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A valid passport or EU identity card is required to enter Finland. Most Western nationals don't need a tourist visa for stays of less than three months; South Africans need a Schengen visa. For more information contact the nearest Finnish embassy or consulate, or the Directorate of Immigration (09-4765 500; www.uvi.fi; Panimokatu 2A, 00580 Helsinki).

Russian & estonian visas

All foreigners require a visa to travel into Russia from Finland. Russian visas take about eight working days to process in Helsinki (you must leave your passport at the embassy) so you may want to get one before leaving home. Helsinki tour companies specializing in travel to Russia can usually expedite a visa much quicker, but for a fee.

European citizens and most Western nationals don't require a visa for a short stay in Estonia, but citizens of South Africa do (a valid Latvian or Lithuanian visa is valid). Check out the website of the Estonian Foreign Ministry (www.vm.ee).