of greeting is Zdravstvuite (Здравствуйте). It sounds difficult for you to pronounce? Don’t worry, here we outlined it: “Z-Dravst-vui-tie”.

When you are greeting the Russian person with this word you will see that you will immediately receive a different treatment. That is because for Russians a greeting is a very important thing. And it is not that they all are pedants, but that it falls very badly if someone approaches without greeting or with an excess of confidence. Put yourself in their place and you will surely understand that greeting in Russia is the key that opens the doors to any place. So before traveling to Russia try to learn some greetings and phrases.

Greetings in Russian:

Hello informal = Priviet (Привет)
Hello Formal = Z-Dravst-vui-tie (Здравствуйте)

Good morning = Dobroe Utra (Доброе утро)
Good day = Dobryi Dien (Добрый день)

And good afternoon = Dobryi Viecher  (Добрый вечер)


Tips in Russia:

To give? Or not to give? And how to give?

It is very typical to ask if in Russia they give tips? Because in certain countries of Europe it is not common. Or in the United States it is obligatory to leave it.

Because in Russia it is not obligatory to do it but if it is left the amount between 5% and 10%. The tip is used to give thanks for a good service. If you liked what you ate and how you were treated for sure you can say it with the language of money.

Fast food tray

You will be greatly surprised, that people do not pick up the food tray at the fast food places, there will always be some highly diligent employee who will pick up the tray as soon as you finish eating. You should even make gestures to say that it is not over yet. These people keep the places well ordered and the tables very clean.

Paying for the sauces

In fast food establishments in Russia, people pay for ketchup and other sauces. Be careful in ordering more, as it will enter the final account. And if you do not order it – you won’t pay for it and they won’t give it to you.

It is very common when the employee shows the amount in the register and people do not understand that it is paid separately.


Can I drink water from the pipeline in Russia?

The water that comes from the pipe is not drinkable, but sometimes if you ask a Russian, he will tell you that he takes it without any problem. Hotels in Russia tend to put bottles of drinking water that is the best sign that you should not drink the water from the pipe. The best advice we can give you is to buy your own bottle of mineral water and do not risk spoiling your trip by getting sick.

Asking for help on the street in Russia

If we are lost in a city in Russia, is it possible that somebody would help us on the street? The answer is that it will surely look like a good Samaritan, who probing the language barriers will help you selflessly. A lot of tourists are becoming impressed of how certain Russians are very quick to help them. We do not mean that 100% of them are like that, but surely there is a percentage that uses their instinct of camaraderie to those people who really need it. So do not hesitate to ask with a map or phone in hand an address or the name of your street or hotel for sure a charitable soul will help you more than you imagine.

Making a queue in Russia

One of the other things that surprise in Russia, is that its citizens do not understand what it is to make a queue. We don’t mean they do not organize to buy the subway ticket or to go up the escalator. They simply make it in a disorderly manner but without overwhelming or mistreating anyone.

The best advice we can give before traveling to Russia: do not stress and follow the flow of people.