By Andrea Romano
June 11, 2019
Credit: Getty Images

Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine, is seeing a boost in tourism after seeing the HBO miniseries, “Chernobyl,” Lonely Planet reported. Tourists looking for a fairly bleak or macabre day trip often seek out companies like Chernobyl Tour, SoloEast, and Chernobyl Welcome.

Rest assured that you don’t have to walk around in a hazmat suit when you go since these tours will steer very clear of any highly contaminated sites. However, radiation is still slightly higher than normal in the area, so there are a lot of precautions you have to follow.

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According to LiveScience, tourists are not allowed to touch pretty much anything. It’s important not to touch any structures, plants, or sit on the ground when you visit. Also, don’t put your belongings on the ground or take home “souvenirs” either. Most tours will require all guests to wear long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toed shoes.

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Even though these precautions seem pretty zealous, Chernobyl today is safer than you think. Humans absorb trace amounts of radiation in our every day lives, about 3 millisieverts (mSv) per year according to LiveScience. It’s important to note that medical imaging like x-rays and CT scans can range between 1 mSv and 20 mSv.

Every Chernobyl tour must pass through scanning zones to measure for any exposure, Lonely Planet reported. However, Chernobyl Tour says that “total external [radiation] dose obtained during a usual ten-hour trip in the Zone is several times smaller than the one received during a transatlantic flight,” according to Lonely Planet.

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If you’d like to compare, the radiation dose on a commercial flight is about 0.003 millisieverts per hour, according to Scientific American. So an eight-hour flight would be 0.024 mSv, which is an exceptionally small amount.

There are one-day or even multi-day trips available to the site, usually departing from the capital city of Kiev. Most one-day tours range between $90 and $100 and sometimes include lunch and insurance.

Not only do tours explore the historical site, but also some other points of interest, including the abandoned amusement park that is in Pripyat.

Even though Chernobyl has been a sought after destination for dark tourism enthusiasts for many years, nothing boosts popularity for a destination like the “Hollywood treatment.”