For people not used to bribing government officials I will recommend to take a train to Ukraine.
It all starts just on the Polish and Ukrainian boarder. When you enter Ukraine it’s a sin not to put 10 (what ever you call there money “Hryvna” I think) in one of the passports you give to any person that asks for passports, especially the guy that sits in a little office. You (the driver and all passengers) need to exit the car, walk up to him and hand him all passports at once with 10 or even better 20 “Hryvna” in one of the passports.
If you don’t do this you will waste at least 5 more hours on the boarder, filling up some garbage papers and bull … with not nice guys in strange hats. Same thing you should do on the way back. The money in not the issue because 10 “Hryvnas” is about $3.
Where I was, east of Ukraine I’ll not recommend to bring any US dollars. Its extra hassle and confusion for you witch you don’t need.
When you go there by car you need to remember to have in your car: Red triangle, spear tire, fire extinguish, first aide kit (don’t forget to put the condoms there...I’m serious…), sticker that symbols your country on the back of the car (example for Germans D for Polish PL), some papers that sometimes they give you on the boarder and sometimes they don’t. But no matter what you have or don’t have they will always find out something that you have to pay for. Don’t expect that whey you pay a fine they will give you any ticket. Just pay and go. Always try to pay less than what they are asking for.
Good luck, you'll need it :)
Beware of scams near the Radisson SAS hotel and other tourist spots in Kiev. While on assignment in Kiev, I was taking a picture of an interesting building (see photo) when a man brushed past me, pointed down at the ground at a large wad of $100 bills in a plastic bag, and began asking me if the money was mine. I immediately left - neither talking to the stranger, nor coming anywhere close to the money.
I later found out this was part of a rip-off scam, where a stranger "finds" a wad of cash on the sidewalk, offers to split it with an innocent tourist, when realizing that there is an odd number of $100 bills (thus not being able to split the cash evenly), the stranger asks the tourist to give him the local currency equivalent of $50 (so they can evenly split the found cash). Once this is done, the tourist will be quite upset to find that the $100 bills are all fake and he/she has been scammed for $50.
In general Ukraine is quite a safe country for a normal tourist. Just use your common sense. I would not suggest to come with your own car.
After my last visit my MasterCard was used in a fraudulent way in Ukraine - the card was obviously copied at the occasion of my two uses of it on this trip.
The main problem with Ukraine or indeed Russia is that they lack proper toilets and then toilet paper. I have been to a few place that charge you for using the establishments loo, and a friend of mine had a decent jacket ruined by the bleach that was used to wipe/clean the loo walls with.. and for a few UAH more you can use the 'bar of soap' or extra sheets of paper.. My advice to all travellers is.. Head for McDonalds they have nice clean toilets and they don't charge.....
You have to be prepared to confront with the corrupt policemen. They will all try to get some "tips" from you. I didn't need a visa and they knew it, but they asked me to give them some money for some insensible reasons. I read about this before, so I was prepared. This could happen at border crossings or even on the street. Typically, they would say "a little problem", implying this could be sorted out if you "cooperate". Well, that's almost all they can say in English. One police officer got really desperate at one point and he even wrote "10 euro" on a piece of paper when he was convinced that I genuinely did not have a clue how I could possibly cooperate.
Protect your passport, cash, travelers cheques, airline tickets, visas: A money belt and/or under the shirt, round-the-waist or round-the-neck passport wallet will protect these from pickpockets. Carry lots of cash from your own country, such as American dollars or British pounds. Americans: Carry One-dollar denomination bills for "tips" or to bargain with street vendors. Travelers cheques were only exchanged at banks in my experience. None of the shops would accept them, only cash. Keep your cash and travelers cheques in 2 or 3 different places under your clothing. If one stash is stolen, you still have a back-up stash. Good idea to pin your day bag/belly bag/waist bag to your shirt or trousers. Theives will not be able to "lift" it. Keep an eye on the gypsy children and mothers who will run up to you asking for money. They are skilled at picking your pocket. Don't let them touch you or brush against you. Put your hand up and say, emphatically, "No".
Driving on ukrainian roads is an adventure for itself. You are being constantly shaken as the car jumps over numerous holes. Not only is this ''unhealthy'' for the car, it's also stressful for the driver who has to be very concentrated not to overlook a hole and drive with ful speed into it.
OK, there are sections of the road that are good, but you really cant relax too much, as you never know when it gets bad again.
drinking water, you should boil it before drinking or brushing your teeth!
U can buy all kind of mineralwater in Ukraine.
some taste really good
Some people do have a well in their garden or nearby, most of the time its fresh and cold as well. But they boil it as well before drinking
Take good care of your passport and money! everybody will know that youre a foreigner.
best thing you can do is to wear those things under your shirt or blouse!
Don't leave your car unwatched especially at night
When tanking at a gasstation dont leave youre doors unlocked and if you want to give something to beggars lock your doors and give something through your window half closed.
Be prepared to use outhouses. Many village homes do not have flush toilets or even running water. Public restrooms can be frightening. Towns and villages may not even have any public toilets. Decent pay restrooms are becoming increasingly common in cities such as Ivano-Frankivsk. As in any city, the best way to find a clean restroom in a time of need while on the road is to go to a restaurant.
On the pictures one of those toilets.
Its not only Ukraine were u find not so good toilets, in France i saw such things as well in some small villages or restrooms were u have to stand up and put ur feet in 2 holes next to the toilet
Speeding and risky overtakings are quite common on Ukrainian roads. Often it happends that a car or a truck is coming towards you (on your lane) flashing the headlights. Better slow down and get off the road if possible.
The weak standard of living, the number important of only women and the big proportion of pretty women in Ukraine, one brought little of the societies scrupulous to imagine a flourishing trade.
These societies sell the young and pretty woman coordinates, and when you bought an option on about twenty these ladies, propose you a cruise or a stay in the country. The tourist candidate to the marriage sees himself surrounded therefore during his stay by charming creatures who are all very attentive with him.
The most often, this kind of trade is only a simple, banal and sad swindle, porch of the procuring. The journey is invoiced ten times its cost, and the presented damsels, all very young, don't have really desire to get married. on the other hand, their worries are to make the men spend a maximum of royalties in hope to find a wife.
Other wound of this trade type, of the young women, who act in organized strips, via agencies, or to their own account, and that achieve real swindles to the marriage: soliciting money for the passport, the visa, the tickets of planes, and other services.
I found that often, the police in Ukraine try to get bribes from people, especially foreigners that they know have money. We noticed that the people in our group who obviously did not look like Ukrainians (such as one Korean guy) were constantly getting harrassed by the police, even though they had done nothing wrong. The police will try to make them think they have broken a law, and then try to bribe them.
1. If you are not white (obviously look foreign to a Ukrainian), keep a low profile, especially in public places like train stations, etc.
2. Avoid speaking in English or any other language besides Russian or Ukrainian in public places (or whisper quietly). The police key in on this to identify foreigners.
When you visit Ukraine, you are required to register where you are staying within two days of arriving (at least that was the law in 2000). Yes, this is all very communist, but I guess it takes time for these former Soviet countries to come out of the dark ages.
My buddy and I make the mistake of thinking that when we checked into our hotel and they took our passports, that they would automatically register us. Not the case. We found out a week later that we were in essence 'illegal', since we had not registered. When I was leaving the country from the Kiev airport, some police overheard me speaking English and wanted to see my passport. When they saw I hadn't registered, they wanted to fine me $150 US. My Ukrainian friend managed to talk them into accepting $50 (probably a bribe).
You need to go to the government offices to register. The hotels don't do it. Ask someone where this place is when you get there. It's free to register. It's not free if you do not register and get caught!
Each region of Ukraine charges a certain amount of money for using their very BAD roads. For instance, in 1999 we had to pay 25 dollars to cross Odessa region. In 2001 we were supposed to pay 10 dollars to cross Kharkiv region. Why supposed? Because one can give only 5 dollars to a customs officer, he puts the money into his pocket and lets you go!!! If you don't accept his suggestion to give him 5 dollars, he does not let you go, and you pay 10 dollars officially in the cash office. Is not it weird?
On the whole, the situation with the traffic police in Ukraine has changed a lot for the better since 1999. In 1999 the local traffic police could not spare themselves a pleasure of fining you. They deliberately created different situations to make you violate the traffic rules! Imagine a highway outside towns and villages - just an empty road passing along fields or forests. The traffic police placed a sign of speed limitation up to 20 km per hour, and hid in the bushes. It seemed very tiresome to drag at such a low speed. You exceeded the speed, they suddenly appeared from the bushes to fine you. Thus being in the same area we were fined 3 times! Now, in 2001 I saw very few policemen on the road. The local goverment forbade them to stop cars, and they are no longer on the roads.
Tickets in peak seasons: If you wish to attempt such a desperate thing as to go to Ukraine (especially Crimea) in July/August and/or come back to Russia in late August/beginning of September, book your tickets well in advance. There's great shortage of them, despite all extra trains/planes provided during the peak season.
This was one of the few hotels my colleague and I could find free rooms. We were visiting the day...more
Super Hotel, just perfekt. Best location, at the end of Franko park 5-700 m south of city center.more
My American friend Jack stayed at this new hotel for several days and he was kind enough to take me...more
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