FAQ - overview

Passport & visa information

If you have a passport from an EU country or Schengen country, since January 2013 you no longer need a visa.
Starting from the date of entry you can stay 180 days without a visa in Armenia.
Your passport has to be valid during the entire stay.

(For a list of the countries to which this applies to the following website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area)

Travellers with a passport from a non-European or non-Schengen country are required to purchase a visa. This can be obtained upon arrival at the airport in Yerevan and has a validity of 21 days. (Visa for a longer stay is available at extra charge). Your passport has to be valid during the entire stay.

Visas can be obtained upon arrival at Yerevan Zvartnots Airport. The cost, which must be paid in local currency, is 3,000 dram (about €6). The bank at the airport is open when flights arrive. It is best to change only a small amount of money, because the exchange rate is better in the city.


Luggage stubbs

When you check in from your departing airport, you will receive stubs for your luggage. Make sure to remember where you keep the stubs, because you will need to show them after claiming your bags and before you leave the airport in Yerevan.


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 costs, it is mandatory to have travel insurance. Please make sure that your insurance is valid for this part of the world to cover medical emergencies and damaged or lost luggage.

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., booking costs of air ticket/ accommodations, etc.). We leave this choice to you. Several companies offer these kinds of insurance. You cannot purchase insurance through Armenia Holiday.


Money matters

The official currency is the Armenian dram. Several currencies can be exchanged, but euros and dollars are accepted everywhere. Swiss francs and British pounds can be changed at banks and at some currency exchange outlets. These outlets can be found at many locations in the cities. The rates are clearly indicated, show minor daily fluctuations and are listed on bulletin boards. The rate will be around 550 dram for 1 euro (September 2009).

There is no commission fee. The lowest exchange rates are found at the airport and the major hotels. Euro or dollar banknotes must be relatively new and have no marks or tears. Dollar bills issued before 1996 will not be accepted.

There are ATM machines throughout Yerevan. Only major hotels and car rental agencies will accept VISA and MASTERCARD credit cards.

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. Armenian banknotes are issued in denominations of 50,000 dram (rare), 20,000 dram, 10,000 dram, 5,000 dram and 1,000 dram. We recommend that you use smaller denominations, preferably 5,000 or 1,000-dram bills, in addition to coins. It is hard to pay with bigger bills in small shops, kiosks or taxis.

NOTE: There is no limit on the amount of Armenian or foreign currency that can be brought into or out of the country.

Yerevan has a Western Union office for cash transfers.


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 cheap in Armenia. 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

Neither one of our hotels has safety deposit boxes. In Yerevan the hotel is willing to put valuables in a special safe in the manager’s office. Do not bring valuable items (such as jewellery) and bring a money belt if you plan to carry a lot of cash.

Violent street crime is almost unheard of in Armenia. 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. Armenians are out late and many families love to stroll in the streets or go for dinner in a restaurant. They are very helpful, hospitable and very child friendly. Communication in a foreign language can be difficult.

The greatest risk as a pedestrian is to be involved in a traffic accident. Cars don’t give the right of way when they turn and the pedestrian is crossing on a green light. Also when the traffic light turns green, cars will immediately surge ahead, regardless of whether pedestrians are still crossing. Armenian pedestrians seem to have adjusted. Watch how they do it! Taxis aren’t generally equipped with seatbelts and if they are, people don’t use them.

For elderly or handicapped people it can be hard to move around because of the lack of elevators or adapted facilities. In addition, the pavement can be in poor condition.


Time zone

There is a difference in time of 2-3 hours, depending on our summer or winter schedule. It is 2-3 hours later than in the Netherlands.


Telephone & internet

Country code: 374, Yerevan city code: 10

The front desk of the hotel in Yerevan sells telephone cards that can be used for the telephone in the lobby. Not all rooms have a telephone and they can only be used to call landline numbers in Yerevan.

Many small businesses offer telephone services at very low cost.

Your own mobile phone won’t always work, and outside Yerevan there is no overall network. Purchasing a local Simcard with an Armenian number is an alternative. The price is low and it can be renewed with a prepaid card.

Internet cafés can be found in Yerevan and are inexpensive.


Language

Armenians speak East Armenian, a language with its own alphabet. Many people also speak Russian, although the younger generation now learns English or German as a second language.


Gezondheidszorg

Vaccinatie van DTP, polio, hepatitus A en buiktyfus is niet verplicht, maar wordt aanbevolen. Voor de actuele gegevens kunt u contact opnemen met de plaatselijke GGD of surfen naar www.lcr.nl

Behalve in het gebied van de Ararat vallei is er geen melding van malaria. Wij zullen geen risicogebieden bezoeken.


Food & drink

Although water is of good quality, we advise you to drink only bottled water and to avoid ice cubes.

The food is of excellent quality and salads are safe to eat.

EXPENCES FOR FOOD & DRINKS

Most dinners are included in the tour package but lunches are not. According to our criteria, lunch is relatively cheap and will vary between €3 (supermarket) to €8 (restaurant). There are several small restaurants and supermarkets close to the hotel.

Drinks are not included in the package. Prices vary between €1.50 for a glass of beer to €0.60 for a coffee. A bottle of wine is around €10.00.

Sometimes dinner is not included our program, and this is for practical reasons: it’s not pleasant to be held to a schedule for a group dinner on a free day. As compensation, a lunch will be offered on another occasion.


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 or buy one at an electronics store in Yerevan.


Weather

Armenia has a continental climate: summers are hot and dry, winters are very cold with heavy snowfalls. Spring arrives by the end of April in many parts of Armenia, and a bit later in the highest areas.

Do bring an umbrella for occasional rain showers, which can be short and heavy.

After a hot summer, in the 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

Armenians take pride in the way they dress. 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.

When going out for the evening, to the theatre or a restaurant, Armenians in Yerevan, especially women, generally dress stylishly and avoid the casual clothing that’s more common in the west.

There is no need to cover your head when visiting a church or monastery.

Bring comfortable walking shoes and a more formal pair for dress-up occasions.

On each floor of the hotel there is a ‘floor lady’ who washes clothes for a very reasonable price. Laundry is ready in one or two days. The cost is around €1 per piece.


Practical items

It is very important to bring sunscreen. Yerevan lies at an altitude of 700-1100 metres and you can quickly get sunburned.

Some people may prefer to take a hat for sun protection.

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-diarrhoea 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.

In Armenia, particularly in Yerevan, pharmacies and bigger supermarkets carry these items, but that might not be the case in other parts of the country.


Transport

During our tour, we will travel in an air-conditioned bus.

Although the map shows that Armenia is a small country, distances can take longer to travel than expected. Not many highways exist and it takes time to wait out cattle crossings, dodge potholes and wind our way up narrow mountain roads. In general the main roads are OK, but some parts can be in poor repair or under construction. What this means is that initially holes are drilled in a rectangular shape and then filled months later over a stretch of several kilometres. The problem is solved by creative slalom driving. Luckily traffic is not very dense in the countryside.

Outside Yerevan fuel and spare parts supplies are limited. It is possible to rent a car but not recommended if one doesn’t understand Armenian. Driving standards of the average Armenian can be described as ‘creative’ and unpredictable.

Minibuses run on standard routes. They leave from bus terminals spread over the city and leave when the bus is full. Fares are very low.

In Yerevan there are buses, minibuses (standard fare is about €0.20) and taxis.

The destination is marked on the minibuses, but then you would have to be able to read Armenian!

The easiest choice is to use taxis. They are very inexpensive. Rides in the centre of Yerevan cost 600-1000 dram. Outside the centre, 100 dram per kilometre.

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. If a company’s telephone number is printed on the taxi door, then most likely the car has a meter.


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.


Excursions

Our hikes are aimed at people who are in reasonable physical shape and can walk without restrictions. You will require comfortable hiking shoes.

Some sightseeing sites are accessible after a short walk.

Considering the busy traffic and small distances in Yerevan, we will often walk to the restaurants. Of course one is free to choose an alternative and take a taxi.