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Since, as I can see, youíve decided to leave, I suggest you to have a look at the Library and Links pages, where youíll find (almost) everything you need to know. In this page I just write down some simple tips I think you wonít find in any guidebook. First of all Iíd like to destroy a myth, two in fact. The first one says that Moscow, in a special way, and the whole Russia, in general, are incredibly dangerous, where one day youíre robbed and the following day too; where, if you show your cheap disposable camera first youíre scalped and then stolen it, and so forthÖ Actually, thereís no doubt that Moscow isnít the safest place on earth, but for sure not more dangerous than Milan or Paris (not to mention New York or Los Angeles). I think that the crime scene now in Russia compared to the complete absence of crime during the Soviet era has generated a sort of panic about the uncontainable rising of it. The mafia does exist and it is (said to be) very powerful but, unless youíre going to open an ice cream kiosk or something else that could be blown up, youíll not even see it. The second myth I want to destroy says that Moscow (always Moscow) is the most expensive town in Europe (or in the world, or in the universe, according to which version you heard). I think the considerations are the same: if during the Soviet era a normal citizen could live with dignity (with all the pros and cons) and nowadays sees restaurants where a lunch would cost him the salary of three or four moths, then the conclusion is natural. In fact, luxurious hotels and restaurants, where a night could cost the whole travel budget, do exist in Moscow and in the rest of the world as well. But, I think, if one night at the hostel is 18 Euro, a lunch in some inn is 2 Euro, the entrance (for foreigners) at the Kremlin is 7 Euro, the sleeping car from St. Petersburg to Moscow (750 km) is 25 Euro, the flight from Irkutsk to St Petersburg (7 hours) is 170 EuroÖ shall I go on?

When you get to Russia, and to Mongolia, youíre required to fill in a declaration form (see picture): do it accurately, donít write a smaller amount of money and keep it until you leave the country, because you could be asked to show it. In the form (which at the airports is also available in English and German, you must also declare if you have with you anything valuable, a mobile phone, or a GPS device: if you donít declare them and are found when youíre living the country, they could be seized.

Any time you change money you should be given picture); if youíre not given it, ask for it (sprovfka) and keep it till the end of your stay in Russia. Theoretically all the receipts of any money exchange should be given back  at the border with the custom declaration, and the amount written in them added to what you still have in your pockets should be equal to the amount you declared when you entered the country. Itís all theory, but why take a risk?

If you, like me, have a visa supported by a fake invitation letter (itís cheaper) you should have it registered at any big hotel: itís an illegal but very common habit. Besides, always bargain! A recent law wants you to register the visa in every single town youíre staying in for more than three days: I didnít , but Iíve been checked by policeman while walking at night in the red square. Policemen  actually know it and they round out their income. If you got there earlier than three days you must prove it: keep the train or plane ticket to show the date of your arrival. If you plan to stay more than three days you can or register or risk; if you decide to take the risk and youíre checked by police try not to pay the fine telling you got earlier than three days and you registered at the your embassy: it already worked once!

In the most touristy places in Russia are listed two different entrance fees for Russians and non-Russians, where we (the non-Russians) pay even seven or eight times more. It actually means that we pay the normal price (sometimes even cheap) and Russians pay a 80% discounted ticket. When you buy the ticket youíre not asked any document, so, if you speak Russian and youíre not a typical Mediterranean, you can try to pretend to be Russian, or you can easily ask somebody else to buy a ticket for you. Sometimes it works, but you risk to cut a poor figure: the choice is yours! Moreover, if you have an ISIC card donít forget it home! Practically everything you can visit makes discounts for students (and the entrance at the Hermitage is free).

Finally, the last advice: if you decide to go to Ulaanbaatar you donít have so many low-budget places where to sleep. Absolutely the best is the UB Guesthouse!