If Ukraine is top of your travel list right now, there are 5 important things you need to know before you go.
There’s plenty to love about the country. It has beautiful cities and countryside, fascinating and colourful culture and lots of history to explore.
Of course, like visiting anywhere around the world, it’s important to have a good idea of the essential things that will help you get into the country and travel safely. The following 5 points are the most important details to consider when you plan your trip.
1. You Might Need a Visa to Enter
For the vast majority of visitors, it is possible to enter Ukraine visa-free for 90 days. However, if you’re traveling with an Asian passport or some passports from South American it’s possible you could need a visa to enter.
Luckily the country has an e-Visa you can register for online. This allows you to quickly and easily get registered to travel, as long as you meet the right Ukraine e-Visa requirements.
2. COVID-19 Restrictions Are In Place
Like a lot of 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 test negative for COVID you can usually enter without having to undergo 10 days’ quarantine.
To enter Ukraine right now, you’ll need the following paperwork:
- Proof that you’re fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the WHO;
- Results of a negative COVID antigen or PCR test no less than 72 hours before arrival;
- A certificate of insurance 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 from both these countries must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival in Ukraine.
3. Ukraine is Safe But There Are Some Things to Be Cautious Of
As a tourist, you’re unlikely to encounter safety issues whilst in Ukraine. Thousands of tourists visit each year and most have an enjoyable time.
Yet like anywhere around the world there are a few things you need to watch out for when you’re visiting. Especially in the big cities.
Most of the annoyances you’ll encounter in Ukraine involve petty crimes such as pickpocketing or scams. It’s advised to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times when you’re exploring and not to show off your valuables too much to avoid unwanted attention.
Sadly, it’s no secret that there is a very high level of corruption in Ukraine. That said, bribery is illegal in Ukraine, and therefore you’re not advised to offer cash incentives to police or law enforcement officials under any circumstances.
If you are charged with something by the police on the street and a bribe is hinted at, don’t panic. Stay polite, see if they will tell you the offense was, and, if necessary, ask to be taken to a local police station where there’ll be more official oversight.
4. Be Careful Where You Enter the Country From
There is a significant elephant in the room when it comes to Ukraine and that is the ongoing dispute over territory with Russia in the East of the country.
However, whilst visiting Donetsk or Luhansk is not recommended, it is possible to go there as a tourist as long as you can provide a suitable enough reason for going. Importantly though, it is illegal to enter Ukraine from any of these disputed borders with Russia, including Crimea.
If you cross into Ukraine from Russia via any of these contested areas you won’t be able to visit other parts of the country.
5. Carry Cash if You Head into The Countryside
You’ll have no problem at all using your credit card or getting cash from ATMs in built-up areas like Kiev, Odessa, or Kharkiv. Most of the urban areas of the country have the usual payment infrastructure you’d expect anywhere else in Europe.
That said, if you go deeper into the countryside you might run into situations where it’s cash-only to pay for things.
This is starting to change however and it is becoming more common for businesses to accept cards even outside the major urban centers. Still, it’s a good idea to carry some hryvnia in your pocket just in case when you explore the rural corners of Ukraine.
The 5 key points listed above are the most important things you need to have sorted before you arrive in Ukraine. With those taken care of though, 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.