Going to Ukraine for the first time you might have some trepidation about what you should necessarily bring, how you should go about the everyday issues you are used to cope with in your country or how to secure yourself from any possible difficulties (if any arise). Here are some important things you should consider.
Before you leave:
No need to pack heavy bags of all the necessary things you think you might need during your trip. Most of the hygiene and food products as well as medicine you use back home can be found in Ukrainian stores and pharmacies. You will be surprised to find many familiar brands.
Kiev Boryspil International Airport is the major international air gate of the country. It is located 34 km from Kiev. You can take a taxi to get to the city or use one of the regular bus routes (Sky Bus, Poliot etc.)
Booking lodgings ahead is a must. You can of course stay in a hotel advertised at the airport, or trust the people offering their apartments for rent at the railway station, however you most probably won’t be satisfied with the service you get for the price you pay in the first case or with the location, living conditions and safety in the other.
Thus booking an apartment online in advance is the wisest and simplest of the things you can do to arrange quality accommodation for the time of your trip.
The national currency is the Ukrainian hryvnia, the notes are available at face values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. You won’t experience a shortage of ATMs or banks in any of the Ukrainian cities, so you can withdraw money and change your currency any time. You can also use your payment card in most of the big stores.
Ukrainian is the national language. Russian is also widely spread and prevails in some of the Eastern cities as well as the Crimean region. Most of the youth knows English, most cafes have their menus translated for foreign guests, however you won’t find any street signs in English, except in the big cities.
It is a common misconception that the Ukrainians only eat borsch with lard and drink vodka. Although they do, there are so many more delicious things than those for a foreigner to taste! You will find numerous local cuisine restaurants serving traditional food at moderate prices. Besides, there are Italian, Chinese, French, Indian restaurants so you won’t have to hunt for food or make fire while you are there.
You shouldn’t expect the running water to be safe to drink. It must be thoroughly filtered or boiled before drinking. Most locals buy drinking water from stores, order bottled water delivery to their homes or take water from a spring for free, and you should better follow their example.
The Parliament has recently adopted the law prohibiting smoking in public places. However it is not so easily carried to effect, so most restaurants and pubs still have rooms for smokers and non-smokers, you can smoke on streets, at bus stops and in parks. Whether it’s an advantage or shortcoming for you, such is just the case with smoking in Ukraine.
A trip to any country can be stressful, difficult and challenging. However the more you learn about the destination, the better prepared you get, the higher is the possibility for your trip to be a positive experience despite all the challenges you face.