Where is Transnistria, and is it Safe to Travel?

Where is Transnistria, and is it Safe to Travel?

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Transnistria is a territory on the Moldova-Ukraine border that broke ties with Moldova after the civil war in 1992.

Bridge in Tiraspol city. The bridge connects the city of Tiraspol and the village nearest announcement Kitskany

There is a section on the eastern bank of the Dniestr River between Moldova and Ukraine called Transnistria. So, what exactly is this breakaway state? Find out about this day trip destination with these travel tips.

Although Moldova does not acknowledge this location as an independent state, Transnistria has its own police force, currency, army and Transnistrian border guards. This region even boycotts the Moldovan Independence Day, instead celebrating its own on the 2 nd of September.

Traveling to Transnistria

As a traveler, you can enter this area fairly easily, but make sure to get two stamps on your registration card to prevent problems upon leaving Transnistria. Otherwise, it will look like you visited the area illegally.

This can lead to all sorts of fun discourse with border guards, who may try to get you to “buy” your way out of the territory. One traveler said he was shaken down for $40 for not having the two stamps. His friend, however, only had to pay $25 because he was a poor student.

This traveler advised hiding any valuables and giving a lowly impression because the greedy guards will be looking for people to overcharge. They will often pat you down and check belongings, so if you do have a considerable amount of cash, stow it away carefully.

Avoid trouble while in Transnistria

You’ll probably take the Tiraspol-Dubasari-Ribnita road to get to Transnistria, either by car or bus. People who live in this area are free to travel to Moldova and bordering countries, it’s easy to get through the open border of Ukraine by car or international train, though the latter is sometimes caught up in political conflicts.

Whether you’re going to or coming from Transnistria, prepare for checkpoints, which you’re not allowed to photograph. Don’t try to snap a picture of military facilities or security forces either. You could end up getting a great photo of the inside of a jail cell.

The area of Transnistria has been accused of not granting residents proper civil liberties. It’s advisable to avoid any political conversations on your trip. Keeping track of who controls what plot of land can be confusing, as Moldova presides over some and the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) reigns over other parts.

There are border issues that remain undecided, which sometimes leads to conflict. Transnistrian forces have been involved in problems since 2005, and a 2007 standoff with Moldovan forces turned aggressive. Luckily, there were no deaths. Russian military forces have also been known to operate in Transnistria.

Overall, street crime in the territory is low, locals are friendly and the capital is very well policed.

What to see in Transnistria

One you’ve arrived in Transnistria, you can visit the capital city Tiraspol. It is also recommended you exchange your Moldovan lei, Euro or other currency for the local Transnistrian ruble. Exchange only what you will need for the duration of your stay in Transnistria as the currency can only be used within the territory.

Tiraspol, the second largest city in Moldova, has many beautiful tree filled parks, Soviet statues and medieval fortresses. Other sights to see in Transnistria include:

  • Taking a boat tour on the Dniestr River
  • Getting a history fix in the war museum
  • Visit the Art Gallery in Tiraspol
  • Check out the Ethnography and Natural History Museum
  • Central beach area in downtown Tiraspol on the banks of the Dniester River
  • Noul Meant Monastery

There are also several themed tours you can do to see Transnistria including an overnight culture tour where you can experience local life, check out beautiful nature areas and experience locally produced food and wine.

There is also the Kvint Distillery which makes brandies, cognacs, vodka and wine. If you book in advance, you can do a tasting tour.

Tiraspol has 14 choices of accommodation should you wish to spend a night or 2 in the city. There are several eateries, some serving local and Ukrainian cuisine.

Some reports claim that trafficking of women, drugs and weapons occurs in Transnistria, but it’s unlikely you’ll encounter these activities on your visit.

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