Travel to the Ukraine
Traveling to the Ukraine will be a vacation you will never forget.
Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe in terms of landmass and third largest in population Because of its location, it is crucial to the future of Western Europe, Russia and the Far East. Ukraine is rich in natural resources, fertile soil, extensive forests and vast mineral deposits.
Ukraine is going through a challenging period in its change from a Communist regime to a Democratic market economy. The country now has the most stable government of all former Communist countries.
For the tourist, the Ukraine is second to none in beauty. You’ll enjoy the beautiful Carpathian Mountains, Lviv’s Architecture and lifestyle, Odessa and the Crimea with its sub-tropical climate on the Black Sea, the Mighty Dnipro River with its Cossack history and Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, with its business opportunities and boundless beauty. Most importantly, you will be surrounded by friendly, hospitable people, vivacious music, song, and Ukrainian Folk dancers and an always-full plate and cup.
TIME Ukraine is 7 hours ahead of Canadian or Eastern Standard Time. For example, midnight in Toronto or New York is 7 a.m. in the Ukraine.
TRAIN SERVICE Train travel within the Ukraine is a convenient and inexpensive way to get around the country. For tourists, first-class sleeping cars are recommended. Cars can be booked as double or quad occupancy. If you are traveling alone, it is recommended you purchase two tickets, so you have the compartment to yourself. Should you encounter any difficulties, talk to the car steward immediately.
In addition, you should bring your own soap, toilet paper and towels.
CITY TRANSPORTATION Public transportation can be found in virtually every Ukraine city. While it won’t be the same caliber as public transportation in the United States, try to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Kyiv has the third oldest subway system of all former Soviet countries and is the deepest in the world with the longest escalators. A visit to Kyiv is not complete without a tour of this beautiful and very impressive subway system. Travel on the subway is safe and inexpensive and certainly convenient.
Buses and streetcars are also available, however, it can be difficult if you do not know which bus or streetcar to catch and even more difficult if you are not fluent in Ukrainian or Russian.
Tickets can be purchased at bus stops or once you board. Be sure to punch the tickets at one of several machines available on board. Failing to do this could result in delays or even a fine.
TAXIS Taxis are very plentiful in cities like Kyiv and Lviv and are relatively inexpensive. Official taxis will have markings similar to North American taxis complete with a meter.
Just about any vehicle in the Ukraine can qualify as a taxi. For a small fee, most Ukrainian drivers will be happy to pick you up and take you to your destination if it is on their way.
CAR AND DRIVER It is cheaper to hire a car and driver than to rent a car. The driver also is responsible for fuel, maintenance, security and most importantly, he knows where he’s going and can also be your guide and interpreter.
A car and driver may be booked through ,Impressa Club, Ltd., and if you are on one of our escorted group tours and require a car and driver, we will be happy to arrange it for you.
If you are visiting the Ukraine on your own, then our local staff will be at your disposal whenever you need them.
RENT A CAR Car rental is now available in some of the Ukraine’s larger cities but very expensive. Here are some locations in Kyiv:
Rental fees can be considerably higher than what you might be used to in the United States or Canada. You must be 21 years of age or older and have a credit card and drivers license to rent a car.
BARBER AND BEAUTY SHOPS Although comparatively inexpensive, techniques and methods used by hairdressers differ from those in North America,. Facilities include hairdressing, facials, manicures and even solariums and spas. Barbershops may not look sophisticated, but they are good and, in most cases, reasonably priced. Prices in a city like Kyiv will be considerably higher than in smaller centers.
BUSINESS HOURS An 8-hour day is considered a normal work day. Most offices and institutions operate on this schedule Monday through Friday. A lunch break is taken between 1 and 2 p.m. Most banks are open without breaks Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many shops now stay open until 6 p.m. so the above information is a general guide.
MAIL SERVICE Post offices are located throughout the Ukraine. Some hotels, like the Cheremosh in Chernivtsi, have a post office. In Kyiv the main post office is located at 22 Kreshatik Street. At post offices you can purchase stamps, send mail, use fax machines and place international phone calls.
COURIER MAIL CENTRES IN KYIV 1. DHL International Ukraine: 1 Vasylkivska Street 011-380-44-220-0792 2. Federal Express: 18 Schorsa Street #2 – 011-380-44-269-2202 3. UPS (United Parcel Service): 20 Mechnikova Street – 011-380-44290-0000
INTERNET SERVICES Many cyber cafes have opened, especially in Kyiv and many hotels, like the Grande Hotel in L’viv, now feature internet access.
CURRENCY The official currency in Ukraine is the Hryvnia (plural Hryvni). The rate of exchange fluctuates and can be anywhere from 1.7 – 7 Hryvni to one American dollar, which is the all-mighty currency in Ukraine. Credit cards are more widely accepted in many hotels, restaurants and for many travel-related services.
One of the quickest, but not necessarily the safest, ways to obtain cash is through ATM machines. You will get a decent exchange rate and the funds you will receive will be in Hryvnias (Plural Hryvni). ATM transaction fees are comparatively low. All major debit and credit cards are now being accepted. When you travel on with an Impressa escorted group tour, we will direct you to the nearest ATM.
Travelers checks have not yet gained wide acceptance and may be difficult to cash (and when they, are expect to pay a high commission rate). Should you have no choice, then Vabank and Ozhadbank are your best bet.
Be sure to carry an ample supply of Hryvni with you, since most stores can no longer accept foreign currency for purchases. Exchange booths are plentiful. Avoid exchanging currency with individuals on the street. It is illegal and dangerous.
Be sure your U.S. dollars are clean and not wrinkled, free of marks and tears. Even tiny magic marker strokes used by many North American banks can be cause for refusal to accept your bills.
Personal checks do not yet exist in the Ukraine.
ELECTRICITY Electricity in the Ukraine is 220-260 Volts/50Hz and appliance plug tips are of the smaller round European type (similar to graphic shown at right).
If you plan to take any electrical devices, you will need a voltage converter (transformer) of sufficient wattage. Electric razors, hair dryers and appliances not rated for 50 Hz will fail to operate properly even with a transformer. Some 60 Hz devices may even burn out. ALL devices rated for 110 volts WILL burn out if used without a transformer.
Plug types and other electrical characteristics can be found at: http://kropla.com/electric.htm. Ukraine type is at page
HOTELS Many Ukranian hotels are still not up to western standards, although some of the newer or renovated hotels are. These hotels are usually privately owned. At Impressa Club, Ltd., we only work with hotels that have a 3-star or higher rating.
SHOPPING Souvenirs are plentiful and reasonably priced. Here is a list of recommended items to consider purchasing: Horilka (vodka) – Hetman is indeed a favorite. Champagne – both red and traditional. Hand carved, wood inlay and lacquered boxes, dark chocolate, hand-painted silk scarves, red and black caviar, Soviet military memorabilia, Pysanky (hand-painted Easter eggs), oil and watercolor paintings, embroidery, lace, semi-precious stones, Matrioshka dolls (wooden nested dolls), amber, handwoven rugs, stamps, coins, books.
Many of these items can be purchased at outdoor bazaars where bargaining is expected. Prices in most stores are usually non-negotiable.
Bazaars are also the best place to purchase fresh fruit, flowers, vegetables, meat, cheese, and eggs. Kyiv, Lviv, and Chernivtsi have excellent outdoor bazaars.
There are now many designer clothing stores in Kyiv and in other larger centers, where you’ll see brands such as Nike, Adidas, Jan Franko Ferre, Reebok and many others. You might even be surprised and impressed with the quality of clothing and other items sold at bazaars in Kyiv, Chernivtsi, and Lviv.
Be careful what you buy because you may receive a counterfeit item in some bazaars, and remember any items deemed to be national treasures may be confiscated by customs officials upon departure unless you have official documents permitting you to leave with such items. If you are traveling on an Impressa Club, Ltd. group tour, then check with us before you purchase.
DINING If you are on an Impressa Club, Ltd. escorted group tour, then all your meals are included. If you decide to venture out and explore the many tastes available in Kyiv, representing many major cuisines, we’d be happy to share our expertise with you.