A little about my background for the people who don’t know. I am a Mongolian, so it could technically be classified as both East Asian and Central Asian.
Objectively I would say I look mostly East Asian, and in most cases Americans or Europeans mistake me for Korean or Japanese, so this is all based on my month long travel around Russia with Trans Siberian Railway, buses, and other methods of transportation.
To cut to the chase, the short answer is, Russia feels very safe and never did I feel uncomfortable while travelling, but if you are interested in the nuances please stay tuned.
However, there are instances where you might be mistaken for minorty groups such as Kazakh, Kyrgyz, or Buryat, so depending on how stereotypically East Asian you look, it might depend.
Do Russians Treat Asians Differently?
Usually East Asian, especially Chinese tourists have the infamous reputation of being loud and rude, so if you are in a group, Russians might find it annoying.
However, since I was travelling by myself people didn’t really care about my background and treated me like everybody else.
Best advice is to be respectful and behave well just like in any other countries, then you will be fine. One of the things I think a lot of Europeans find annoying is some cultural differences East Asians and Europeans might have. Usually East Asians stereotypically have less tact and due to media and previous experiences with group of tourists, some Russians may have developed some negative views, not necessarily racist views though.
Was Taking The Trans Siberian Safe?
I’ve taken the Trans Siberian quite a few times and actually wrote a guide on getting cheap tickets, and never have I felt uncomfortable or as if the people treated me badly.
If you are taking the Trans Siberian and travelling in Russia, then you HAVE to get one of these adapters.
The people who usually take the Trans Siberian are mostly normal people who are just going about their lives. Some of them might be interested in you if you are foreigner and would like to know more about you or try to strike conversations.
Some will want to practice their English with you and also know about your culture. So my experiences with the Trans Siberian has always been positive and was lucky enough to meet people who were cool and laid back.
Are Russians Nice To Foreigners?
Depending on your background, how nice or how interested they are depends. Mexicans, Indians, and other exotic looking people get stares and have people approach them in some cases. While travelling with a group of my hostel friends, some Russian people wanted to socialize when we were at the park enjoying a few beers.
However, when I was by myself, I often felt like I was just like everybody else. People didn’t necessarily look at me differently or treat me badly. I felt like I blended I just blended in with everybody else.
Is Taking The Metro Safe For An Asian?
I was so afraid of taking the Moscow metro 2 years ago because I read something about Asians getting beat up by Nazis, but here I am, exploring uncharted territories in Russia with my broken Russian haha XD It’s sad how the news/fear can keep you so debilitated and anxious. Live your life to the fullest without any regrets nor fears! You have the gift of living your life’s purpose and sharing it with other people, so GO FOR IT!! Next up: CRIMEA??? #story #life #russia #moscow #metro #motivation #travel #exploration #purpose #danger
It’s funny because when I first got to Moscow, I was so afraid of taking the metor and even refused to go a bit outside the centre because I was sure to meet a skinhead and get beat up.
However, over time I learned how stupid that fear was and it was mainly due to brainwashing by American media and some rumores/stories that people talk about, which are blown out of proportion.
Now whenever I take the metro, doesn’t matter where in Russia, it always feels like people don’t seem to even notice I am an Asian. People are just going about their day trying to get to where they need be.
Do Russians Speak English? Do They Get Mad When You Do?
Depending on the person, sometimes the cultural barrier seems to cause problems and irritate some Russians. Since I can also pass as Kazakh, or ethnic minority in Russia there was the expectation that I could speak Russian, but since my Russian was terrible, some Russians just looked at me with surprise.
However, knowing some Russian is always good and probably it is flattering for the Russians to have foreigners and visitors trying to speak and learn their languages. Though Russians may be a bit stoic and cold on the outside, they are genuinely very helpful people and will try their best to make sure you are fine.
Did I See Nazis and Skinheads?
I was sure to come across Nazis and skinheads out on the streets of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but nothing. In fact, I don’t think I saw a person who had a shaved head. Perhaps the nationalist movement was more prevalent 10-20 years ago just before Putin was president.
Police corruption and other shady business was also more frequent, but it looks like a lot of internal affairs as well as issues with racism has seen improvement since Putin.
So Are East Asians Safe In Russia?
Don’t be stupid and have some common sense. Try not to walk in secluded alleys during the night by yourself, take note of your personal belongings and don’t be a walking target for muggers and robbers.
Aside from that, Russia relatively safe for foreigners and visitors, though I would recommend to avoid looking like a typical tourist because they are always targeted by pickpockets and muggers for easy money.