Ukraine travel tips
If Ukraine is for you here are a few things that can help make your stay in Ukraine a little easier on the wallet while enjoying all Ukraine has to offer. I have found layovers of at least an hour at each stop helps your luggage keep up. Lost luggage is a common problem so pack some things in your carry on for an emergency. First you will have to Decide what city in Ukraine you would like to visit. Ukraine has two main international airports one is in Odessa and the other in Kiev making them the most popular destinations in Ukraine, Lviv or Lvov also has an international airport that was recently upgraded. Most travelers to Ukraine come through the Borispol airport and customs is not as bad as in Odessa, it seems the customs officers in Odessa still like to get an extra twenty out of you if they can. Here are a few tips on how to save money on the cost of your flight. First always try to fly during the week ( Thursday seems best), second always try to book your flight thirty days in advance, the best prices can be found when you search for flights on Tuesday and Wednesday no matter what day you fly.
Now for customs
When you land in Ukraine you will then be taken by bus to the terminal. First you will show your passport then collect your baggage, from there if you have nothing to declare you will walk to the main terminal scan your bags again.. You know your in Ukraine when all you hear is taxi from the drivers standing around, I happen to know one I call fifty dollar Denis. Some drivers speak a little English so you can negotiate a fare of 30 usd to Kiev, or you can visit the taxi stand on the right as you exit the terminal. If you land at the new terminal it is across the parking lot past terminal A. If you don't have any local currency you can get some at the airport terminal A B but the exchange wont be as good as in the city, there are places in every city to exchange money, just look for the best price. You can also take the bus to vokzalna= train station then take the metro from there.
You can buy a cheep phone and sim or if you have a quad band unlocked phone you can just buy a sim and recharge. I have found my MTC and Life :) works for texting in the USA, I have a cheep quad band unlocked ebay cell phone from China with dual sim and a decent camera, you can purchase a cheep phone in Ukraine or see below. I have had some requests to give instructions on how to add minutes to your phone (recharge). The number for recharge is on the card scratch off the other side to see that number. Dial the number including the star then input the code followed by the # sign. There is also an automated system for phones and Internet. Just look for the symbol of your carrier and it is self explanatory. The cost of the sim includes some minutes. The cost to buy a cheap phone is normally around 100. Almost all modern cellphones will be quad band these days. Almost any phone that excepts a sim card will work as long as it is unlocked, fees range from around 7-20 dollars on most phones but Iphones can be done free. Most Verizon phones will not work in Ukraine, I have had quite a few complaints about buying service for Europe and not being able to use the phone. I was told a few of the newer Verizon phones will have a sim card for overseas but haven't had any experience using them. They do offer the smaller sim card for the Iphone 4 or you can just cut one to size. you can buy data for your phone, the map software on Iphones works quite nice and gives walking or driving directions.
Getting to Kiev
The Metro is probably the least expensive and might be quicker if its rush hour. If you have a lot of baggage take a taxi but if its just one bag the metro is the way to go. Take the bus from the airport to the train station, The metro is on the right side of the train station. Bus is about 25 grivna (4 dollars) and metro is 2 grivna each way. there are signs in English now so the metro should be easy to navigate.
Seasoned travelers to Ukraine know its best to book an apartment, they offer services such as cooking, airport pickup interpreters, Internet and city guides, just check our links page. Lets start with Kiev the capitol of Ukraine where you will fly into Barispol international airport. The drive to Kiev from Barispol can be a long drive if its rush hour and depending on where in the city you are going. The drive to Kiev can be shall we say interesting, Ukrainian drivers are the best or worst depending on your view. A Ukrainian driver knows exactly how wide the car is and how to squeeze into a spot its not meant to be in without a scratch. I try to avoid rush hour traffic in Kiev if I can help it, I don't care for sitting on a street watching people walk faster then you can drive. If you are renting an apartment in Ukraine be careful of being charged for extras, There is also the old bait and switch where they will show one apartment on the Internet and when you show up it is no longer available for some reason, They will of course offer you another place for more money. I have a few companies listed on the links page who have shown they offer what they say they have. If you are traveling around the country you will find there is always people at the bus or train station renting apartments to tourists. This is probably the cheapest way to rent, in the big tourist areas such as Yalta a few even speak English.
You can use an electronic translator or purchase data for your phone with a local sim card. Be careful what you pay as it can run from 5 an hour to 30 an hour in larger city's. There are a few on our links page that are on the lower side of pricing. You can also hire a guide or tour service. A guide may not be fluent in English but will save you a lot of money. Tour service is normally more expensive but they serve a purpose. We have both on our links page. The free walking tours are a great way to start out in Kiev. They do offer excursions and visits to some of the other sites around Kyiv but its best to go in a group to cut costs.
Here is a list of things that will come in handy for when you are in Ukraine. 1st a bag to carry your passport and money. Pickpocket's are bad but not as bad as New Orleans. 2nd packets of tissues, lack of toilet paper is an issue but can be purchased at public and pay toilets. 3rd sanitary wipes. 4th don't forget your camera done that myself. 5 Don't forget to get a converter for your electronics normally around 10.00 US. you can purchase a cheap power converter at Wal Mart, Amazon or Radio shack. Make sure to pack some toilet paper in your luggage and the normal shampoo, Q-tips and other items you use. You will also want some good walking shoes but not sneakers, 5 miles of walking is common.