Kiev

Kiev (Ukrainian: КиївKyiv, Russian: КиевKiev) is the capital and largest city of Ukraine with 3-4 million inhabitants. It is in the north of central Ukraine on the Dnieper River (Ukrainian: Днiпро, Russian: Днепр).

Understand

The official name of the city has long been Kyiv, a transliteration from the Ukrainian Київ. The common English name of the city, Kiev, is a transliteration of the Russian Киев. Expect to see Kyiv used more often inside Ukraine, and Kiev to be used by most foreign media. The spelling of the city name in English-language guidebooks is debatable.

History

The Ukrainians are understandably very proud of their capital's role in establishing European civilisation in Eastern Europe. Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, dating back to the 5th century, although settlements at this location existed much earlier. By the late 9th century, Kiev was at the centre of an emerging Eastern Slavic state. Between the 10th and early 13th centuries, the city reached its golden age as the capital of the first Ukrainian state known today as Kievan Rus, (Kyivan Ruthenia, or Rus-Ukraine). It was this state that shaped the religious and cultural foundations of the modern Slavic eastern European states. In the middle of the 13th century, Kievan Rus was overrun by the Mongols. Later that century, Kiev became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1569 the city was absorbed into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1654 the Cossack, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, "liberated" Kiev from that Commonwealth but then promptly folded it into Russian hegemony in an action that continues to be a sore point for Ukrainian nationalists.

National Opera House

Full Russian annexation came in 1775 and the city remained under Russian rule, with brief independence between 1918 and 1920 during the chaos that followed the Russian revolution. Over these two centuries, Kiev experienced growing Russification and Russian immigration. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it became the capital of independent Ukraine and is now discovering its place as a large European capital.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti

Climate

Average temperatures are maximum 26°C (79°F) / minimum 15°C (59°F) in summer and maximum -2°C (28°F) / minimum -8°C (17°F) in winter. Spring and autumn (fall) can be very brief. Heat waves featuring temperatures as high as 38°C (100°F) are rare but not unheard of in the summer months and brief but potent cold spells with temperatures as low as -20°C (-4°F) are not uncommon in winter.

Talk

In general the people in Kiev are hospitable and will be eager to help you. However, if you don't have a knowledge of Ukrainian or Russian you may find service in restaurants and shops difficult, though this is slowly changing among younger generations with more exposure to English.

While 85% of residents claim Ukrainian ethnicity, most Kievans usually speak Russian (all Kievans can understand and speak Ukrainian, nonetheless); Ukrainian is primarily spoken by immigrants from Western or Central Ukraine. Like many former Soviet cities, Kiev is a multicultural place: you will certainly meet ethnic Russians - which form about 13% of the city's population - and also Armenians, Azeris, Belarusians, Georgians and Tatars. There are also people claiming Jewish, Polish, Romanians and Hungarian descent.

Officially, all signs are in Ukrainian only. Since 2011, signs with Latin transliteration are starting to make an appearance throughout Ukraine.

Get in

By plane

Boryspil International Airport

To/from Boryspil Airport:

By bus
Kharkivska Sky Bus stop sign for busses towards Boryspil airport

A bus, known as the Sky Bus, operates 24-hour service between each terminal of the airport and the southern side of the Central Railway station (UAH60, 70 minutes), with a stop at the Kharkivska Metro Station on the Green Line (UAH35, 45 minutes). If your destination lies on the Left Bank, or if it's rush hour (in which case the bus is likely to run into traffic in the center) and you were going to take the subway anyway, it might be a good idea to exit at Kharkivska. It's a much shorter walk to the metro (especially if you have luggage), and the fare is also slightly cheaper from the airport. To do this the other way around (from the city to the airport) is less convenient, since the bus might skip the stop if it's already full (and even if it does stop, you'd be standing all the way, as most seats are usually taken at the terminus). The bus stop for Sky Bus is marked with an ordinary sign (see picture).

If you alight at the last stop, to get to the metro (Vokzalna station) from the bus stop, enter the railway terminal, follow the bridge over the railway, leave the building, and turn left.

By taxi

For taxis, the minimum price to the city centre is about UAH200 when you book in advance. The official taxi service at the airport (Sky Taxi) is slightly more expensive at UAH6.50/km. Unofficial cabs may demand higher prices, so always arrange the price before you enter the cab and feel free to bargain.

Zhulyany Airport

To/from Zhulyany Airport:

By taxi

A taxi to the city center costs UAH100-150 if booked/negotiated in advance.

By bus
By train

By train

Connections with the Black Sea region Crimea were plentiful, most night trains departed from Simferopol (14h) but some originated in Sevastopol (16h). As of March 2014, these links may be no longer in operation due to the Russian occupation of Crimea.

By car

The main route into Ukraine from the West is via Poland - the only customs post on this border open 24/7 is in Lvivska Oblast (Region) at a place called Krakovets. The nearest significant town on the Polish side is Przemyśl, and it's straightforward to find by following route #4 (which passes through Przemyśl). When you arrive at the border, the road is fairly narrow (no motorway/autobahn), and there is always a queue of trucks and vans parked to the right of the road. Don't park behind the goods vehicles, slip up the side of them and then feed into the customs area when the guy flags you forward (for courteous Europeans, you're not jumping the queue as commercial traffic goes through a different process). If you're in an EU-registered car then find the EU-passports section. Then, proceed to Ukrainian passport control and then Ukrainian customs and you're through. It used to be a nightmare, with apocryphal tales of 5-6+ hours at the border, but the Ukrainians have made great advances in efficiency with a 1-2 hour border crossing now possible.

Once through, just follow the main road towards Lviv (Львів) on the E40 - this is the route right across Ukraine to Kiev (and thence the East). Stick to this - the main towns on the way are Lviv, Rivne (Рівне), Zhytomyr (Житомир). Care is required as the road still remains in a miserable condition, even though it is the main East/West highway and the main road route from and to the EU.

A further 24-hour entry point to Ukraine from the West is from Slovakia at Uzhgorod, where an extensive border complex has been constructed with financial support from the European Union. This is on the E50 European highway route which should eventually extend from Vienna to Kiev, via Bratislava and Košice. Eastward travel by road experiences little delay, but there are often extensive queues in the other direction. In theory pedestrians are allowed to cross this border, but in practice Slovak guards prevent them. One option for those without their own transport is to walk back down the road and hitch a lift through from a Ukrainian vehicle, which they will generally do free or for USD10/€10.

By bus

By boat

It's possible to organize trips down the River Dnieper to the Black Sea in summer. A travel agency in Ukraine can book these trips for you.

Get around

Kiev can seem quite foreign to the western tourist, as most signposts are in Cyrillic script. It is still largely a city where very few people know English, and the likelihood of encountering an English speaker is low - but not impossible. For the non-Russian or Ukrainian speaker, it's quite possible to get around easily, and it is a very interesting city to explore. It never hurts to speak English. Often, a shop assistant will ask customers who can speak English to act as translators.

It is advisable, however, to pick up a pocket Russian or Ukrainian phrasebook, and learn the Cyrillic alphabet, which can be fun and is easy to learn. Spend some time practising key words and phrases (e.g. 'hello', 'thank-you' and 'bill please'). Even what you regard as a feeble attempt at Ukrainian or Russian will amuse most people to the point where they become comfortable engaging in pantomime or trying out the little bit of English they know.

It is impolite to chat loudly (e.g., in the Metro), point or wave one's hands. You should also avoid whistling inside or being under-dressed, although in summer very short mini-skirts are widespread. All of these actions will regularly attract the wrong type of attention, including outright hostility.

Navigating

Pick up a "Kyiv Tour Guide" map book (Geosvit books - around USD3–4), which is available at a number of kiosks or at the central post office. Kiev#Post Offices Basic tourist maps are available at the baggage carousel at Boryspil Airport. If you are spending much time in Kiev, get the matching Ukrainian version of your map, many locals have as much trouble with the version that is transliterated to Latin characters as you will have with Cyrillic. They need the version in Cyrillic. When asking for directions or setting out in a taxi, it helps to locate the place you want on the English map and then point out the same spot on the Ukrainian version.

Also, be aware that there (understandably) has recently been another wave of old names being returned to many streets (Horkogo is now Antonovycha, Chorvonoarmiyska is Velyka Vasilkivska and so on); these have by and large filtered down to the online maps, but the signs on the houses often hadn't been changed, and some businesses can still list the old-style addresses - and vice versa, your paper map (and maps on the info stands on the streets) can be out of date. If you suddenly find that the address given to you is either not on the map or points somewhere completely unrelated, ask.

By metro

Metro routes
Metro station escalator

The Metro (Ukrainian: Метро) is one of the pleasures of Kiev. It is a clean and fast subway system and it is easy to navigate once you realize that all three metro lines (red, blue and green) go through the city centre. In total there are 50 stations, with ambitious plans for extension.

When you enter the Metro, you must purchase an entrance token from the cash desk, Kasa (Ukrainian: каса) or from a special ticket machine. One token is valid for one trip, no matter how far you go. A token is UAH4 and one needs to slip the token into the turnstile to enter. A note of caution: make sure you walk through the correct side of the turnstile (that's usually on the left side of the turnstile you slip your token in), or you will be hit with a metal gate that will slam shut. You can also obtain an unlimited monthly ticket with a magnetic tape, which is available for sale for UAH95 during the first week of the calendar month or the third week for half the price (but not strictly so).

As of 2012, the Kiev metro has undergone a major improvement with respect to the navigation. Most maps and signposts are translated into English. Additionally, every stations has got its unique three-digit number, with the first digit showing the number of line (M1 for red, M2 for blue, and M3 for green). Once on board, every station is announced by loud speakers and TV screens. These screens show a lot of weird ads between the stations, but flag an impending station before arrival. Upon departure, they then show the next station.

Metro stations where you can interchange have two different names - one for each line. If you are changing lines, the other station can be reached by an overpass in the centre or near one of the ends of the platform.

Trains run every 30 to 150 seconds during business hours, every 5 minutes after 20:00, and every 1015 minutes after 22.30. Last trains depart from the terminal stations around midnight, so your last chance to catch a train in the city centre is between 00.15 and 00.25 (check the timetable of late departures, which is signposted on each station). Trains are often very crowded. Be prepared to push, as this may be the only way you get on the train during peak hours.

It's interesting to note that the Kiev metro has some of the deepest stations in the world. The Arsenalna station (Ukrainian: Арсенальна) station is the deepest metro station in the world, at 107m deep, and the Universytet station (Ukrainian: Університет) has one of the longest escalators (87m long). Many stations have two long and intimidating escalators in a row.

If you enable "Cell Info Display" on your GSM phone, it will show you the name of the station (in transliterated Latin characters (for UMC and Kyivstar subscribers) just like your map) when you are underground in the vicinity of a station. Your mobile/cell/handy should work on most of the network, including between stations.

Spend some time looking at the stations. The red line features impressive architecture, similar to that seen in the Moscow and Saint Petersburg metro systems. Elaborate mosaics in the Zolotye Vorota station depict rulers and other historical characters of the medieval Kievan Rus.

By bus

Trolleybus on Lesi Ukrainky Boulevard, Kiev

There are two types of city-run buses available bus (автобус) and trolleybus (тролейбус) as well as slow and moribund trams. These can be hailed from assigned stops, which are marked by an inconspicuous sign on a telegraph pole. The buses are often very crowded during peak hours, but the norm is to push your way in. Once on board, you need to get a ticket and validate it by punching a hole with one of the small punchers that are attached to the posts inside the bus. If you can't get near the hole puncher, ask someone to validate your ticket for you. Tickets cost UAH3 and are normally available from a conductor on board (oddly enough, they first sell you as many tickets as you want, then asks you to validate one). Tickets can be also purchased from drivers or in kiosks throughout the city.

By marshrutka

You can also travel on so called route taxis or mini-vans called marshrutky (маршрутки). These are privately run vehicles that travel assigned routes, which are listed on the front of the bus. You can hail a marshrutka at the assigned bus stops. When you board, you pay the driver directly or, if you're not near the driver, pass the money to the nearest passenger who will pass it to the driver. Your change will be returned in reverse order, but it is unwise to pass big bills. When you are reaching your destination, simply yell out to the driver to stop “Na zupyntsi" with stress on "-pyn-"', which literally means "on the stop" in Ukrainian, or use Russian: "Na astanovkie", stressing on "-nov-" (some 100 meters in advance to the bus stop you need). If you overshoot you get a nice walk and a driver gets a little extra stress a day. The fare ranges for about UAH5, and is usually stated on the front and sidewalk-side of the vehicle, so you will know how much you pay in advance. It is good to have some change, so you can pay exact amount. Marshrutka routes can be hard to figure out, but they have a list of stops on the window and a Metro logo for the metro stops. The best way to figure out where these go is to ask some of the locals. City maps usually picture all public transport, both normal buses/trolleybuses/trams and marshrutky. The one downside to using marshrutky is that they tend to be a little overpacked (understatement) and very warm or cold, depending on season.

By tram

Travelling by tram mostly for on or to suburbs can be an option. In western Kiev maybe a useful end station which is at the Kontraktova metro station. From here depart No.14 far to westward and No.18 to the 'Vokzalna' station. Also from Kontraktova depart to northbound No.11 to Obolon metro station, No.19 to Minsk metro station, No.12 to northwest, a bit out of city limit to Horenka settlement. For more info visit Kievpastrans website.

By taxi

As with many former Soviet cities, it is perfectly acceptable for any car to stop and pick you up. An unmarked vehicle is a 'gypsy' cab. To hail a ride, simply stand with your arm out. When a car pulls over, negotiate a fare. As a rule of thumb, rides within the downtown should not cost more than UAH20-40 and moving across the city might be anywhere from UAH30 to UAH70 (also depends on car model, time of day, weather and traffic conditions, whether both of you need to get to the same part of the city, etc.). Therefore, you should choose a proper street side, and your gender and numbers usually matter for the price. Generally, girls would find informal taxis easier and cheaper than men. It is safe enough compared to many cities, but in the middle of the night you may be taking a risk. Official company taxis can be hailed, or booked over the phone. There is usually someone who speaks English working for the company. Simply ask 'pa angliski pazhalusta' (or "English please"). The operator will give you a quote, which will save you from the sometimes intimidating process of negotiating on the street. Taxi fares do vary widely. On the same route, a local could pay UAH15 while a foreigner may be quoted UAH60 with the driver being prepared to settle for UAH30. Don't hesitate to bargain!

By funicular

Kiev funicular

See

Vladimir I converted his Kieven Rus empire to Christianity in 988. The cave monastery of Pechersk Lavra was established in 1015.
Statue at top of Andrew's Descent

Kiev Pechersk Lavra complex

Other religious buildings

St Sophia's Cathedral
St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery and a view over the city.
St. Volodymyr's Cathedral

Museums

Ilushin IL-76 at State Aviation Museum

Motherland Statue and War memorials

Kiev was pretty much destroyed during the invasion in WWII. The memorial near the motherland statue is pretty gripping. Lots of examples of classic Soviet-era memorial statuary as well as some amazing exhibits of military hardware. The Museum to the Great Patriotic War (WWII) located in the base of the statue is a must-see for visitors interested in the impact the German invasion had on the Soviet Union. Well worth the visit even if you don't speak or read any Russian or Ukrainian (several English language tours are provided daily). It's well curated and full of artifacts (including weapons, battle maps, hundreds of original photographs, and a moving installation at the end of the exhibit symbolizing the great losses suffered). There is also a small museum of the Afghan conflict nearby. Try to enter coming from the top part of the Pecherska Lavra. This way you get submerged with old soviet music and dark statues. Metro: Arsenalna

Obolon Raion

A part of the city on far North. This territories far beyond of its historical neighborhood with the same name. Its current population is 290,000 inhabitants.- The Obolon district encompasses the territories of the former Minsk district and is still sometimes referred to by that name. It also includes the former town of Pushcha-Vodytsia that used to be part of the Podil Raion. The name Obolon comes from the Old-Ukrainian word оболонь → болонь → болоньє (obolon' → bolon' → bolon'ye), which roughly translates as "flood plain" or an area that is being engulfed by water. The district was built up in the 1970s as a microdistrict in Kiev on the Obolon sands to satisfy the growth of the city. Due to the composition of the soil at the time, the majority of the buildings were at most nine-stories tall, and few trees were planted when compared to other parts of the city. That and few other reasons originally made the district not prestigious. With the second construction period (2000–2005), the district has seen new, comfortable apartment buildings constructed closer to the Dnipro river and has become an attractive residential area. The new apartments are also more expensive, although still cheaper than in the center of Kiev. - The district was connected by Metro2 in the 1980s, with a station 'Obolon' opened on November 5, 1980. Now here is 'Minska' and 'Heroiv Dnipra' metro stations, too.

Podil Raion

This is a historic neighbourhood and an administrative raion (district) in Kiev. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Kiev, the birthplace of the city's trade, commerce and industry. It still contains many architectural and historical landmarks, and new archaeological sites are still being revealed. Numerous attractions of Podil particularly include: Frolivskyi and Pokrovskyi Convents, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, House of Ivan Mazepa, House of Peter the Great, Fountain of Samson, Zamkova Hora hill, Andriyivskyy Descent — the main link of Podil to the city's administrative Uppertown, Borychiv Descent, Kiev River Port, Kiev funicular, Poshtova Square, and the Kontraktova Square. Modern Podilskyi Raion, despite its tourism and culture importance, remains one of Kiev's main business, transportation and industrial districts.

Further afield

Do

Parks, gardens

Festivals

Learn

There are a number of private schools where you can learn Ukrainian or Russian, either part-time or full-time . There are also experienced teachers in the city - check out resources such as Kyiv In Your Pocket, The Kyiv Post, and What's On Weekly for details of schools and teachers.

Work

Foreigners can sometimes find work teaching their native language. Pay is usually decent enough to live on in Kiev if you get enough pupils and live by local standards.

As is the nature in a global economy, professionals with skills in demand, e.g. accountants and IT professionals, can be employed with global firms in Kiev, without knowledge of Russian or Ukrainian languages.

Getting a work permit (visa) is a necessity for foreigners if they are going to be employed by any legal entity (exceptions apply only for international institutions and representative offices of foreign companies). The work permit is more of a hiring permit. The potential employer has to apply with the labour administration for hiring an non-resident employee. With the application a complete cv, as well as documents showing an accredited education, have to be submitted.

Buy

For more information on currency see Ukraine#Money

Banks and exchanges booths are easy to find.

Rates at the airport are not as good as in the city centre. Not all hotels will change money and if you arrive in the evening or on a Sunday you could find yourself with no money for dinner if you don't change at least some at the airport. Most banks operate on Saturdays as well as Mondays to Fridays.

ATMs are everywhere and generally work with international credit and debit cards.

Like in most places in Ukraine, having plenty of small change will prevent hassle from shop staff who perpetually lack small money.

Markets

Shopping Malls

Groceries

Most bottled waters are sparkling. To purchase regular bottled water, ask for literally "water without gas" (VoDA bez gaza). A 500 mL bottle should cost UAH3-6, occasionally they will inflate the price to UAH10 if you look like a rich tourist.

Do not forget to buy a few big jugs of bottled water such as Staryi Myrhorod (Старий Миргород) or Truskavetska (Трускавецька). Kyivskij tort (київський торт) is another thing you should eat in Kiev if you love cakes. Dark rye bread, Ryazhenka (Ряженка, Ukrainian style yogurt), Kvas (Квас, fermented drink made of bread) could be also be interesting things to taste.

Chocolates, cakes, lollies, crisps and biscuits/cookies are widely available at low cost and very popular with Ukrainians - after years of being deprived western brands, snack foods are becoming big business.

Plastic bags are available but are not free, and some stores do not take credit cards. Bag your own groceries. If you're paying in cash, make sure the cashier gives you correct change back as some are careless or dishonest.

Banks

Eat

Kvas tank on Kiev street

In general, it is very cheap to dine in Kiev by European or US standards. So long as you stay away from the places that totally pander to tourists or to the Porsche Cayenne-driving "elite", the food is great and cheap. Try the Borscht and the Mlyntzi and then try absolutely everything else. Baked goods are cheap and great too. Even the ice-cream on the street is great. Try, for example, the one to the right from Khreshchatyk metro exit - blue kiosk with varying length of queues.

When you see vendors selling some liquid from big yellow/blue tanks on the street, you can be sure that it is "Kvas," which is a brewed bread drink. Some people like it and others hate it. It tastes a bit like malt, and the alcohol content is so low (0.05-1.44%) that it is considered acceptable for consumption by children. Try "Odyn Malenkyi" (one small) drink.

You should not drink the tap water (for reasons both chemical and microbial). It is advisable to buy bottles in the supermarkets; they usually have English section on the label for "ingredients". You can always order "Bonaqua" (a brand of sparkling mineral water), but beer is just about as cheap.

Budget

Fast-food chains

Mid-range

It's also worth checking out pubs and restaurants that offer business lunches during weekday lunch. These are set menus that usually cost around UAH40, and include soup, salad, meat dish and a drink.

Splurge

National

Kosher

Drink

There are several nice places in Kiev to get a drink. From small cafés that are only frequented by locals (they look dirty at first sight) to expensive places. Locals often buy drinks (beer) at a stall in the street and drink it in a park, leaving their bottles for the homeless to collect and cash in. However, since 2011, drinking beer in the street is prohibited and whilst you will see locals drinking in the street, you will make yourself an easy target for the police to stop and try for a bribe if you do. Locals often buy some chips or other salted things to go with their drinks.

The prices are quite reasonable by European standards. You will easily find decent Ukrainian beer for 20UAH30 and get 5cL of vodka or similar alcohol for about UAH20.

Coffee houses

"Coffee House" cafe at Bohdana Khmelnitskoho St, Kiev

If you are not keen about alcohol, try one of the abundant coffee houses. No matter whether their names are well-known and international (Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Russian-based Coffee House and Shokoladnitsa) or weird and local (Coffee Land, Coffee Life, and other similar variations), they are always neat places with similar menu featuring all imaginable versions of coffee, a good choice of tea, fancy milk shakes and smoothies, and a selection of cakes. Their main advantage is free WiFi, while on the downside are the prices that are rather high on Kiev standards. Coffee and piece of cake start from 20 UAH each.

When you urgently need a shot of espresso, you can also try coffee sold on the street. Basically, every second kiosk will offer some kava (Ukrainian word for coffee), but its quality is at best iffy. A safe choice would be special cars equipped with coffee machines. These cars can be found in most public places and next to entrances to the metro stations. They offer decent take-away coffee for 8-10 UAH.

If you prefer places that do not look the same in each town and are not owned by big companies you should try the café "Living-Room" in the vul. Spas'ka, 6, near metro Kontraktova Ploshcha. The small but cosy place is organized by some enthusiasts and musicians. Two pianos and some other instruments can be used by the staff or guests! While most cafés would close at 22.00 h this one is open as long as the staff wants to work. Besides excellent coffee they offer a wide range of very tasty teas, original cakes (e.g. beetroot-chocolate cake!), Beer and so on (no vodka). The kitchen will help you out for the small hunger.

Pubs

Irish

There are several Irish pubs, none authentic, but OK if you're in need of a Guinness and expat company. One is located near Golden Gate (Zoloti Vorota) on Volodomyrska (called, eponymously, The Golden Gate Pub). Another (and the first in Kiev) is O'Briens on Mykailivska (one of the streets running west off Maidan sq., the one to the right, with a branch of OTP Bank on the corner). Both are expensive by Kiev standards. A new one has opened in Podil, on the corner of Gostyny Dvor, near the Dutch embassy (can't miss it as it's close to the bottom of Andryevsky) called the Belfast Pub. Other than these centrally located ones, others lie scattered around Kiev, they do not cater to the ex-pat crowd and have better prices than you expect to find in any 'western' country. Keep your eyes open. Also try Dockers Pub.

Belgian

There are two Belgian beer cafés.

Clubs

Kiev has a nice club scene. Ranging from very cheap to overly-expensive, you can find what you want.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under $50
Mid-range $50-150
Splurge Over $150

Budget

Mid-range

Hotel "Ukraine"

Splurge

Stay safe

The usual "don't be stupid" advice seems to be adequate. Kiev is a generally open and friendly city and stays lively until at least 11PM in most districts.

Avoid drinking the water from the tap — bottled water is cheap and available everywhere (Morshinska/Моршинська, Mirgorodska/Міргородська is good).

If you are female, and especially if you are traveling alone, try to take a taxi instead of public transit after 9PM These are prime drinking hours and the metro and marshrutky may be crowded with drunken men. This is particularly true on the weekends. Ask a local English-speaker to call the taxi for you and get the amount of the fare in advance; drivers may greatly inflate the fare once hearing your accent.

Robberies and scams on tourists are fairly common in Kiev. The best approach is to be extremely selfish and ignore anyone who approaches you. Avoid eye contact with suspicious looking people. If you do get caught up in a scam (such as the infamous wallet scam or the "Look, I've just found money" scam or even if you are stopped by someone claiming to be a policeman), simply ignore the person and walk away, indicate that you want to call your embassy or go to the next police station to get the problem sorted. That will usually shake the person off.

If you are leaving your baggage in the station, it is better to leave it with the guys in person rather than use a locker. Stories have been heard of people 'assisting' with the locker and overseeing the code, then walking off with the bag afterwards.

On the metro, always keep your belongings securely zipped as close to your skin as possible. Pickpockets are highly organised and often in gangs that know what they are doing.

There are occasional (rare) reports of visitors being shaken down by corrupt officials, often customs officials. Naturally, the best protection is to make sure that you stay on the correct side of the law and, if there is any question, to keep your cool and not become argumentative. It seems that the cost of an error is surrendering the object in question and paying a "fine." The officials are skilled at ensuring that people who argue miss their flights. Making, or giving the impression of making a phone call to your country's embassy has been known to clear up "problems" quicker than actually paying the "fine" --- or pretend to have a very late flight.

Walking around in the tourist areas (e.g. Maydan) at night you will no doubt find yourself stopped by groups of police who will stop you and go through an overly theatrical display of asking to see your passport and other documents, and sometimes even search you for drugs or other prohibited items. To deal with this, firstly always carry your passport, not doing so will give them an easy excuse to extract a bribe. Secondly, making it clear that you speak absolutely no Russian may help. Lastly, don't given them any excuses whatsoever to threaten you with arrest - just because the locals drink in the street doesn't mean you should. Don't cross the road except at authorised points. Try and follow the rules.

Some thieves like to abuse new tourists, for example, by playing plainclothes cop. They are rarely aggressive. They will go to you only if you're walking alone and don't look too familiar with the town. A bit of resisting usually shakes them off (but not too much since you never know).

There is still some corruption in Ukraine; some services might openly ask you to bribe them to process your request, and denying it might make them refuse to help you.

The people are very tolerant and it is only reasonable to assume that they expect the same in return.

Connect

Post Offices

Telephone

Mobile (cell) phones: GSM (900/1800) and 3G (CDMA, UMTS) is used in Ukraine. This system is compatible with mobile phone networks used everywhere apart from parts of the Americas and US dominated parts of Asia.

If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you can get an Kyivstar, MTS or life:) (Astelit) SIM card for a few dollars at street vendors which will give you a local number and free incoming calls. Note that most of those cards don't have money on their account so you may want to buy a payment card when you buy a sim card. If you don't have an unlocked phone already, new ones can be had for USD30-40 and a touch cheaper if you buy a pay-as-you-go sim card at the same time. Incoming calls are free in Ukraine so in extremis you can just SMS/text a request for a return call for a small charge.

If you want to use 3G connection, you can get OGO! (ex-Utel) for UMTS and PeopleNet, CDMAUA or Intertelecom for CDMA, for mid 2011 last three operators don't have English version of site.

If you are roaming in Kiev, SMS messages do work well. They are confirmed to work for most foreign networks. Do note that the size of the country and the relative low population densities of rural areas means that sometimes there might be 'black-spots' where mobiles will not work. But of course these are away from the main cities/urban areas (and most of the main arterial road and rail routes also have reasonably consistent call signals).

If you are trying to call the US from your GSM phone, you may find that the access numbers for your calling card are blocked. Plan ahead and sign up with a callback service (such as UWT **warning, lead-time required**) before you start your travels and you can provoke them to call you (at much better rates) when you need to make a call.

Internet

The easiest way to maintain Internet connectivity if you use your own laptop is to buy a 7-day unlimited Lucky Internet callback card. They are about UAH36 at the street kiosks. When you dial in, you will be initially firewalled off from everything until you activate by visiting their website

You may also buy wireless internet access for your laptop for about 10 UAH per day. for details or just google "wireless internet in Ukraine".

Internet cafés have a good service. They usually have different types of computers with varying prices. Near the metro station on ul Khmelnytskoho (on the left side at a corner) there is one that is very good, open 24 hours non stop. The cheapest computers cover your basic needs, the most expensive ones are usually for hardcore gamers.

Also most foreigner-friendly cafés (see "Drink" section above) and a lot of fast food restaurants (including McDonald's) offer free Wi-Fi. Some require password to use their access point, ask waiter to get it.

Cope

Kiev was part of the former USSR. Some things work well and other things may be broken. There is no point in stressing about this. Arrive with that realization and be prepared to roll with a few surprises.

Embassies

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, March 04, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.