Ukraine is one of the most culturally complex countries in Europe, and given the current political situation, there are a number of things to look out for when visiting but that being said I’ll preface this by saying that anyone who’s traveling there, should do as much of their own research as possible and try and learn about every side of the issues, but most importantly keep an open mind when you’re there because there’s so much you can learn, but now that that’s out of the way here are seven things not to do in Ukraine.
1 – The border
For those of you who don’t know, Ukraine is still technically in a state of war, but the military insurgency in the Far East and Russia taking an aggressive stance along the border, this means that security in the country is extremely tight and almost under no circumstances do you want to cross the border by train or bus, I ended up spending almost 6 hours just at military checkpoints, and trust me you don’t want to be sitting in a bus for that long, so I highly recommend just paying a little bit extra to fly instead of going over by land, you’ll save yourself the hassle.
2 – Don’t trust Google Maps
This might come as a surprise because Google Maps is usually a very reputable source, but because so much of the population speaks both Russian and Ukrainian someone might not know about the street you’re talking about ever using its official name, in many cases they will but the point is that the official name might not always bethe same one that locals use, and can lead to some confusion, so keep that in mind when asking for directions.
3 – Hand gestures
Some of you might not know this but flipping someone off with your middle finger isn’t actually the worst hand gesture you can use in some parts of the world, and Ukraine is one of those, so whatever you do make sure that you don’t make a closed fist but put your thumb in between your middle and your ring finger that’s one of the most vulgar gestures you can make in Ukraine, and you’re sure to get an angry response back if you do it.
4 – Taxis
There are almost no normal taxis in Ukraine, almost all of them are called using an app on your phone or the number itself, and both of those require basic knowledge of Ukrainian or Russian, which is kind of difficult if you’re going on the fly, surprisingly but also not so surprisingly, uber is going to be your best option that way you know you’re not going to get ripped off you’re always going to get to your destination, and it’s the easiest way to do it.
5 – Don’t get overcharged
One of the big questions when you’re coming to a new country is haggling appropriate or not, and I can tell you for sure that if it doesn’t have a price tag in Ukraine you can haggle over the cost, don’t be afraid to try and learn a few words in either Ukrainian or Russian to help you out because they can go a long way.
6 -Avoid miscommunication
This kind of goes hand-in-hand just understanding the culture that you’re in, and the biggest thing in Ukraine is to know the difference between Russia and Ukraine, so many people will hear someone speaking Russian or hear Ukrainian and think it’s Russian, and see similar styles of food or culture and just assume that they’re basically the same, but nothing could be further from the truth you can respect the Russian influence but just know that Ukraine has its own unique cultural identity, and it’s important that you understand and respect that.
7 – Don’t be afraid to ask questions
You’ll notice that the Ukrainian people aren’t as open or friendly as some parts of Western Europe, and that doesn’t mean they’re being rude or angry towards you it’s just a difference of culture, so if you go up to try and talk to someone and they don’t seem very responsive or very happy to talk to you or they don’t even smile that doesn’t mean that you need to give up immediately, and definitely don’t let that put you off from trying to make friends.