World Borders: How to Get From Moldova to Transnistria (Chisinau to Tiraspol by Bus)

World Borders: Crossing from Moldova into Transnistria.

World Borders: Crossing from Moldova into Transnistria.

Well it’s been yet another crazy bit of off the wall backpacking as you do. While last year I visited a few countries which may not be “recognised by everyone”, I’m thinking of the trip to Nagorno Karabakh and my endless backpacking through Iraqi Kurdistan and Palestine. This time I was doing a Beatles. Back in the USSR. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Yes, really. Well at least as close as I’ll come in my lifetime to seeing what the Soviet Union was all about. As a country the USSR ceased to exist after 1991, but I really enjoy the complete diversity of the current countries once housed within the Soviet Union. They are so vastly different, it baffles me how the likes of Lenin and Stalin once tried to control the lot of them as one country.From Azerbaijan to Belarus to Latvia to Kazakstan – bizarre that these were all once just one big country. The latest in my line of former USSR countries to be visited was Transnistria, also known as Transdniestr and Pridnestrovskaya Moldavskaya Republika. It’s a country recognised only by itself and yet they have their own visas, banknotes, stamps, police force, beer and borders. It’s a really fascinating trip.

transnistria official flag

The Transnistria Flag.

I was hanging out in Chisinau, Moldova for a few days in the hostel Tapok and after drinking some wine in a cellar, touring the capital city and ending up in the deep countryside at Butuceni, I decided to head to Transnistria and stay a night in the capital city – Tiraspol.

transnistria bus

The bus to Tiraspol, Transnistria.

You have two main options public transport wise to get from Chisinau to Tiraspol – train and bus. At the time I went there was only one train a day apparently, which leaves around 7am, so I knocked that idea on the head and went to the Central Bus Station in Chisinau instead. It’s the main bus station behind the market, just off Boulevard Stefan cel Mare. It was a really wet drizzly day when I went and I took some photos but they are a bit blurred to be honest.

The bus timetable - sorry it's blurred - was a horrendous day of torrential rain and I left in a hurry from Chisinau.

The bus timetable – sorry it’s blurred – was a horrendous day of torrential rain and I left in a hurry from Chisinau.

Getting on the Bus in Chisinau, Moldova
At the main bus station, head through the doors and back into the bus park out the back. When I went in November 2014, the bus to Tiraspol is clearly marked as Stand 13. There are buses frequently running all day, the timetable as you can see I put above. Here are some photos of the bus station in Chisinau.

Inside the bus station.

Inside the bus station.

The red bus to Tiraspol at stand 13 out the back of the station.

The red bus to Tiraspol at stand 13 out the back of the station.

You don’t need a ticket nor are you issued with one. Simply get on the bus and pay the driver on board. The price was 37 Moldovan Lei as of November 2014. The buses leave when they are full. This doesn’t take long as it’s a popular route. For locals, not tourists. No surprise that I was the only foreigner on my bus and that I saw in Transnistria.

The bus fills up and it leaves.

The bus fills up and it leaves.

Bus leaving Chisinau for Tiraspol.

Bus leaving Chisinau for Tiraspol.

“Leaving” Moldova
The curiously peculiar thing here is you don’t officially leave Moldova. As much as the country of Transnistria insists you do, the Moldovan government obviously don’t install any “departure point” or immigration office here. So the only way you will know you have left Moldova is at the massive entrance and immigration point to Transnistria. From Chisinau to the border, it’s around an hour by bus.

On the bus from Moldova to Transnistria.

On the bus from Moldova to Transnistria.

On a side point, it’s probably better not to tell any Moldovan border guards on the way in and out of Moldova that you entered Transnistria. You just don’t want the hassle of it. I entered Moldova from Romania at Ungheni and exited the same way and kept quiet about my side trip to Transnistria. But on the bus to Transnistria, you will pass through countryside and then there it is. Big and bold – the entrance point to Transnistria.

Arrival at the border and entry point into Transnistria.

Arrival at the border and entry point into Transnistria.

Entering Transnistria at Bendery
The town that sits closest to the border between Moldova and Transnistria is called Bendery. The actual immigration point and entry point for Transnistria isn’t in Bendery, but it’s just outside it. You’ll get to the immigration point and unless you possess a Moldova or a Transnistria passport (yes they have their own passports), you will need to get out of the bus and fill in the customs and immigration form.

A Transnistrian Passport.

A Transnistrian Passport.

It takes just a couple of minutes to fill in the form. The good news is it’s in English as well as Russian – so they are actually aware that quite a few foreigners venture to check out their country.

Transnistria Immigration Form

Transnistria Immigration Form

The most important aspects to the form are the length of time of your stay and the address you will stay at. You should aim to stay at the Tiraspol Hostel, run by Timo the only American in Transnistria, here’s their address and details:
Tiraspol Hostel
c.Ternovka, str Karl Marks 13
In Russian: (с. Терновка, ул. К. Маркса, 13)
(The legal name is the Bottle Hotel or Butylka Muzei If they ask)
Tiraspol, Moldova / Transnistria
Email: tiraspolhostel@gmail.com
Tel. 373-68-571-472
Add Tiraspol Hostel on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/tiraspol.hostel
Add Tiraspol Hostel on Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/user/TiraspolHostel
Add Tiraspol Hostel on Twitter – http://twitter.com/TiraspolHostel

It’s a safe bet to put Hostel Tiraspol down even if you don’t stay there (I didn’t stay there as I had a Tiraspol homestay sorted but I wrote tht Tiraspol Hostel address on my immigration form).

Transnistria Immigration Form

Transnistria Immigration Form

 

Also they’ll ask you how long you want to stay in the country. I actually said two days, just in case I needed the extra time and wanted to get the 30 day visa approved the next day and stay longer. But basically if you are only going for one day, it’s fine just to tell them that. You are permitted to stay for 24 hours (to the exact time) when you enter the country. I arrived in Transnistria at 14.15 pm and so they wrote on my immigration form the time I arrived and the fact that the next day I would be allowed to stay until the same exact time.

backpacker transnistria

Arrival into Transnistria.

If you want to stay longer than the 24 hours, you will need to get a receipt from your hotel/hostel/homestay and head to the OVIR office or the Tiraspol Militia Office to get your 30 day visa extension. Also to note – Transnistria is a country without an airport – you can therefore only go in and out by land, and it borders Ukraine and Moldova only.

Immigration office near Bendery, Transnistria.

Immigration office near Bendery, Transnistria.

After all that is sorted, you will be given your passport back and the departure form which you need to keep until you leave the country. You do not get a physical record or stamp on your visit for the 24 hour visit to the country.

The border between Moldova and Transnistria.

The border between Moldova and Transnistria.

After passing through the town of Bendery, the bus continues to the capital city Tiraspol and you get left off at the bus and train station which are in the same place. The entire journey from Chisinau Moldova to Tiraspol Transnistria took me about 1 hour 55 minutes including the immigration time.

transnistria station

The train station in Tiraspol, Transnistria.

It’s a really enjoyable trip and now it was time to get exploring this awesome last legacy of the USSR!!

victory park tiraspol

Back (packing) in the USSR!! Exploring Victory Park in Tiraspol, Transnistria.

Here are some of my videos from crossing from Moldova to Transnistria by bus:

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
This entry was posted in Central Asia/Middle East, Chisinau, Moldova, Tiraspol, Transnistria, World Borders. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to World Borders: How to Get From Moldova to Transnistria (Chisinau to Tiraspol by Bus)

  1. Digital Clipart Designer says:

    Great story! Thank you for sharing 😉

  2. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Digital Clipart Designer. Thanks for the comment. Safe travels. Jonny

  3. Ray says:

    I’ve heard that visitors can get hassled sometimes at the border crossing (aka asked for bribes). Did you come across that at all? Or maybe it only happens if you rent your own car and drive in?
    Ray recently posted…Reflections in RioMy Profile

  4. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Ray – thanks for the comment. Wow – I never heard of that. Where did you hear that? Maybe it was Canadians/Americans? I travel on an EU passport and these borders were no hassle – Romania to Moldova was a great train ride, lovely cabin and no other travellers about so it’s pure bliss. If you do head to this region I wouldn’t recommend hiring a car due to the road confusion, and with the trains and buses so cheap anyway, it’s worth it. The bus from Moldova to Transnistria was a simple 2 hour journey with an easy immigration process. Perhaps if you don’t “look European” they might rip you off, but can’t imagine in – friendly guards on the border even saw me taking a photo and didn’t say anything.

    Safe travels, Jonny

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  7. Gemma says:

    This is great- just what I wanted to find out! I’m in Chisinau for 2 days and fancied going to Tiraspol tomorrow but was a bit apprehensive about the details of the bus trip etc – went to the bus station today but the staff didn’t speak English and my limited Russian only allowed me to find out the cost of ticket and times! I feel excited about going in the morning now! Great blog 🙂

  8. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Gemma, thanks for your comment. Enjoy your trip to Tiraspol – it’s a great place! Safe travels. Jonny

  9. Vesa Laakko says:

    I visited Tiraspol today on a day trip from Kishinev and it’s now really easy. When you reach the border you don’t need to fill any forms, just give your passport, tell where you go and how long are you staying and that’s it. It’s a breeze and no harassment or bribes. Both at Kishinev and Tiraspol you need to buy the bus ticket from the ticket window in the station.

  10. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Vesa, thanks for the comment. Wow that sounds brilliant – nice and easy. Is it still a 24 hour visa on arrival or can you stay longer without registering? Safe travels. Jonny

  11. Remi says:

    This is a great blog, very detailed. Would you recommend spending a night in Tiraspol, or is a day-trip enough if one can leave early in the morning from Chisinau?

  12. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Remi, I stayed overnight in Tiraspol and yes, I’d recommend doing an overnight. That way you get to try the dinner and breakfast and you see the city by night and day. A day trip is OK if you’re pushed for time though. Safe travels. Jonny

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  15. David W Rees says:

    Off to Chrisinau on Wednesday. I will be visiting Tiraspol. Thanks for all the info.

  16. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi David – enjoy it – such an inspiring place! Safe travels. Jonny

  17. Adam says:

    Hey Jonny – I’m in Tiraspol right now.
    Border crossing was simple – handed over my passport and the name & address the hostel provided me when I booked. The guard did everything else – typed it all into the computer, printed my piece of paper with the details on it and confirmation of 24 hours approved.
    No paperwork for me, no bribes – in fact it was one of the more simple border crossings I’ve done! It did take a few minutes to process, and the bus driver even came in after a while to check everything was ok.
    I plan to write a detailed post on my site about it in the near future 🙂
    Adam recently posted…New Website Design!My Profile

  18. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Adam, thanks for the comment. It sounds very similar to my experience in 2014. I also had no evidence of any bribes or anything and I even stayed a bit longer than 24 hours and they were fine with it. Leaving Transnistria was also very easy and what a cool place to go backpacking in. Safe travels. Jonny

  19. Denis says:

    Who knows what can see in Gagauzia, I find some information http://myplanettour.com/en/moldova-excursions/221-cultural-tours-in-moldova/1360-trip-to-gagauzia , but maybe is something else?

  20. Jonny Blair says:

    Hey Denis, that is fascinating thanks! I want to visit Gaugazia some time! Safe travels. Jonny

  21. David Jones says:

    Great info Jonny,

    I am doing the same trip in 4 weeks time. I was thinking that I am pretty likely to be the only foreigner on the bus. When I get out to do immigration at the border do I need to take my luggage? I am a bit concerned that if it takes a while the driver might go on without me and I might lose my luggage.

  22. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi David, I was there in 2014 and no luggage was checked. It was quick and easy border crossing, but this is 2017 so things could have changed. Good luck, safe travels. Jonny

  23. David Jones says:

    Thank you, I am sure it will all be fine. I assume that the driver will just wait while I am processed.

  24. Jonny Blair says:

    Hope so David, good luck and safe travels! Jonny

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