Kiev Travel Information
GMT +2 (GMT +3, Mar - Oct)
Electrical current is 220-240 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are the round two-pin variety.
Ukrainian is the official language, but Russian is also widely spoken.
Immunisation against diphtheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tick-borne encephalitis and rabies should be considered before travel to the Ukraine. Typhoid vaccinations are recommended for long-term travellers who might eat outside of major hotels and restaurants. Tap water is best avoided, or treated by boiling or with chemicals. HIV is widespread and the level of sexually transmitted diseases is high. Due to the risk of exposure to pollutants and radioactive materials, swimming in the Dnieper River should be avoided. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised, and visitors are advised to bring a supply of personal medication.
Tipping is fairly new in the Ukraine and is now expected in restaurants: usually five to 10 percent of the bill is acceptable. In more upmarket establishments 10 percent is more the norm if not already included in the bill. Drivers are not usually tipped.
The Ukraine has experienced serious political unrest in the recent past and continues to do so, and most governments have instituted travel warnings for the country. The eastern Ukraine and Crimea are particularly to be avoided. Travellers are advised to research the current situation and to stay up to date on travel alerts for the region.
When it comes to crime, most visits to the Ukraine are trouble-free, but foreigners are considered lucrative targets for petty theft and street crime in the Ukraine, and valuables should be kept out of sight, especially in crowded areas and at tourist spots. Particular care should be taken on public transport and overnight trains.
Homosexuality is legal and generally tolerated in Ukraine.
Ukraine, because of a troubled recent history, is trapped in many paradoxical laws and business is observed quite differently than in western Europe. After the country's break from Soviet ties, unprecedented opportunities for the entrepreneur arose, but not many people speak English and the use of interpreters may be necessary; knowledge of German, Russian or Ukrainian will be useful. During meetings formal attire is customary for both men and women, although women are not traditionally part of the business world, and visiting businesswomen may be subjected to chauvanism. Meetings often include informalities and sociable questions, and will regularly begin with a welcoming alcoholic drink, which it is considered rude to refuse. These are often used for character evaluation and it is considered impolite to delve straight into business matters. Typical business hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
The international dialling code for the Ukraine is +380. Mobile phone network coverage is fairly extensive, but international roaming can be expensive. There are internet cafes available in Kiev, and other main cities and towns. Wifi is also becoming increasingly accessible.
Travellers to the Ukraine can bring in 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco products; 1 litre of spirits and 2 litres of wine; and goods for personal use, as well as goods with a total value of €200, without incurring customs duty. Prohibited items include items that can have an impact on the environment, and agricultural goods and live animals.
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