Do you want to ride a train along the Trans-Siberian Railway?
Maybe you’d like to go on a cruise down the Volga River.
Or take tours of Russia’s ancient cities.
If you’re looking for culture and nature, the largest country in the world should be on your travel bucket list.
Russia is the land of incredible architecture, exotic food and the unique Cyrillic alphabet. Not to mention numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Virgin Komi Forests and the historic center of Saint Petersburg.
However, Russia is also home to major internet censorship and surveillance.
Lots of services, websites and videos are banned from Russian soil. It’s probably not the ideal scenario for you, as a traveler, to be in the middle of a new country without the ability to use your phone or laptop freely.
That’s where a VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, comes in.
A VPN is a service that creates a tunnel between your location and the website you want to access. With a VPN, your data doesn’t go straight to a destination. Instead, it goes through another service first, which keeps your information safe.
Why Do I Need a VPN for Russia?
Internet Censorship in Russia
Russia and China go hand-in-hand when it comes to censorship. The Russian government has already blocked LinkedIn, Telegram, certain Wikipedia articles and many other well-known websites and services.
Some bans occur because a website contains negative information about Putin.
It’s so common to face this kind of situation that there’s even a website dedicated to addressing whether or not a specific web address is blocked in Russia.
Internet Safety in Russia
One of the biggest concerns you should have when traveling to Russia is whether or not your data is safe. Government surveillance is common in the country, meaning privacy online is basically nonexistent.
The Russian government mandates that internet service providers retain more of users’ information than most countries. Yikes!
You should definitely consider using a VPN if you think you might log into public Wi-Fi connections during your trip. A VPN encrypts your data from hackers, making all your passwords, photos and personal information safe.
If your ultimate goal is keeping your information safe, it’s best to choose a company that has servers in Russia. Connecting to these servers makes your activity look less suspicious to the Russian government.
If your goal is simply accessing websites from your home country, choosing a company with servers in Russia is a moot point.
When it comes to internet security, there’s no better way to relax and enjoy your trip around Russia than to make sure your data is safe.
Is It Safe to Use a VPN in Russia?
The actual use of a VPN isn’t illegal in Russia. However, if you’re already in the country, you might face some difficulties trying to get your hands on a VPN service.
The Russian government started a war against VPN providers and everything got a bit more challenging. In some cases, the government is even blocking websites that advertise VPN services at all.
If you’re reading this, chances are high that you’re not on Russian soil yet. So take this time before your trip to find the best VPN possible!
Travel Freely with the 5 Best VPNs for Russia
The three pillars from IPVanish are speed, security and privacy. If you want to keep using torrents and still be invisible to internet providers, this is your go-to VPN service.
IPVanish doesn’t store any user information, and the encryption is on point. It’s impossible for hackers to decrypt any data coming from you. However, if you’re planning to watch some Netflix as if you were at home, IPVanish doesn’t bypass the service’s security.
This VPN offers unlimited bandwidth and the possibility to connect up to five devices at the same time for an affordable price.
Starting price: $10 per month
Ivacy has two servers in Moscow, Russia. The internet is so fast and reliable when using this service that you almost forget you have a VPN at all!
Ivacy allows you to torrent and stream. It doesn’t log your data at all, which keeps your data secure from hackers and government surveillance in Russia or anywhere else in the world.
The VPN allows you to connect up to five devices using the same account, so it’s perfect to use your laptop, phone, iPad and every single gadget you have. It also bypasses Netflix’s security… At least for now! So your American TV shows are safe in Russia.
Besides Russia, Ivacy also has servers across 100+ locations in 50+ countries. That makes this company a great choice if you plan to use a VPN for a long time in multiple places.
The pricing is also quite appealing, even if you just sign up for a single month. But if you sign up for an entire year at once, the monthly cost goes down.
Starting price: $8.95 per month
ExpressVPN has a strong and reliable connection. It allows you to torrent and stream, and it has more than 2,000 different servers to choose from in 148 different locations. That means you can be in Russia and connect as though you’re in America, Germany, Hong Kong and numerous other places.
This VPN has a special feature called “split tunneling,” which assigns your VPN protection only to selected apps and services. This way, you don’t have to deal with using a VPN all the time—just when it’s necessary.
ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you want to test it out before committing to a single service.
Starting price: $12.95 per month
NordVPN has 22 servers running in Russia alone, along with servers in neighboring countries such as Latvia, Finland and Poland. That’s why NordVPN has such a quick and strong connection.
The service also offers the Double VPN feature. When you use this tool, NordVPN sends your connection through two different servers, making your data double-secured. This is perfect for business travelers to Russia who are dealing with secure information!
NordVPN allows you to torrent and stream freely. It gives you the unique option to obfuscate servers, so your anonymity is stellar. This VPN also includes a kill switch in case the server goes down, which protects your data even if the server has some sort of problem.
Need even more reasons to use NordVPN? You can watch shows and movies on Netflix! The company is always adding new servers. And they even offer an ad-blocking feature. With this service, you basically have an ad-blocker and a VPN with the same product. Pretty cool, right?
Starting price: $11.95 per month
Private Internet Access
My personal favorite VPN service, Private Internet Access (PIA) is a great option if you’re heading to Russia. I’ve subscribed to PIA for over four years now and still swear by it.
Even though the service turned off its Russian servers, it’s still a great VPN with more than 3,300 servers around the world. However, if you plan to keep up with your Netflix shows, PIA isn’t for you, as Netflix recently blacklisted its servers.
PIA might not be the fastest of all the VPNs on this list, but it has the best price with all you need to be safe while traveling. You can still torrent, stream, use the kill switch function and make sure your data is fully protected, as the service doesn’t store logs.
Starting price: $6.95 per month
Russia is an incredible country full of museums, world-renowned public transportation and, of course, vodka.
Don’t let the annoyance of using the internet keep you from visiting! Download the best VPN that fits your needs and take a stress-free trip.
Debbie Corrano is a digital strategist and writer. She works remotely while traveling the world full-time with her two dogs. Over the past few years, Debbie has lived in more than 10 countries, learned a few languages and worked with dozens of agencies and brands.
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