This is the age old story of the Police in Ukraine but during 3 trips to Ukraine in the past 2 years and having driven across the country and covered a lot of miles we have only been pulled over once which was when we were driving back into Kyiv at the end of our trip. The Police said that we were driving unlawfully we ended up giving them 100 hryvnias (£8) to get them to let us make the rest of our journey. Luckily we had our Ukrainian tour guide with us so he was able to negotiate, I imagine that without him we would have had to have paid more.
There was another occasion in Kyiv when we had got 3 taxis from the Train Station to Independence Square in Central Kyiv. When we got to the square all 3 taxis charged us a different amount. 1 of the taxis charged an extra 200 hryvnias to the rest. When we found this out some of the men we were with asked the taxi driver to charge the same price as the others as he was trying to rip us off. There were 3 policeman stood near the taxi and refused to speak to the driver and stood there laughing. After a heated debate, we got the money back we were overcharged but with no help from the police. We learned a very valuable lesson about negotiating the taxi fare BEFORE you get in to the taxi.
It's very easy for the pedestrian to have an accident in Ukraine's capitol, or anywhere else in the country, such are the disrepaired state of it's roads & especially pavements. Kiev is known as a 'green' city, not for environmental reasons, but because of its vine-tangled walls & tree-lined streets - 'oolitsee'. The downside of this is that the underground roots grow towards the surface in the hot dry summers, attempting to gasp at any trace of moisture, the result of which are pavements that in places, appear as furrowed as a ploughed field. Walking here is at least uncomfortable, & always fraught with the danger of a fall, especially between sunset & sunrise, which is exacerbated by the lack of street lighting. Many of Ukraine's roads do not appear to have been resurfaced since Hitler's invasion sent tanks along them, & many buildings & structures along the way appear to be in a precarious state of near collapse. In central Kiev, I have attempted to cross a footbridge over the railway, again, after dark, only to find it was impossible because of entire steps having fallen away. The gap left by the errant slabs of concrete were wide enough for a thin person to plummet through, to the ground below - so the message to anybody arriving in Kiev is, as the locals say, "clear to a hedgehog"...
Kyiv has come along way since I first visited in 2005. In 2005 the staff in the hotel where I stayed did not speak any English but in my return in 2012 I found that they had hired staff that could, most hotels that I have stayed in Ukraine have had English speaking reception staff which is extremely helpful for those that try to use the local language but still need help.
English maps can be picked up for free in most hotel lobbys but on the maps the names of the streets are usually transliterated or translated and is not how it is shown on the actual street sign so it could be difficult to navigate yourself around. The main streets like Kreschatyk will have both the Ukrainian street sign and the English sign but smallest streets will not.
I would recommend becoming familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet. It is very easy to learn and there is only minor differences between Ukrainian alphabet and Russian, Serbian and Bulgarian so it may come in handy when travelling elsewhere.
When you rent an apartment in the Ukrainian town or city, you can not warn about the dangers of the location of these apartments. For example, it is possible that next to your hotel or apartment is the territory of the former or existing chemical plant (one of the striking examples is the territory of the factory "Radical" in one of the urban areas of Kiev: in the aftermath of ownerless relation to storage of dangerous chemicals substances , from the plant were shipped about 120 tons of mercury and a host of other harmful substances, according to various estimates on the territory of the plant is still about 200 tons of mercury ). It is also possible that the construction and other decoration materials of your room, apartment or office has been made from contaminated X-ray emitting wood, metal, etc. (this may be due to the proximity of Chernobyl or poor quality control of imported and manufactured building materials). There is a local site (http://www.danger.in.ua) using the service which the user can check the potential place of his trip to Ukraine for the dangerous and environmentally hazardous facilities.
Common sense Acommon Travel rules as to where ever you go.
#1. Don't go where you shouldn't go.
#2. Follow the rule of law in the country that you reside.
#3. Adhere to the rule of law from your home country.
#4. Respect and "pre-" read up on the culture(s).
#5. Gain some familiarity with the country's national language prior to your trip.
#6. Practice the local language with the locals.
#7. If concerned with lodging then don't do what isn't familiar to you.
#8. Eat what has been cooked.
#9. Drink bottled water that has a seal. Open it yourself.
#10. Know your coordinates (esp. North & South). Memorize the major cross-roads prior to taking your trip.
#11. Have a copy or two of your Passport in a safe place (either on you personally or in an emergency place).
#12. Go electronic (with back up paperwork) when you can.
#13. Be reluctant to share your full plans with strangers.
#14. Be flexible.
#15. How you handle "it" determines whether it'll be a good event or day or not. Understand that something weird, funny, or bad might occur.
#16. Watch your travel companions as they might just as well cause trouble by accident / unknowingly or on purpose.
#17. International travel is not a time for pranks. (Stay away from pranksters that want to travel with you)
#18. Just try to remember that "nothing" is for "free". (This goes for women too! Crazy partying guys should know this.)
#19. Silently meditate as to rehearse (or re-play) plans.
#20. Always be prepared for a back-up exit plan (... where ever you are (and check for exits)).
#21. Travel with flex travel time on the front end but esp. back end of your visit. This'll reduce your frustrations if there happen to be delays.
#22. Pack light while being wise.
#23. Be nimble. (physically)
#24. If you have good judgment with befriending people (anywhere) then be social with out giving away too much information.
#25. Know your money. Where it is. How much is on you. Denominations in order. Minimize coins if possible (don't need to be heard walking around jiggling).
#26. When driving a rental car ... pay the extra for full coverage. (Take it from a guy that has had 2 separate flat tires and locked up engine all in the same trip. Can you guess where?)
#27. Walk like you know where you are going even when you get lost. The best way to not get lost again is to remember where you were when you were lost.
#28. You are not a "stick" in the mud if you choose to stay away from the "loud" crowd.
#29. Avoid traveling during the host country's elections.
#30. Be aware of political and labor union protest. Don't accidently get caught up.
#31. Never walk away from your open beverages and/or food. Once you've stepped away then pass on further consumption as to be cautious.
#32. Ladies and guys, know that you will meet lots of wonderful people plus some not so. Don't be fooled by "beauty" or a "handsome" face. Danger lurks. If you have a bad judgment of character domestically then it is not going to get any better outside of the country.
#33. If you're not considered "HOT" back home then don't be fooled when you are abroad. Money matters. It isn't really your looks.
#34. The money train gets you access but it can also generate trouble.
#35. Make certain Taxis / Limos drivers happen to be locked into the price and directions prior to departure.
#36. Know the weather conditions prior and during your trip.
#37. Read the local newspapers / journals prior to arrival. (seek to understand cultural, social, economic, etc topics of the day)
Read more: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/202335/#ixzz207p6QAbG
I had never travelled outside the US before, but I dared take a plane to Europe in the winter of 2009. I said to myself " What the heck. Why not fly now and visit " so I flew to Kiev and made a reservation at the Rus. I loved the hotel and their breakfast is very abundant and delicious. I highly recommend the hotel to everyone here.I stayed there a month !!! I had made some friends on line who sounded very legitimate and they showed me the city around. It was fun. Iwas video taping all over and having the best time in my life. I had never taken a vacation this type and since I had finished college and have a career I think I deserved it. The only thing that bothered me was that one night I had fallen asleep in my room and when I woke up the dinner room was closed so I decided to walk over to the restaurant four blocks away ( " Fridays ") and to my surprise after taking such a chance I found the restaurant closed. I had to walk back to the hotel. It was I think about 9 or 10 pm. On my way back while I was walking up the small hill that leads to the hotel someone started walking up next to me and sort of threw quickly a wallet with bills on the street. I did not stop to pick up the wallet or to look at who was next to me. I had read about it and I was not sure if my life would have been in danger, but all I did was walk faster without looking. What would they have done? I dont know, probably hit me or who knows may be even shoot me. You never know. This is a chance that you take when you go to these places where the police knows about it, but dont care because it is not happening to them. I did not make a complaint about it. I think I will eventually since I am still alive. If I had been shot of course I would not have been able to make a complaint about it. The police in these countries is not reliable. You take your own chances when you go to these places and even though I am married now to a Ukranian girl I would still be cautious about going out by myself again on those streets. You never know if you are going to become a statistic. Life is unique, priceless and beautiful. It is best to think ahead rather than be taken by surprise. My girl knows the language and I know it would be different this time. Overall, Kiev is a beautiful city and its normal people are very friendly. Do not travel by yourself like I did. Bring someone along.
At the time I get the first taxi to arrive from the airport to Kiev, I thought I was in a car racing. Doing Suicide overtakings and ignoring the speed limit it's a normal thing here. But Kiev was only the beggining, because in the transfer from Yalta to Simferepol, in Crimea, there were some moments I had to close my eyes... Don't ask the driver not to run so much, they look at you laughing and hitting the gas!! :)
This isn't really a warning or a danger but it is something to be mindful of. When i visited Kyiv, I was approached by two young children outside the Rynok who had their hands out and gesturing that they wanted money. I said no in Ukrainian and carried on walking, the children followed us for a little while and then a young boy who was around 8/9 punched my father in the back.
There was also a young gentleman outside Independence Square who asked us if we spoke German or English who told us a tale of how he put the wrong petrol in his car and needed to borrow some money to fix his car. Again we walked away.
We didn't feel any sense of danger but it is something to be mindful of when enjoying the city.
03Nov11 Flew from Moscow Sheremetova terminal C to Kiev Borispol airport terminal B on Aerosvit flight VV452.
Wife discovered gold earings missing from her case after arrival and baggage storage at Ukraina Hotel. Box left, contents taken. Hotel staff denied responsibility and cited their own experiences of thefts on flights through Borispol. Police not interested - Kiev accused Moscow and Moscow accused Kiev. Have flown through Sheremetova many times over 10 years without problem and now see/hear similar reports from Internet/friends regarding thefts at Borispol so..............
Advice: Don't put valuable items in checked in baggage - particularly if flying through Borispol.
Hey, there's always alot of funny things to do but what makes me laugh is reading these foreign reviews on Kiev and Ukraine which I have been doing for the last hour. Now I had to spend some time signing up here 'cause I'd hate myself for not replying to arturowan on his "don't seem to care about their future or the future of their country" thing. Now I was born in Kiev and live here most of my life, you know, It's got its own "things", occasions and "weird" behavior but, man, what city and/or country doesn't? I've been to Paris a week ago and our bus, while being at the parking lot that charges 60 EUR/a day with the fence all over the place, had it's sidemirror stolen and how it worked out was the black low-life manager waving his hands and just being an ***. Now I'd be wrong, I guess, If I become some sort of a racist on the very basis of this issue. In a fact, you may get in trouble without leaving your own house if that's what you're up to. Back to the topic, myself personally and the thinking people here do not appreciate your attitude about our concerns on our future. Be sure we have them though. And it will be changing things, not punishing them.
Kiev is a lovely city: hills, green, clean, nice prices, no more police checking foreigners, several cultural highlights, easy going local people!
Two remarks: learn to recognize the cyrillic letters, as locals speak few english (mostly russian or ukrainian) and take care walking around the streets after midnight: just take a taxi, a Lada is normally cheaper than teh smooth-western cars (it is not unsafe or dangerous, but you need to be more careful than daily hours)
Bottom line: try Kiev, you'll like it!
Kiev is getting safer.
I jus arrived from a visit to Kiev and I decided to join this site and share fresh information in return for the help I got from here to prepare my trip. Although my first visit to Kiev, this was not my first visit to Ukrania.
The police is making an effort to clean the city from all forms of criminal behavior including their own. This has probably something to do with the fact that next year the European Soccer Championship will be played in Poland and Ukrania, been the final match in Kiev. This will bring a large ammount of visitors of all nationalities and all colors.
There is a lot of police (and I mean a "a lot") everywhere in the center (not so much in the sorounding areas of Kiev) and, yes! they were asking about some form of Id, but the people stopped by police during the day look suspicious, like they had some drug or alcohol related problems. I did not see police hunting tourist during day time.
However, long traditions of corruption take a long time to erradicate and they can still tray to earn some money when the nigth falls. It works this way: First they catch you doing something wrong, then they inform you that it is their job to stop that kind of behavior. After that they tell you that you can be punished for that but they are nice and let you go if you don´t do it again. Finally they ask you if you can be nice to them.
In my case I was stopped for crossing alone one of the main streets in a place with no traffic ligths (only tunnels) at 00:30 at night on a Monday (very few people in the streets). The were very friedly, asked me if I liked kiev, we talked about my country of origin (Spain) and let me go, but the older one informed me that it was the younger one birthday and if I wanted I coud give him a present. I speak some russian (in fact all the conversation was in russian) and wished him a happy birthday, but no present or cash was given and we said goodbye with a smile.
I met other tourists who had been drinking and were accused of been noisy. They did pay some small ammount of money to get away.
Basically, my advice is: Have your passport with you at all times, "play by the rules", do not pick money from the street (It happened to me that somebody drop his wallet of transparent plastic and with cash, in front of me), do not get too drunk if your are going to walk around, and enjoy friendly people, excellent unexpensive ukrainian food, and a very beautyfull town. After all, many of the police agents in Kiev are good police and are there "to protect and to serve" you. And do not be afraid to take the underground or a buss and get away sometime from the center of town and see some othe areas. Kiev feels safe!
Ukrainian law requires that travelers declare all cash in excess of USD 1,000 upon entering Ukraine. Visitors must fill out a customs declaration and ask customs officials to stamp it. According to Ukrainian law, foreign citizens may bring up to USD 10,000 cash or up to USD 50,000 in traveler's checks into Ukraine without a special license. Travelers must declare the cash orchecks. If customs officials determine that a traveler entering or leaving the country has undeclared cash on their person, they can and often do confiscate the undeclaredfunds, in accordance with Ukrainian law. When leaving the country, travelers are allowed to take out a maximum of USD 1,000 in cash, or as much cash as they declared upon entry into Ukraine. A traveler wishing to depart the country with more than USD 1,000 must be able to present a customs declaration proving s/he brought the corresponding sum of money into the country. If you wish to bring in more than USD 10,000 you must obtain a special license after entering Ukraine. Details for obtaining this license are available on the U.S. Embassy web site in a document entitled "Ukrainian customs procedures for transporting currencies, monetary instruments, or precious metals" at:
NOTE! Original works of art manufactured before 1950, regardless of origin, cannot be exported from Ukraine. Art and antiques, such as paintings, samovars, metals, icons,
musical instruments, etc., acquired in Ukraine and intended for export are subject to clearance from the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture. The procedure is performed Monday-Friday, 10-5 PM only.
Ukraine as a country is still so far behind its western neighbours it still has not got 'the tourism thing' - those catering to foreigners, do so intent to make the maximum amount of hard currency out of them as they can exthort in a single transaction. Ukrainain folk do not, in general, have much concern for their future or that of their country, consequently, they do not expect to see you again, & in anycase, many regard you as having more money than sense, for having crossed the border...
'TAKSEESTA' are those you need to be especially alert to, & nowhere more so than the 'autovoksal, Moskva Ploshad' (Moscow square) - where they operate in collusion to deter the unwitting arrivee from realising there are separate cashiers offices serving tickets for GUNSEL & AUTOLUX - the main operators of long-distance & shuttle services to the airport. Their trick is to make 'a wall', footballer-style, as if attempting to deflect a penalty, or in this case, a customer from finding the ticket office doors...
The best advice is to try your best not to look lost if you are arriving here for the first time, & head confidently towards the main building, saying, "NYET SPASIBA!" to any followers. They can be persistent & once I was even chased with 2 heavy bags, into the station building, pursued by a score of 'takseesta', all identically attired in obligatory black caps, jackets, jeans, & shiny leather shoes...
It was an intimidating experience & confirmed the worst stereotypes of 'commie-country-types', like that acted out in Bond films - but if you pursue your goal to buy your bus ticket, they do leave you alone. Everybody with wheels in Ukraine regards himself as a 'takseest' - do not deal with those who are unlicensed - they will lock your luggage in the boot of their car, then demand an extortionate sum to retrieve it. A janitor at the station once threatened to hit me with his broom, if I did not pay what his 'takseest' comrade demanded - & do not think the Militia will wish to receive any complaint - they are also bribed to look the other way...
Many people in Kiev are sitting around the streets and drink alcohol at nights. You see them on benches and kerbstones. I don't think the drinking problem is worse here than other places, even though there are a lot of broken glass in the streets. The level of prices in nightclubs and outdoor restaurants are high for many local people. Beer in the shops are much sheeper. I had no problems walking around the streets at night during the three days I was in Kiev and I didn't see any fights.
The street police in Kiev downtown are friendly and respond positive on questions from tourists. Their clothes and behavior reminds more of a villager than policemen on the beat in a big city. They are shuffling around the streets with their spacious uniforms. It looks funny. Anyway, the police in Kiev are tough enough to handle the increasing crime in the city.