Essential information for visitors
- Visa -The Government of the Republic of Armenia allows citizens of specific countries and territories to visit Armenia for tourism or business purposes without having to obtain a visa. For some countries the visa requirement waiver is practiced on ad hoc basis, and is not formalized by a bilateral agreement.
- Currency - The dram (code: AMD) is the monetary unit of Armenia. It is subdivided into 100 luma. The word "dram" translates into English as "money" and is cognate with the Greek drachma and the Arabic dirham. The Central Bank of Armenia has the exclusive right of issuing the national currency according to Armenian law.
- Custom regulations - The usual restrictions apply (one carton of cigs, 2L of booze, no guns) and there’s no currency declaration to keep. If you plan to take something out of the country considered to be of cultural, historical or national value (eg a rug, a samovar or similar) a certificate is required from the Ministry of Culture. You’ll find it’s much easier if the shop you bought the item from arranges the permit for you, or if you can speak Armenian. Otherwise the bureaucracy can be quite baffling.
- Driving - You can drive in Armenia on an International Driving Permit. The local standard of driving is poor. Be prepared for drivers who drive recklessly and flout traffic laws. Roads are in a poor state, particularly in the coldest months (November to February). If you are walking, be careful when crossing roads and use subways where available.
- Time zone - Armenia Time (AMT) is a time zone used in Armenia. The standard time zone is four hours ahead of UTC at UTC+4 and the summer time (AMST) has stopped being affected by the daylight saving time change beginning 2012, so during summer, the time zone stays the same (UTC +4).
- Religion - Up to 97% of Armenians follow Christianity, which has existed in Armenia for over 1,700 years. Armenia has its own church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, which most Armenians follow. Christianity has a strong influence in the country, but there is a small presence of other religions too.
- Language - Armenia is an ethnically homogeneous country, where Armenian is the official language and is spoken as a first language by the overwhelming majority of its population. As of today, Russian is still, by far, the best known foreign language among the Armenian population. English is gaining popularity in recent years. French and several other languages have also begun to be studied and used. Kurdish is the largest minority language of Armenia spoken by the Yazidi minority. Other minority languages recognized by the Armenian government are Assyrian, Greek and Russian.
- Best seasons - You should plan your trip here between September and October – it’s autumn then – and most people will tell you it is the most beautiful season in the country. The weather is good – waning days of the summer sun when the warmth is mild and clear, crisp nights.
- Telephone codes - Country calling: +374, International call prefix: 00, Trunk prefix: 0
- Health factors - Life expectancy at birth was at 70 for males and at 76 for females in 2006. Health expenditure was at about 5.6% of the GDP in 2004. Most of this was outside the private sector. Government expenditure on health was at US$ 112 per person in 2006.
- Safety - There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
- Problems - Unresolved Nagomo-Karabagh war.
- Media - The main English-language weekly newspaper is Noyan Tapan. Armenia Now (www.armenianow.com) is an online newspaper. Armenian language dailies include Aravot, Azg and Yerkir. Hye-FM (91.1 FM) plays a good mix of popular music on international play lists and some local music as well. The only TV channel with an independent editorial policy, A1, is constantly at odds with government and oft-dragged through the courts. CNN is broadcast over public TV in Yerevan. Big hotels carry satellite TV.
- Tipping - Tipping usually starts from the time you arrive at the airport. If someone offers to carry your luggage, it's an indication that they will expect a tip. Your taxi driver from the airport will also expect a tip; about 10 to 15 percent is the rule. In restaurants, again reckon 10 to 15 percent. And yes, as a foreigner, you are expected to tip often and tip well.
- Things to buy - Armenia has some lovely handicrafts, including Caucasus wool carpets and lace tablecloths. There are many jewellery and gold shops in Yerevan and the capital also has outdoor markets for handicrafts, books and paintings. There is a flea market where people curious about the Soviet Union can find all kinds of memorabilia featuring Lenin and the hammer and sickle emblem.
If you have any questions about travel to Armenia (visa, hotels, guide services, transportation), please feel free to contact us at any time and we will gladly answer your questions.