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First Time to Russia: Do’s and Don’ts

By on September 16, 2018 in Kamexplore

It is very useful to know what you should and shouldn’t do when you visit a new country, particularly since there can be great differences in the culture and what is considered correct and appropriate behavior. When visiting another country, it is advisable to know about the customs and any possible superstitions that people may have.


In Russia shaking hands over a threshold is viewed as bad luck. This means you should be cautious and avoid it. You also need to remove any gloves you are wearing before shaking hands as this is likely to offend people. It is probably a good decision to not make jokes. What seems funny in one culture can be considered highly offensive and off-color in another. So, do not tell jokes about someone’s mother or of politics. Actually, it is best to avoid talking about politics altogether.

Besides not telling jokes about family members, it is definitely not acceptable in Russia to be disrespectful about or to the elderly. In fact, show the utmost respect for older people, as this is what is expected. If you find yourself on a bus and an older person or a someone who is disabled needs a seat, then be courteous and offer your seating to them.

Russians do not believe in splitting the bill when you go out to eat. They actually expect that the person who invited them out will be the one to pay for the entire meal. So, you should not expect the person you invited to pay half the bill, as this is frowned upon.


If you are giving somebody a gift that usually carries money, such as a wallet or a purse, also include some money. This is because Russians see an empty wallet or money carrier as a bad omen and it is considered bad luck.

Russians have some very traditional values which you may not be aware of. For example, men in Russia are expected to be chivalrous and will usually open doors for women and even carry their bags. This is not because they think that the women are weak but that it is good manners to treat women in such a way. Depending what country you are coming from, this may be somewhat unexpected. If somebody offers you vodka you should accept, as this is a very important drink in Russia. At the same time, you should not order vodka mixed with tonic water or orange juice, as they consider this to be improper.

Be aware that certain behavior, that you view as normal, may be unacceptable or even illegal. For instance, taking photographs of public government buildings can land you in jail. You must also behave and dress appropriately if you enter a church. Women are expected to wear a skirt and cover their head and shoulders. Men are supposed to remove their hats and wear long trousers. Knowing some of these dos and don’ts will go a long way to making your first visit to Russia an enjoyable experience.

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