Belarus, Minsk, 01 – 08 June 2019

I flew Belavia Airlines from Almaty to Minsk, 5:10 hours, the plane arrived at 0740, 20 min late due to a late departure. If you fly into and out of Minsk, its Visa free for 30 days. No queue at Immigration where I was asked to show my Medical Insurance, if you don’t have insurance you can buy it at the airport. The only other question I was asked was if I was going to Russia. There are no border controls between Belarus and Russia and you could sneak into Russia without a visa which is forbidden. Welcome to Belarus, I collected my suitcase and went looking for the Bank/Money Changer and the Phone shop to buy a SIM card. Well the Phone shop only opens at 0900 and Bank at 0915 hahaha, anyway I had time because I was early for my check-in. The Bank/Money Changer is on the First floor which is the Departures level. There are ATM’s at the airport but I had some leftover USD from the Stan’s that I needed to change. The Phone shop is on the Ground floor Arrivals level, the airport is not very big and you can’t get lost. The SIM card cost BYN 15 0r US$7.50 for unlimited Data, Calls and SMS, it started working immediately. You have to show your passport and sign two documents, the lady at the shop does all the work, you can pay with a credit card. Next stop the Airport Taxi counter where you pay BYN 30 or US$15 for a ride into the city, it is a flat fee and you can pay by card again. All very organised and efficient, the drive into the city takes 40 min. You can also get a bus for $2 and then a Yandex taxi or the Metro etc but with luggage it would have been a pain and taken longer. You have to register with the Police and this is done by the place you are staying at.

Minsk, a modern city with quite a few old buildings that have been restored. Everything is very clean and you can use your credit card at most shops. Google Pay on my phone also worked and I used it in lieu of buying a metro ticket, the turnstiles have a contactless pay point and I just held my phone against it and walked through, cost US$0.30 per ride. Good restaurants, supermarkets and shops all about half the price of a Western European city.

I hired a car and driver for the day US$95 to visit the Mir Castle and Niasvizh Castle.

Mir Castle

Niasvizh Castle, this is a short drive from Mir Castle

I visited the Stalin Line outdoor Museum, a collection of fortifications from the Cold War. Cost to get there by Yandex BYN20 going and 25 return, entry is BYN14 or US$7.

I used the Yandex Taxi App to get a ride back to the Airport and it cost BYN33 more expensive than the official Airport Taxi. Check-in only starts 2 hours before departure not the usual 3 hours for international flights. I had to show the immigration officer proof of where I had stayed, this usually happens when you enter a  country and he seemed a little miffed that I had entered the country without a visa hahaha.

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