Let me explain you how Russia appears to foreigners at the first sight:
– the different alphabet makes you feel completely lost (but wait to see how Chinese is!);
– a lot of Russians don’t understand/speak English, even a little bit;
– let’s talk honestly, they can also be cold and distant at first.
To make it short, if you plan to visit Russia, be ready to feel completely lost!
To help you feel like a local in Moscow, here are 5 apps I used every day there:
1/ Yandex Map: Google Map, made in Russia.
Find your way by car, subway, bus… You’re looking for a restaurant, a bank, a post office, a dentist… ? The app gives you the closest address from your position. If you’re looking for a special place you can also research directly with the address.
A must-have to never get lost. Plus, the app is available in English.
2/ Yandex Metro, for the subway map as you’ve probably already guessed!
Moscow and St. Petersburg (Russia), Kiev and Kharkov (Ukraine) and Minsk (Belarus): one app, 5 maps!
Available in English and in Russian of course.
However, in Moscow, as the the station names are in Cyrillic, I recommend you to use it in Russian.
3/ A translator: Your best friend during your journey in Russia!
I personally use Google Translator for two reasons:
– for the voice functionality, very useful in Russian when you have no idea how to pronounce a word. (and believe me, this situation will happen a hundred of times!)
– and for an other useful functionality: you can take a picture of a text you want to translate. You just have to select the text on the picture and the app works for you!
4/ GET TAXI
Unless if you’re the king of negotiation and you speak Russian like a local, you will be glad to have this application to order taxi. Cheap and secure, no need to speak Russian as the app is in English and works for you: in 2 clicks, order your taxi, give to the driver your position and receive the information about him (name, phone number, car’s color and license plate number).
No need to have money on you, you can register your credit card and you will be charged automatically.
You can also book in advance, decide to ride in Business class, get free-wifi on the taxi…
If you use UBER in your country, you also can use this app in Moscow. By the way, it’s cheaper than Get Taxi.
But after some bad experience (mostly because of drivers who are not professionals and can’t find your address sometimes) I would not recommend you to use Uber if you’re waiting outside on winter, or if you are in a hurry. Believe me, I already experienced it for you!
Should I really explain why Whatsapp is a must-have?!!
To stay in touch with your friends and family all around the world of course. And also because it seems that a lot of Russians prefer use WhatsApp than SMS. Don’t ask me why I never got the answer.
6/Beeline, MTS or Megafon apps to manage your mobile services consumption.
Useful to know if you need to recharge your mobile plan, how much data you’ve already used…
Talking about mobile phone, I recommend you get a local SIM card to avoid roaming costs on the one hand, and get a good internet connexion on the other hand. It’s not very expensive and you can choose to pay your mobile plan for only 15 days.
Be careful, there is roaming costs between the different Russians city.
7/ VKontakte a kind of Russian Facebook.
Of course, almost all Russians I met had Facebook, but if you plan to go out, meet people, etc. it could be useful to get an account on VK.
Moreover, you can listen to music or watch videos and movies for free.