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The public transport system in St. Petersburg includes buses, trolleybuses, trams, minibuses (so called "marshroutki") and, of course, the metro.

Metro. The St. Petersburg Metro has 5 lines, each designated by a number and colour on maps. Station opening times vary within the hours of 5:30 - 6:00 and 00:00 - 00:45.  The entrances to metro stations are indicated by a blue, illuminated letter 'M'.  To use the metro you need to purchase a token (25 roubles) or a smart-card for any number of journeys. Asmart-card may be more economical for many trips over a fixed period. Also, you can buy the universal smart-card for all kinds of city public transport - so called "podorozhnik". There are police stations and automatic teller machines (ATM) at every station.

Taxi. St. Petersburg taxis have a distinguishing sign on the top - black chequers on a yellow background. You can sit next to the driver or in the back seat. It is advisable to negotiate the cost in advance. Some taxis charge a minimum ride fee. In St. Petersburg hailing down private cars is common, and much cheaper than hailing a cab. You can haggle till you drop.

Car hire. There are many car hire companies in St. Petersburg, offering services both with or without driver. To hire a car you need your local driver's licence and at least one year's driving experience. When hiring a car you must pay a deposit and the full cost of hire in advance. Almost all companies accept major credit cards. The car is supplied with a full tank of petrol and should be returned the same. If the tank is not full, you will have to pay double the cost for the extra gasoline.  It is worth making a special note on traffic in the city centre. The roads are very congested, especially during rush hours. A distinguishing feature to St. Petersburg 's drivers in traffic jams is their lack of self-control in expressing themselves and a certain amount of roughness in their mode of driving. In this situation, traffic lights are sometimes viewed as mere recommendations and few give way to others. If you don't have the right skills you could get struck at an intersection for ages, wearing away your nerves, as even a scratch on the bumper will cost you money.

Our advice: use the metro or public transport in the city centre. It is only worth taking a car if you are heading out of town, and not always then. It is often more convenient to visit suburbs such as Pushkin, Pavlovsk and Peterhof on a bus tour.

Currency Exchange. The monetary unit of Russia is the rouble. One rouble is equal to 100 kopecks. Banknotes with denominations of 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 and coins of 1, 2, 5, 10 roubles, as well as 1, 5, 10, 50 kopecks coins are in circulation. There are many currency exchanges in the city, and make sure you count the money you receive carefully.Don't exchange currency with strangers, even if they offer you a very good exchange rate!

Shopping. There are a large number of shops, boutiques and shopping centers in St. Petersburg, offering well-known European and international brands. Of course, many tourists are interested in buying souvenirs and presents for friends and relatives. Remember that credit cards are not accepted everywhere and you can always pay in cash.

Safety Rules. In St. Petersburg, as in any large city, you should watch out for pickpockets working in public places, such as on crowded public transport (especially at metro electric trains and buses) or in markets and other touristy spots. Keep money and documents in inner pockets, try not to flash big means, don't leave your baggage unattended, have an eye on your handbag (it could be cut up insensibly and you will loose your purse). Stand as far as possible from Gypsies, including the children. Don't give them money. You won't even notice when all your valuables disappear. Walking out late alone in deserted dark areas (courtyards and parks) or after drinking would make you a good target for offenders.You should always have identification. It is advisable to carry photocopies of your passport and visa, showing that they have been registered. Frequent random checks by police are taking place, usually on men. Besides passport and visa are required to exchange money, and to buy train tickets, book hotel rooms and in numerous other situations.

If, however, your bag, wallet, or anything else is stolen:

1. Check exactly what has been stolen.

2. If your credit card is gone, cancel the card. Call the issuer bank immediately.

3. If your passport and tickets have been stolen, find a Russian speaker to help. Go to the local police station in the area where your documents were lost and write your statement. Remember that it is easier to replace documents if you have a police statement confirming that you have not simply misplaced them.

4. To get any help or advise for foreigners please call tourist helpline 300-33-33.

5. If your visa or migration card has been taken, contact the consulate

6. In all problem cases you can contact your hotel reception desk or your tour representative.

Advice:Make copies of your documents, tickets and credit cards before your journey. Keep them separately from the originals. Note down the telephone numbers of your bank in case you need to cancel your credit cards.

 
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