This post is meant to give straight up facts to anyone interested in visiting Transnistria–a unique little place situated in between Moldova and Ukraine.
First of all, unless you have friends or family there, I recommend you stay at Tiraspol Hostel. Pretty sure it’s the only hostel you can find as of now. You can email Timoti there at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information about availability and rates. He’s a good guy and is extremely knowledgeable about all things Transnistria.
From Odessa, Ukraine there is one train daily at 17:11 to Chisinau which stops in Tiraspol on the way. The ride takes approximately 2 ½ hours and costs roughly $8. Go to the last train car, #5 I believe. It’s the most comfortable and it is where the bar is located. If Viorel & Semion are working, please tell them I said hello. We partied on the way out there…and in Odessa once. Yeah, I’ll talk about this in a separate post because it’ll just get too weird here.
(P.S. This dude above isn’t Viorel or Semion, just wanted to show you what the train car looks like)
There is only one stop on the way and it’s at the Ukrainian border for Ukrainian passport control. I actually registered at the Tiraspol train station when I got there (registered=filled out an entry form, half of which is also a departure form) but this proved to be unnecessary. I was not asked once the entire time for any documents. I even stayed 48 hours instead of 24 which is the maximum you get unless you go register for longer at the local registration office in Tiraspol. I’m a rebel like that.
I’ve already gone into a bit more detail about my motivations for visiting Transnistria over on Stop Having a Boring Life. You can read that here. For now I am just going to leave you with the infamous (and accurate) step-by-step instructions for visiting Transnistria that were provided to me by Tiraspol Hostel:
1. The Moldova/Transnistria border is VERY safe! Guest can take a marshutka (bus) or train without problems.
2. Register at the Ukraine border or Moldova border for 24 hours. (If they take a crossing by road) You are given a small piece of paper you must carry with you, and must give back to the border guards when you leave Transnistria. (Only if you leave by road) By train it doesn’t matter!
3. If you want to stay for a longer period of time you must register with the main office in Tiraspol. This is quick, free and easy. You can register for up to 30 days.
4. Guest can come and go by TRAIN without any problems! Many have done this already! (The train service was shut down, and restarted) Transnistria had to make an agreement with Ukraine, Russia, and Moldova to not have border guards giving passengers any problems. NO Transnistria border guards enter the train. There is NO border control from Chisinau to Tiraspol. And there is only 1 border control stop from Odessa to Tiraspol for the Ukraine guards only! The trains are International and are from Ukraine/Russia/Moldova so in order to keep train service to Transnistria they must respect the international laws!
So there is NO problem by train. If a guest is not registered they must leave by train!
There is only 1 immigration officer that works at the train station. (If he catches them upon departure) they must pay a $5 fee for a migration card. This is the legal fee, not a bribe. Only 2 guests so far have had to pay this fee out of maybe 100 that left by train.
5. The Ukraine/Transnistria border still has some bad border guards that ask for bribes. (It is under a different authority than the Moldova/Transnistria border) So we advise all tourist to come and go to and from the Ukraine by train! Then there are NO PROBLEMS at all!
6. The Moldova/Transnistria border is 100% safe.. Guest can take marshutka (mini-bus) anytime. IF GUESTS DO NOT REGISTER, THEY MUST LEAVE BY TRAIN! THIS IS THE MAIN RULE! THEN YOU AVOID ALL BRIBES! AND PROBLEMS!