FAQ Armenia

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Passport & visa information
Your passport should be valid until minimum 6 months after departure date. It is recommended to bring a photocopy of your passport (the page with personal data).

A visa is not required for citizens of Schengen countries and USA.
For a list of Schengen countries visit https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-countries-list/  Travellers with a passport from a non-European or non-Schengen country are required to purchase a visa, which can be obtained upon arrival at the airport. It has a validity of 21 days. (Visa for a longer stay is available at extra charge). Costs are low and must be paid in local currency.  Bank at airports are open when flights arrive. It is best to change only a small amount of money, because the exchange rate is better in the city.

Insurance
When booking a vacation, you assume that your time away will be carefree and generally that is the case. However, to cover damage to your luggage or health care expenses, you need to have a travel insurance. YOu will need to pay medical expenses in Armenian and request for reimbursement in your home country. Please make sure that your insurance is valid for this part of the world and check coverage.  There may be circumstances that cause cancellation of your vacation or a later departure or earlier return. You can take out additional insurance to cover the cost of cancellation in case of a personal emergency (e.g., cancellation costs of air ticket/ accommodations, etc.). We leave this choice to you. Several companies offer these kinds of insurance. Traveler agreed by registration that the organizer cannot be held responsible for any damages or personal injuries during the tour.

Money matters
The Armenian currency is the Armenian dram (AMD).  There are ATM machines in big cities which accept bank cards with Cirrus or Maestro logo. Foreign bank cards are not widely accepted. Several currencies can be exchanged, but Euros and Dollars are widely accepted. Swiss francs and British pounds can be changed at banks and at some money changers. There is no commission fee. Banknotes must be relatively new and have no marks or tears. Dollar bills issued before 1996 will not be accepted. It is not necessary to change a large bill into smaller ones, for example, if you want to change 20 euros and you hand over a 50-Euro bill, you will receive 30 euros change. It is recommended to ask for smaller denominations, preferably 5.000 or 1.000-dram bills. It is hard to pay with bigger bills in small shops, kiosks or taxis.
Only major hotels and car rental agencies will accept VISA and MASTERCARD credit cards. To withdraw cash with your creditcard is expensive and therefore it is not recommended to cash small amounts.

Customs
Commercial goods exceeding a value of $ 500 must be declared. Personal items do not have to be declared. There is a 20-pack import and export limit on cigarettes, a 2-litre limit on alcohol and a 1-kg limit on coffee. There are no restrictions on the import of food. Alcohol is very cheap, but check with your local customs on what you are allowed to take back into your country.

Prohibited items
It is forbidden to import or export pornography, loose pearls and antiques.

Safety
Do not bring valuable items (such as jewelry) and bring a money belt if you plan to carry cash. Our hotel in Yerevan has a safety deposit box, most other hotels don't. To store things in a suitcase which can be locked has proved to function well in the past years. Violent street crime is almost unheard of in the regions where we travel.  Nevertheless we recommend that you watch out for pickpockets in crowded areas or markets. Being on the street at night is not a problem, and that goes for both women and men. Locals are out late and many families love to stroll in the streets or go for dinner in a restaurant. In this part of the world people are very helpful, hospitable and very child friendly.
For elderly or handicapped people it can be hard to move around because the pavement can be in poor condition.

Time zone
There is a difference in time of 2-3 hours with The Netherlands, depending on our summer or winter schedule.

Telephone & internet
Country code Armenia +374. Your own mobile phone will not always work, and there is no overall network. Purchasing a local simcard can be an option. It is cheap (also to call abroad) and it can be charged with a prepaid card. Many restaurants and cafeteria have free wifi.

Language
Armenians speak East Armenian, a language with their own alphabet. Many people in this former Soviet republics also speak Russian, although the younger generation is now taught English or German as a second language. Nevertheless communication in a foreign language might be difficult. In big cities street and traffic signs along major roads are depicted in our alphabet.

Health care
Vaccination of DTP, polio, hepatitis A and typhoid is not required, but some can be recommended. Check with your local health organizations on the internet. Medical care is of good quality.

Food & drink
Although water is of good quality, some people have a sensitive stomach. In that case we advise you to drink only bottled water. Food is of excellent quality and salads are safe to eat.

Expenses for food/drinks
Meals are included in the tour package as indicated in the tour program. According to our criteria, a lunch is relatively cheap and will vary between € 5 at a supermarket to € 15 for a more elaborate meal at a restaurant. There are several small restaurants and supermarkets close to the hotel in Yerevan. Drinks are not included in the package except for water and coffee or tea at dinner.  Prices vary between € 1.50-€ 2,00 for a glass of beer to € 0.60 for Armenian coffee,  € 4 for a cappuccino. A bottle of wine is around € 12.00. Mark that the menu in restaurants doesn't show the price including the service fee. This will be added later to the bill and most of the times the percentage is listed in the menu. It is commonly around 10%. Tipping is no obligation, but is always appreciated if you are content with the service.

Electricity
Standard voltage is 220 volts. USA appliances designed for 110 volts require a voltage converter. Electric outlets use European/Dutch style plugs with two round pins. North American participants should bring a converter.

Weather
Armenia has a continental climate: summers are hot and dry, winters are very cold with heavy snowfalls. Although summer is warm, always be prepared for cooler temperatures in mountainous regions.
Spring arrives by the end of April, and a bit later in mountainous areas. Do bring an umbrella for occasional rain showers, which can be short and heavy. After a hot summer, in autumn, often nicknamed the "velvet season", the temperature typically reverts to that of springtime. After the mid-September break in the hot weather, Indian summer arrives and lasts throughout October. In this season too it is sensible to bring an umbrella for sporadic rain showers. A good website to check the weather is www.freemeteo.com it includes a seven-day forecast.

Clothing
In Yerevan people are extremely fashion conscious, and a well-groomed appearance is appreciated. In the countryside people dress more simply and conservatively. Shorts are only worn by young people. The somewhat longer Capri pants or 7/8 models are common; tank tops are worn in the cities. It is very important to bring comfortable hiking shoes and dance shoes that are comfortable on all types of floors (possibly even outdoors). Make sure to be prepared for cooler weather in the mountains. It is best to bring layers of clothes to tackle this situation.

In Armenia there are no special requirements in clothing if you visit religious sites.

Practical items
It is highly recommended to bring sun screen because of high altitudes - you can easily get sunburned.
Bring all the prescription drugs you believe you will need. Bring enough for the entire stay and leave them in their original marked containers. Bring some basic medication such as ibuprofen, Tylenol or aspirin and anti-diarrhea medication such as Imodium. Bring enough lens cleaning solution for your entire visit and maybe a spare set of eyeglasses. If you are prone to car sickness, please bring medication for it. It will not always be possible to claim seats in the front of the bus. In big cities pharmacies and bigger supermarkets carry these items, but that might not be the case in other parts of the country and there might be a language barrier.

Transportation
During our tour, we will travel in an air-conditioned bus. Although we avoid long hours on the bus, distances can take longer to travel than expected. There aren't many highways and it takes time to wait out cattle crossings and wind your way up mountain roads. In general main roads are in good condition, but some parts can be under construction especially after winter damage. Driving standards can best be described as creative and unpredictable.
The easiest choice for tourists is to use taxis in your spare time. They are very inexpensive. A good option is to rent a taxi for a half- or full-day tour. Taxis do have meters, although solo drivers might not have one.

Religion
Armenia is the first Cristian nation in the world and Armenians are members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. There are two minorities: Yezidi are ethnically related to Kurds, but practice a pre-Islamic Middle Eastern religion with ancient origins and Russian speaking communities of Molokans. They are Christians who separated from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th Century.

Hiking
Our hikes are aimed at people with a normal physical condition and can walk without restrictions. You will require comfortable hiking shoes, because some sightseeing spots can be reached after a short walk on foot. For the hike to the caves of Khundzoresk a good physical condition is required as well as sturdy hiking shoes with grip sole. Considering busy traffic in Yerevan, we will often walk to the restaurants. Of course one is free to choose an alternative and to take a taxi.

Cancellation policy
Details can be found in the registration form.