Stay Safe in Ukraine
Many individuals would advise you to bring a copy of your visa with you. Unfortunately, some individuals have difficulty with this. It’s usually a good idea to have your passport on hand. As evidence of identification, a photocopy may be rejected. A phone call to a local who can assist may be very beneficial.
Get the contact information for your local embassy and/or consulate ahead of time, and make a note of their emergency phone numbers.
It’s a good idea to have a multilingual friend on hand in case of an emergency or if you run into trouble. If you plan on remaining for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to acquire a local SIM card for your phone for emergencies and cheaper local calls/texts. These are commonly accessible, inexpensive (sometimes free), and simple to ‘top-up.’
Using common sense while traveling in Ukraine, like in any other nation, can reduce your chances of being a victim of petty crime and theft. Try not to draw attention to the fact that you are a foreigner or to flaunt your riches, whether via your clothes or otherwise. Western visitors are still uncommon in Ukraine, with the exception of Kiev, Odessa, and other major cities. Petty thievery is possible, just as it is in any other nation. Pickpocketing is prevalent in Kiev, particularly at busy metro stations, so keep an eye on your belongings and yourself. Guides have advised visitors to keep an eye on certain individuals after hearing someone remark, “They seem like Americans: let’s follow them for a bit and see what we can obtain.”
Tourist robberies and frauds are very frequent, particularly the pocketbook scam in Kiev.
However, if you are detained by police or other law enforcement, make every effort to tell them that you are a foreign tourist. Although few police officers openly speak other languages, many individuals are willing to help with translation.
Don’t consume alcohol in the presence of strangers (which may be suggested more freely than in the West). You have no idea how much they will drink (and persuade you to drink with them) or what problems may develop as a result. Furthermore, many Ukrainians, renowned for their love of a good drink, can consume amounts of vodka that would be deemed deadly to the typical beer-drinking Westerner.
Ukraine’s economy is mostly based on cash. The network of bank branches and ATMs (Bankomats) has expanded rapidly and is now accessible in all but the tiniest settlements. Check the machine’s security – it’s best to use one that’s clearly at a bank rather than another business. The nation does not accept V PAY-cards. You may simply use your credit cards (mainly MasterCard and Visa) or cash traveler’s checks. The supermarkets accept credit and debit cards. However, avoid using your credit/debit card to pay at businesses in smaller towns since merchants are not adequately educated and regulated to guarantee your card privacy. Instead, paying with cash is commonly accepted. Locals (particularly businessmen) sometimes carry and pay in cash sums that would be regarded abnormally big in other nations. Don’t automatically presume criminal behavior in every such situation.
It is also highly advised to avoid individual (street) currency exchangers since there are criminals among them who may instead offer you outdated, Soviet-era money or coupons that have been out of circulation since the mid-1990s. Use specific exchange booths and banks (which are readily accessible); be cautious of exchange rate gimmicks such as 5.059/5.62 buy/sell instead of 5.59/5.62.
The euro and the US dollar are often recognized as other currencies, especially in tourist regions. They are also the most often accepted convertible currency at exchange booths, with English pounds sterling coming in third.
Provocateur groups targeting black individuals have been reported in the area surrounding the American embassy in Kiev, and there have been allegations of similar assaults on Andriyivski, the major tourist boulevard that runs from Mykhailivska down into Podil. Having dark complexion is often a cause of discrimination, particularly in rural regions. Antisemitism remains an issue in certain Western areas and/or other parts of Ukraine. However, two Jewish mayors have been elected in Kherson and Vinnitsa.
Russophobia is on the increase as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Crimea in early 2014, particularly in the country’s European Union-friendly western provinces. Russian nationals may face unfavorable views as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine fought (as of 2014) by Russian-backed separatist rebels in the country’s east. In Odessa, there have been ethnic conflicts between Russians and Ukrainians. A civilian aircraft was shot down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014, resulting in an intensification of economic penalties and polarization of an already difficult situation on the ground.
According to anecdotal evidence, individuals from Middle and Central Asia, as well as Romani/Sinti people, get considerably closer and more regular attention from the militsiya in Ukraine, and indeed most of the former Soviet Union (police). Always carry your passport with you (or a photocopy of the key pages if you’re worried about losing it or if you’re staying at a hotel that keeps it) since foreigners are treated better than others. This is not to suggest anything is dangerous or frightening, but it is best to be aware of the facts.
While there are several swimming and diving attractions in Ukraine, local water rescue is severely underfunded. You are unlikely to be spotted when drowning, particularly on a river. Use only beaches that have been designated as such.
Ukraine has among of the world’s worst records for road fatalities and injuries, so behave appropriately. Crossing the street with caution; walk and drive cautiously; and be aware that traffic overtakes on both the inside and outside lanes. In rush-hours, the black, slab-sided Audi/BMW/Mercedes occasionally choose to escape traffic by utilizing the broad sidewalks, people or not. Owners/drivers of luxury vehicles have been known to be more negligent with pedestrian safety at times. Unless there are pedestrian signals, drivers seldom give people crossing the street precedence. Always keep an eye out for your own safety.
Be aware that crumbling infrastructure affects pavements in the same manner that it affects roadways. Take caution while strolling, particularly after dark and away from the downtown sections of the major cities (a torch is a good item), since the streets are poorly lighted, as are most of the building entries/stairwells, and the street and pavement surfaces are often dangerously pot-holed. Don’t walk on man-hole covers because they may ’tilt,’ lowering your leg into the hole and causing injury!
In Ukraine, it is prohibited to smoke cigarettes or consume alcohol in public areas. Despite the ban, you may observe some local residents doing so, but don’t be fooled. These are not good examples. If they observe a foreigner violating the law, local cops may demand a bribe. So be smart and avoid issues that aren’t required.
112 – common
101 – fire brigade
102 – police
103 – ambulance
104 – gas leaks
Stay Healthy in Ukraine
Drinking tap water should be avoided as a general rule. The main reason for this is because chlorine is used to clean water in many areas, thus the taste is terrible. Buy bottled water whenever feasible, since it is readily accessible and usually safe.
Ukraine has the highest adult HIV prevalence rate in Europe, with almost 1.5 percent, or one in every 66 people infected. Take precautions.
The northeast has been contaminated by radioactivity from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. However, unless you reside continuously in the Chernobyl region, the impact is minimal. There are also excursions to Pripyat’, the town nearest to the station. The town is well-known for its eerie landscape, which includes blocks of apartment buildings that were abandoned in 1986 and now stand out among the greenery that grew as a result of years of neglect.