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SIM cards and phones from St. Pertersbugh to Moscow

SIM cards and phones from St. Pertersbugh to Moscow

Feb 13th, 2019, 09:55 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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SIM cards and phones from St. Pertersbugh to Moscow

I am not a heavy phone user. In the past I have a simple flip unlocked phone. I buy a SIM card at my destination and use it just to get a cab or make a restaurant reservation. Most hotels I stay at have WiFi so I FaceTime or What’s Ap my kids. We will be in St. Petersburg for two days before boarding a Viking River Cruise. At the end, we will be in Moscow two days on our own. I am interested first to see if it is easy to get a SIM card in St. Petersburg and does it work through Russia to Moscow? Second, Viking has free WiFi but people are saying you should not use WiFi in Russia without a VPN. I am kind of technology challenged . Is there an easy way to do this?
milliebest is offline  
Feb 14th, 2019, 11:16 AM
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Phones and sims

Hi.
SIM cards are available from carrier stores (MTS, Megafon, Beeline, Tele2) or aggregators (Svyaznoy, etc). To purchase one, you need to present your passport. Really easy, the whole process should take about ten minutes. Make sure everything works before you leave the shop. A service package for the duration of your cruise plus pre and post cruise activities should run you about 10 to 15 dollars, unlimited data and all. SIMs should work acrossb all of Russia, with some exceptions (Crimea, Kamchatka, etc).

if you want to bring your phone along, you want to make sure it's an unlocked (call your carrier) tri- or quad-band GSM phone. You can also buy it there, the cheapest and dumbest smartphones start at about 50 to 70 dollars.

As to VPN - unless you store all of your bank info and/or state secrets on your phone, I wouldn't bother. In the two capitals, free WiFi is pretty much available everywhere, including the Metro. You need to register, though - and that's where your Russian SIM comes in handy.

Cheers - and have fun planning your trip.
napoxoguk is offline  
Feb 14th, 2019, 06:59 PM
  #3  
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Thank you!
milliebest is offline  
Feb 15th, 2019, 10:22 AM
  #4  
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The places you mentioned to purchase SIM cards are they stand alone stores? Is there a place in the Moscow or St Petersburg airport to get a SIM card? In St. Petersburg our hotel will be by the Admirality station . Is there any place near there to purchase one?
milliebest is offline  
Feb 15th, 2019, 11:14 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
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You could ask Google/Siri for cell phone stores near a given location. For some reason, Google defaults to MTS, but other vendors are just a scroll away. Even better, try out Yandex maps (in English). There would typically be a store within a couple of blocks.
Again, the big three are Beeline, MTS, and Megafon.

There are stores at all major airports too, but I'd rather wait until I get downtown - not because they are overpriced (they usually aren't), but because you really want to wait to check if all the services are up and running, and waiting for another 10 minutes at a stupid kiosk is not something you typically want to do after a long flight. A common (and frustrating) issue is that if your sales person doesn't know any better, you can buy a SIM for, say, 500 roubles, with 500 rubles credited to your account. The fee for the first two weeks/month/whatever (again, for illustration purposes, 500 roubles) is instantly charged to your account - but then for data services to start, you need to have a positive balance, which you don't.
Another thing is that some carriers will try to keep charging you unless you stop (again, just stop by the carrier shop of your choice before you leave).
For available plans/fees, check out the sites of the three carriers (they all should have English-language storefronts).

Last edited by napoxoguk; Feb 15th, 2019 at 11:28 AM.
napoxoguk is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 10:10 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
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Svyaznoy

Just as an example, you seem to have two Svyaznoy stores within a 3 minute walk from your metro station. If you click "search this area", you'll also be able to look for Beeline, MTS, etc.

Sorry, the map kinda embedded itself and doesn't seem to show the actual store locations. A simple query "show Svyaznoy (MTS, Beeline...) near Admiralteiskaya metro station" should yield plenty of results.

Last edited by napoxoguk; Feb 16th, 2019 at 10:16 AM. Reason: Well, the map didn't quite work...
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