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Travel scams

Russia is a big country full of beautiful landscapes and architecture. However, as it often happens with tourist attractions, they are notorious for crooks of a different sort. To avoid unpleasant acquaintances we have gathered the most common scams which happen with tourists in Russia.
What are the top things to avoid during your Moscow tours?

1. Taxi fraud

If you see a driver waving to you, inviting you to join a trip for a quite democratic price and saying that he has a meter in his car, never trust such people. There are plenty of cases when tourists were deceived by such cheaters. In fact, their "meters" almost never work, or work improperly, so that in the end the total amount for the ride seems crazy. However, they never let their clients go without the payment that they require. They can even sometimes lock the doors and extort the amount of money they want you to pay. It might be quite dangerous to argue with them, as they feel sure no punishment will follow. That is why we would rather recommend using the services of reliable taxi companies only.

The best way to use a taxi in Moscow is to use online apps. There're a lot of taxi applications now. You can find the most widely spread below:
Uber ( Android  /  iOS )
Yandex ( Android  /  iOS
Gett ( Android  /  iOS )

2. Photo scams

There are many people in the street who would also be happy to take away your money. Among them are the doves or owls owners, famous people doubles, life-size puppets, street actors covered with golden or silver paint, and others who persistently offer you to take a picture with them. They hardly ever mention the price of this photo. In most cases they make you take the picture together first and then start exacting your money, often in a rude and aggressive way. The problem is that they are never satisfied with the amount you give them and are always itching for more. So we would rather recommend avoiding them and using their services.

3.  Guides on the spot

Once someone arrives in Moscow, they usually head to Red Square to see the Kremlin. It often happens that when newcomers see how big Moscow is and how easy it is to get lost here, they want to have a person accompanying them. There are plenty of so-called guides waiting for you at Red Square and nearby. They are easily recognized, as they have megaphones and offer tours for a low price. They are usually not aggressive or do any harm, but being non-trained they tell absolute nonsense about Russian history and culture, mixing up all the facts and making up stories that never happened. If you do not want to listen to some of the low-quality tours, we would rather recommend you to use the services of the official licensed guides only!

4. Theatre scams

Be careful if a person you don't know offers you to buy tickets to the Bolshoi. There have been cases of tourists being ripped off by ticket touts. In most cases, they provide low-quality seats for astronomic prices. 

Both Bolshoi and Mariinsky theatres offer online tickets but they get sold rapidly. The tickets are usually available for sale 3 months in advance. You'll need to purchase the tickets online from the official Bolshoi or Mariinsky website. 

5. Ordering a meal

Be very attentive to price info in a Russian restaurant. It happens sometimes that they indicate not the cost of the meal but the cost of 100 grams of the meal.  Such practice happens with such meals as barbeque, roasted fish, or lamb when it is hard to predict the final size of the portion.

In the end,  the final cost might appear 3 or even 4 times higher than what you had expected.
However, most reliable Moscow and St Petersburg restaurants now quote costs per meal so it is also a good solution to choose a restaurant with a high TA profile.
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