PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION - Public transportation in Kyiv is efficient and inexpensive, but crowded. The city's network of buses, trolley buses, streetcars and the subway (Metro) covers almost the entire city. Riders should be ready to contend with a good deal of pushing and shoving during the morning and evening rush hours.
TAXIS - There are taxi stands at some busy corners in central Kyiv. Hailing a taxi can be a frustrating and time consuming experience. Many taxis often refuse fares, the main reason being the destination desired by the traveler being different than the route the taxi driver is taking. After a taxi stops, the required destination should be stated; if the driver agrees, a price should be negotiated before entering the vehicle. Extra precaution should be taken in the evenings, when it is advisable to use only a clearly marked taxi rather than a private vehicle.
DRIVING - Roads in Ukraine are in generally poor condition. Travel between cities at night and in the winter can be particularly treacherous. Gasoline and diesel fuel supplies may be difficult to find in outlying areas. Carjackings of Western-made or foreign- registered cars is on the rise. There has been an increase in the number of documented reports of criminal acts occurring on trains, including gassings and robberies.
Traffic regulations and procedures in Ukraine differ significantly from those in the U.S. and drivers new to Ukraine should be aware of these rules and procedures. A valid international driver's license is all that is necessary to drive in Ukraine.
Spare parts for American cars are difficult to locate in Kyiv. Spare parts for standard European models and some Japanese models, when available, are priced substantially higher than in the U.S. This may change as more car dealerships open in Kyiv. There is at present a Ford dealership, and Toyota and Mazda have recently opened service stations here. Spare parts for the Ukrainian "Zaporozhets" and the Russian "Lada" are generally available.
Winters in Ukraine are dark and cold with sheets of ice common along the city streets. Front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicles provide the best handling, as only the main streets of Kyiv are plowed regularly.
For vehicles that use diesel fuel, a note stating "diesel only" should be attached to the ignition key. Diesel is available locally, but is not of high quality. Additives must be added to diesel fuel in winter. Unleaded fuel is only available at certain stations in Kyiv. Catalytic converters may be removed from vehicles that are brought in from the states.
As of late 1994, the Ukrainian government did not require that cars be covered by third-party liability insurance. But many U.S. citizens, however have chosen to purchase such policies. Insurance is available through a number of local companies such as Ometa Inster, which insures both official and private vehicles against theft, accidents and provides third-party insurance. The annual fee is approximately 6% of the value of the automobile and payment is in local currency.
Although the road system in Ukraine
provides access to all cities, towns, and most villages, most
are in deplorable condition. The traveller must plan trips carefully
since information, food, lodging, and fuel are often not available
along the highways. One should always travel with food, water
and ample fuel necessary to arrive at the planned destination.
Air Ukraine International, the successor to Aeroflot,
operates and provides regular service throughout the country for
coupons and abroad for hard currency. Air Ukraine also
offers direct flights to New York and Washington, D.C. Air
Ukraine International began using Boeing aircraft with service
to Western Europe in November 1992. A limited but growing number
of Western airlines now operate in Kyiv, including Delta, Lufthansa,
British Air, Austrian Air, Malev (Hungarian), CSA (Czech), LOT
(Polish), TransAero, KLM, SwissAir, Air France, and SAS.
See the telephones list here.
In March 1993, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration assessed Ukraine's civil aviation authority as in compliance with international aviation safety oversight standards for Ukraine carriers operating to and from the U.S. The same level of safety oversight would typically be applied to operations to other destinations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation at 1-800-322-7873.
Kyiv has two airports: BORISPIL airport serves both international and domestic flights and KYIV (ZHULIANY) serves domestic flights only.
BORISPIL airport is located 24 miles from Kyiv. Travellers can take either a taxi or rental car to the air port, but should plan at least 40 minutes to get there from the center of Kyiv. The trip from Borispil by rental sedan costs $15, by rental van $20, and by taxi-no more than $30. Negotiate on a price before taking the taxi. There is a taxi service at the airport. Travellers can also order rental cars by dialing 220-6729. Cars usually arrive within 30 minutes.
ARRIVAL PROCEDURES (FOR NON-DIPLOMATIC PERSONNEL)
1. Land at airport, disembark plane and get into airport bus or directly to terminal.
2. Enter terminal, proceed to passport control.
3. Passport control.
All traveler's must have valid documents or visas to entry Ukraine. Ukraine has changed the visa issuing policy so visas are not issued at the airport any more.
People were reported to be returned back at the Boryspil airport, so have your visas ready. Read more about Ukrainian visas at the Ukrainian Embassy Washington website.
4. Customs. Complete your customs declaration accurately. Declare all money, travelers checks, and valuables in your possession. Include all personal jewelry, such as wedding rings and watches. It is advised, however, not to bring such valuables to avoid complications. Customs forms are available at point of entry. Have your customs declaration stamped by the authorities and keep it with you until you leave the country. Keep your exchange receipts in order to account for your expenditures. Without these records, customs officials could confiscate your cash and valuables upon departure.
All passengers should arrive at the airport at least two hours before flight takeoff. Passengers must go through several checkpoints:
2. FLIGHT REGISTRATION: this checkpoint
closes one hour before flight departure.
Much domestic travel in Ukraine is best accomplished by train, almost all of it overnight. Trains are cheap, usually punctual and rarely break down. Inter-city cars do not have seats -- they have beds on which you sit during the evening and morning and on which you sleep at night. Intracity trains have seats, but are rarely used by Embassy personnel.
Train cars are divided into four classes. First-class cars ("SV" pronounced as "es veh" - spalny vahon, or sleeper) are best, with two persons to a compartment, working reading lamps, nicer bedding, extra mirrors, less-worn carpeting and a less raucous ambiance. Certain East German models of first-class trains have three-person compartments, with the middle bunk folding down for sleeping and folding away during the daytime. Some of these wagons also have sinks with running water in the individual compartments! Second-class cars (kupe) feature four-person compartments and provide similar, but shabbier, accommodation. Third-class cars (platz-kartny) have no separations between sleeping bunks, are frequently very dirty, smelly, and noisy. Fourth-class cars (zahalny vahon) available only on some routes, offer only seating space.
Your ticket will specify the class of travel, the originating city and the destination, the number of the train and the number of the car. This is important to pass on if you have someone meeting you.
At Kyiv's train station, look for the platform number to be posted on the big departure board in the main hall and listen for announcements in case of last-minute changes. If you don't have much experience on trains, allow about 15 minutes at the station to find the platform and car to which you are assigned. Show your ticket (and if necessary, passport) to the conductor at the foot of the stairs of your car and climb aboard! Persons carrying bags are permitted to board the trains and will usually be given enough notice to leave the train before it moves away.
1. LOCK THE BOLT NEAR THE HANDLE AND, IF AVAILABLE, LOWER THE METAL FLAP that helps ensure that your door cannot be opened from the outside. Some passengers force a hanger into the lock to prevent any entry. Others tie a string or belt around the handle and the opposite clothes hook. Sleep with your valuables either in a pouch that you wear inside your clothes, in a pouch or small pack under your pillow, or in another place where someone cannot reach them without disturbing you. Try not to carry lots of cash. If you must, keep it separate and secure.
2. SOLO TRAVEL IS A CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE. The Embassy almost always provides its staff with completely private accommodations -- either first- or second-class. Train conductors and anyone else who wishes to find out will learn that you, a foreigner, are in the compartment all alone. The Embassy has documented several cases of passengers being gassed in compartments, usually when they were solo. If you feel up to exchanging some privacy for possibly increased safety and definitely increased socializing, consider traveling in four-person compartments where you are sure to have the company of natives. Follow the rules of train etiquette if you are with others: bring something to eat and drink to share, wear as nearly as possible what you plan to sleep in, exit the compartment when passengers of the opposite sex start preparing for bed, and come to a consensus on having the window and door open or closed during the night and how loud you want the radio, if it's been turned on. Windows are either sealed shut permanently or opened with a special key kept by the conductor. A simple request to have her unlock the window is usually all it takes to open it, although you may be in for a lecture about the hazards of drafts.
1. Shortly after departure, the conductor will appear in your compartment to take your ticket for the night. She (most often, although increasingly men are breaking through this job barrier) is the one who scrutinized you and your ticket as you boarded. The conductor then collects money for the sheets. Each set of sheets, which also includes a small towel, costs less than $2.50. If you are alone and the conductor demands money for all the beds in your compartment, don't waste your breath pointing out that you'll only be sleeping on one -- just pay for all of them. Try to give exact change, or graciously tell the conductor to keep the change. Make your own bed unless you're lucky enough to be in a first-class compartment where this service has already been provided. If you don't find a blanket in your compartment, ask for one. In winter, trains often become very warm over the course of a night, but initially may be chilly. In some trains, the conductor returns in about an hour to offer tea, available for pennies.
2. HYGIENE: Toilet facilities leave much to be desired, so consider visiting a restroom before boarding. Often the sinks do not have running water. Bring toilet paper, kleenex, water and moist towelettes.
3. MORNING WAKE-UP: The conductor will usually knock on your door with that special window key a good hour before arrival. She wants to be sure to give you plenty of time to rise and shine, to drink tea if it's available and to fold up your blanket and return the sheets to her in her compartment by the toilet.
- If you are crossing to a neighboring country, expect the train
to stop for at least a half-hour on both sides of the border.
Have your passport and visa ready. You can read about
visa requirements for travel
to neighbourhood countries at the US Embassy in Kyiv homepage.
Some good information resources containing train schedules info are available online. We recommend you to visit the following Web pages: