Ukraine is fast becoming one of the tourist countries and for someone who has spent some years out of her long years on earth in Ukraine, it is my pleasure to fill you in before you pay for that flight ticket to Ukraine this summer to visit cities like Kiev and others.
As a foreigner in Ukraine, don’t do any of the following :
- Get a taxi or approach people who offer accommodation for rent waiting at the train station, the Independence Square and other popular public places. I know it’s quite difficult to avoid this but truthfully I think one can by downloading taxi apps like Uber or Yandex. For one, you avoid taxi rip-offs and sure of your security. This is by no means saying there are no genuine taxi drivers near the train station or in public places, it’s just a precautionary measure and you can read up my Taxi Experience though I ordered for taci from a reliable online app company. For accommodation Airbnb or booking.com does it for me and I will say for others when in a new environment.
- Ever Invalidate/tear Tickets: I escaped this wahala by whisk of magic band. I have always heard people recount their experience on paying fine because they either tore or invalidated their train/tram/bus ticket and as usual I will forget it after the story and say it’s not my portion (I will plead the blood of Jesus and believe in my daily prayers ). On a norm, I Invalidate/tear my tickets just to avoid unpacking my bag to find lots of tickets that should be trashed but on that fateful day, for some weird reason, I carefully kept it in my purse. A stop to where I was to alight, a guy and a lady joined the bus and was checking for ticket. I shaa wasn’t interested for i have learnt to mind my business till they got to me and asked for the ticket. In my head, “Mogbe averted”, I was jogged up to the reality of never to destroy tickets.
- Buy food from Road side Vendors: I used to be nonchalant about this and get food from them till I had diarrhoea. These foods are usually prepared under unsanitary conditions and some ‘entrepreneurs’ don’t even have necessary documents.
- Display money in public. You never know who’s watching you and what they have in mind. When changing money to local currency at “Obem Ballot” or the bank count it there immediately and not on the street or any other public place like a restaurant, cafe or metro station.
- Ever ever walk in the parks or any other deserted places alone when it becomes dark. Late night strolls through poorly- or dimly-lit and isolated areas are never a good idea. In these areas one may encounter unpleasant nuisances such as drunks, prostitutes, thieves, or muggers, oh did I mention drinking is on their priority list? Hence you can find drunks in the morning and anytime of the day.
- Drink alcohol in public places. With the launching of a new patrol police one can easily be fined for that if caught. Lives have equally been lost from fights engaged in public places where alcohols are sold. Better to buy the alcohol and take it in the comfort of your hotel or in certified restaurants.
- Leave your drink unattended and never accept a drink from a stranger or recent acquaintance. Drink spiking is unfortunately rather common, more especially when you are a foreigner or tourist.
- Leave your cash and valuables unattended to. Even when your cash/purse, valuables are in front of you be careful. Likewise when in public place like train stairs, stations always clutch and be conscious of your bags because pickpockets don’t go around with batch on their neck 😌.
- Give money to beggars on the streets. This I experienced on my first day in Ukraine. The friend that received me, is good at being a philanthropist. Immediately He gave one money, others came trooping along and I was like what!!! Once one beggar is helped, other on-looking beggars come asking for money as well. While at it be cautious as there are many pickpockets amongst them. The funny thing about it is, one of them does the distracting another does the pickpocketing . I also do remember helping a beggar that stays around my uni building, it became a habit for her to get my attention whenever I am passing to ask for help. The best tactic in Ukraine is to ignore beggars and keep on moving.
- Let your credit card out of your sight. At the restaurant or café when paying with a credit card, check the bill and ask the waiter to bring the POS terminal to your table or bring your card to the POS terminal yourself following the waiter. Fraudsters are everywhere, not just in Ukraine.
- Ever discuss war and avoid war zones: you see, I know you might have read or heard about wars in Ukraine or even associate Ukraine with war but don’t ever talk about the war for you never know who is embittered by it, who is in support of the cause of the war in the first place. Don’t be curious to visit the war zones even if you are an “A” tourist with “A” tourist guide, it’s always said “live to tell the story another day”.
- Avoid trouble by carrying cash enough for a day: assuming you are going to the city for a walk, don’t carry alot of cash in your wallet or pocket. It is always better to take an amount of money that covers a dinner in a restaurant, a taxi ride and maybe some shopping.
- Forget your Document: Even as a student, we are always advised to carry a document for identification purposes. As a tourist/ foreigner it is recommended to have a document identifying your person – it could be apassport, driving license etc. This is for any unforeseen circumstances and as well to avoid police/immigration problem.
- Equally forget your country’s Embassy contacts: Most communication providers send this as text message whenever you arrive a new country. Don’t delete those text messages atleast till you leave Ukraine and assuming you don’t get the text message, goggle the contact before your trip 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.
- Be offended when asked personal questions : just incase you are like myself who are of the school of thought that I shouldn’t be asked personal question then be ready to get loads of those questions here. It is believed in general that Ukrainians are curious people by nature. This they exhibit when interacting with foreigners. For this sole reason, don’t be offended when someone you just met or became acquainted with suddenly asks personal questions like those concerning how much you make, what your religion is, your political affiliation, or other things that you consider private. This is believed to stem from the country being closed off or isolated from the rest of the world for many years, which makes them curious to ask foreigners about their lives abroad. These questions are normal and shouldn’t surprise their foreign friends.
- Confuse Ukraine with Russia or Ukrainians with Russians. They dislike it alot, well who wouldn’t. It’s like confusing me, a full fledged Nigerian for some other country. Be guided!
However, Ukraine is a beautiful country to visit and I hope I haven’t scared you with these don’ts.
Be safe out there during your tourism and stay in Ukraine.
Till my next post, Don’t Worry! Be Happy!!