Getting Around in Moldova safely - How to do it

Being somewhat new to tourism, Moldova has some limitations when it comes to transport options.

There are a few options for getting around Moldova, from cars to public transportation to your own two feet. You must decide for yourself which type of transportation you want to use, but read on to find out what we've discovered about each one.

Driving in Moldova

Driving has one obvious pro: you can create your own path by going wherever you want. But before grabbing those car keys, there are some things to consider.

First, Moldova's roads aren't the best. They are mostly two-lane and often don't have cautionary signs or lights. Some roadways aren't maintained, which can lead to troublesome driving conditions. In addition to other cars and pedestrians, you may see cyclists, horse carriages and animals in the road -- the latter is more likely on rural roadways.

In winter, you are required to have winter tyres on your car from December to March and also use dipped headlights from November to March. It is also law to drive using dipped headlights during the day for safety.

Secondly, depending on where you're from in the world, you might consider Moldovan drivers to be quite angry. They are also sometimes quite drunk. The problem of boozing while driving became so problematic that the country now enforces a maximum blood alcohol content of just 0.03 percent. This is low compared to many countries, including the United States.

Travellers use words like "hectic" and "exciting" to describe driving in Moldova. One former expat said drivers will sometimes make four lanes out of two at intersections to try to cut other drivers off. Running red lights is common, as is passing slow cars, even in residential areas.

Third, according to travellers posting in a Lonely Planet forum, bringing your own car or a rental across borders into Moldova might tempt border guards to interrogate you, or even solicit bribes. Having Western registration might make the experience even worse.

If you aren't from the European Union or UK then you will need an international driving permit in addition to your drivers license.

Driving using a cell phone is also illegal unless you have a hands free kit.

And finally, if you're thinking renting a car in Moldova might be the way to go, make sure to carefully check the rental for damages or parts that are not working before taking it on the road. One traveler wound up having to drive without fully-functioning headlights at night on the poorly-lit Moldovan roads.

Safety while walking around in Moldova

Using those appendages on the bottom half of your body is usually a great idea. You see the country you're visiting from a local perspective and get some exercise. But there are a few dangers to keep in mind for those of us who like stretching our legs.

Walking the streets at night just isn't recommended. Because they're not often well lit, you're likely to trip over something in the dark, or worse, get hit by a car that can't see you. If you must walk during the night time hours, make sure to carry a torch or flashlight.

Occasionally, there are open manholes and damaged gratings on streets that look safe to walk on, but will actually be a long drop to the bottom when you fall in. Travellers also report holes on the sidewalks and in underground pedestrian crossings.

Moldovan Public Transport

Trolley buses and buses are an easy and cheap way to get around the capital, Chisniau. Fares are generally 2 to 3 lei per ride and payable once you are onboard.

However, the overall system is fairly efficient, with regular routes and service from early in the morning until midnight. At peak hours, transportation departs every 15 minutes or so.

Beyond the capital, there are many buses which service other regional towns and villages in Moldova. The interurban buses leave from 3 main bus terminals in Chisinau and it is wise to check out which terminal you need to leave from to get to a specific destination as each terminal doesn't service all destinations. You can purchase your bus ticket once you are at the terminal.

Similar to trams, trolley buses are powered by overhead electric lines. Except the ones in Moldova aren't this flash.

There are also regular minibus services which cost around 3 lei and criss cross Chisinau. They stop when asked to, so give the driver enough warning before you get to your stop.

Taxis are easily found in the capital, Chisinau but not all will stop when hailed. Look for taxis marked with company signage and hail a taxi from a busy area such as street corners, shops etc to increase your chances of getting one. Another factor to consider is that not all taxis have a meter let alone a functional meter. Moldovan Tourism says that fares within the capital can range from 25 to 40 lei depending on distance travelled. Fares from within the city centre to the airport can cost around 100-150 lei. You can also pre-arrange taxis through your hotel or even from bars and restaurants.

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1 Comment

  • Ray Moon said

    Thanks, this is very informative and so important. A fall into a hole can ruin a vacation easily, more so than getting over it.

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