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5 Things to Know About Ukraine for Western Travelers

Ukraine is not known for it’s tourism for Western people–but that doesn’t stop people from being very curious about this Soviet gem of a city nestled along the Dnipro River.

Having spent considerable time in Ukraine, I thought it would be good to share some things to know about Ukraine, geared towards those of us who hail from the Western part of the world.

Things to Know About Ukraine

#1: It’s Safe, But Don’t Be Stupid

Ukraine is perfectly safe for the most part, and this is coming from a guy who has been through the ghettos in Colombia. Trust me, Ukraine seems like Disneyland in comparison.

At the same time, you can’t be stupid. Don’t be like Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte in Rio, who got himself into a heap of trouble for vandalizing a gas station bathroom.

Basically, don’t do something stupid like take a piss in the middle of Maidan Square. Don’t try to run away from cops. Don’t piss off the wrong Ukrainian men.

Keep your liquor intake in check and be cautious, and you’ll be fine.

#2: The Police Are Okay, Especially In Kiev

Years ago, it was common for police to just stop people they thought were foreigners and just flat-out demand money. With the conflict with Russia a few years in the past now, Kiev has rehauled their entire police force. Many of them are very young, and (supposedly) not corrupt.

In any case, the author of this post himself looks foreign (quite a bit darker skinned than your average Ukrainian), and has never had any problems.

#3: Ukrainian Culture Is…Cold

…at first.

But. They will warm up to you in time. Baristas in the coffee shop will start to recognize you. Same with restaurant wait staff. But it takes a few weeks for them to realize that you are there for the long term, and not just passing through for a short trip.

#4: Sex Tourism Stigma Is Real

If you’re a male from the West, and you visit Ukraine, it will be assumed you are a sex tourist.

A sex tourist is someone who…well, travels to a foreign country for sex. Often times, in some sort of a “paid” situation; i.e. sponsoring a girl, buying her stuff, etc. Basically legalized prostitution.

Even if you are coming to Ukraine for tourism reasons and happen to go out and meet a girl by chance, you may still get this label.

You can blame all of the older men who do come for sex tourism for this stigma.

Speaking of…

#5: Yes, There Are Mail Order Brides In Ukraine

It’s a thing, but not as big as it’s made out to be.

Odessa is known as the “mail order bride capital” of the world, and the transactional nature of relationships in that city makes it seem true.

But overall, it’s not like there are thousands and thousands of girls being shipped out of Ukraine every day to marry some old Western dude. And no, you don’t have to worry about girls taking you for your money–as long as you’re smart about it. Don’t offer to buy her an iPad on a first date when you can have a nice meal for $10.

Go slow and let things develop!

That wraps up 5 things to know about Ukraine. What do you think of the list; what would you add?

  • August 27, 2016