Travel Tips and Advice for visiting Moldova

If you have an inkling or plan to visit Moldova, look no further and please read the rest of this site, especially parts highlighted in BLUE. I am an English man living in Moldova. Whether your trip is for business, pleasure or just dam right fun, I am here to give you my experience, free help and advice. Just use me as your personal Moldova forum. Having been involved in Moldova for seven years (living permanently for the last two) and twice being married out here, I have a wealth of experience to offer. Please feel free to contact me about any matter concerning Moldova.

 

Traveling To Moldova

Since 2002 I have looked at numerous ways of getting to moldova. The reason for this is because it's quite expensive to fly directly into the country. This is due to a government airline monopoly preventing cheaper carriers operating. With all my efforts I'm afraid you just have to grit your teeth and bear it if you want to fly all the way to Chisinau. For the more adventurous among you a huge saving can be made by flying to Bucharest in Romania. Budget airlines such as Wizzair and Easyjet operate from here making costs very cheap. Once in Bucharest you can travel by overnight train or get a bus. Be aware that the train from Bucharest to Chisinau only leaves on odd dates of the month and not even dates. I have noticed recently there is an Air Baltic flight from Manchester via Riga connecting to Chisinau and if you book direct with the Air Baltic website you can get some special deals and fly to Chisinau really quite cheaply. Should you need more specific information please advise me of your departure country and I will be pleased to help you further. If you are traveling from outside Europe please note a direct flight with Air Moldova is available from Gatwick in London. www.airmoldova.md for pricing and other departure countries.

Visa Information For Moldova

A few years ago this would have been a large section on my site, but since January 1st, 2007 Moldova has relaxed it's visa laws. Holders of regular passports, citizens of countries specified below, will NOT NEED entry visa to Moldova if the stay in Moldova is under 90 days. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kurdistan, Poland, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The member states of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Great Britain, Holland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Hungary), the candidate states to join the European Union (Croatia, Turkey), Canada, Swiss Confederation, Japan, the State of Israel, Norway and the USA. For the above countries all you need to do is show your passport on entry into Moldova.

Where To Stay in Moldova

When I was frequently traveling to Moldova I always preferred the option of staying in an apartment in Chisinau. This gives you more freedom to come and go as you please. Depending on your comfort and location requirements a Moldova apartment will cost you from 30 euro a day up to as much as you want to pay. For the more affluent amongst you I would say around 35 to 40 euro would give you a fairly good standard apartment. If the apartment thing is not your cup of tea there is always the option of a hotel. This will set you back at least 70 euro a night depending on rating. Be aware as they like charging you for all sorts of extras like leaving after midday and taking people to your room. There is a few mini hostels in Chisinau that are as cheap as 20 euro a night but they are akin to staying in a prison. Often just a box room with a bed and a sink, OK I suppose if your coming for a football match or something. For more information about staying in Moldova please look at my Accommodation page.

Streetwise Tips for Moldova

If I were to write this from my first experiences in Moldova in 2002 I would probably scare you off. I was stopped nearly every day by the police, which really hacks you off after a while. In Moldova's defence I must say that the government has made huge moves forward in stamping out this sort of corruption in Moldova, especially the harassment of foreign visitors by the police. Having said this it still does happen from time to time. This is mainly due to foreigners attracting attention to themselves in one way or another. Take a look at my Moldova tips bellow and by in large you should be OK. Make it easy for the police and they will make it easy for you. Always carry your documents and it should be the originals. Should you be out with a native Moldovan please make sure they also have their ID on them. A local not carrying their ID can cause you more problems than you not having yours. Be warned, I once spent 2 hours and 20 dollars in a police station because my wife didn't have her papers on her and could 't prove who she was.
My tips to stay safe

  • Always cary your documents with you. (passport, ID card, other forms of identity)
  • Keep your native countries nearest embassies phone number on you.
  • If alone try not to look like a tourist when police are close by.
  • If alone or in a group try not to advertise yourself to much on the streets. save it for the bars and clubs.
  • If you are a man with a woman or woman with a man try not to make it to obvious you are a couple when walking past police especially if the age gap is fairly large. I know it sounds stupid but I did warn you.
  • Never take anyone at face value, not all people here are good. Just be carefully who you are talking to and why they want to talk to you.
  • Try and avoid talking English when near any police.
  • Never leave valuables unattended.
  • Make sure your Visa for Moldova (if you need one) is valid.
  • Use a taxi late at night even for short trips.
  • But above all don't be put off, get out and have fun.

 

Moldovan Money and ATM's

The currency in Moldova is Lei. On the top of each page on this site you will find a converter to change your local currency into moldovan lei. If you are English like myself I would avoid bringing British pounds. This is because there are not so many places to change GBP in Moldova, and the rate between companies does seem to vary greatly. The best currencies to bring are euros and US dollars. To change any of these currencies is very easy, you will find an exchanges everywhere even 24 hours a day. Try to change your money during the day. You will find fewer places after 6pm and the rate after this time will go down as competition for your money reduces. Make sure your notes are perfect. If your notes are not perfect (and I mean perfect) You will find yourself getting the face value of your note less 10%. i.e. 50 euro will become 45 euro. Another tip is to always get the bill and count your money in front of the cashier, You will be surprised at how many people will try to short change you. If you have decide to bring your plastic to use in the ATM's. I have discovered recently that there is problems in Moldova with using chip and pin debit and credit cards to withdraw cash. At the moment chip and pin will only work in Agroindbank and Victoria Bank ATM's. Non chip and pin cards from Europe and the USA seem to work fine in all ATM's.

Going Out in Moldova and Chisinau

Whatever your purpose in Moldova you are going to want to go out. Whether it be for clubbing a nice meal or just a simple beer or two, there is plenty of places to choose from. A few pounds, Dollars or Euro's can go a long way here if you're wise. A pint of beer can cost as little as 50 pence but in a club or more upmarket establishment you can be looking more like £2.50 (still not bad hey). Similarly for food, a reasonable meal can cost from £2 upwards. When in an establishment you are unfamiliar with always ask for the menu so you know roughly how much items cost. Never just pay a verbal bill, always ask for a written or printed one. Above all go out and have fun, don't be scared just get stuck in there. Where to go out is always a question i am being asked by foreigners. I always find this very hard to answer as everyone has different ideas and expectations of what is a good night. There are many good restaurants, bars and clubs of which many offer tasteful striptease for your entertainment, there are a few dedicated girly dancing bars around should you choose. I have listed bars and clubs etc and you will find it on my Chisinau information page. I personally prefer going to places more in the middle of the pricing spectrum that are more accessible to native moldovans. Places like this always seem to have more sincere fun loving people. A useful thing to do is ask a native what places they prefer to go. Just get out there and try for yourself.