Traveling to Chernobyl? These are the facts you should know
When I was planning my own trip to Chernobyl for the first time, I was most interested in the answers to three basic questions, which I will answer for you below:
Do I need a special visa for Ukraine?
As Ukraine is still not part of the European Union, you need a passport to enter the country. Not an ID card, but a valid passport! You'll avoid any unnecessary problems if your passport is valid for more than 6 months. You will not need anything else to enter Ukraine. No visas are needed if you are not going to stay in the country for more than 90 days.
Is it safe to travel to Ukraine due to the recent conflicts?
The answer is that every country can be dangerous if you do not respect it’s laws and rules. In Ukraine, you should avoid dangerous zones such as Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea. These are, however, located about 1,000 km away from Kiev, so you do not have to worry about anything. Even our Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that traveling to Kiev is safe. Well, Chernobyl is even further away from the tension in these cities.
Do I have to fear the radiation?
The remaining radiation still scares people. But do not worry, there are far more radioactive places on earth that you often visit unwittingly. There are still radioactive sites in the Chernobyl zone, although radiation is only a fraction of what was measured in the first few months and years after the explosion. Radioactive isotopes are sinking deeper into the earth - each year by about one centimetre. Radiation and its intensity in the whole zone is not life or health threatening. In order to better understand the actual situation, I will give you one example:
During one day in Chernobyl, your body gets a radiation dose that is over 1000 times weaker than the whole body's RTG at the hospital. This dose is comparable, for example, to one intercontinental flight with a duration of 3-4 hours (airplane radiation). A visitor will receive a dose of only about 2-3 microsieverts in one day visiting Chernobyl (the safe radiation boundary according to the regulations of the nuclear power plants in Slovakia is 100 microsieverts per day).
Visitors to the Chernobyl exclusion zone however, should be careful about radioactive dust that may occur in some places and be collected in tiny (not dangerous) quantities on clothing or footwear. For this reason, we recommend that after your return home, you should wash all the clothes that you wore in the zone.