Armenia in detail

Directory

Accessible Travel

Armenia has much work to do to improve accessibility, especially outside Yerevan. Zvartnots Airport has facilities for wheelchair users, including accessible toilets, but elsewhere cracked and potholed pavements make life difficult for wheelchair users and people with a visual impairment. Only about 1% of buses in Yerevan are accessible, and metro stations lack elevators. The cost of renting a car and driver-helper isn’t extortionate, so that might be a better transport option. On the plus side, at least a dozen hotels in Yerevan have facilities for disabled guests. The most visited monasteries have information written in braille.

Wheels on Wheels (091-016565) has a wheelchair-accessible taxi and wheelchairs for hire in Yerevan.

Arara (098-110138; araratour.com) runs tours to the country for wheelchair users.

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Bargaining

Taxi drivers won’t complain if you set the price when getting in and stick to it when getting out (though ordering with taxi-hailing apps GG and Yandex will save you the trouble). Shops have set prices, but shukas (markets) and outdoor fruit and vegetable stands are more negotiable, especially when buying more than one item.

Dangers & Annoyances

  • Armenia is considered safe, but rare earthquakes have caused devastating aftermaths and war with surrounding neighbours remains possible, although unlikely.
  • Many Armenians drive erratically, overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic and on blind corners, speeding and taking no notice of delineated road lanes. When driving, stay alert and drive extremely defensively.
  • Uncomfortable staring is an issue, especially aimed at women.
  • Be careful when hiking around the border with Azerbaijan since as of 2017 there are nearly 10 sq km of confirmed or suspected landmine areas, but stay on well-trotted routes or paths and you'll have nothing to fear.

Embassies & Consulates

A full list of Armenian embassies and consulates can be found at www.embassy.am.

Emergency & Important Numbers

Armenia's country code
International access code
Emergency112 or 911

Etiquette

  • Church Some locals choose to leave churches walking backwards as they face the altar, but foreigners will not be bothered if they don't do so.
  • Photos Ask before taking photos – most Armenians won't mind.
  • Invitations If invited to dinner, it is customary to accept. Bring a small gift if you can.
  • Flowers If buying flowers it is customary to give an odd number as even numbers are meant for funerals.

Internet Access

Armenia has great 4G coverage for the most part, though it may be difficult to find a signal when hiking in forests or mountains or on the road in between towns. Free wi-fi is offered by in the vast majority of accommodation.

LGBT Travellers

On 5 April, 2019, trans woman Lilit Martirosyan spoke at the National Assembly in Yerevan about torture, rape, assault and discrimination committed against her community. The heavy backlash she received, particularly from politicians, proves how far this country needs to come on LGBT+ issues.

While homosexuality was decriminalized in 2003, discrimination remains widespread and those who openly display their orientation continue to face danger. In general, LGBT+ travellers won't encounter discrimination as long as they are discreet. Two men or women booking a hotel room or sharing a bed is not automatically construed as a sexual relationship and indeed will often be considered far less scandalous than an unmarried mixed couple doing the same. Same-sex marriage ceremonies are not carried out in the country, but are recognized when performed abroad.

Websites and advocacy or support groups include:

Pink Armenia (www.pinkarmenia.org)

Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (www.galasla.org)

Unzipped: Gay Armenia (www.gayarmenia.blogspot.com).

Maps

The full-colour foldout Armenia & Mountainous Karabakh and Yerevan maps are up-to-date and easy to use. Both are available at Bookinist and HIKEArmenia in Yerevan.

Money

Every city and most towns have ATMs; some dispense American dollars as well as dram.

Currency

Armenia’s currency is the dram (AMD). Coins are available in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 dram. Paper currency is available in notes of 1000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 dram.

Exchanging Money

The best cash currencies are US dollars, euros and Russian roubles, roughly in that order. Georgian lari can also be changed in Yerevan and border towns. Other currencies are hard to change except at a handful of major banks in Yerevan. There are moneychanging signs waving flags and rates at customers everywhere in Yerevan and around shukas (markets) in all major towns. Virtually any shop can change money legally, and many food stores and smallgoods vendors do. Scams seem to be rare, and transactions straightforward. Avoid exchanging dram in Georgia as vendors there offer terrible rates. Western Union money transfer is not available in Armenia.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1365.29 AMD
CanadaC$1363.33 AMD
Euro zone€1544.65 AMD
Japan¥100443.25 AMD
NZNZ$1323.87 AMD
UKUK£1745.69 AMD
USUS$1482.45 AMD

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Tipping

  • Restaurants The usual tipping rule is 10% on top of the 10% service fee that may be charged on some bills, especially in Yerevan.
  • Taxis It's acceptable but not necessary to give your driver an extra 10%.

Opening Hours

Most churches are open 9am to 6pm daily, though in winter you might have to wait a while for the key to appear. Shukas (markets) open daily. Museums and galleries often close Monday.

The following are typical opening hours:

Banks 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, 10.30am to 1.30pm Saturday

Bars 7pm until last customer (times can vary)

Cafes 10am to midnight (times can vary)

Government offices 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday

Restaurants 11am to midnight (times can vary)

Shops 10am to 7–10pm

Post

National postal service Haypost has offices in every major town. A letter might take anything from three to six weeks to reach North America or Australia, but the service is fairly reliable.

Public Holidays

Annual public holidays in Armenia:

New Year’s Day 1 January

Christmas Day 6 January

International Women’s Day 8 March

Good Friday varies, from mid-March to late April

Genocide Memorial Day 24 April

Victory and Peace Day 9 May

Republic Day 28 May

Constitution Day 5 July

Independence Day 21 September

Earthquake Memorial Day 7 December

Smoking

  • Smoking Most hotels have dedicated nonsmoking floors or rooms and a few have outlawed smoking altogether. A growing number of cafes and restaurants have dedicated nonsmoking sections. There has been talk about restrictions on smoking coming to Yerevan, but nothing has come to fruition as yet.

Telephone

  • The country code is 374, while Yerevan’s area code is 10.
  • For calls within Armenia, dial 0 + city code + local number.
  • For mobile numbers dial the prefix first (this varies according to the mobile phone company used), then the number. Note that the '0' is not dialed when calling from overseas.
  • For international calls, dial 00 first.

Mobile Phones

Further Information

  • Mobile-phone services, operated by VivaCell, Ucom and Beeline, are fairly priced and wide-ranging. There is little difference between the providers, although there seem to be more subscribers to VivaCell (and calling other VivaCell phones is a little cheaper).
  • You can get mobile-phone service just about anywhere in the country these days, unless you are hiking in the backcountry.
  • SIM cards are easily purchased from VivaCell (www.mts.am), Ucom (www.ucom.am) and Beeline (http://beeline.am) shops; bring your passport. Ten GB of data for 30 days costs around AMD6000; calls and texts average AMD5 to numbers from the same company and AMD15 to numbers from competition companies. An international text averages AMD20.
  • SIM cards can be recharged at phone company offices or at booths in shukas.

Time

Time in Armenia is GMT/UTC plus four hours. The country does not observe daylight saving time.

Not taking daylight saving into account, when it’s noon in Armenia, the time elsewhere is as follows:

CityTime
Auckland8pm
London8am
Los Angelesmidnight
New York3am
Paris & Rome9am
Perth & Hong Kong4pm
Sydney6pm

Tourist Information

Yerevan has recently opened two helpful info booths; one on Nalbandyan the other on Baghramyan. The info office in Dilijan is terrific and rents hiking gear. You can also get useful info from offices in Gyumri, Goris, Tatev and Sevan.

Internet Resources

  • Armeniapedia (www.armeniapedia.org)
  • Armenia Travel (www.armenia.travel)
  • My Armenia (https://myarmenia.si.edu)
  • Hetq (www.hetq.am)
  • Repat Armenia (www.repatarmenia.org)

Travel with Children

Armenia is a child-friendly country – you'll often see kids playing in the streets. Baby change facilities in restaurants are rare, as Armenians don't usually take their children to dine with them except on special occasions. Roads are pot-holed and bumpy, so driving prams around might be a challenge. Children love the musical fountains at Yerevan's Republic Square, playing at the Soviet-era Children's Railway and teens will get a kick out of Yell Extreme Park near Ijevan.

Volunteering

  • Armenian Volunteer Corps (www.armenianvolunteer.org)
  • Birthright Armenia (www.birthrightarmenia.org)
  • US Peace Corps (www.peacecorps.gov/armenia)
  • Workaway (www.workaway.info)
  • WWOOF (www.wwoof.net)

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The metric system is used.

Work

Wages are very low in most sectors, but there is a ton of NGO and volunteer work going around. NGOs have bloomed everywhere – international relief agencies are well represented, and there are many local and diaspora bodies as well, covering everything from health to the environment to teaching.