Trip Report: Visit Chisinau, Moldova & Transnistria (Breakaway State / Frozen Conflict Zone)

Good morning everyone, what a busy January.  I was hopping around Eastern Europe for a week, then I was working on wedding planning, and then I was entertaining family for MLK Jr. Weekend.  This is the first of 3 blog posts about my Eastern European vacation.  The other 2 posts should come out in the next few days.  I am not a huge fan of writing (or reading) trip reports, nor am I an expert on geography, history, or politics, but I did link to Google Maps and Wikipedia to help provide you with more information.  With that said, let’s get started.  After flying Turkish Airlines business class from Chicago (ORD) to Istanbul (IST) to Chisinau, Moldova (KIV), I walk out of customs/immigration into a beautifully decorated airport.  It felt more like a shopping mall in mid December than an airport in January.  My friend flew in a few hours earlier and got us a rental car.  We then drove 20 minutes to our hotel.

Here is the view from our hotel room (we stayed at an independent hotel) and walked to the The Metropolitan Cathedral “Nativity of the Lord”.  Google Maps says: “Neoclassical Moldovan Orthodox church built in the 1830s, with an ornate, fresco-lined interior.”

Then we walked to the Stephen the Great Monument and posed like the king. Google Maps says: “Built in the 1920s, this monument features a bronze statue of Stephen III of Moldavia.”

We then walked to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and the Presidency of the Republic of Moldova.

We exchanged some US Dollars into Moldovan Leu so we had some spending money.  Here are 240 Moldovan Leu, which is equal to $14 US Dollars.  Here is our snow covered rental car right before we drove to Transnistria.

According to Wikipedia, Transnistria is a “Frozen Conflict Zone” region with the popular 1/3 Russian, 1/3 Ukrainian, and 1/3 Moldovan.  You can read more about the history of Transnistria.  We drove our rental car 1-2 hours from Chisinau to Tiraspol (a major city in Transnistria).

At the border of Moldova / Transnistria, we had to park our rental car and go inside a government office.  The custom/immigration officer gave us a paper that said we could stay in Transnistria until 9:28:29pm that evening. We then went through the border toward Tiraspol.  As you can tell, our rental car got very dirty on the drive.

Here is the flag of Transnistria.  I believe it is the only current flag that has the sickle and hammer.

Image source:

Our first stop was at Noul Neamt Monastery.  The monastery was very beautiful.

After a short drive from the monastery, we parked our rental car on the street.  We were pretty hungry, so we stopped into a popular restaurant and ordered lunch.  We each got medium pizzas.  I pointed to the menu that I wanted a 0.5 liter beer, but the waitress brought out a 2 liter picture of beer.  The food was delicious.

The bill came and it was 300 Transnistria Rubles.  We assumed the restaurant would take credit cards, but no.  Then we offered to pay with Moldovan Leu (pictured above), but no.  So my friend went to the currency exchange place around the corner and exchanged US Dollars into Transnistria Rubles.  300 Transnistrian Rubles = $18.63 US Dollars.

After lunch, we walked around the city and we found this sign.  I have no idea what it says, but I think it is something like “I Heart Transnistria”.

It was 2 weeks after Christmas, but they still had Christmas decorations up.  A little farther up the street, there was a Tank Monument next to Saint George Chapel.

Near the Tank Monument, there was an Eternal Flame and Memorial of Glory for the Moldova / Transnistria war.

Across the street, there was a Monument to Lenin.  A short walk away, there was a Monument to Suvorov.

We walked around for a little longer, but decided that we wanted to drive back to Chisinau before it got dark.  We had a great time visiting Transnistria and felt very safe the entire time.  If you have any questions about Chisinau or Transnistria, please leave a comment below.  Have a great day everyone!

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About Grant

Grant is an expert in frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty points, credit card rewards, and cash back deals. He also has a pretty cool travel blog. Find him on Twitter @travelwithgrant.

6 thoughts on “Trip Report: Visit Chisinau, Moldova & Transnistria (Breakaway State / Frozen Conflict Zone)

    1. Grant Post author

      My friend wants to visit every country in the world and he has already been to most of the other European countries, so we went to these unusual countries.

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  3. Dimi

    You almost guessed it right. :-) The sign says “I Heart Tiraspol”
    I’m surprised you didn’t try anything delicious from Moldovan traditional cuisine in Chisinau or did you?

    1. Grant Post author

      THanks for translating the sign for me :)

      We had breakfast in the hotel 2 mornings, but I don’t think that was traditional Moldovan cuisine.


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