Before New Year’s Eve, Chisinau was quite busy with locals, but low on tourists. We’re not sure if this is the general situation or if it was just because of the holidays. Either way, we found Chisinau to be a very clean, pretty well taken care of city, with nice genuine people, even if lacking a customer service culture. I am sure we had a big advantage on our hands, with me speaking Romanian and it would have been probably a bit more difficult to get around otherwise, people not speaking much English.
In this very Eastern European place we did find two modern, with a local flavour, oriented on the young section of the society aand foreigner friendly and very well suited if you’re travelling on a budget.
If you’re comfortable sleeping in a hostel and sharing the facilities with other guests, Tapok hostel is a great option. The multilingual staff is nice and helpful, the kitchen is well equipped, beds comfortable, great wireless connection, all areas are maintained clean. It does feel slightly over crowded, the owners tried to make the most out of the limited space, but at the end of the day, this does not constitute such a great problem. They were pretty busy when we were there (surprisingly so, compared to the general feel of the city) and had a colorful mixture of international guests and staff – American, Canadian, Romanian, Armenian, Russian etc. The hostel has both private rooms and shared dormitories, so you have both options available.
The best surprise of our stay in Chisinau was, besides the very low prices of, well, everything, eating out at La Placinte. I first heard of the chain from a guest of the hostel I was working at in Bucharest, who recommended their restaurant there. I looked up the website and learned it was a Moldavian chain. Once we got there, it was again recommended to us by tourists, so we decided to give it a try. I loved the modern simple concept, with cool design reinterpreting traditional motifs, a relatively-fast food diner with great quality ingredients, fresh and well cooked. A dinner for two, with two dishes and a drink each cost us under 10 euros.