Should I rent a car in Vladivostok?

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Oh you, asking so tricky questions. If you’d  lived few years in Russia and came to Vladivostok and asked me this question, I would definitely tell you “yes, get a car”. But since you are a foreigner… Well, let me put it down like this. You can get it, it is cheap, it is more comfortable to have a car, but it’s not that easy.

Problem number 1. Parking.

It is very hard to find a place to park a car almost anywhere in a city. It is hard to park in a downtown, it is hard to park in living neighborhoods, it is just hard to park everywhere in general. There is a lack of free AND commercial parkings. Cars can be towed away almost anywhere in a downtown and I have no idea how a foreigner can possibly return it without help of translator.

Problem number 2. Traffic.

Even other Russians who come to Vladivostok say it is hard to drive here. I don’t know, may be they can’t drive, but more likely they say the truth. Local drivers can be rude on a road.

Problem number 3. Driver’s License.

You need to get an International Driver’s License at your home country (it’s easy by the way, no need to pass any tests). Even if a car rental agency says, they don’t care about your license IT IS NOT TRUE! If you get in a car accident, your insurance will not work. Also, police officers can stop your car without any reason and they do it all the time, just to check your documents and to see that you are not drunk. May be they will let you go with your homeland license, but… do you really want to go into negotiations with a Russian police officer who doesn’t speak English?

In a conclusion, if you stay in a city for less than a weak, it is easier to use a taxi.

In case you did rent a car, here are two things that you should NEVER do:

  1. Never, NEVER! drink alcohol and drive! Legal amount of alcohol in blood for Russia is 0! One bottle of beer can become very expensive for you if you get caught. And it is very easy to get caught, since police can randomly stop you on the road. So one more time: do not ever drink and drive while you are in Russia.
  2. Don’t try to bribe a cop. Just don’t do it. Policeman will never accept it from a foreigner and you can get yourself in trouble. If you are already in trouble, well try to talk your way out, you get benefit of being a guest.


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