Yerevan under $25.00
Just how cheap can you travel Armenia? Pretty cheap, once you get inside (see below). How cheap? Well. let's see.
The prices are based on high season prices for 2004, add 10% to the hotel and cafes/restaurants for 2005, but not much on other items, as the locals drive the prices, and they live cheaper than you will!
We focus on Yerevan, the most expensive city in Armenia, once you leave the capital, prices drop significantly.
Ways to Save:
Use an apartment for the cheapest and nicest place to stay: they may not have maid service (many do for an extra fee), but you are living la via local, in a real neighborhood with real people to say hello to as you come and go.
Use a cheap hotels like Hotel Erebuni and (bottom end) Hotel Nairi. For rock bottom, go the Train station and ask to stay in their dormitory ($5 for dorm bed), but this option is not for the faint of heart. Erebuni is in the center of it all, has 24 hour hot water (a real plus) and cheaper at 17,000 AMD for a double.
Eating Out: To save, avoid restaurants and stick with street food, sandwich shops and bistros. You can pay $20 for a meal at a swank joint like Ararat, or 40 cents for lamadju at a sidewalk kiosk. The best Georgian food I've had anywhere (including Georgia) is on Noyemberian, in a bistro, and it only costs 40 cents a portion. Generally, cooked food that is still steaming is safe (the germs have been roasted to death), food lying around you may want to be careful of. Bottled water is safest bet.
Transport: Central Yerevan can be walked end to end in about 20 minutes (30 if you stroll, an hour if you gawk). Taxis are 500 AMD anywhere in the center and near region, buses are a real bargain at 10 cents a pop. Pay as you leave taxis and buses. Minivans are 100 AMD (20 cents) but may be difficult to navigate as they do not have English signs. They are worth a trip to see how everyone travels, and you can always ask someone waiting at a minivan queue to identify the minivan for you.
Most things are Free: Most of the fun stuff is free or nearly free: sitting in parks and watching the world go by is free (sitting in a cafe and doing the same thing is 30 cents), strolling neighborhoods is free (a bus "tour" - taking a bus around the center- is 10 cents), visiting a museum is cheap ($1 or less for most), seeing a movie is $2, churches are free (candles 10 cents each), riding up the escalators in cascade to the greatest view of Yerevan: free, prowling the book sellers under Abovian is free, ditto the art park and vernisage on weekends; making friends: priceless.
Doubles: we base overnight on two people sharing a room
Erebuni: 17,000 AMD ($34 double) $17 each / singles 15,000AMD ($30)
Apartment: $20 ($10 each)
Hotel Nairi = 5,000AMD ($10 double) $5 each
Splurge for breakfast at Cafe de Paris on Abovian, or go cheaper at any of the 1000 outdoor cafes in Yerevan for coffee at 150 AMD plus another 150 for a pastry. Get plenty of bottled water at 200 AMD each. Lunch is on the street at a Lamadju kiosk (spiced meat rolled in cooked lavash), afternoon coffee and snack anywhere on your path and dinner at a bistro:
Breakfast: Cafe de Paris 250 AMD + pastry 350 =$1.30
Bottled Water: 200 AMD = $0.40
Lunch: Lamadju (100 AMD) x 2 200 AMD + drink 150 AMD $0.75
Coffee: 150 AMD, snack 150 AMD, bottled water 200 AMD $1.10
Dinner: 2 Khingali 90 AMD (1.60) + beer 250 AMD $1.30
We focus on museums, which are the most expensive tourist option, but hey! You're here for the culture, right? The National museum, Matanadaran and Parajanov are the highest, at 1000 AMD each. Others are 500-1000 AMD each. If you go to Echmiadzin, its free. Visit no more than 2 museums if you can, its overload after the first two.
National Museum: 1000 AMD $2.00
Matanadaran: 500 AMD tour $1.00
Buses and taxis are affordable, nay, cheap. You can get anywhere you want using one or the other. Echmiadzin is cheap by both, even Garni/Geghard by taxi is only $10. For today, we stick to central Yerevan, hopping on the city bus when not walking and splurging with 2 taxi rides.
Bus to Echmiadzin: 500 AMD = $1.00 each
Taxi to Echmiadzin = 2500 AMD = $5.00 for car
Subway/Bus: 50 AMD x 4 = 200 AMD $0.40
Taxi: 500 AMD anywhere in center x 2 = $2.00
Total today: $2.40
Miscellaneous is anything else: souvenirs, odds & ends, bottle of wine, sweets, etc.
Misc = $5.00
Day's Total = $15.25
if you stay at:
Getting In and Out:
The country has yet to get real about tourism: airline tickets are still overpriced with winter specials still topping out at over $800 R/T from the USA and summer fares close to $1200. Filling the pockets of the air companies and air authorities in Armenia may not be your idea of useful investment in the country but since the alternatives--though cheap ($450 R/T from USA via cheap ticket to Istanbul and bus to Yerevan; $50 R/T from Batumi to Yerevan on train)--are not easy to come by and, for bus or train, require an adventurous soul you may have long ago.
Unfortunately for Armenia, it is still 'off the beaten path'. When the first $599 R/T from LA to Yerevan appears, then we'll be talking (and please, GET talking to the Greeks, who built their country on cheap tours, and the $$$$ that came with it. They may suck as a telephone owner, but they know how to bring in the crowds).
Some ideas: Pair cities. Make a vacation of it by pairing two countries on your itinerary: Fly to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow on a cheap ticket, then get ticket from there to Yerevan. You will be surprised how much cheaper it can be, if you start early. Right now (winter 2004) there is a $199 R/T New York to London on BA, with a 450 R/T to Yerevan. That's still over $700 but beats BA's advertised price of over $1000 from NY to Yerevan.