5 things you should know before visiting Ukraine right now
If Ukraine is currently at the top of your travel list, there are 5 important things you should know before you go.
There is a lot to love in the country. It has beautiful towns and countryside, a fascinating and colorful culture, and a lot of history to explore.
Of course, like visiting anywhere in the world, it’s important to have a good idea of the essential things that will help you enter the country and travel safely. The following 5 points are the most important details to consider when planning your trip.
1. You might need a visa to enter
For the vast majority of visitors, it is possible to enter Ukraine without a visa for 90 days. However, if you are traveling with an Asian passport or South American passports, you may need a visa to enter.
Fortunately, the country has an e-Visa for which you can register online. This allows you to quickly and easily register for travel, as long as you meet the correct Ukraine e-Visa requirements.
2. COVID-19 restrictions are in place
Like many countries, Ukraine has placed special restrictions on people entering from abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately though, if you’ve been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID, you can usually get in without going through a 10-day quarantine.
To enter Ukraine now, you will need the following documents:
- Proof that you have been fully vaccinated with a WHO approved vaccine;
- Results of a negative COVID antigen or PCR test at least 72 hours before arrival;
- An insurance certificate provided by an insurance company registered in Ukraine, which covers the costs of COVID-19 treatment.
At the moment, however, the only exception to this rule applies to Russian and Indian tourists. Nationals of these two countries must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Ukraine.
3. Ukraine is safe, but there are some things to be careful about
As a tourist, you are unlikely to encounter any security concerns in Ukraine. Thousands of tourists visit every year and most have a good time.
Still, like everywhere in the world, there are a few things that you need to watch out for when visiting. Especially in big cities.
Most of the inconveniences you will encounter in Ukraine relate to petty crimes such as pick-pocketing or scams. It is advisable to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times while exploring and not to show your valuables too much to avoid unwanted attention.
Unfortunately, it is no secret that there is a very high level of corruption in Ukraine. Having said that, bribery is illegal in Ukraine and therefore it is not advisable to offer cash incentives to police or law enforcement under any circumstances.
If you’re accused of something by the police on the street and a bribe is suggested, don’t panic. Be polite, see if they’ll tell you this is the offense and, if necessary, ask to be taken to a local police station where there will be more official surveillance.
4. Be careful where you enter the country
There is an important elephant in the room when it comes to Ukraine and that is the ongoing dispute over the territory with Russia in the east of the country.
However, although visiting Donetsk or Luhansk is not recommended, it is possible to go there as a tourist as long as you can provide a sufficiently appropriate reason for going. Most importantly, it is illegal to enter Ukraine from any of these contested borders with Russia, including Crimea.
If you enter Ukraine from Russia through one of these disputed areas, you will not be able to visit other parts of the country.
5. Take cash with you if you go to the countryside
You will have no problem using your credit card or getting cash from ATMs in urban areas like Kiev, Odessa or Kharkiv. Most of the country’s urban areas have the usual payment infrastructure that you would expect anywhere else in Europe.
Having said that, if you go deeper into the countryside, you might find yourself in situations where it’s only cash to pay for things.
This is starting to change, however, and it is increasingly common for businesses to accept cards even outside of major urban centers. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to have some hryvnia in your pocket in case you explore the rural corners of Ukraine.
The 5 key points listed above are the most important things you need to have sorted out before arriving in Ukraine. Once these are taken care of, you can focus most of your attention on the more exciting aspects of visiting the country, like what you want to see and what food you want to try.
Have a good trip!