Several times on the internet I came across advice not to travel through Belarus to Russia and being traveled mostly through Belarus numerous times in the last two years I must disagree. Two main reasons for the authors who suggested the above were that Belarus is the main route for trucks and you’ll have to deal with more border regulations on the way.
Neither of the two makes sense. There are trucks entering Russia through Ukraine and Latvia as well and the countries border regulations are the same and don’t depend at which border crossing you’ll enter. There are two main reasons why I recommend driving to Russia through Belarus:
- If you enter the Belarus on Варшаўскі мост (Brest, Belarus) you won’t even see the trucks since the transit border crossing from Poland is Kukuryki, not Terespol;
- Drive through entire Belarus on highway (M1 or E30) and also continue through Russia (Lithuania has good roads, but you’ll be driving on motorways most of the time and probably regret the route you’ve chosen as soon as you enter Latvia).
Have in mind that border crossing times vary. The shortest one we experienced was about 15 minutes entering the Belarus from Kukuryki PL and the longest one I don’t even like to remember was around 60 hours entering Lithuania from Kamienny Loh BY (we were travelling by semi-truck). Worst case scenario you can expect to wait max up to 2 hours.
Do ensure you have all the important documents:
- Original valid driving license
- International Driving Permit
- Proof of insurance / green card
- Proof of ID / passport
- Proof of ownership / vehicle registration certificate
- Russian VISA
Traffic laws are mostly the same as in other European countries, drive on right, overtake on left but be prepared to experience several overtaking on right as soon as you enter Russia, which became so often it’s considered normal. Also don’t be surprised to see Russians make any lane that’s wide enough into two lanes during rush hours, just go with the flow. By law you are required to carry warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare bulbs (helmets are compulsory for motorcyclists).
Generally, there is a good infrastructure on main motorways, there are no fees to use the roads (except a few private ones), petrol and diesel are easily available at surprisingly low prices in Russia so that’s a big plus. There’s good infrastructure along the highways, parking lots that are secured for a small fee, hotels, restaurants, groceries, free internet etc. *I’d like to mention the АЗК «ВУЛКАН» on 132km M9, one of the few resting places we’ve visited that really deserves a recommendation.
I definitely recommend driving through Russia if you have enough time. There are numerous places and things to see that are not located near big cities or included in tourist sightseeing and if you organize your time well you’ll manage to see a lot more Russia has to offer besides the most known and massively visited places.
To learn more about 10 Most Known Highways in Russia I recommend you to visit this page on The Truck Traveller blog.