Banya dos and donts

Take your own towel and hat and don’t forget your flip-flops. Renting banya footwear is not desirable and going barefoot is a recipe for fungal infections. That you get clean here is no guarantee that the surrounding surfaces will be.

If you haven’t got a wooden seat, rent a sheet from the attendant to sit on in the parilka.

Listen to your body and go at your own pace, rather than trying to keep up with experienced steamers. It is better to make short, frequent visits to the parilka than to force yourself to stay in longer than is comfortable. If the heat on the upper deck or benches is too much, move down.

Drink plenty of liquids during the session: water, tea, or perhaps one beer (but not more, as this puts unnecessary strain on your heart). Decline offers to drink vodka (before and during the session at least!). Try not to eat heavily beforehand, as the effect is best on an empty stomach, but snack with pleasure during the two hour session.

Do not leave your valuables lying around. The pricier banyas are generally safe, but documents, car keys and wallets are best given to the staff to lock up for you, at the cost of a few extra rubles.

A good venik will easily last two sessions, so hang on to it. Rinse it at the end and later hang it in your bathroom to dry. You’ll save a couple of bucks and enjoy its lush aroma until your next visit.

If you volunteer to help sweep down the parilka of leaves during cleaning intervals, be sure not to reverse your naked backside into the stone wall of the oven. Bani have fine acoustics and your screams will travel all too well.

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