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Ukraine, Kiev,
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Travel Tips in Ukraine


Airports:

* Almost all international flights to Kiev arrive at Borispil International Airport, about 35 kilometers from the city center.

* The city's other main airport, Zhuliany-Kiev, which is about 7 kilometers from the city center, terminal B handles domestic flights, A – for international flights.
The most convenient way to get to central Kiev from Borispol Airport is by taxi. You should take into account that taxi drivers do not usually speak English so you should have your destination written on paper in Russian or Ukrainian.
There are also shuttle buses connecting Borispol Airport to Main Railway station. Travel time - around 1 hour.
There is no Metro connecting Borispol airport and city.


Entering or leaving Ukraine:

* Items for personal use are permitted to import without payment on the territory of Ukraine.

* Valuables - works of art and rare books, which have cultural and historical value are obligated to declare and they are taxed on.


Money:

* In Ukraine, you can import an equivalent amount to € 10 thousand without a written declaration. If the amount is more, you should have a certificate from the bank.


Alcohol and tobacco:

* Citizens who have reached the age of 18 may import alcoholic beverages and tobacco products on the territory of Ukraine in hand luggage or accompanying luggage without payment of customs duties and without a written declaration in such amounts per one person:

* 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, or 250 grams of tobacco or of these products in the set of total weight of not more than 250 g;

* 5 litters of beer, 2 litters of wine, 1 litter of strong (with an alcohol content of more than 22%) alcohol.


Mail:

* All Ukrainian towns have post offices. The main post office in a city is usually in the downtown area. The Kiev Central Post Office is at 22 Kreschatik Street. It is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Here you can buy stamps, post cards, mail letters or packages, use fax machines, even make international phone calls.


Internet access:

* Almost every coffee house or restaurant in the city offers free Wi-Fi.


International calls:

* International calls from hotels are expensive. The cheapest way to make an international call is to buy a phone card for that purpose.


Cell phones:

* Before leaving your country, ask your mobile phone provider for the name of its Ukrainian partner. That way, you can use your mobile phone when you arrive.

* Ukrainian Mobile operators support the GSM standard.
There are several Main mobile phone operators: Kyivstar, Vodafon, Lifecell and MTC. Unless you have a dual band telephone which supports GSM with international roaming, American phones have different standard and will not be working in Ukraine.

* American visitors have to buy new cheap phone and use a prepaid-card. The start package costs UAH 50 in most companies. Europeans can use their telephones, having bought the start package.


Holidays:

Jan 1 - New Year's Day
Jan 7 - Christmas Day
Mar 8 - International Women's Day
May 1 - Orthodox Easter Day
May 2 - Orthodox Easter Day holiday
May 2 - Labor Day
May 3 - Labor Day Holiday
May 9 - Victory Day / Memorial Day
Jun 19 - Orthodox Pentecost
Jun 20 - Orthodox Pentecost holiday
Jun 28 - Constitution Day
Aug 24 - Independence Day
Oct 14 - Defenders' Day


Safety:

* Crime. The crime rate in Ukraine is low, compared with rates in a number of Western countries.
Main Street in Kiev Kreschatik is a nice place where the whirl of life does not disappear before midnight. Simply use your common sense - do not flash your thick wallet of cash sticking out of the back pocket of your jeans.

* Water. Bottled water is easy to find in supermarkets. If you have to use tap water, boil it for at least 10 minutes.

* Radiation levels in Kiev and most of the rest of the Ukraine are safe, according to US government and other experts.


Smoking:

* Smoking is banned by authorities in restaurants and other public places starting from December 2012.


Electricity:

* 220V, 50Hz. Adapters with round plugs are necessary if your appliances are for UK/US/Canada electric net.


Weights & measures:

* Metric


Money:

* The official monetary unit in Ukraine today is the hryvnya. 1 hrivnya is worth 100 kopecks. Banknotes come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 denominations.

* The rate of exchange is about 25 hryvnya to US$ 1.00. currency exchange rates, you can see on the home page Currency can be exchanged at airports, banks, hotels and exchange offices. You will find exchange booths at almost every shop, supermarket, department store and along the street. USA dollars and Euros are the most readily accepted western currencies. In Downtown Kiev you will find ATM's in almost every building, shop, department store, hotel, etc.

* Please note that you will receive money in UAH currency according to the currency rate issued by the National Bank of Ukraine.

* Be sure to bring your Visa and Master Cards, as American Express is not accepted in ATM's around Ukraine. There are Western Union and Money gram branches are scattered around the city in banks, railway/ bus stations, department stores, etc.


Language:

* Young people speak English pretty well. The most spoken language in Kiev is Russian. These phrases will help you if you get lost or looking for help.

* (pri 'viet) - Hi (informal)

* (pa 'ka) - Bye (informal)

* ('Do briy den) - Good afternoon

* (da) - yes

* (nyet) - no

* (pa 'zha lusta) - please/ you are welcome

* (spasiba) – thank you

* (izvi 'ni te) - Sorry, Excuse me

* (Ya Ti 'bya lublyu) - I love you


Climate:

* Average Temperatures in Kiev:

* Winter: from - 8o to +2o C (17.6o to 35.6o F)

* Summer: from + 17o to + 25o C (62.6 to 77o F)

The air in Kiev is very humid, so, sometimes in winter it can feel - 15o C when it is actually + 3o C.
In summer you might also feel like taking a shower very often.
In autumn and from Feb to Apr an umbrella would be advisable.


Local time:

* The time in Ukraine is set 2 hours ahead of GMT (3 hours ahead during day-light time).
When it is 12:00 in Kiev it is 11:00 in Warsaw and Berlin, 10:00 in London and 5:00 in New York.

* Clocks go forward one hour on the last Sunday in March and one hour back on the last Sunday of October.


Floor designations:

* Ukrainian floor numbering follows the standard American thinking. The ground floor is the first floor, etc. The next floor up is the second floor and so on.


Religion:

* Ukraine is a mostly Orthodox Country.
You will enjoy Ukrainian churches; some of which were built almost a thousand years ago.
Kiev-Pechersk Monastery is a complex where many religious people gather to celebrate religious holidays.
Catholics will find St. Alexander's Cathedral along Kostyolna Street next to Independence Square.
Jewish, protestant, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu communities are represented by their churches, worshiping centers, mosques and temples.


Food:

* It is not necessary to bring food with you to Kiev. You can buy everything you need including western products.


Dining, tips:

* Kiev's restaurant scene is an unpredictable combination of extremes.

* All varieties of cuisine can be found, service can range from sycophantic to menacing and decor swings from conservative to surreal. No need to arrive with your own mobile home complete with fridge and a stove in it.

* Fast food restaurants, such as McDonald's, are all growing and can be found throughout Kiev.
Tips at Ukrainian restaurants can depend on your satisfaction with the service, but average around 10%.


Shopping:

* Souvenir items to purchase range from vodka and champagne to embroidery, lace, hand-painted lacquered boxes (Palekh), wooden nested dolls, wooden spoons/bowls and carvings, perfumes, amber, carpets, stamps and books.

* Some bargaining is expected at outdoor bazaars and when purchasing from artisans, but not in stores with set prices.

* Buy: Gold, antiques, coral, icons, furs and caviar, valuable paintings, you will need a special document from the local authorities to avoid any problems with customs when leaving Ukraine.


Taxi Cab:

* Taxi cab can be ordered from your apartment (hotel). However, private cars and taxis swarm the city streets, so getting a ride is not a problem. Private cars (locals who have cars and on occasion act as a taxi) cost significantly less than taxi. Be wary of getting into a private car with more than one person already inside. Although this is the most common way of getting a ride (besides public transportation), one should be cautious and careful. Most drivers do not follow many traffic laws and usually do not speak English. Negotiate and agree on a price beforehand.


Public Transportation:

* Metro. Kiev boasts a very common, safe and inexpensive metro system. Tokens may be purchased at any metro station. One token costs 4 hryvnya. One token allows transfer from line to line.

* Trolleys. Trolleys and buses tend to be crammed with people but are a good and cheap way to travel around Kiev. Tickets can be purchased at bus stops or from a trolley/bus operator. If the ticket is not punched while in transit and a person is caught, the fine is about 10 hryvnyas. One ticket costs approx 3 - 4 gryvnyas.

* Trains. Getting between major Ukrainian cities is best done by train. They are frequent, cheap and often a convenient night's journey. If you want to save a few gryvnia and don't mind the extra time, buses serve almost every city and small town; they're best for short trips outside main cities not served by trains.
Kiev is connected to European and Asian cities by an extensive network of railways. The capital's only station is located in the center of the city, next to the Vokzalna metro station. You will arrive to the main Kiev station, which was totally reconstructed in 2001. You will find everything you need there - from Internet and cafes to such services as a luggage room and showers. There are three comfort classes for long-distance train travel: luxury-soft with two pullout beds for more space, coupe-soft with four beds, and plats kart with six beds per compartment. Some trains have carriage-cafe or carriage –restaurant. But in any case it is always a good idea to bring a personal supply of toilet paper, soap, food and drink. Also, in order to secure baggage, a simple bike lock can insure against theft, and a bungee cord can be used to keep the door closed. It is suggested to bring a travel belt to keep valuables and money close to oneself.


Etiquette:

* To make points with your Ukrainian hosts, try following a few simple rules of etiquette.

* If invited to a home, bring a gift with you. A bottle of wine, a cake or a bouquet of flowers is customary. If there is a child in the house, it is appropriate to provide him/her a small gift as well.

* Do not shake hands across the threshold of a door. It is considered bad luck.

* When shaking hands, take off your gloves.

* Be prepared to remove your shoes upon entering a house. To keep apartments clean, most hostesses want shoes kept at the door. They will provide you with a pair of slippers.

* If you can, have business cards printed in Ukrainian on one side and English on the other.

* When eating at someone's home, casual dress is acceptable.

* Be ready to give toasts at dinner. Guests are often asked to do so.

* If you smoke, offer to share cigarettes with those around you.

* On business occasions, clothes should be conservative. Men should not take off their jackets unless asked.

* In Orthodox churches, women wear scarves or hats, and men take off their hats.

* Do not put your thumb between your first two fingers - this is a very rude gesture.


Dating tips:

* Bring flowers to your lady from the first dating. Flowers play a much more important role in Ukraine than they do in the West. If you meet your lady's family, be sure to bring flowers to her mother. Always buy an odd number of flowers--even numbers are considered bad luck. Also, never buy yellow roses (can signal a decrease in feelings or the end of a relationship).

* Dress your best. Ukrainian citizens do not share the altruistic "looks aren't important" mentality that has spread through the West. First impressions are very important to them. You will notice that on the street, people will look first at your clothes, then at your face.

* Don't try to shake hands. Women in Ukraine do not consider it feminine to shake hands when they meet. Also, in the winter, make sure you take off your right glove before you shake hands with a man. To fail to do so is considered rude.

* Be sure you always offer your arm to your lady when you cross the street. Help your lady onto/off of vehicles.

* Take off your shoes in her home. To avoid bringing dirt into their homes, Ukrainian citizens almost never wear their shoes inside. Instead, they wear slippers. They usually have an extra pair or two for guests near the front door. If they don't, simply take off your shoes and remain in your stocking feet (Note: because of this custom, you might want to pay careful attention to the socks you choose to wear!).