Dangers & Annoyances
- Armenia is one of the safest countries in the region. Health precautions are minimal; just exercise the same type of caution you would if travelling in Europe. Outside Yerevan, it's probably wise to avoid drinking tap water.
- 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.
Embassies & Consulates
A full list of Armenian embassies and consulates can be found at www.mfa.am.
Emergency & Important Numbers
112 or 911
Entry & Exit Formalities
The usual restrictions apply (200 cigarettes, two bottles of alcohol, other goods up to the value of US$5000) and there’s no currency declaration. 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.
Visitors from the US and from EU countries can visit Armenia for up to 180 days without a visa; citizens from most other countries can obtain an Armenian visa when entering the country.
Visitors from the US and from EU countries can visit Armenia for up to 180 days without a visa; they will need to present a passport at entry points, though. See www.mfa.am/en/visa/for a list of eligibile nationalities, and also for a list of those nationalities whose citizens must obtain an invitation from an Armenian embassy or consulate overseas before visiting Armenia. It is generally safe to assume that if your country does not appear on the list of invitation-only countries, you will be able to obtain an Armenian visa when entering the country. In these instances, a 21-day tourist visa will cost AMD3000 and a 120-day visas will cost AMD15,000. Visas are free for eligible children under 18 years of age. You’ll need one empty page in your passport for the visa and you must also pay in dram (moneychangers are available at border points and next to the visas booth at the airport, which is in the hall before the immigration booths).
Don't overstay your visa – a fine of AMD50,000 to AMD100,000 will be levied at your exit point if you do, and you will be unable to re-enter the country for one year.
You can get a visa extension at the Passport and Visa Office (www.police.am) in the district of Davtashen, northwest of the city centre.
Visas for Onward Travel
Georgia Citizens of more than 90 countries and territories, listed at www.geoconsul.gov.ge, can enter Georgia without a visa for stays of up to one year. Citizens of EU countries may enter Georgia with a national identity card instead of a passport if they wish; other nationalities must carry their passport. Non-visa-free nationalities should organise a visa through Georgia's e-visa portal (www.evisa.gov.ge).
Iran It is now officially possible to obtain 15-day tourist visas on arrival at the airports in Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz and Mashad (the visas are not available at the land border). However, there are 11 countries whose nationals are not eligible for this, including those of the US, UK, Canada and India. The Iranian embassy in Yerevan provides visas only after you have received approval from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and for this you’ll need to go through a travel agent. The whole process will take a minimum of 20 days and the embassy will charge AMD20,000 for a reference code on top of the visa charge. Tatev Travel in Yerevan can assist you with the process and with onward travel.
Turkey Though the land border between Armenia and Turkey is not open, it is possible to fly between Yerevan and İstanbul. Turkish visas must be obtained before arrival; see www.evisa.gov.tr.
The maps made by Yerevan-based company Collage are the best available; its full-colour foldout Armenia & Mountainous Karabakh and Yerevan maps are up-to-date and easy to use. Both are available at Bookinist in Yerevan.
- 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.
- Every city and most towns have ATMs; some dispense American dollars as well as dram.
- Western Union money transfer is not available in Armenia.
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 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.
|Euro zone||€1||544.27 AMD|
The usual tipping rule at cafes and restaurants is 10%.
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 Mon to Friday
Restaurants 11am to midnight (times can vary)
Shops 10am, closing between 7pm and 10pm
National postal service Haypost has offices in every major town. A letter might take anything from two weeks to six weeks to reach North America or Australia, but the service is fairly reliable.
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
Most hotels have dedicated nonsmoking floors or rooms and a small but slowly growing number of cafes and restaurants have dedicated nonsmoking sections.
- The country code is 374, while Yerevan’s area code is 10. It’s possible to make calls from central call centres.
- 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 dialled when calling from overseas. For international calls, dial 00 first.
- Mobile-phone services, operated by VivaCell, Orange and Beeline, are fairly priced and wide-ranging. You can get mobile-phone service just about anywhere in the country these days, unless you are hiking in the backcountry. 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).
- SIM cards are easily purchased from VivaCell (www.mts.am), Orange (www.orangearmenia.am) and Beeline (http://beeline.am) shops; bring your passport. Unlimited 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.
There are few tourist information offices in Armenia. The Yerevan Municipality's Department of Culture and Tourism can supply information and maps about the city, but only operates on weekdays. There are dedicated tourist information offices in Gyumri and Sevan; staff at the Sevan office do not speak English.
- Armenia Guide (www.armeniaguide.com)
- Armenia Information (www.armeniainfo.am)
- Armeniapedia (www.armeniapedia.org)
- Ianyan Magazine (www.ianyanmag.com)
- PanArmenian.net (www.panarmenian.net)
Wages are very low in most sectors, but there is a ton of NGO and volunteer work going on. 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. The website www.armeniadiaspora.com is a good place to start investigating.