The Ukrainian currency is the hryvnia (abbreviation UAH), introduced in 1996 when the country achieved independence and therefore stopped using the rouble. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to obtain any from your bank or currency exchange before travelling to the country (although our friend Pete got hold of some through a Luxembourg bank) so one of the first things you will need to do on arrival in Kharkiv is change some money. We had been advised that sterling, US dollars or Euros were all accepted, but in practice we found that many banks, and all the currency exchange shops that we checked, only took dollars or Euros – and of course we had brought sterling! It was easier to change the latter in the centre of town – several banks on Sumskaya Street, for instance, advertised that service, as did the Credit Agricole in Freedom Square (Ploshchad' Svobody). We used this, but be warned, as we believe we were cheated. It happened like this ...
Chris handed the desk clerk £100 in £20 notes. Two of the latter were rejected as being too dirty – one of these was a little marked, but the other almost pristine. He gave her another one and two £10 notes in replacement. The £20 was again rejected, so he had only £80 to change. I meanwhile, unfortunately, was not watching but was chatting to our friend nearby. But when Chris received his currency he thought it was less than he’d expected, so asked me to look. I noticed that on the form that it stated £70 exchanged, which explained the lower amount, but the woman insisted that was correct, and pulled three £20s and a £10 out to prove it. Chris remains convinced that she had pocketed the extra £10, but of course we had no way of proving that and had to accept what we were given. On the plus side, the exchange rate was good (12.4 UAH to the pound) and prices so low there that it didn’t make a significant dent in our holiday budget, but it left an unpleasant taste.
The next day another friend changed sterling at the bank in my photo, near Istorychnyi Muzei Metro station, and had no problems, so this might be a good one to use.
Next tip: money in hand, time to start exploring, using the Metro
I was in Kharkov in 2007, with 2 friends of mine, and we had a very bad experience with an agency, that seems to be good, but after, we had a very bad surprise.
We talked with a woman called Elena S. , that showed us all stuff of apartment she was going to rent us, so we decided to pay. They have not given us recipt, and after 3-4 days, Elena called us, asking more money because we was 3 in a luxury apartment for 2 people. She before said us that apartment was for 3 person, and we will not have be afraid because price is for aparment not for person inside.
It is not finished yet because inside that apartment there is almost nothing that works.
Beware of that woman, remember the name and ask ever for recipt first! No recipt, no money.
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Rules of behave..
When in Kharkov you are probably untouchable and respected by Police but a right person to treath by their power. Try to keep away from police, they're really hungry of your money, and every things they say to treath are just ***s to make you feel fear. Give them money proportional to your infraction (do it if they take too much time even if you didn't made) and they let you go without remember who you were, what you did and how much you brake the laws.
Try to arrange yourself when something small happen (like small crash-accidents if you drive) by money without call police, they can ask you much more and take out the driving licence for nothing: The car insurance works just with police report, so if you made a damage of 50$ is much more better you give that.
Ukraine is a quiet country, no criminal and safe, but behave well and careful and be crazy only in safe places, or traps could come from everywhere outside if you don't speak well russian.
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