For years, Russia was always portrayed as the villain in mainstream blockbusters, with square-jawed comrades and “rude Russian” stereotypes pervading post-Cold War pop culture. Needless to say, Russia, often portrayed as a cold (literally and figuratively), lifeless place, hasn’t enjoyed a good reputation compared to other European states. However, the country, especially its capital, is now enjoying a tourism revival, due largely to an injection of cutting-edge infrastructure and a change in attitude among younger Russians. These days, centuries-old, domed Orthodox landmarks dot the streets alongside modern dining institutions that revive forgotten pre-Soviet recipes in either a kitschy Soviet era environment or swanky, world-class settings.
If you hold a Thai passport, consider yourself lucky.Thanks to a strong diplomatic bond between Thailand and Russia (since the reign of King Rama V), Thais don’t need a visa to visit the land of borscht and vodka. You can basically grab your passport, book a ticket and fly straight to Moscow—just in time for the World Cup.
HERE ARE OUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN MOSCOW:
Immersing in the architectural wonders at Red Square
As touristy as it sounds, a trip to Moscow is not complete until you’ve passed through the Red Square’s Resurrection Gate and set foot upon its expansive cobblestone yard. This historic spot is home to the capital city’s most striking architectural gems. There’s the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral, which stands majestically at the southern end of the square, enticing bystanders with colorful bulbous domes and an anarchic fusing of geometric forms. Opposite the cathedral is the State History Museum, which displays artifacts from the pre-historic period to contemporary times. Don’t miss out on the chance to shop at GUM, Europe’s oldest department store and undoubtedly Russia’s most beautiful. The elongated, arcade-like structure houses luxury boutiques, cafes and restaurants within three stories.
Savoring top-notch Russian cuisine
Moscow’s gastronomic scene is best epitomized by the adage “better late than never.” For decades under the Soviet regime, artistry and sophistication were absent from Russian kitchens. After the fall of the USSR, new-wave chefs were tasked to revive long-lost culinary recipes and techniques from the Pre-Soviet era and present them in more modern, avant-garde forms. Chef Vladimir Mukhin of White Rabbit (ranked 23rd in the 2017 list of 50 World’s Best Restaurants) has trailblazed the movement, reconstructing classic recipes with international influences while still putting a focus on regional Russian ingredients. For those who want to try traditional Russian delicacies, head to Café Pushkin which serves dishes like Russian pancakes with black caviar and Russian dumplings within an aweinspiring vintage library setting.
Muscovite bar-hopping experience
Russia has recently taken on a modern cocktail culture with cutting-edge bars serving creative drinks that may or may have nothing to do with vodka. Awarded 41st place in the 2016 list of World’s 50 Best Bars, cocktail lounge Delicatessen is home base for renowned Muscovite mixologist Vyacheslav Lankin, who creates bespoke concoctions for imbibers using rare spirits, such as ancient liquor Polugar, and in-house infusions. For cocktails with stunning views, head to Time Out Rooftop Bar (no relation) on the top floors of Peking Hotel.
Appreciating art underground
Moscow has no shortage of art galleries that showcase works from the medieval age to more contemporary times, but if you want art appreciation of a different kind, you may want to go underground. Some of the city’s metro stations can compete with the beauty and grandeur of the world’s most hallowed galleries, detailed as they are with vaulted arches, elaborate mosaics and bas-relief statues. The most impressive stations include Komsomolskaya, which is decked out with bronze chandeliers and marble arcades; Novoslobodskaya, which features colorful stained glass windows; and Kievskaya, best known for mosaics depicting historical tales. Sunday morning or non-peak hours are the best times for underground art appreciation.