The currency in the Chernobyl exclusion zone is the Ukrainian Hryvnia. In the Belarusian sector, it is the Belarussian Ruble. In this section, we’re going to look at both of these currencies and the best way to obtain them before you set off on an unforgettable adventure into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone with us.
What is there to buy in Chernobyl?
Whilst it may come as a surprise to some, the Ukranian sector of the Chernobyl zone now has various shopping opportunities available created by local Ukrainians looking to make a living from the growing number of tourists visiting the zone each year. In our opinion, this is distasteful to open souvenir shops in a disaster site where people lost their lives, but people want souvenirs of their trip and Ukraine is a poor country, so it is what it is.
Souvenirs commonly on sale are t-shirts, maps of the exclusion zone, magnets, and overpriced Soviet gas masks. Of course, there are also drinks, snacks, and hotdogs for sale in case the lunch doesn’t fill you up or you want something for the drive back to Kiev.
The Belarussian sector on the other hand has no such thing and is a lot more down to earth. Soviet-style stores and canteens for food and snacks is the best place to part with your Belarussian Rubles in that section of the exclusion zone.
Currency in Ukraine
The currency in Ukraine is called the hryvnia which is abbreviated as UAH. The Hryvnia has
been the national currency of Ukraine since 1996 and is subdivided into 100 kopiyok. Hryvnia is
named after a measure of weight used in medieval-era Kievan Rus.
Currency in Belarus
The Belarusian ruble or rouble is the official currency of Belarus. The ruble is subdivided into 100 Kopecks. Sometimes you can hear Belarussians talking about belki. This is an affectionate name Belarusians have given to the national currency. In Russian, Belki means ‘squirrels’. The reason for this is because the Belarussian banknotes of 1992 had pictures of Belarusian animals on them such as squirrel, hare, bison, bear, moose, lynx etc. After the 1994 denomination animals were removed from the money. Regardless, the nickname stuck and today many Belarusians continue to say they’re paying with belki (squirrels) and zaitsy (hares). Thanks to Belarus Feed for this fun fact!
Exchanging money in Ukraine
Like most countries, it’s a good rule of thumb not to exchange money at the airport as you’ll be guaranteed a poor exchange rate. It’s good to pick up some Ukrainian currency in your home country before you travel so you have enough money to travel from the airport.
When it comes to changing money at currency exchanges on the street, download a currency exchange app on your phone so you can compare the rates advertised to the global market before you go in and change money. This way you can avoid any unpleasant surprises or Scams.
ATMs are located all over Ukraine but are notoriously unreliable or only let you pull out small amounts of cash. Don’t rely too heavily on ATMs in the country as cash is most definitely king here. Also, be very aware of tampered ATM machines that are fitted with a device that skims your card. If something doesn’t look right then walk away.
Exchanging money in Belarus
Changing money in Belarus is easier than in Ukraine. Local banks often charge no commission for exchange operations, even at the airport. The exchange rate is regulated by the National Bank of Belarus, but rates vary slightly depending on the bank. Exchange offices are almost everywhere – in shopping malls and supermarkets, at railway stations; many banks have exchange points located along major streets.
The most tradable currencies in Belarus are the U.S. dollar, euro, and the Russian ruble. Banks also trade the Chinese yuan, Polish zloty, Ukrainian hryvnia. The places to exchange more rare currencies, like the pound or the Swiss franc, aren’t that common and are mostly bought by major banks. If you withdraw cash from an ATM, it will charge a commission at the rate of your bank.
Notes in Ukraine
Ukrainian banknotes come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000. The design of the Hryvnia banknotes was developed by Ukrainian artists Vasyl Lopata and Borys Maksymov. The one hryvnia banknotes were printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company in 1992. The two, five, and ten hryvnia banknotes were printed two years later. The banknotes were stored in Canada until they were put into circulation.
Notes in Belarus
Nowadays in Belarus, there are banknotes and coins. The banknotes are printed in values of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500. Coins come in denominations of 1 and 2 rubles and kopecks such as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50.