Moldova has pledged to promote disabled access to public transport and buildings under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Compliance with this pledge is sporadic, however, as most buses, trolleybuses and street underpasses still lack wheelchair ramps.
Most midrange hotels in Chişinău and Tiraspol have lifts; elsewhere, functioning lifts are rare. The sidewalks in Chişinău are notoriously poor – narrow and often torn up and blocked by cars. Dangerous roads with speeding cars exacerbate the situation. Tiraspol has wider sidewalks and is friendlier to disabled travellers than Chişinău.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
No bargaining is required or expected in Moldova, though it's fine to haggle at the market.
Dangers & Annoyances
- Cross streets with care – according to locals, hapless pedestrians are routinely mowed down by recklessly driven cars.
- The odd restaurant pricing scam has been reported. Never order anything, particularly wine, without confirming the price in writing (eg on the menu).
- Travellers are required to have their passports with them at all times, although chances are minimal that you'll be checked outside of Transdniestr border crossings.
Embassies & Consulates
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Moldova country code||373|
Entry & Exit Formalities
- Duty free export or import of up to 200 cigarettes and 2L of wine and/or spirits.
- Permission needed to export 'objects of cultural heritage'.
- Declare foreign currency in excess of €10,000 upon entry or exit.
If entering Moldova through Transdniestr, you may have to get your passport stamped when you get to Chişinău.
None for European countries, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, but required for South Africa and many other countries.
- Maximum stay for visa-free countries is 90 days within a six-month period.
- For South Africans (and some others), visa on arrival is available at Chişinău International Airport and at the following land border crossings with Romania: Sculeni/Sculeni; Leuşeni/Albiţa; Oancea/Cahul.
- South Africans and others who require visas also require proof of accommodation, an onward ticket and valid medical insurance covering Moldova.
- Visa on arrival not available if arriving by train.
- Visa restrictions loosened for Wine Festival (first weekend in October).
- See the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (www.mfa.gov.md) for updated visa information.
The Moldovan population is mostly Orthodox Christian, so bear in mind that Orthodox churches and monasteries often deny access to men or women bearing too much flesh. For women, head coverings are required while slacks or skirts below the knees are encouraged but not usually required. For men, trousers are encouraged but not usually required outside of the holiest of shrines, like Orheiul Vechi.
Wi-fi is ubiquitous at restaurants and hotels in Chişinău and other big cities, and is almost always free. Relatively fast 4G access via local SIM cards is incredibly cheap – roughly €2.25 per gigabyte; 4G coverage is spotty outside of urban centres, however.
The situation for LGBT+ travellers is not promising in Moldova. Although homosexual activity is legal and the age of consent is the same as for heterosexual couples (16 years), homosexuality is still highly controversial and opposed by the Orthodox Church (and many conservative politicians).
According to a 2018 report published by the rights group Article 19, discrimination against members of the LGBT+ community remains institutionalised in the Moldovan legal system, hate crimes are rampant and go unpunished, and only 18% of Moldovans are open to accepting LGBT+ people as citizens. In 2018 ILGA-Europe ranked Moldova 43 out of 49 European and former Soviet countries in protecting LGBT+ rights. President Igor Dodon is an avowed homophobe who has actively campaigned against LGBT+ equality.
A small annual Gay Pride march takes place in May in Chişinău despite marchers consistently facing harassment from conservative protesters – police used tear gas to repel protesters in 2018. The best advice for gay couples is to be discreet. The leading local organisation for promoting gay rights is Genderdoc-M (www.gdm.md).
Moldova has a modern legal system. Police are generally polite but are unlikely to speak more than a few words of English. If driving, watch out for camera speed traps in the cities and on the main highways.
ATMs widely available, particularly in Chişinău and other cities. Credit cards usually accepted in urban centres, less so in rural areas. Transdniestr has its own currency.
|Euro Zone||€1||19.40 lei|
|New Zealand||NZ$1||11.60 lei|
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
- Moldova’s currency, the leu (plural lei), has been relatively stable for several years.
- One leu is comprised of 100 bani (singular ban).
- There are coins denominated in bani but they are very rare.
- Use ATMs to withdraw lei or exchange dollars, euros or pounds for lei at banks or higher-end hotels.
- Transdniestr has its own currency and its own set of rules.
- The Bank of the Republic of Transdniestr (www.cbpmr.net) has daily updated rates for the Transdniestran rouble against all major currencies.
- Restaurants A small tip of 5% to 10% is appropriate; service charges are usually not included in the bill.
- Taxis Taxi drivers will gladly accept tips but they are not expected.
Banks 9am–3pm Monday to Friday
Businesses 8am–7pm Monday to Friday, to 4pm Saturday
Museums 9am–5pm Tuesday to Sunday
Shops 9am or 10am–6pm or 7pm Monday to Saturday
- It costs 11/15.50 lei to send a postcard or letter under 20g abroad (less to Europe) by surface/air mail.
- DHL is the most popular international courier service in the region, with offices in Chişinău and Tiraspol.
- For more information about postal services and locations, see www.posta.md/en.
New Year's Day 1 January
Orthodox Christmas 7–8 January
International Women's Day 8 March
Orthodox Easter Sunday & Monday April/May
Memorial Day/Parent's Day eight days after Orthodox Easter
Labour Day 1 May
Victory (1945) Day 9 May
Independence Day 27 August
National Language Day 31 August
Western Christmas 25 December
- Smoking Banned in all enclosed and semi-enclosed spaces, including restaurants and hotels, as well as parks.
Taxes & Refunds
Restaurants and hotels generally include taxes in their prices. There is no refund scheme for VAT (value-added tax), and no other taxes are payable by visitors.
Locals tend to rely almost exclusively on mobile phones, as the rickety state landline network, run by Moldtelecom, is unreliable. Mobile-phone service is provided by Moldcell (run by Moldtelecom) and Orange.
It's straightforward to buy a local prepaid SIM card and use it in any unlocked handset. You can use your home cellphone but stiff roaming rates will apply. Data (4G) coverage with the main providers is excellent in urban areas.
- Calls with the two main cellular providers average 2 lei (€0.10) per minute (less if dialing within the same network).
- A domestic/international text costs 0.60/2.50 lei.
- Data (4G) starts from 50 lei (€2.25) per gigabyte with a prepaid package.
- Moldova's country code is 373.
- Land lines and mobile-phone numbers consist of a two-digit prefix followed by a six-digit number.
- To place a call or send a text from a local mobile phone, dial +373 or 0, plus the two-digit prefix and the six-digit number.
- To place a call from a local land line, dial 0 plus the two-digit prefix and the six-digit number.
Moldova is in the Eastern European time zone, which means GMT/UTC plus two hours during standard time, and GMT/UTC plus three hours during daylight saving time (late March to late October).
Moldova uses Western-style toilets and they’re generally easy to find.
Moldova Tourism (http://turism.gov.md) Website of Moldova's state tourism agency.
Moldova Tourist Information Center Chişinău-based official tourist office.
Travel with Children
Moldovans have plenty of kids and you'll have no problem finding things like playgrounds, baby-changing stations and high chairs in restaurants. If travelling with babies or toddlers, poorly maintained and congested sidewalks in Chişinău make for difficult conditions for prams and strollers – consider a baby carrier instead.
The country does not have a wealth of child-friendly attractions, but kids will love climbing up to the various fortresses and hilltop monasteries scattered around the country. Soviet-era regional history and ethnographic museums have stuffed-animal displays that should thrill younger travellers.
There are minimal organised volunteering programs in the country. Contact Costel Hostel if you are interested in grape-picking or wine-making volunteer activities in the south around Cahul.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The metric system is used.
Outside of EU-funded development work, there are few work opportunities for expats in Moldova.