A 7 day budget for your Russian escapade
Russia is an interesting country that has a rich cultural and historical heritage.
Ancient churches with their distinct onion-shaped domes, beautiful palaces, skyscrapers and centuries old buildings will keep you wanting more. Seven days isn't enough to see everything but it will provide you with enough time to cover the highlights in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
The Russian capital is an urban jungle that mixes old and new. You'll see remnants of its imperial and Soviet past while walking around the city. It is also modern with buses, traffic, local and international fastfood chains, an extensive subway network, shopping malls, skyscrapers and everything you'll see in a bustling and vibrant metropolis.
This centuries old fortress is one of the most famous attractions in Moscow. It is still the center of power in the country and has many culturally and historically important buildings within its complex.
Walk around to soak in the history and get a glimpse of Russia's storied past.
Fees: RUB700 (approx P545) for the entrance to the Armoury and RUB500 (approx P390) for the entrance to Cathedral Square
Saint Basil's Cathedral
This beautiful cathedral with its colorful onion-shaped domes is the mist recognizable landmark in the city. Take a selfie, group picture or whatever as a souvenir. This centuries old structure is a good representation of Russian design.
Fees: RUB1000 (approx P780) during peak season and RUB700 (approx P545) during low season entrance fee
GUM Department Store
This former state department store is now a bastion of capitalism with local and foreign brands setting up shop inside. There are also many cafes and restaurants to choose from after a day of exploring the city. The exterior and interior are stunning and Instagram-worthy.
This sprawling estate amid the urban jungle has a beautiful palace and park. Take a leisurely stroll and soak in the history. Construction of the Grand Palace took place in the 18th century, but it wasn't finished until more than 200 years after initial work began.
Fees: RUB350 (approx P272) entrance fee for the Grand Palace and Bread House
Church of the Ascension
This UNESCO World Heritage-listed church is a noteworthy destination. This white stone structure was built in the 1530s. It provides a picturesque background, especially during a clear day in autumn.
Wooden Palace of Alexei Mikhailovic
This reconstructed wooden palace of the Tsar provides you with a glimpse of the imperial family's daily life.
Fees: RUB400 (approx P312) entrance fee
Moscow is an easy city to navigate with many attractions concentrated in one area or near metro stations (within walking distance). The subway is the most convenient way to explore and stops have English translations. Buy a stored value ticket to get reduced fares and reduce the number of times you need to queue. You can also take the bus, but in my experience the subway is the best way to get anywhere.
The former Russian capital has a beautiful historical center with buildings, palaces and monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here you'll see the beautiful and the kitsch, and the profane and sacred all in one place. A mix of Soviet, modern and classical aesthetics make the city an interesting place to visit.
Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace
This stunning palace turned museum is one big art gallery. Here you'll find priceless paintings, sculptures and pieces of furniture from different parts of the world. You'll see artwork from the old European masters, the most prominent of which is Leonardo da Vinci.
Fees: RUB700 (approx P545) entrance
This palace, around an hour away from the city center, is beautiful from the outside and inside. The complex displays the opulence of the imperial family that used to live in it.
Fees: RUB1000 (approx P780) entrance
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
This church will remind you of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. Its interior has beautiful artwork and religious icons.
Fees: RUB250 (approx P195) entrance
Saint Petersburg is full of beautiful buildings, one of which is the stunning Kazan Cathedral. This Empire style structure finished construction in 1811 and was dedicated to a revered icon in the country, Our Lady of Kazan.
St. Isaac's Cathedral
The facade of this cathedral is adorned with beautiful sculptures and columns. The inside is just as impressive with detailed religious icons. Go up the colonnade to get sweeping bird's eye views of the city.
Fees: RUB150 (approx P115) for the colonnade and RUB250 (approx P194) for the museum
This stunning complex has a beautiful garden and palace. This displays the elegance and luxurious lifestyle of the country's elite and ruling class.
Fees: RUB1000 (approx P780) entrance during the peak season and RUB700 (approx P545) during the low season
Peter and Paul Fortress
This city landmark is one of the first structures built. It has been used in a variety of ways since its completion, from a prison to a military base to a burial ground. This is where you'll see the stunning Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.
Fees: It's free to walk around the complex, RUB450 (approx P350) to enter the cathedral
Saint Petersburg is a "walkable" city, which means attractions are within walking distance from each other. There are numerous streets and lanes convenient for pedestrians in the historical center. Besides there are many beautiful buildings, making walking around pleasant. There is also an extensive subway network that makes getting around easy. The stops have an English translation as well. Buy a stored value ticket. There are also city buses.
Sample Expenses for 7 Days
During my visit (October 2018), the exchange rate was Php1 = RUB1.23. The Philippine Peso was stronger than their currency.
Here's a sample breakdown:
- 4500 - Food and drinks
- 1000 - Round trip Aeroexpress ticket to and from Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow
- 1800 - 4 nights dorm bed accommodation in both Saint Petersburg and Moscow
- 1350 - Overnight train 3rd class sleeping cabin to Saint Petersburg
- 1350 - Overnight train 3rd class sleeping cabin to Moscow
- 1300 - Transportation (if you take public transportation and walk most of the time)
- 6150 - Entrance fees (assuming you go to all of the places listed above during low season from autumn to winter)
- RUB 17150 (approximately P13373)- Total for 7 days and 6 nights excluding flights and visa fees for 1 person
You can spend less by reducing the number of attractions you visit, couchsurfing, hitchhiking, going out less often, buying food from convenience stores or cooking your own food.
For those with a bigger budget, you can find 3 to 5 star hotels in both Moscow and Saint Petersburg. These are big cities with shopping districts, nightlife, taxis, car rentals, bullet trains, fast food chains and high end restaurants, adjust your budget accordingly based on your preferences.
You can check schedules, seat types, classes and book train tickets here: https://pass.rzd.ru/main-pass/public/en. You have to register to buy online, but you can purchase over the counter as well.
How to Get to Russia
There are no direct flights from Manila, but you can transit through China (including Hong Kong). There are many flights from the mainland going to Moscow or other cities in Russia.
A round trip ticket including the connecting flight in China costs approximately P30,000 to P40,000. You can also transit via the Middle East or Europe. You'll need to acquire a visa before going, the fee for a single entry visa is P3920. – Rappler.com