Frequently Asked Questions
Here you can find the most common questions our customers ask us. If you don’t find your question here, please do not hesitate to email us.
Do I need a visa to go to Ukraine?
Luckily, the Ukrainian visa regime is quite friendly! Most of foreigners can visit Ukraine without a visa for 90 days within any 180-day period. It means that you can just jump on a plane and go to Odessa any time you want. You don’t need to pay for a visa to enter the country, even on the border (like you do in many countries). You can stay in the country for 90 days and then you have to leave it for at least 90-days period before you can come back.
The official list of the countries with visa-free regime: http://www.ukrconsul.org/visa/visa_drops.htm
If your country is not in the list, or if you’re planning to stay longer than 90 days, then you need to get a visa. For visa requirements go to: http://www.ukrconsul.org/visa/visa.htm
Are there any special custom restrictions on the Ukrainian border?
Ukrainian custom rules are pretty much the same as everywhere (i.e. no drugs, guns or human organs in your luggage). If you are carrying more than $ 1 000 with you, you’ll need to fill out a custom’s declaration. They say you need to present it on your way back, but normally nobody asks for it; still, don’t throw it away. You can carry up to $10,000 in cash without any special permission if you fill out the declaration.
You’ll be also asked to fill out an immigration card, and a custom officer will put a stamp on your copy of it. Don’t lose it! Even though it looks like a piece of scrap-paper (with an advert for a night club on the back) you will have to present it when crossing the border on your way back, and the absence of it might cause you certain troubles with customs (money troubles).
Is it dangerous to travel to Ukraine?
Not really. Ukrainians are famous for their even temper (and are too lazy to fight, as some malicious types say). You can still find some aggressive individuals, but usually a smile and peaceful behavior is enough to avoid a conflict – that is, of course, if you haven’t provoked the aggression by stealing somebody’s wallet or girlfriend in a club.
Talking of wallets – beware pickpockets! Don’t leave your money in the pocket of your coat in a cloak room, don’t show off with your expensive DSLR-camera, and don’t even put your cell phone on the table in a street café. If you lose something, there’s almost no chance you will get it back.
Do people in Ukraine speak Ukrainian or Russian, and what's the difference?
Ukrainian and Russian languages sound different for native speakers, but will sound very similar to you (you probably won’t notice any difference initially). Most of the population of Ukraine is bilingual; Ukrainian is mostly spoken in western and central parts of the country and in villages; Russian is dominant in southern and eastern regions.
In Odessa people speak Russian. Though, if you’re going to Odessa during summer season, be ready to hear all kinds of languages on its streets!
Can I travel to Ukraine if I don't speak the language?
Of course, you can. Sign language works everywhere, some restaurants have English menu, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll meet English-speakers on your way. This is fine if you’re travelling as a tourist and don’t mind choosing random food in most of the places, paying double price for a taxi and souvenirs and not seeking proper communication with people around you. For a business trip any other serious purpose it’s always better to have an interpreter by your side. This will definitely save your time, nerves and money.
What is the most convenient transport in Ukraine?
Ukrainians don’t have as many cars as, for example, Americans, so public transport works pretty well here. Big cities like Kiev and Kharkov have an underground railway system, which is always the fastest and easiest way to travel. Unfortunately the construction of Odessa underground system never started, so here you should either choose a bus, a tram, or a taxi. Within the city you can always find a bus going anywhere you want – if you know which bus to choose and don’t mind the crowd around you. Taxis in Ukraine are quite cheap compared to other countries, so in most cases they’re the best option. We’d be happy to recommend a public taxi with English-speaking operators, but… there’s no such a service, so you have to rely on your interpreter or use private taxis with higher rates.
If you need to travel from one city to another, choose a train – it’s cheap, quite comfortable and is definitely an interesting experience. For example, a train from Odessa to Kiev takes 8 hours (one night), price for a ticket starts from $20, and for this money you’ll be actually able to sleep or read in your compartment, as well as drink cognac all night in the train restaurant with your fellow travelers.
What’s Ukrainian cuisine like? Is food and water safe in Ukraine?
We are proud to say that Ukraine is famous for its tasty food and rich culinary tradition. You’ll be amazed with the quality of traditional food: most of the produce here is still organic, especially fruits and vegetables, which gives them a special taste.
Some of the dishes might be too fatty for a foreigner, as Ukrainians eat quite a lot of pork, so if you’re not a fan of pork belly, blood sausage or spiced salty lard you better mention it before you order something unknown.
Normally you won’t get poisoned in a restaurant or a café, unless you choose a really cheap and dirty one in a market or next to the train station. However, you are not advised to buy meat-pies from old ladies on the city streets – even though the pies look tasty and the ladies are nice and smiley. These pies can really give you stomach ache. Oh, and don’t drink tap water – it’s not safe, buy bottled water to drink (it’s available everywhere with or without gas).
Is Ukraine expensive?
Comparing to USA or EU countries – definitely not. Food and clothes is quite cheap, as well as transport and private apartments if you want to rent one. However, if you’re looking for luxury, you can always find really expensive hotels, restaurants and shops here.
What to choose – a hotel or a private apartment?
Renting a private apartment instead of a hotel is a common practice in Ukraine. In the summertime most of the nice apartments situated in the city center are usually available for rent (sometimes we wonder where all the owners go?). Some of them are already turned into little private hotels and provide internet access, room cleaning and even breakfasts.
Usually staying in a private apartment will be much more pleasant, comfortable and considerably cheaper than a traditional hotel. The only difficulty you may face is that finding a nice place to stay is not that easy from abroad. Not all of them have a presence on the Internet, and those who do, and speak English, are generally more expensive. Also many don’t provide accurate pictures or describe the location very well.
Of course, if you do choose to rent a private flat to stay, we would be happy to help you with that process.