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We made every effort to ensure that the information presented here is correct, but please note that Ukraine is a very dynamic country and many things can change without any notice. The organizing committee cannot accept responsibility for absolute correctness of this information at the time of the conference. In this information we do not attempt any advertising for companies, facilities, products or services. Everything mentioned here is either used by the members of the organizing committee, or recommended by their friends. If you think you'll need this information when in Kyiv, we kindly ask you to print it out at home and take a copy with you!
There is a huge number of attractions. Ukraine has become a popular tourist destination during the last years. Besides, majority of information and services that are readily available are targeted towards business travelers prepared to pay quite unreasonable prices. For this reason, and because of predictable inability to answer all questions in person during the conference, we decided to prepare this information summary.
All travelers from all foreign countries have to go through the Border Control and Customs checks on arrival in Ukraine.
Most travelers, including citizens of the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada, can enter Ukraine visa-free with just their passports for between 30 and 90 days.
Check, if you are eligible for visa-free entrance on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine:
Other nationals are advised to contact an Ukrainian embassy for visa requirements. A visa must be obtained in advance from an Ukrainian embassy or consulate.
Kyiv International Boryspil Airport is the closest airport to the Kyiv City Center. The easiest way is to take a taxi straight from the airport to residence. Estimated time between Airport and Kyiv City Centre 30-40 minutes.
Kyiv International Airport Zhuliany is only 8 km from the center and handles mostly domestic travel and flights from Europe. Estimated time between Airport Zhuliany and Kyiv City Centre is 20 minutes.
Taxis can often be found waiting directly outside the terminal, in the passenger drop-off/pick-up area. However, you can use Uber app to get to your accommodation. Uber and Uklon perfectly work in Ukraine.
Taxi from airport to the city center costs approximately 200-300 UAH (hryvna) (= á 10 USD). Please notice that taxi accepts only the cash, no credit cards. Drivers accept also the payment in USD. There is ATM/cash dispenser right in the arrival lobby.
Transportation to and from Kyiv
Most participants will arrive by plane to the main airport in Kyiv - Boryspil. There are shuttle buses from the airport (“Skybus”) to metro Boryspilska and to the Main Railway Station (Southern-Pivdennyi), 25 hryvnyas (UAH). Taxi from Boryspil airport will cost 160-180 hryvnyas (UAH) if ordered by phone or around 250-300 hryvnyas (UAH) if you go by Boryspil official taxi waiting near the terminal exit (but these ones provide receipts and some of them take credit card – ask before boarding).
Drivers waiting at the railway station will ask all sorts of high prices, but if you walk 100 metres away you may get a taxi at a reasonable price. If you prefer to use metro, go from the airport to the Boryspilska metro station.
Travel to the airport will take around 30-60 minutes depending on the traffic. A taxi from a hotel ordered by phone from the city centre to Boryspil airport would cost around USD 20-25 (150-200 UAH) depending on the time of the day (more expensive at night). It is better to agree on the fixed price from the beginning irrespective of the meter.
There are a number of reasonably priced and good places to have lunch around the conference location, e.g. "Puzata Khata" (Bessarabska Square 1/2 and Khreshchatyk St. 15). Full course meal costs there 3-6 USD.
Lots of fast food places can be found in underground malls - Globus under Maidan Nezalezhnosti (close to Kozatsky hotel) and Metrohrad (with Internet cafe) under Bessarabsky Square, with much less along Khreshchatyk Street being a place for more expensive restaurants. There are two McDonalds outlets along Khreshchatyk Street. There are also quite a few set-lunch, coffee, pizza, sushi and Chinese places, though Kyiv still lacks a full variety of ethnic restaurants. Prices in these places differ - from around 30-50 hryvnyas for a meal at a Ukrainian fast self-service places to 60-100 hryvnyas for a set lunch in fancier ones.
You will get enough advertising for more expensive restaurants in the airline magazine and in the airport, so we do not go on in detail into this subject.
Money and banking / Cash and cards
Ukraine is essentially a cash economy. Credit cards are gaining wider acceptance in larger cities. Now there are lots of cash machines (they give only hryvnyas). Credit cards may be used in some hotels, Western-style restaurants, international airlines and some shops. Such venues usually display logos of the credit cards they accept on their doors. If they have no such logo - then there is no purpose to ask. However, they never promise that they accept your particular card. Generally Visa and Mastercard are most useful.
Changing foreign currency for Ukrainian hryvnyas (or another currency) is legal only at banks, currency exchange desks at hotels, and licensed exchange booths. Exchange booths do not cash travel cheques and do not deal with credit cards. In any case bring some cash with you - you may not be able to use a credit card/travel cheque in the airport/railway station. It is better to bring US dollars or Euros (or Russian roubles). Most other hard currencies can be changed, but at worse rate and in a limited number of places.
General safety rules apply - do not flash large sums of money and never exchange currency with private people - it is illegal and with high probability is a scam.
There are cash machines around that would allow to get money (hryvnyas only) with credit or debit cards (carrying Cirrus/Maestro logo). However, we would recommend using a bank for this purpose.
Euro to Ukraine Hryvnia (EUR to UAH) (as of Sept. 10, 2017, 1 EUR = 31.44 UAH)
United States Dollar to Ukraine Hryvnia (USD to UAH) (as of Sept. 10, 2017, 1 USD = 26.13 UAH)
Russian Rouble to Ukraine Hryvnia (RUB to UAH) (as of Sept. 10., 2017, 1 RUB = 0.45 UAH)
Exchange rates in exchange offices in Kyiv are slightly higher.
Exchange rate in cash machines may be nominally better than in booths, but with all fees applied it comes lower. Exchange rate in exchange booths is usually as shown - street booths charge no commission.
When changing you currency, look closely at the exchange rate - there are some not-so-honest places, especially along Khreshchatyk that display their much lower rates in a way that they look at little bit higher that usual at the first glance - e.g. 8.0017 with 8.10 being a "good" rate at the moment, profiting on people in hurry who tend to look at last figures only. E.g. "0" may be much smaller than other figures. If you see that a transaction does not satisfy you, you are entitled to reverse it if you do it immediately, however a language problem may come here.
Banks and exchange booths in airports, hotels and restaurants, and in residential districts far from the city centre normally have much worse exchange rates than those in the city centre.
Buying your own food in shops is a reasonable alternative to eating in cafes/restaurants. There are some grocery shops ("gastronoms") around the conference facility. A little longer walk will take you to "Sil’po" or "Megamarket" supermarkets. Both are perfectly OK for everything else and have a large advantage over regular shops that they are usual self-service supermarkets, so you do not need to tell what you want to buy. They also carry a variety of health foods that are not always present in "gastronoms". Western foods were popular in Kyiv upscale shops at the start of the market economy, but now only few brands can be found - local consumers consider old and new domestic brands better (and cheaper), so many more expensive Western foods were priced out from the market.
Ukrainian specialities to try from grocery shops:
The closest self-service grocery shop ("gastronom") is located at Shevchenko Boulevard down to Khreshchatyk at the distance of around 500 metres.
Usual place is (a picturesque street worth visiting on its own, that goes from the end of Volodymyrska Street (go to the Opera House, turn right, pass the Opera House and go along the street up to the Andriivska Church - beautiful blue-and white church standing over a hill) to Podil. You will not be mistaken, as you'll see lots of souvenir stands right there. Andriivsky Uzviz does down to the left (and souvenir prices will also go down quite a bit as you'll go down the street). Another useful places are small shops along Khreshchatyk.
Alcohol and tobacco
Situation is this area is so different from many countries that it is worth some special attention. Locally produced alcoholic drinks are quite cheap in Ukraine (in shops, but not in restaurants). However, counterfeit production is still quite widespread. These counterfeit products are rarely a major health hazard, but to be on the safe side, buy such drinks (anything other than beer or juice-vodka mixes) only from a large grocery shop and at the restaurants or better cafes. NEVER buy any strong alcohol or wine from kiosks, private persons or street cafes (other than street tables of a higher-end establishment). This is an occasion to break the usual travellers' rule -"do as locals do". The locals have more experience in telling what is safe, and being at home they take much less risk drinking questionable vodka. This paragraph is also an appropriate place to warn once more against any drinking with strangers, even if they offer a free drink.
Cigarettes are sold everywhere, with cheaper prices from old ladies in the streets. Note that smoking is forbidden in public places.
Please do not expect taxi drivers, shop assistants, emergency service workers, servers at a restaurant or anybody else in Ukraine to speak English or other foreign languages, except the young generation. Your best strategy will be to learn a few words like "Thank you", "hello" and "a beer (pyvo)" (or "a coffee (cofeh)").
The Soviet system of learning languages was designed in such a way that people might be able to read technical information but could not speak at all. The present system of language training is way better, and many young people do get good English speaking skills during their time at school, but these young people usually have better things to do than work as taxi drivers, waiters or shop assistants.
Most essential Ukrainian words English Transliteration
Time - officially Ukraine has one time zone two hours after Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight saving time is set from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October (so in June it is three hours after the GMT).
Business hours - usual working hours in offices/institutes are 9.00-18.00 with the lunch break at 13.00-14.00, Monday to Friday. Most common opening time for smaller shops is 10.00-19.00, Monday to Saturday, sometimes 10.00-18.00 on Saturday. Larger shops and most cafes work 10.00-20.00 with no lunch break, every day including official holidays. Most bank branches work 10.00-18.00, Monday to Friday, lunch break at 13.00-14.00 or 14.00-15.00, Saturday 9.00-14.00.
Utilities: Electricity standard is 220 volts, 50Hz. An adapter may be needed for Western European appliances and a voltage converter for Northern American.
Tap water in Kyiv is chemically safe but may contain elevated levels of lead from the pipes. This problem is remedied by letting the tap run for 10 seconds before collecting the water. There is also no detectable radiation in the water. Better hotels have their autonomous hot water supply, so we hope you will not suffer from absence of hot water.
Public restrooms (sometimes they charge 1-2 hryvnyas) are available in most underground malls around Khreshchatyk Street and in McDonalds. They are scarce in other locations.
Most transportation during the conference will be made by foot, as the Pedagogical University is located in the city centre close to almost everything. Many places that can be reached in 15-20 minutes do not have convenient public transport to them, so walking will be the best option. So the first transportation tip is to bring good shoes.
Metro travel is cheap (5 hryvnyas per ride (á 0.12 USD), safe and reliable. To pay for a ride you should buy plastic tokens in cash windows at the metro stations.
There are also trams, trolleybuses and buses (5-7 hryvnyas for a ride) that may be crowded or not so frequent. Mini-buses are 5-7 hryvnyas per ride, and the fare is the same for the particular type of transportation irrespective of the actual distance of your travel. There is no comprehensive source of information about all minibus routes (more than a hundred), and we considered them not really relevant for conference participation or sightseeing, so do not give any of such information here.
Taxis may be quite inexpensive and convenient if you know the rules. There are licensed taxis (with plates on the top). To stop a taxi if you see one lift your hand on the side of a road. Private cars may stop and function as taxis if you lift your hand on the side of a road (not advised for foreigners). Look at the meter or negotiate the price at the start. Reasonable fare around city centre (to and from Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra, Kontraktova Ploshcha, House of Organ Music etc.) shall not exceed 35-40 hryvnyas (or 20 for a very short ride) irrespective of the number of people. Taxi to the Open Air Museum may be 60-80 hryvnyas. Taxis may be ordered by phone. However, English-speaking drivers are rare. A card with the name and address of your hotel written in Ukrainian/Russian may be useful.
Medical facilities: We ask all participants to get adequate medical insurance for the whole period of their stay in Ukraine. We do not have any insurance for participants and will not be able to provide any financial assistance in case of any emergency.
Medical care in Ukraine may be considered limited by Western standards. However, all basic medical supplies are available in state-owned and very numerous private pharmacies (drugstores). Many drugs that are sold in the Western countries solely with a doctor's prescription can be bought here without any prescription and much cheaper. Ukraine is a country with well-trained doctors but often inadequate medical facilities. However, numerous private clinics exist including western-type clinics with Western or at least English-speaking medical staff. Despite health service declared as free, Ukrainian doctors in public hospitals will expect cash payment for their services (with insurance not relevant in this respect: hospitals would accept applicable foreign insurance, but insurance money does not reach doctors except in private clinics). All sorts of non-conventional medicine (herbal, homeopathic, acupuncture etc.) are very popular in Ukraine.
In case of emergency, the 03 ambulance service shall be called (or a private ambulance if there is an insurance or willingness to pay the bills). As to any dental emergencies, there are several good private dental clinics around the institute (and prices may be much lower than in e.g. the US - many Ukrainians living now in the US come here with the purpose of doing dental work).
Registration of foreign nationals
All foreigners arriving to Ukraine shall receive a registration card at the border with note of their arrival date, and produce this card at their departure. As distinct from previous (now cancelled) regulations no registration with visa authorities is required for short-term visitors.
You can bring any amount of cash/cards/travel checks, but there are certain limits for non-declaring/using green corridors at customs (recently it was equivalent of US$ 1,000). If you have more cash then all cash should be declared.
It is not allowed to take out of Ukraine antiquities, any old things manufactured before 1954 (more than 50 years ago) and works of art (the notion of work of art is applied mostly to pictures) without a special permit that is costly and difficult to get (and it cannot be guaranteed that it would be possible). The organisers cannot provide any assistance in getting such permits, and the regular procedure may take weeks.
Our recommendation is not to buy any antiquities, old things and pictures except in shops and request the relevant permits to take them out of the country (art galleries and antiquities shops normally provide permits for taking their goods out of the country). This is applicable to any pictures even to those that are absolutely obvious souvenir stuff and have no relation to art.
Ukrainian customs can be expected to fight pirated software and music in the framework of showing to the world that copyright protection is in place. So we would not advise buying software or music tapes and CDs without special holographic labels showing that these products are legal.
Airlines/Embassies: as you may need contacting the Embassy of your country, or your airline during your stay in Kyiv, you would find useful to get their addresses/phone numbers at
Important Numbers (unfortunately you cannot expect an English-speaking operator, except maybe at the international telephone operator and Medicom private ambulance service)
Despite some highly publicized crime stories and general prejudice, Ukraine and, in particular, Kyiv is very safe. However, usual safety tips applicable to any country should be taken into account: watch your possessions; do not go to deserted locations after dark; do not drink with strangers; if you intend to go out and drink alcohol leave your documents and valuables at your hotel (take a passport photocopy with you). Do not flash your money/thick wallets/credit cards, do not engage in street gaming or take money or wallets that are not yours from people who say that they found them; do not change currency with private persons.
The security issue that is characteristic for many countries of the former Soviet Union is that local police holds checks targeted at fighting illegal immigration that is a huge problem for this country. Persons of African or Asian descent, including citizens of Western countries, may encounter stops by police, especially in locations away from the city centre. Under Ukrainian law, individuals may be detained for up to three hours while their identity documents are being verified. In such circumstances, demand the incident immediately be reported to your Embassy.
CHECKLIST FOR PARTICIPANTS