Useful information about Armenia
Security – for a lot of reasons we can say that Yerevan is one of the safest cities in the world. Here strolling along streets late at night is much safer than in many European cities during daytime. It seems like there are no robbers and bandits in Yerevan at all, or they are all in prison. In fact, the level of crime is very low and usually it escapes the eye of the common tourist. For example, we can leave our car in the street with the doors unlocked and then find it untouched and undamaged. A tourist, like any other common citizen, feels himself completely secure.
Orientation – it is very easy to find one’s way in the city, even if it is your first time here, you don’t have a map or there is nobody to help you. This kind of situation is hardly probable and you can hardly get lost in Yerevan. The city is not big (excluding city outskirts and far end districts); the city center consists of circular belt roads and streets that intersect. The streets are crowded with means of transport: so-called marshrutkas, buses and taxis. Though, you can get to a place without using public transport as the distances between the places are not very long and you can get there on foot. In case you have lost your way after all, you can stop any passer-by and ask him for the way, and be sure that he will come with you to show the place you need.
Currency – the national currency is the Armenian Dram. In stores and other commercial centers trade is carried out in the national currency only. There is no problem with the foreign currency exchange, as almost everywhere and in many stores there are exchange desks where you can exchange any currency.
In big commercial centers of Armenia you can use credit cards. There are also several banks and ATMs from where you can withdraw money. Credit cards are accepted in restaurants and cafes.
Tips – there are places where tips are included in the price and the average one is 5-7 %. In this case there is no need to leave a tip. In other cases it is common to leave tips of an average of 10% of the price.
Language - Armenian is the state language in Armenia. In Yerevan a lot of people (mainly the youth) can speak English, French, German and Spanish. Russian is spoken almost freely by most of the population. There can be some difficulties with the language only in some very remote villages, and that is not often. There is no language barrier in Armenia.
Traffic – tourists usually notice one and only disadvantage in Yerevan – street traffic. The city has not been designed for such amount of cars so streets are often overcrowded. Though traffic jams are seldom here, the abundance of cars is not in harmony with the comfortable streets of Yerevan. That is why it is better to walk along the streets than take a public bus.
Transportation – marshrutkas move one after another, without a pause. Just raise your hand and stop the needed number, pay 100 Drams and you can go where you want to. Though, it’s better to take a taxi that Yerevan is rich in. To get a taxi is very easy and very cheap.
Food – you can eat almost everywhere. Wherever you are inside the city at every 100 meters you can find a snack bar, a café or a restaurant. If you are in the city center you can find a place to eat at every 10 meters. Here one can find any national cuisine: Armenian, Arabic, Georgian, European, and Chinese. Prices can vary. In general, to have a good meal in Yerevan will cost you less compared with the prices in Europe.
Water – you can buy water in every food store, all trademarks are of Armenian production. You can also open the tap either at a hotel or in a house and drink running water. It’s absolutely safe for drinking and even tasty. In the streets and yards of Yerevan you can see certain water springs which in colloquial Armenian are called “pulpulak”. The unique one-meter-high bubbling jet offers clean and tasty Armenian water. Come close and drink. It is completely free.
General – you had better buy souvenirs at the open-air fare “Vernissage” which is open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Armenian Cognac is best at Yerevan Brandy Factory. The lowest prices and highest quality is guaranteed here. You can get wine in every store and at the wine factory.
The greatest part of Armenia is highlands (from 1000 to 2500m above sea level) and for this reason it is advisable to have warm clothes with you.