GUIDE TO THE CURRENCIES OF RUSSIA, CHINA & MONGOLIA
?? Russian Rubles
Russia’s currency is called the Ruble which comes in 5000, 1000, 500, 100, 50 and 10 notes. An individual Ruble is divided into 100 Kopeks. There are plentiful ATMs in Russia’s main cities and most Russian towns and cities have exchange booths where you can change cash notes of most major currencies to Rubles. Note that cash notes need to be in excellent condition or exchange may be refused. Some booths will ask to see your passport. If heading to more remote parts of Russia away from towns and cities make sure you stock up on Rubles in advance.
?? Mongolian Tugrik
Mongolia’s currency is called the Tugrik which comes in notes of of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000. Don’t get over excited with a 20,000 note though as it is worth about £12! Changing cash in Ulaanbaatar at exchange booths is straight forward enough and the city has several ATMs. For any trips out of the city it is best to take the cash you need with you in local currency although small denomination dollars in good condition may also be accepted. Any Tugrik you leave Mongolia with will be souvenirs as it is nigh on impossible to change outside of Mongolia.
?? Chinese Yuan
Chinese Yuan, also known as “Renminbi” (RMB) and “Kwai”, is king in China and used for almost all transactions in what is still very much a cash orientated society. The largest denomination is 100 which is approximately £ / €10 or US$15 so you’ll get used to carrying far more cash around on you than you do at home. Other denominations are 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. You rarely come across coins. Exchange rates within China at hotels, banks and ATMs are the same everywhere on any given day although commission rates may vary. ATMs are plentiful in major Chinese cities.
COSTS OF TRAVEL IN RUSSIA, CHINA & MONGOLIA
Russia is an expensive country to visit and big cities like Moscow and St Petersburg are as expensive if not more so than their western counterparts. We recommend at least £ 50 per day per person but less if on the trains or pre-booked countryside trips. In smaller towns and villages it gets much cheaper and £ 20 a day is realistic on top of any pre-booked arrangements with us.
Mongolia is becoming more expensive to travel in as the economy has experienced a mining and commodity boom over the last decade. You can expect to pay around £100 per person per day for organised tours. Of course, once this is paid there should not be many other costs payable locally although you should expect to pay for any laundry, additional drinks (mainly alcohol) not included, souvenirs and tips for the guides.
China is becoming increasingly expensive and many shopping items that used to be far cheaper than in the West are now on a par if not more expensive. It is still possible to eat relatively cheaply and taxis and metro transport are still far cheaper than in most Western countries. On top of the arrangements covered in our tours we would recommend having spending money from UK £ 20 per person per day upwards although it is quite easy to spend much more than that in many cities.
INFORMATION ON TIPPING IN RUSSIA, CHINA & MONGOLIA
Tipping has become more widespread in Russia but it isn’t as expected (yet) as it is in China or Mongolia. However, it is very much appreciated and Russian guides are often very good and exceptionally knowledgable. If you feel the service warrants a tip a rough guide as to how much to give comes down to £ 10 to the guide and £ 5 the driver per day.
In recent years tipping guides and drivers has become the norm in Mongolia and is certainly appreciated by guides if (and only if) the service they have provided warrants it. If you feel the service warrants a tip a rough guide as to how much to give comes down to £ 10 to the guide and £ 5 the driver per day.
Tipping is expected by guides and drivers nowadays but should only be done so for very good service. A recommended rate is RMB 100 per day for a guide and half that for a driver. Tipping is also increasingly expected in high end hotels and restaurants but not usually expected elsewhere including by taxi drivers.
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