Some Advice Before You Travel to Moldova
Well, if you are really going to visit Moldova for the first time, you will likely need some advice, at least about the city of Chisinau. I apologise in advance for the hectic layout of this page (I can't get myself to remake the page). Please don't hesitate to ask particular questions via e-mail. Just put 'web page' or something like that in the subject line. Check out the Q&A page!. There is also a page with advice from a person from USA.
This page was last reviewed and updated on the 19th of September 2007.
- If you are not from EU, USA, CIS or a few other countries, you will need an entry visa, which is not free. 3-month multiple entries visa costs $180, and a 1-month one costs $60 as far as I know. The visas are issued at the border and at the airport.
- You will need to register yourself with the authorities when you come to Moldova (at least those who need a visa, please enquire with the authorities to make sure). This is done in a special office for foreigners' registration (at least in Chisinau) located at 49 Kogalniceanu street. You will need to come there with the person hosting you. The fee is 41 lei ($3.5). The whole procedure takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on the number of people, but genearlly it is quite quick (especially compared to the old way of doing it in the overcrowded local passport offices).
- Please remember that Moldova isn't a very clean place. Literally. If you happen to visit Moldova during a rainy season, you are likely to get your shoes very dirty walking the streets (I'm not going to describe what happens outside the city :) ). This is because the tarmac (both in streets and on pavements) is broken almost everywhere (except in the city centre, where they paved it with tiles), water pipes tend to break very often causing tons of water to come to surface and spilling around, the lawns are not looked after and people use them as pavements or parking spaces leaving the grass without a chance to grow (i.e. in rainy weather walking on it means taking a part of that lawn with you on your shoes), plus a lot of litter and 'dog byproducts' (sorry).
- If you understand Russian or Romanian or know some of Russian/Romanian forbidden words, that's what you will hear almost everywhere. The level of speech culture isn't very high, partly because much of the population are people with low level of cultural education, and the rest is so overwhelmed with problems that they don't want to hold all those negative emotions back and let them out through swearing.
- You'll come across a lot of beggars in the streets and underground passes. Mostly it will be old women - pensioners who can't survive on one pension.
- $10-20 is enough to have a good meal in a restaurant.
- Don't buy any alcohol in small shops, in markets and especially in the street from anyone. Buy it from supermarkets or brandshops. Otherwise you might not remember a lot of stuff the next morning (that is, if you ever wake up).
- Don't believe any strangers. Avoid suspicious, dark, deserted places. It's easy to figure out that you're a foreigner, and remember: even $10 can be a reason for bandits to attack you.
- You could buy any CD or a CD-ROM for $4-6. Even MS Windows or Office Professional Edition. You are unlikely to be prosecuted for this in Moldova.
- There are a lot of homeless dogs running around.
- Emergency numbers are: 901 for fire dept., 902 for police, 903 for medical emergency, 904 for gas leak emergency service.
- You'll be overwhelmed with the amount of currency exchange outlets, hairdressers', 24 hour pharmacies, cafes and taxis. There are also many night clubs across the city, but few are high quality
- Even in the official currency exchange outlets they can give you forged notes. Check the notes they give you right there and keep the receipt. Notes should have a vertical metal string INSIDE the note, not on either surface. There should be a watermark on the white margin identical to the image of Stefan cel Mare portrait on the note. Notes' corners shouldn't come apart like book ends. If they gave you a fake note and you returned it back, check the note they give you in return - it hasn't been unknown that they keep giving fake notes.
- Payphones use only phone cards, not coins, notes, debit or credit cards. There are few ATMs in the city and extremely few shops which accept bank cards.
- So-called Internet Clubs are nothing but Internet cafes without the cafe part. 1 hour of internet costs between 5-15 lei($0.4-1.2).
- The heating season starts late and ends early.
- Hot water may often be a luxury.
- Shower cabins are a rarity.
- Don't try to use public transport during peak times. It's painful, dangerous and suffocating. You can probably afford a cab (in most cases just 25-35 lei = around $2-3).
- Xerox means photocopy.
- Vegetables can be bought in the city markets, not supermarkets. Supermarkets have fruits and vegetables too, but the choice is limited (both the choice of supermarkets and that of fruits and vegetables). However, during winter, you can often be sold frozen vegetables and fruits in the markets which will be unedible after they thaw. So supermarket vegetables are more of an option in the winter.
- In May and June there is a lot of poplar fluff flying around in some parts of the city. It's the worst torture (especially if you're allergic to such stuff). Wear sunglasses and try to keep away from those parts of the city (especially the Riscani area).
- Minivans with large numbers on the windshields and sides are a private alternative to the city public transport. They cost three times as much (3 lei as opposed to 1-2 lei) but can be stopped virtually anywhere and are much faster. Plus they cover many more routes than the state public transport so you don't have to change the transport to get on a different route. The city public transport (trolleybuses and buses) normally discontinue their services after 10-11 pm. Some routes - even earlier.
Go to the Q&A page.