Tourist Traps in Armenia – How to Avoid Them
Ask each tourist visiting Armenia about their impression of our country, and they will definitely mention two things they liked best: hospitality and safety. Even in Paradise, there was a corner where Eve was chased by evil. There are no evils in Armenia, but as elsewhere in the world, tourists can report frauds and have some negative experiences due to swindling. Here are the worst tourist traps in Armenia you can happen.
“Welcome to Armenia”. If nobody says this to you or meets you with this sign in the arrival hall of the airport, it means you are going to be bombarded by taxi offers. The taxi drivers who are very insistent will follow you, because they have been waiting just for you, to get you to your place of accommodation. The good news is that they are not your only chance of getting out of the airport, as they may pretend. Just ignore them to avoid spending more money than is needed for getting to the city. There are minibuses that leave to the Republic Square every hour from the airport, costing 300 AMD, but if you want a more comfortable ride, we can organize your transfer; just contact us in advance.
Tip: Don’t take random taxis near shopping malls in Yerevan, because you might be overcharged there too. Taxis normally cost more in remote towns and villages.
Street fruit sellers
Known as the Land of Sun, Armenia is the country with the best fruit in the world. But once you encounter walking fruit sellers with small plastic containers selling berries, apricots, figs and other fruits in downtown Yerevan—especially near Republic Square—just bypass them. You will know them when you see them because they are going to chase you. Sometimes the temptation is to pay them to go away is very high, but if you don’t want to be charged about ten times more, just pretend that you see junk food in their containers. If you are fond of junk food, remember that in the nearby supermarkets, you can find our “imaginary junk food” at lower prices. Note, that this does not apply to the fruit sellers who just sit on the street and sell their goods to passersby. Normally, they are trustful.
Tip: If you are in Armenia from mid-July till the end of August, don’t miss the opportunity to taste the most delicious apricots in the world.
There is one pilgrimage place in Armenia that is not only a well known religious site but also an excellent viewpoint for Biblical Mount Ararat. You are most likely going to visit this must-see monastic complex, named Khor Virap, during your stay in Armenia. Once you arrive there, the locals will meet you with pigeons in their hands. No, this is not a call for peace; they are selling you these poor things. If you pay a minimum of 10 USD, you are going to feel these birds in your hands for a few minutes. The purpose of this deal is your own prosperity. To achieve that “desired prosperity”, you need to release the birds, making a wish before this sacred ritual. Voila! Your dream will come true. You can already guess that the only person whose dream comes true is the seller himself, as the bird flies back to its smart master – petit-bourgeois of Khor Virap.
Tip: If you want a dream-making place in Armenia with cosmic vibes, let us know; we know some tested places.
Moonstone in Sevan
Another tourist trap awaits you in Sevan and you are definitely going to come across with this. This time you are going to be introduced to “the tale of moonstone”. When you visit Sevan peninsula, you will find many stalls selling souvenirs near the peninsula- natural stone, vintage dishes, soviet relics, or local souvenirs. There is one stone that is allegedly in demand in Sevan-the moonstone. According to the locals, this semi-transparent bluish stone is from the turquoise depths of the lake. If you are familiar with stones, you will know in an instant that this is not true. The real moonstone is not that cheap, and it cannot be found in a lake.
Tip: If you like the romantic name of this simple industrial glass, you can buy it just for fun. It’s a cheap souvenir.
Armenian traditional false textile
Have you already admired the beauty of Armenian rugs and carved cross-stones with intricate patterns? Do you like Armenian ornaments and want to buy some souvenirs with Armenian motifs? After visiting some shops or the famous Vernissage market, you may want to buy some traditional garments adorned with these patterns, such as hats, aprons or bags. Beware that these textiles are often not locally produced, and it’s a bad replica of traditional Armenian fabric. If you don’t want to catch yourself in this trap, remember the picture above.
Tip: Leave your shopping until museum visits, where you will get a comprehensive understanding of Armenian culture. It may facilitate your choice.
Armenian currency – the dram – has been circulated since the independence of Armenia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Banknotes are in 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000 and 50000 dram denominations, which means that in Armenian, you are going to feel very rich after converting your native currency into AMD. Yet, these big numbers sometimes confuse some tourists; for example, they often mix up 10000 and 1000. Always be attentive when you pay and check your change. You should also be cautious about the exchange rate.
Tip: To get the best rate, it is highly recommended you exchange money in banks or “SAS” and “Yerevan City” supermarkets.
When we travel, we want to crystallize the happiest memories we have from our travel into something special and this special thing very often becomes the souvenirs we buy. Maybe that is the reason we always spend so much time choosing souvenirs. If you want to find high-quality tokens and stay away from buying something that has nothing to do with the country, you should be informed about the places you shop. There are many shops and a souvenir market that sell mostly local handmade products made of wood, clay, silver, other metals, glass, fabric, natural stones, etc. It’s just a matter of searching.
Tip: The best places to shop local souvenirs are Vernissage Market, Dalanshop souvenir Shop and Peacock Art Café.
As you see, you can manage to keep yourself away from the possible tourist traps in Armenia. Have a nice time in Armenia, and don’t forget to read this article one more time before your flight.