What Foreigners Should Avoid in Ukraine?

female tourist in lviv

In recent years, Ukraine has been gaining popularity as both business and touristic destination. The more people are going to visit this country, the more questions arise. Is Ukraine a dangerous place to travel? How to behave there and what to avoid in Ukraine? You will find all answers in our article below.

Political Situation: Avoid War Zones

chevron with ukrainian flag on military suit
The most frequent question asked by those who are not yet familiar with the current situation in Ukraine is the question about war. Which places and regions of Ukraine are dangerous? Is there really a war in Ukraine? Sadly, the answer is yes. But the good news is that this concerns only a small part of the country`s territory. Ukraine has been in a war conflict with pro-Russian forces since 2014, and currently has no control over Lugansk and Donetsk regions in the East of the country. The Republic of Crimea, annexed by Russian Federation in 2014, nowadays is a disputed territory that is also under no control of Ukrainian government. Luckily, other 22 regions of Ukraine are completely peaceful and safe. Therefore, if you are not planning to visit Lugansk and Donetsk regions or Crimea, you have nothing to worry about.

General Safety: Avoid Getting Into Trouble

man explaining way to female tourist with map
In the last years, the level of police performance in Ukraine has reached new quality standards. However, though policemen are ready to protect you, it is also reasonable to keep to some rules that will help you to avoid situation that involves using their services. As for the general safety rules while staying in Ukraine, we would like to highlight the following points.

  • it is highly recommended to keep your money and valuable things such as documents, expensive jewelry and smart phones out of other people`s sight, especially in public places or in a crowd.
  • if you are going to the city for a walk, do not carry too much cash in your wallet or pocket. It is better to take an amount of money that covers a dinner in a restaurant, a taxi ride and maybe some shopping – that will be just enough.
  • it is recommended to have a document identifying your personality – passport, driving license etc. In the case of any unforeseen circumstances, it will help you to avoid many problems.
  • you should know the contacts of your country`s embassy and have them at hand. If some problem arises and you are incapable of solving it, you will be able to call the professionals whose work is to help you.
  • talking about places to avoid in Ukraine, we should mention non-central city parts in the dark hours. If you want to walk in the city at night, stay at the central districts (for example, Khreschatyk street and Independence square in Kyiv). Strolling around central streets is safe, while no one can guarantee that you will avoid getting into trouble with so-called “gopniks” (aggressive guys from ghetto) during your late walk in the dormitory suburbs.
  • if you like drinking beer or smoking, it`s your choice. However, avoid practicing these habits in public places with many people around. Though (unfortunately) you can see many locals doing it, it is officially prohibited and may cost you a fine, so it is better to enjoy a glass or two in some good bar.

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Communication: Avoid Unreliable People

company of friends in outdoor cafe
Though meeting new people is fun and can expand your horizons, choose properly who are you going to make contact with. People from your work or friends of your friends can be a better choice than strangers from a bar or at the street. Of course, there is always a chance to meet good people everywhere; however, you should be careful, especially with those who are suddenly too nice to you or too persistent about getting your attention. If something in your new buddy`s behavior seems suspicious, keep proper distance with that person, especially if you are drinking alcohol together. We recommend not to leave your glass out of your sight (not to let anyone mix something into it) and to avoid getting drunk with people you`ve just met. Having a reliable local friend to hang out with and to get familiar with a new city is the best decision. Even if you do not know anyone in Ukraine, you can find a new Ukrainian friend on well-known services such as Couchsurfing where you can see a person`s rating provided by other travelers who have met him or her before.

Money: Avoid Overpaying and Corruption

hands with money
Overpaying for services is somewhere at the top list of things that foreigners should avoid in Ukraine. Sad but true: many landlords, taxi drivers, souvenir sellers and so on may try to make you pay more just because you are a foreigner that supposedly does not have any clue about local prices. To avoid overpaying, ask your Ukrainian friends about local costs for food, transport and other or check them at thematic websites – for example, numbeo.com. Useful tip: do not take a taxi or accept apartment rental offers from people hanging around railway stations and airports. They are very likely to make you pay cosmic prices. You’d better use reliable online services such as Uber, Uklon, Booking.com, Airnbnb etc.
Few words about corruption in Ukraine. Sadly, our country is widely known for the high level of corruption. If you find yourself in a situation when you are asked for a bribe, you should search for a legal help. In such a case, it is reasonable to contact police office, the embassy of your country, a professional lawyer or the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine.

Cultural Differences in Regions: Avoid Miscommunication

people in national ukrainian clothes
Ukraine is a large country, so it is no surprise that people in different parts of it have different views, values and traditions. Before visiting a certain city, town or village, it is reasonable to learn about the specifics of culture in your destination. For example, people in the Western part of Ukraine (Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and so on) as well as people living in small villages all over the country are more concerned about religion and can be called more conservative and traditional than those who dwell, for example, in Kyiv or Odesa where people are more flexible and open-minded. In addition, you should know that the West of Ukraine mostly speaks Ukrainian language, while the people in the central and Eastern parts of the country tend to speak Russian. Knowing these features can prevent you from many cases of misunderstanding and confusing situations.

Relationship: Avoid Breaking Your Heart

man and woman in cafe
Sad to admit it, but we have to face the truth: in the last years, Ukraine has been known as one of the most popular countries for sex tourism. Beautiful women and cheap prices – this combination attracts numerous persons who come to Ukraine to have certain kind of fun. However, there is also the other side of the coin. Many girls in Ukraine, attracted by the high salaries of foreigners, meet foreign men just to get their money and valuable gifts. These girls, usually called “gold-diggers”, may pretend to have feelings and emotions that they do not experience in reality in order to cheat men and make them pay. Both sex tourists and gold diggers create some kind of a “vicious circle” so that those who seek true love and faithful relationship can easily get into this trap. We recommend you to avoid being blind while dating – even if you like one`s appearance and words, do not miss what is hidden behind them. Questions about your salary and chances to get expensive presents from you on the first date don`t bode a good thing. Seek the one that will be interested in your personality and not in your money. Apart from gold-diggers, there are thousands of kind-hearted and sincere Ukrainian girls that will appreciate you for who you are and not for what you earn. Just listen to your heart and be honest with yourself – and you will find your love.
Keeping to these simple rules, you will surely enjoy your time in Ukraine. Welcome!
Photo source: shutterstock.com, unsplash.com. All photos belong to their rightful owners.

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