Social conventions: Ukrainian people are generally warm and friendly to visitors. It is not at all uncommon for Ukrainians to invite strangers into their own homes. Shoes should be removed on entering a home. Formal attire is rarely required, though people dress smartly for the theatre. Visitors should avoid ostentatious displays of wealth in public places. Men should not shake a woman’s hand unless it is offered to them. Women should cover their heads when entering a church or mosque.
Climate: The climate of Ukraine is temperate continental. The only exception is the southern coast of Crimea, where the climate is subtropical of the Mediterranean type. Warm low-snow winters and rainy summers are specific to the mild climate of the Zakarpatye region.
Clothing: Lightweight clothes needed in summer, light- to mediumweight in the spring and autumn and heavyweight in the winter.
Best time to visit: Ukraine has a temperate continental climate with cold, snowy winters and warm summers. Summer is generally the best time to visit (between June and September), although it can occasionally be uncomfortably hot and many hotels do not have air conditioning. July and August are peak holiday months in Crimea and its resorts can become crowded with domestic and Russian tourists. Spring and autumn are both fairly short and both tend to be reasonably mild. The best season for trekking in the Carpathian Mountains is May and October when it is driest.
The northeast of Ukraine has the coldest winters and the Crimean peninsula has the warmest temperatures. The wettest part of Ukraine is the Carpathian Mountains region of the far west.
Getting around towns and cities: All towns and cities have a comprehensive network of buses and trolleybuses that tend to be slow, crowded but very cheap. These are supplemented by fleets of battered minibuses (marshrutky) that will stop or put down anywhere along fixed routes. Official taxis, found in cities and larger towns, are metered and can be identified by a yellow and black sign on the roof. Fares should be negotiated in advance for private taxis.
Kharkiv, Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk have clean, efficient and cheap metro systems where tickets can be purchased at vending machines inside the stations. Hitchhiking is very common, although not recommended. Passengers are expected to pay for the ride and the price, usually about the same as the bus fare, should be agreed upon before boarding. There are no public transport services from 0100-0500.
Currency exchange: Money should only be changed at currency booths on the street or in banks. It is advisable to keep receipts showing money changed. Changing money with black-market traders is not recommended and can be dangerous.
Money: Hryvnya (UAH) = 100 kopiyok (singular: kopiyka). Notes are in denominations of UAH500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of UAH1 and 50, 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1 kopiyok.
Currency restriction: The import of local currency is limited to UAH1,000. Amounts over UAH1,000 require a customs form. The export of local currency is limited to UAH85. The import of foreign currency is limited to US$10,000 and any amounts exceeding US$1,000 require a customs form. The export of foreign currency is limited to US$1,000, or US$5,000 with permission of an authorised bank.