“Where could be better for gift shopping than the fairytale Izmailovsky Market, which is a local attraction in its own right – at first glance it looks more like Disneyworld than a market.
This is just one of many markets in Moscow, and supposedly Dorogomilovsky isn’t bad either, but we didn’t visit it because we ran out of time.
That didn’t matter, though, because we got everything we wanted at the first market, and much more cheaply than downtown.
For instance, my boyfriend bought an ushanka made of rabbit fur, and succeeded in bargaining the price down from 2500 rubles to just 1300 rubles. Haggling over price is obligatory – most people speak English, at least enough to understand the numbers, but in the worst-case scenario there was always pointing and hand gestures – everyone understands that. 😉
Everything without exception could be haggled over. Also, it’s worth buying more than one thing from a seller, because they’ll give you more discount from a bigger total – but that’s the same everywhere.
The goods on offer were mostly thick, hand-knitted socks, matryoshka dolls, ushankas, and various military items, but there was plenty else on offer too.
I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that on Red Square and in the surrounding area everything is pretty expensive, but it’s worth trying to haggle here too, IF POSSIBLE!
I tried to get a lower price from a street vendor on Red Square, who was offering ushankas for 3000 rubles, but I came off the loser in that contest – he dropped precisely 0 rubles from his asking price. I would add that this was exactly the same type of ushanka listed at 2500 rubles at the market, and which my boyfriend ultimately got for 1300. In other words, a trip to the market is highly recommended, because otherwise you’ll be left as hatless as me.
You can’t get vodka in supermarkets, only in liquor stores, and that’s the cheapest place you’ll find it. Even a $5, half-liter bottle is fine, good quality stuff. I’ll note here, because I was asked (though you can also just check on google) that EU customs permits returning travelers one liter of a concentrated alcoholic beverage duty free, but you have to register it in advance. 200 cigarettes are allowed for personal use.
Of course, those who are happy to spend their entire annual salary in Moscow should by all means visit the traditional GUM department store, with its rows of designer shops, where you can try traditional Russian ‘morozhenoe’ or ice-cream. It really is good, though to be honest, ice-cream is ice-cream as far as I’m concerned. Still, if you’ve gone that far, you might as well taste it for yourself. 😉
(one scoop in a plastic cup is 100 rubles)
Even if you aren’t interested in spending a fortune and expanding your collection of designer clothes, it’s still worth visiting the GUM – the building itself is beautiful, and has an enchanting atmosphere. (l.s., 2019)