Russia is a huge country and is one of the superpowers of the modern world. While people might assume Russian people are not friendly, this is actually far from the truth, and many will help you if you are stuck when visiting. If you are interacting with the locals, we have some tips to make sure you don’t accidentally offend anyone while you’re there.
Don’t shake hands in a doorway
This is a little strange, but many Russians are superstitious, and this is just one of the things they consider to be bad luck. On the subject of shaking hands, it is considered extremely rude to shake hands while wearing gloves. The weather in Russia can be bitterly cold, but you should still take your gloves off if someone offers to shake hands with you.
Don’t forget to take off your boots and shoes
Much like in Asia, it is customary to take your shoes off when visiting someone’s home. As soon as you pass through the threshold, you should start taking your shoes off. Usually, there will be some slippers provided to keep your toes warm when they are out of your shoes. It is also considered an insult if you point the soles of your feet at someone in Russia. If you are crossing your legs, make sure no one is around; otherwise, they will be greatly offended at being able to see the bottom of your feet, especially if you are wearing shoes.
Don’t be too friendly
It might seem like a strange custom, but strangers smiling is not something Russians expect to see. Smiles in Russia are saved for friends and family members, so if you are smiling at someone you don’t know the chance are they will not take a liking to you, and think of you as a fool. There is a saying in Russia, “smiling for no reason is the sign of a fool.”
Don’t forget your passport
If you forget your passport you aren’t getting into the country, that much is obvious, but you should always carry your passport with you as you travel around Russia. Police and security will often stop you and ask to see your documents. It is a part of Russian law for citizens to carry their ID around, so the same is expected of their tourists. When planning a trip, don’t leave arranging your visa until the last minute. The process can be quite long, so make sure you do it months in advance to make sure you aren’t left unable to visit.
Many Russians will go out for an evening, or a family stroll wearing their best clothes and trying to look a million dollars. Even when heading out shopping, or to the bank, Russians will dress their best and will not be impressed if you turn up looking as though you’re backpacking (even if that’s what you are doing). Be conscious of what their customs are and keep an outfit in reserve in case you need to look your best.
After reading this list, you should be able to get through most interactions with Russian people when you visit their country. Making sure you don’t offend anyone by failing to follow all of these customs will ensure you have a great time when visiting this ancient country.