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Contiki tour in Russia, anyone been or have opinions?

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Jan 5th, 2015, 03:49 PM
  #1
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Contiki tour in Russia, anyone been or have opinions?

Hello! My husband and I have some time off this August (2015) and were looking into different travel options. My family background is Russian (I don't speak the language unfortunately) and I've always wanted to go.

We were thinking of going to Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novogorad) as well as Belarus on a Contiki Tour (contiki.com/destinations/…622-best-of-russia) rather than go on our own. I have never used Contiki before but I have close friends who have and loved it. I have read mixed reviews online about them as a tour company, but not specifically for the Russia trip.

I've traveled all over Europe on my own but I was thinking for a place like Russia where we don't speak the language (we're both American) and I heard it can be a little bit dodgy (please correct me if that's not true) it might be safer and less stress to do a tour.

Has anyone taken this tour? Even if you haven't any thoughts or advice on traveling to Russia or on Contiki tours would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Jan 5th, 2015, 04:54 PM
  #2
kja
 
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"I've traveled all over Europe on my own but I was thinking for a place like Russia where we don't speak the language (we're both American) and I heard it can be a little bit dodgy (please correct me if that's not true) it might be safer and less stress to do a tour."

I went to St. Petersburg and Moscow solo in 1984. The only Russian I spoke were just the most basic of pleasantries. I did learn to transliterate from Cyrillic to English before going, and that is something I would recommend. It wasn't easy, but it was certainly manageable. If you prefer to travel independently, you should be able to do so. Whether you do or not, you'll see some wonderful things!
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Jan 5th, 2015, 04:58 PM
  #3
 
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Jess,

Asked my son who did the Russia plus tour from Stockholm in 2012( at age 28). He had travelled to Europe previously with family and independently and would recommend it.
To help you decide, his pros and cons of doing the tour are:
Pro:
Easy to travel around and see main attractions
Safety of being in a group
Accommodation good and organized ( but not usually centrally located)
Don't have to worry about language barrier ( he found few people speaking English and different alphabet made it difficult to use metro by himself)
Easy border crossings
Organized activities included transport to and from
Can meet nice people on tour
Tour leader provided maps of CBD with images of sights for free time

Con:
Some long days on bus- 10 hours
If don't do organized tours/ activities then left by yourself as tour leader goes on organized activities
Accommodation not central
May not get to see everything you want as free time in major cities about 4 hours in afternoon ( guess unless you opt out of organized activities)
Expectation of tipping for local guides (over and above tour leader/ driver) when sold as inclusive part of tour- this may be more a problem for him as young Australian

Hope this helps
Liz
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Jan 6th, 2015, 08:14 AM
  #4
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Thank you!!
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Jan 6th, 2015, 08:17 AM
  #5
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Liz,

Thank you so much for asking your son for me! That is extremely helpful to get a list of Pros and Cons and his recommendation!! I really appreciate it!

Best,
Jess
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Jan 13th, 2015, 04:08 AM
  #6
 
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Dear Jess,

if you plan to visit only big cities and popular touristic places in Russia I believe that it is not obligatory to book a tour. I believe that you will be able to manage the trip by you own as you already traveled all over Europe. In big cities all hotel staff and many yong peoples (18-25 y.o.)speak English, transport systems in Moscow and St. Petersburg are not hard to understand. In present (and I believe until August nothing will change) the exchange rate USD/Russian Ruble is very comfortable to traveling over the Russia.


If you more information please not hesitate to ask me,


Regards,
Roman
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Jan 13th, 2015, 06:50 AM
  #7
 
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Dear Jess,

You don't need to book a tour if you're going to visit Moscow or Petersburg. There is no much difference between these two cities and other big Europeen cities. You can travel on your own with out problems.

I think that in Novgorod you can travel on your own too. And also I suggest you to visit Pskov. This city is near to Novgorod. If you will rent a car, you can visit some more little but interesting towns.

I belive that to take a tour in region that you mentioned is not a good idea.
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Jan 13th, 2015, 07:55 AM
  #8
 
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Contiki single-country tours tend to be good: more serious crowd that wants to see what's what, longer city stays than the broad-brush tours that go throughout parts of Europe.
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