My adventure to Kiev, Ukraine, first started when I travelled to Hong Kong. That’s odd, what does Hong Kong have to do with Kiev, Ukraine? Let’s find out…
On my way to Jeju Island, South Korea, I had an overnight stopover in Hong Kong after flying from Hanoi, Vietnam. It turned out to be one of the worst nights of my life…or was it? Sometimes, things doesn’t make any sense when you’re travelling. Until later, you realize, that the bad thing that happened was one of the best thing that ever happened to you.
After arriving in Hong Kong, it was late at night, and I had to find my hostel in the middle of the city. The problem with Hong Kong is that it’s a city full of apartments. So obviously, my hostel was located in one of the apartment buildings. The problem is, the apartment buildings aren’t marked well and I was completely lost. To make matters worst, my cell phone was out of battery and even the taxi drivers couldn’t find where my accommodation was located.
When I finally found my hostel, I looked at the time and realized, I will probably only get 4 hours of sleep before I have to catch my next flight going to Jeju Island. Great…what was the point of staying in the hostel then? I should have just saved money and stayed in the airport until it was time to fly.
As I got settled in the hostel to get that 4 hours of sleep, one of my dorm mates started chatting with me. Turns out he’s from Ukraine and he’s somewhat of a digital nomad. Every winter, he leaves Ukraine and lives in a warmer destination like Southeast Asia or Portugal. Thankfully, he works from his computer so he can live anywhere in the world as long as he completes his tasks.
We hit it off and became friends right away. He then invited me to come visit him in his home country of Ukraine.
I told him I will definitely come and visit!
Arriving in Kiev, Ukraine
Fast forward six months later. I’m on the final stretch of my one year around the world travel. One of the final countries I plan on visiting is Ukraine where I will be hanging out with my friend Stanislav, whom I met in Hong Kong.
He picked me up in the airport and we took the local bus that would drop us off in the city centre.
I didn’t realize Ukrainian people love walking so much. No wonder there’s hardly any overweight people here. After getting dropped off by the bus, we walked for over 30 minutes (while carrying all my heavy bags) to reach Stanislav’s apartment. When we finally reached his place, I was quite tired and he was completely fine.
Damn, these Ukranian people are tough and fit. Lesson learned, walk everyday with heavy packs and don’t complain.
Exploring Kiev’s city centre
Stanislav introduced me to his roommates. Then, he showed me where I would be sleeping: his kitchen. That’s what I love about travel. The complete randomness of it.
Anyhow, after getting settled, we went back out and off we went to Kiev’s city centre to do some exploring.
One of the first things I learned is how much anti-Putin sentiment was present in this city. Stanislav told me that Ukranian people hate Putin because he’s essentially bullying their country.
He told me that Putin stole Crimea from Ukraine and there’s nothing they can do about it because of Russia’s military might.
He also showed me where the Ukrainian 2014 revolution happened and the hotels all the journalist stayed at during the conflict. At the end of the conflict, their former president, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted a new interim government was put in place.
Prices in Ukraine
When we ate in Kiev, I realized how much Ukraine is as a travel destination. I think it might be the cheapest travel destination in Europe along side Bulgaria. I can even say that Ukraine is an awesome place to setup base as a digital nomad because of the low cost of living and the high speed of their internet. If I had to compare the cost of living in Ukraine, I would say, it’s slightly higher Thailand.
For example, I paid for a large lunch with seafood and salad for me and Stanislav and it cost me $11 CAD for the two of us.
Employment in Ukraine
Ukraine is a poor country. Stanislav told me that if you don’t work in IT, you will die alone. That’s because most successful Ukrainians have to work in the IT field where they can earn $2000 USD per month.
In Ukraine, $2000 USD a month essentially means you’re like making six figure income in Westernized countries.
Thankfully for him and his roommate, they work in the IT department and their employer are American companies.
Turns out there are also many American companies that hire Ukrainians. One of Stanislav’s roommate works for an American online casino and their headquarters is in Kiev.
To be honest, after you see the monuments in Kiev, there’s really not much to see. The city’s old town was destroyed during the previous wars. As a result, everything looks like dull soviet style apartments.
What’s really interesting to do in Kiev is watching people. At night, many Ukrainians litter the street and start dancing or attending outdoor concerts.
Stanislav complains that the outdoor concerts are awful and the singers are terrible.
Ukrainian people have a crude sense of humour and like to insult people for fun.
I love this kind of humour and definitely had a blast hanging out with Stanislav and his roommates.
I definitely saw some odd things like when a police arrest happens, all the Ukrainian people would start taking selfies while the arrest is happening.
To no surprise, Ukrainians love alcohol. They’re similar to their Russian neighbours and can drink alcohol like water. When Stanislav took me and his roommates to go for drinks, I couldn’t believe how fast they would down their beers and shots. I was still on my first drink and they already downed 3 large pint of beer and some shots. They’re insane. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Russians and Ukrainians have a low lifespan.
My only regret when I travelled to Ukraine is not seeing Chernobyl. Apparently, you need to book your tour one week in advanced otherwise, you won’t be approved to visit it.
I will definitely return to Ukraine one day to visit Stanislav and Chernobyl.
Verdict on Kiev
Kiev is a neat city that is perfect for digital nomads or those looking to make friends with Ukrainian people.
The city is so cheap that I got my teeth cleaned costing me $55 CAD. Normally, this would cost me at least $127 in Canada (saving me $72 CAD). I also got my haircut done.
Kiev Ukraine is definitely not dangerous as I took the metro line everywhere and I was okay. The city also has Uber which is dirt cheap and I highly recommend for anyone visiting Kiev.
I will definitely return here one day and I think it’s a worthwhile place to visit if you are travelling in Eastern Europe.