Vladivostok City Information
What you need to know about staying awhile
Table of Contents (jump to)
- Consumer Goods
- Internet, Phones, Post
- Banyas, Haircuts, Laundry, etc.
- Shows and Music
- Religious Services
- Short trips from Vladivostok
- Longer trips from Vladivostok
1. Maps back to top
- 2GIS is a free, downloadable map favored by most locals. It is by far the most informative and flexible program (including even hours of operation and accepted payment types for specific businesses) for navigating via a smartphone.
- Google Maps and Yandex Maps are also helpful, particularly for the street view features that can be helpful for pinpointing locations.
- Discover Vladivostok, while not strictly a map, does offer a refined resource for some of Vladivostok’s best attractions in a variety of categories.
2. Health Concerns back to top
- Tap water – Don’t drink it. Either boil it or buy bottled water. Some locals use a commercial water filter, but that is not advised. Just stick to bottled.
- Allergies – While most American visitors don’t complain about allergies in Vladivostok, they do complain to the poor air quality and constantly changing atmospheric pressure. Bring allergy medication if you are allergic to dust, as the city tends to be quite full of it.
- Weather – In terms of weather, Vladivostok is quite unlike the rest of the Primorsky region. Winters are cold, typically staying in the single digits, but the temperature can occasionally drop below zero. There is usually less snow in Vladivostok than in places not as near to the sea. Summer is pleasant, with lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s. Most residents of Vladivostok agree that autumn is the best time to visit the city. It is almost always breezy in Vladivostok, and sometimes the wind can be quite strong. Always consider the wind-chill factor when deciding how to dress.
- Doctors and Dentists –
- The main clinic recomended by the insurance provided to SRAS students is Novomed (ulitsa Kotelnikova, 2; Tel: +7 423 220-06-70).
- A few other services approved by the SRAS insurance include. Stantsiya Skoroy Meditsinskoy Pomoshchi, Muz Medical Clinic at Okeanskiy pr., 163, +7 423 245-39-63. You might also consider Sanas, meditsinskiy tsentr корп. 1, Partizanskiy pr., 44. +7 423 220-28-72. In case of emergencies, there is also the City Ambulance at 115 Okeanskiy Prospect Tel: 03 (free service), 053 (fee for service)
- There is a clinic located in VSUES’s main building called "Lotus" (Tel: 40-40-69). Lotus resembles a clinic that might be found in America and the staff is very helpful. The doctors speak a little English, but it helps to come in with having some symptoms already translated. They accept international insurance for more expensive visits, but you will probably have to pay out of pocket (about 500 rubles) for a quick examination. They also offer dentistry services and are fully equipped with the equipment for more serious medical examinations, such as x-rays and ultrasounds.
- Falck medical center is operated under European standards. They accept some US and Canadian insurance providers, and they have English-speaking personnel. Falck has an emergency room and has the equipment to perform CT scans and MRIs.
- Eyeglasses / Contacts - There are a number of contacts and glasses services located around Vladivostok. Farmatsiya (Okeansky Prospekt, 13, Tel: 222-26-49) is centrally located and the old ladies working there are incredibly friendly. They sell glasses and contacts (even colored lenses!) and are able to fix broken glasses. There is also a smaller glasses shop located under VSUES, where you can buy contact lens solution.
- Pharmacies – Vladivostok doesn’t have any larger, American-style pharmacies like a CVS or Walgreens. Most pharmacies are tiny little shops (called аптека), run by one or two people. These are generally good for general medications (aspirin, anitinflamatories), but you should know that Russian has different names for most medications and the folks working at these places don't usually know English. Also, not everything available in the West is available here so bring a supply of any prescriptions you will need. A few such pharmacies are located below VSUES and downtown (Ul. Admiral Fokina, 9; Okeansky Prospekt, 29; Svetlanskaya, 37).
- Fitness - Gym memberships in Vladivostok are expensive, but are generally a better idea than running outside as there are a lack of adequate sidewalks in the city. Sportivni Zali (Sports Clubs) offer memberships based on visits per month. The Sports Club Champion, located at VSEUS (Gogolya, 41), charges 1200 rubles for 12 visits per month (or about 3 visits per week). Champion has a fully equipped weight room, treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, and a pool. They also regularly advertise tennis and badminton lessons. Many of the other gyms in Vladivostok have similar rates, but require a fitness test before giving out a membership.
3. Transport back to top
Airport – SRAS students arriving to Vladivostok will be met by a driver from the University. For anyone arranging their own transport, the airport is located 40 km out of the city, and a taxi mob is waiting in the arrivals terminal. The real price should be between 800 and 1000 rubles, though you may be offered 2-3 times that if they find out you are a foreigner. The ride takes about an hour, depending on traffic. Due to the APEC Summit in 2012, nicer roads have been constructed linking Vladivostok and the airport. If you're on a budget, you can take a bus for 60 rubles. Buses depart from the airport parking lot, to the right when you step out of the airport (next to a small café, marked «кафе» in red letters). Bus 107 stops at several central locations, including the train station. It departs from the airport every hour and its schedule is posted on a board next to the café (although the schedule is not always exactly abided by). The ride will take between 1 hour 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic. It's a good way to see the city coming in.
There is also an electric train between the airport and the train station which stops at a few intermediary points. The train terminal at the airport can be found on the far right end of the building as you exit the baggage claim area. Signs are well posted to guide you to the correct place. The trip takes about 1 hour, but the schedule should be consulted ahead of time to ensure a convenient departure time.
Train Station – the train station is in the center of the city, at Aleutskaya 6. To buy tickets to long-distance locations, the kassa (ticket office) is located in the back of the train station near where the trains leave from. It’s most easily accessed by walking down the steps next to the front entrance and around the building – just follow the signs pointing to the “Kassovoi Zal” (ticket hall). To buy tickets for the elektrichka to close villages and regions, the kassa is right inside the front entrance to the left. The Trans-Siberian Railway to Moscow will cost you $250+. Trains to Harbin, China will cost around $50.
Public Transport - Within downtown, walking is always the fastest due to the traffic jams that plague the city. If you have a ways to go you’ll need to take a bus or marshrutka. One ride costs 20 rubles and you pay the driver as you disembark.
Taxis - We recommend using Taxi Volna (dial 516996) or PrimTaxi (2555555). Unlike some other taxi companies, they’re always on time and have a convenient automatic calling system, which informs you when the taxi is 10 minutes away and when it has arrived. It's better to use a company than hail a gypsy cab as you know the price is fair (not to mention it's safer). Expect to pay about 200-300 rubles for a ride around the city. From or to the airport a taxi will cost about 900 rubles.
4. Restaurants back to top
- Students Abroad is an SRAS-sponsored project dedicated to finding the best value cafes and restaurants around Vladivostok.
- Cheap - Two cheap places that are easy to find are Kofeika located near the “Ocean” movie theater, and Republic (Okeansky Prospekt, 17), a cafeteria-style, bistro-esque franchise located in the city center.
- Traditional Russian - Nostalgia, serves good quality Russian dishes for fair prices, and is also an art gallery and souvenir shop. For a cheaper Russian option head to the Satisfied Dragon (Сытый Горныч) at 4a Admiral Fokina Street.
- Former USSR – The Two Georgians is an excellent place to get some pretty cheap and very tasty Georgian food. Try their khachapuri! For Central Asian food, there are several outstanding options. One is a little café/bistro called (World’s Best) Kebab, which serves what is likely the best shawarma wrap in the city, but also specializes in other Central Asian fast food-like delicacies. For a classier sort of restaurant (and definitely pricier, as well), go to Café Khlopok. They feature a huge tea list, authentic plov, very tasty shashlik and wonderful traditional pastries (cheburek, samsa, etc.)
- American-Themed - Magic Burger offers Russian-style fast food. They pre-make the burgers, then grab them from a bin already bagged and toss it into the microwave for 25 seconds, bag and all. The burger (actually more of a small, fat cutlet) comes with mayonnaise, ketchup, sauerkraut, and pickles. The taste is surprisingly not bad, and it’s worth it to come here just to check out the rag-tag crowd that shows up. If you’re looking for something that resembles a more Western ideal, you’ll have more luck at the Royal Burger chain. Some locations are open all night. Okie Dokie Pizza is a great place to grab a cheap slice. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, Drinks and Burgers (Aleutskaya, 21) specializes in the quintessential American cuisine. The atmosphere is similar to a trendy bar and grill in the US. The food is good, and Drinks and Burgers has a full bar for beers, cocktails, and classic milkshakes.
- Coffee - Five-O’Clock is run by a British guy named Barry. You can get a decent cup of coffee and a brownie (or other homemade dessert or pastry) for less than most places charge for coffee alone. Coffee Cup, inside the Aleutskaya Shopping Center, 2nd floor, offers good coffee and desserts. We recommend the Napoleon cake – you won’t be sorry! If you’re looking for a large cup of coffee and wider selection of roasts, head to Traveler’s Coffee. This local chain offers a huge variety of coffees, which come in three sizes of French presses.
- Music – Mummy Troll was opened by the popular Russian music group of the same name (they are originally from Vladivostok). This bar/restaurant features live music every night. It typically starts gathering a crowd around 8 or 9 pm, so it’s best to get there a little earlier. You can also reserve a table for 1000 rubles. Rock’s is another bar that has live music daily. They have beer specials on Tuesdays and cocktail specials every Thursday.
- Vegetarian - You’ll find mouthwatering Indian food at at Ganga Vegetarian Café. The Two Georgians and Cafe Lima, also recommended by this guide, also have good vegetarian options. Many vegetarians in Vladivostok cook for themselves, as even most salads have meat in them here.. Many vegetarians in Vladivostok cook for themselves, as even most salads have meat in them here.
- Japanese - Sushi restaurants in Vladivostok are plentiful, and you won’t have to look very long to find one, especially near the city center. Tokyo Sushi Bar is a popular regional chain with a few restaurants located around Vladivostok. Osama-Sushi is highly rated, and another option located downtown (ul. Praporshchika Komarova, 15).
- Italian - In the Primorye hotel, Pizza M has decent Italian-style pizza at decent prices. Mauro Gianvanni is run by an actual Italian. This restaurant, which has two locations, has arguably the best pasta in town, with homemade noodles. It’s a bit pricier than Pizza M but worth it.
- Peruvian - Craving guac, burritos, and enchiladas? Try Cafe Lima. The Central/South American dishes are reasonably authentic, and the café has a great atmosphere with good music.
5. Groceries back to top
- Hard-to-find Food Items – While Vladivostok is well-supplied with imported Korean and Japanese foods, American foods can be more difficult to find. Larger supermarkets in the city will stock products like peanut butter, tortillas, and bacon, but the supply is not always dependable. V-Mart (Okeansky Prospekt, 52a), Remee (Prospekt Krasnogo Znameni, 57), 5+ (Nekrasovskaya Ulitsa, 76), and OK! (Nekrasovskaya Ulitsa, 29) are good places to check. If you find a (non-perishable) food item that you really like, it is wise to buy several at once so you don’t need to go searching as often.
- Vegetarian Foods – The Chinese Market on Sportivnaya Street in the Lugovaya District of Vladivostok is one of the few places in the city that sells vegetarian foods, such as tofu. Though there are a few vegetarians in Vladivostok, there isn’t a large demand for vegetarian products.
- Organic Foods – The best place for organic food are the many farmers’ markets around the city. The main square on Svetlanskaya is packed every weekend with locals selling natural products grown at their dachas outside the city. The market at Sportivnaya also has a host of vendors with fresh produce available daily.
6. Consumer Goods back to top
- Antiques and Souvenirs – There is one souvenir shop that virtually all the city’s guides take their tourists to. It’s located at the top of the city’s funicular, at an outlook with a great view of the Golden Horn Bay. It’s simply called "Souvenir Shop" and sells all sorts of Russian goodies, from matriyoshkas to Russian shawls to thousand dollar Samovars. The Arsenyev Museum of the Primorsky Region (Ul. Svetlanskaya, 20) is a good place to find more locally-themed souvenirs with the icons of Vladivostok: anchors and tigers.
- Clothing – Vladivostok’s various shopping centers are spattered with high-end clothing. American brands like Columbia and The North Face can usually be found at sports clothing stores like Sportlandia (Dostoevskovo ul., 4А), which has two locations in Vladivostok. However, if you are on a budget, the shopping center and market at Sportivnaya is the best place to pick up cheap, Chinese knockoffs of brands like Adidas, Uggs, and others.
- Books in Russian and English - Knigomir is a bookstore with a wide selection of Russian books and a few branches around Vladivostok. Unfortunately, most of the Russian bookstores have a very small supply of English books (usually a few copies of Pride and Prejudice). Try Восточный Центр Иностранной Книги (Ul. Mordovtseva, 3) which has books in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
- Shopping Malls – There are a few shopping malls in Vladivostok that resemble American malls. Cloverhouse (or Cleverhouse as the locals call it) is the most centrally located. You won’t find any American stores, but there many high-end European stores. Vladivostok's GUM is located in several locations along Ul. Svetlanskaya and contains a large number of retailers. The best place to start with the GUM is Ul. Svetlanskaya 45, which houses stores and restaurants over several floors connected by escalators, like an American mall. Many of the shops located along the street are also affiliated with the GUM, and it comprises some of the finest shopping options in the city.
- Rinoks – For really cheap goods, stop by the rinoks in the city. The most well-known is at Sportivnaya, located in the Lugovaya District. Haggling for many items is commonplace, so don’t just assume that you should pay whatever is listed on the tag. Try to make a deal!
7. Internet, Phones, Post back to top
- Mobile phones - You can easily purchase a cheap phone and a pay-as-you-go SIM card in any Evroset store (one is centrally located, across from Cloverhouse at the Semyonavskaya bus stop) and get going for a minimum investment.
- Internet Cafés - These are rather uncommon in Vladivostok. Crystal Internet Café (pr. Krasnogo Znameni, 30) is easy to find, but the price is expensive at 500 Rubles per hour. Cyber Arena is a dedicated gaming internet café with special events for tournaments and the like. It is not recommended for basic web surfing, but may be a good choice if you want to get in a gaming session.
- Free WiFi – There a few good hotspots in various cafes and restaurants. Unfortunately, most cafes frown upon using the WiFi without purchasing at least a drink. Traveler’s Coffee has very reliable internet and cheap drinks. The food court at the top of the Cloverhouse shopping mall also has free internet and you can get away without buying anything.
- Pay WiFi – For those on SRAS’s program at VSUES, the school offers wireless internet. There are several different options available for speeds and data caps, but the most common option is 800 rubles per month for a 100GB cap. While it’s difficult to set up initially, the internet is fairly reliable and the speed is up to 20Mbps download and 10Mbps upload. Otherwise, purchasing a USB internet drive from any Evroset store (Ulitsa Svetlanskaya, 29) is a good option. It’s about 600 rubles for the USB and then 40 rubles per day for the internet.
- Repair Services – If you need laptop repair services while in Vladivostok, there are a few places located near the VSEUS campus. Megabyte (pr. Krasnogo Znameni, 46; Tel: +7 423 205 32 22) sells and repairs both laptop and desktop computers. You can also take your laptop to VSEUS’s own IT team and they might fix it for free if it’s an easy repair.
- Post - Post offices in Russia also sell stamps, envelopes, and fax services. The closest post office to the VSUES dorms is located at Ul. Nekrasovskaja, 72. You can find the Central Post Office, which additionally has Internet access and telegraph services at 2a Verhneportovaya St., Vladivostok, Russia Tel.: +7 4232 400909.
DHL has an office in Vladivostok located in the Hotel Hyundai (Ul. Semyonavskaya, 29). For sending postcards and letters, the Russian post is just fine although slow, but know that packages sent from America sometimes still have "difficulties" getting to recipients in Russia.
8. Banyas, Haircuts, Laundry, etc. back to top
- Banyas – Public banyas are quickly going out of style in Vladivostok, while private saunas seem to be taking over. Sauna Sheriff, located on Krasnovo Znameni, across from VSEUS, is a Wild West themed Sauna. It runs for 600 rubles per hour for 6 people.
- Haircuts – Vladivostok is plastered with advertisements for various hair salons. We recommend Komilfo, which charges between 300-400 rubles for mens’ haircuts and 500-600 for womens’. If you are looking for a good deal, VSUES has a hair stylist school and is always looking for people to practice on. Haircuts typically cost about 100 rubles.
- Dry Cleaner / Laundry - VSUES has a (not very reliable) laundry service in the dorm for its students. 50 rubles per load and is usually ready for pick up by the end of the day, though the clothes may not be dried. Laundromats are rare in Russia, so you won’t be able to wash clothes yourself, unless you have a laundry machine in your apartment. Hotel Hyundai and Snezhinka offer laundry services, roughly 125 rubles per kilogram, as well as dry cleaning.
- Charitable Giving– Giving in Russia is not as easy as giving in America. The charity run by the Orthodox Church accepts donations for the less fortunate children living in the Primorsky region. Feel free to donate any lightly used clothes or bathroom accessories. Tel: 269-08-38, 258-55-10, Okeansky Prospekt, 44.
- More stuff – Feel free to check the city’s website and message boards for local events. VSUES’s website features an events section. Also, the American Consulate in Vladivostok has a monthly newsletter that also deals with local happenings.
9. Shows and Music back to top
- Tickets -Russia is known for its performing arts. Take advantage and see all that you can. Tickets can be purchased at the theatre or concert hall itself. Vladivostok has a few different performing arts venues. Tickets to the Gorky Drama Theater can be purchased at either the theater itself or at any of the local movie theaters’ box offices. Tickets usually cost between 200 and 1000 rubles, depending on the show and desired seat. Tickets to the Vladivostok’s Philharmonic can be purchased the Philharmonic’s box office, located next door to the performing hall. There are various advertisements for upcoming productions littered around Vladivostok’s main streets, Aleutskaya and Svetlanskaya. The Mariinsky Theater – Primorsky Stage is Vladivostok’s newest and finest theater and is affiliated with the world-famous Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. Tickets are available at the box office daily or can be purchased on the theater’s website. Prices range between 100 and 1200 Rubles. Some of the website’s information and features are not available in English, so if you have trouble, try switching to the Russian version.
- Movies in English – Movies in English or even with subtitles are rare here; major releases are almost always dubbed before they debut. However, there are fairly frequent film festivals/special theatre events based at The Ocean Theatre, which feature films in their original language with Russian subtitling.
- Music - Fesco Hall holds pop and rock concerts quite frequently. Occasionally, a big star like Maksim or Dima Bilan will perform here. Tickets can be purchased at the Fesco Hall box office (Tel: 51-78-38, Verkhneportovaya, 38).
10. Religious Services back to top
- Russian Orthodox – St. Nicholas Cathedral - Vladivostok’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral. Sunday liturgy held at 7am and 9am; Sunday evening services at 5pm. ул. Махалина, 30; Tel: (4232) 26-46-53. For a full list of orthodox churches in Vladivostok and their schedules, click here.
- Judaism - The Jewish Community Center - Chabad Lubavitch of Vladivostok. Praporshchika Komarova Street 5 Vladivostok, Russia. Phone +7-423-243-2367 Email: Rabbi@jewishfareast.com
- Evangelical Christian - Church of the Holy Trinity – Religious Organization of Evangelical Christians. Services in Russian every Sunday at 10:00 am. Umasheva, 12д. Tel: 77-18-73. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Church of Latter Day Saints – Center located at Mordovtseva, 3, office 304. Regular services are held on Sundays, and there are also gatherings on Tuesdays, but times are variable. Tel: 4232-26-4872
- Catholic – Catholic Parish of the Holy Virgin. Services in Russian on Monday – Friday at 5:30 pm, Saturday at 8:30 am, Sunday at 12:00 pm. Volodarskovo, 22. Tel: 4232-269614
- Seventh Day Adventist Church – Services in Russian every Saturday at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. Narodny Prospekt, 2в. Tel: 8902-489-6437
- Lutheran – Lutheran Parish of the Far East – Services in Russian every Sunday at 11:00 am. Pushkinskaya, 14. Tel: (423)- 226-90-25
11. Museums back to top
There are several great museums around, though exhibits are usualy in Russian-only. A few include:
- Arsenyev Regional Museum (Ul. Svetlanskaya, 20). Entrance for students is 50 rubles and houses a hodge-podge collection on the first two floors, including paintings, stuffed animals, dioramas of the discovery of the Primorsky region. Presentation is well done. The third floor is an art gallery.
- Memorial S-56 Submarine (Korabelnaya Naberezhnaya). Entrance is 100 rubles. Crawl through the Soviet sub that sank 10 enemy ships in WWII. Prone to unexpectedly shut down “for technical reasons,” we suggest you don’t leave this one for the last minute. Outside the museum you’ll find a monument to the soldier-sailors from the Primorye region who lost their lives in WWII.
- Fort No.7. Only accessible by pre-arrangement, this is a must if you’re interested in the military history of the city. It is one of 16 forts built around the city about 100 years ago, with 1.5 km of tunnels.
- The Museum of Automotoantiquity (Sakhalinskaya, 2a) has a certain charm. It’ll interest not only car enthusiasts, but also anyone looking for a different view from which to examine Soviet history. The entrance fee is 50 rubles.
- You can find local artists’ work at the Primorye Regional Picture Gallery (Ul. Aleutskaya, 12). They also produce their own newsletter, which you can pick up for free at the gallery.
- There is also another gallery by the same institution found at 12 Partizansky Prospekt, which displays well-known Russian artists. Many of the paintings displayed come from the collections of Moscow’s art museums, such as the Tretyakov Gallery. Entrance is 200 rubles for an adult.
- The Military and History Museum of the Pacific Fleet is mostly focused on the history of war in the Far East (Svetlanskaya, 66). Entrance for students is 30 rubles, and their two story collection boasts paintings, weapons, boat models, photos, letters written by sailors about their experience at sea, and a good amount of military equipment, much of which is sitting out back. Rooms are in chronological order, starting with the late 19th century.
- The Voroshilov Battery Museum is a subsidiary of the Military and History Museum of the Pacific Fleet, which is located on Russky Island. This museum is based around a giant 304.8mm coastal defense gun that has been opened, allowing museum goers to explore several levels of the turret’s inner workings. The location is somewhat remote, so this is a good place to go for a day hike while on the island.
- The Vladivostok Fortress Museum is located centrally downtown and contains many weapons and artifacts documenting the military history of Vladivostok and Primorsky Krai. The museum itself is built into the casemate of one of Vladivostok’s many forts, and some of the old coastal defense guns have also been preserved for viewing. Entrance is 600 Rubles.
- The Science Museum of the Far Eastern Federal University (Okeansky Prospekt, 37) is a museum composed of 4 different exhibitions: Animals, Nature, Rare Books, and Human Artifacts. There are specialists for each area who will gladly give a free tour to anyone who walks in. However, they don’t speak English. Entrance fee for foreigners is 100 rubles.
12. Short Trips from Vladivostok back to top
- Paleo Village Museum outside Nakhoda – Nakhodka is a city about 85 kilometers east of Vladivostok and is home to many archeological dig sites. The region was populated long before the Russians arrived by the Udegetsi people. The Paleo Village is an interactive, open-air museum, where you can learn all about the former inhabitants of the Primorsky region. You also get to see how the archeologists went about their work in that specific area. A tour will cost about 1,000 rubles, not including the bus to Nakhodka and taxi to the museum.
- Khabarvosk – Just as many Muscovites take the overnight train to St. Petersburg for the weekend, many Vladivostok locals enjoy visiting their neighbors to the north. Travel time is about 12 hours, meaning that you can catch a train Friday night in Vladivostok, sleep for 8 hours, and wake up in Khabarovsk, a beautiful port town in the Khabarovsk region. You’ll be able to check out the local museums and spend the night in one of Khabarovsk’s many hotels. In order to plan a trip, talk to any local tour agency or VSUES’s international department. Khabarovsk was founded on the order of then-General-Governor of East Siberia, Murav'ev-Amursky in 1858. It was originally a military outpost and was named for Erofei Khabarov, a Russian peasant credited with first mapping the Amur River, on which the city lies. The city grew as peasants came to the "new east," lured by the new opportunities of Stolipin's reforms promising peasants land and freedom. In 1880, Khabarovsk became the regional capital. Today, it is one of the largest cities in the Russian Far East (RFE) with a population of close to 700,000. Compared to many other cities of the RFE, Khabarovsk is quite a "lucky" city in terms of its geographical location, political, economic, and military status. It avoided destruction in the war with Japan in 1905, the Revolution and Foreign Intervention in Vladivostok, and also WWII. During the Soviet period, Khabarovsk was never a closed city to visitors or tourists. This allowed the city to save the architecture, and build Khabarovsk with undisturbed planning, creating a friendly culture with many museums and theatres, a strong educational base with many universities and colleges, and a large center for industry and transportation. It is also important to point out that much of the history and culture of the area is strongly tied to its many indigenous peoples including the Evenki and Nanai. The history of these peoples is well preserved both in local museums and in the settlements of the region and around Khabarovsk. Outside of the city, and near the Nanaian settlement of Sikhachi-Alyan, you can see cliff drawings of more than 13 centuries ago.
- Yakutsk is one of the coldest places on Earth and reachable from Vladivostok via a three-hour plane ride. The capital of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), it is situated on the Lena River. It was long unreachable for most of the year by anything other than air transport, but in 2013 a rail link is expected to be competed with service to the city for the first time ever. Yakutsk and the surrounding resource-rich but untapped Siberian lands are considered to be extraordinarily valuable to Russia's economic development plans for its Far East and the country in general. Yakutsk was first reached by Russians when the Cossack Peter Beketov approached the area from the upper reaches of the great Siberian river Lena with a detachment of thirty people. In 1632, he established a small fort on the eastern bank of the Lena and called it Lensky. When the site proved subject to flooding from the Lena, a new site across the river was chosen in 1643. The new ostrog (fort) was called Yakutsk, and became the capital and trade center for the district. The first one-story brick house was built in Yakutsk in 1707. It was the office of the Voevoda, or Governor. The second brick house was the Troitsky Cathedral, founded in1708. This cathedral later became a theater. Today, it houses more than 200,000 people as well as several museums devoted to the history, traditions and customs of peoples of Yakutia, including many ethnicities native to the land.
13. Longer Trips from Vladivostok
- Japan and South Korea - (Do not purchase tickets before checking to make sure that you can re-enter Russia on your current visa! Discuss the trip first with SRAS and VGUES!) Boats run to Japan (Niigata and Fushiki) and cost about $235 one-way. South Korea can also be easily reached by ferry for about $300 roundtrip. It takes about a day to reach South Korea. The boat docks for seven-eight hours and then heads to Japan, which takes about another day. Airtravel is also possible for both locations.
- Sakhalin Island - (Plan this trip well in advance - ferry tickets can be difficult to purchase.) Sakhalin Island is reachable by taking a train to Varino and then a ferry to the island. A oneway trip should take the better part of a day. Sakhalin is one of the largest islands in Russia, interesting both geographically and historically. Separated from the continent and from Japan by three straits, it is bathed by the cold Sea of Okhotsk and the warm Japanese Sea. The seas washing the coast of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands are among the most productive areas of ocean in the world. Nearly two-thirds of the Sakhalin area is mountainous. Lopatin Mountain is the highest, at 1,609 m. The Northern part of the island is a swampy plain covered with deciduous taiga, while mountains of the central and southern parts of the island are covered with forests. There are two mud volcanoes, more than 60 thousand rivers and streams, and about 16,120 lakes on the island. Sakhalin is attractive for its oil, coal, fishing, and timber resources. According to historical data, the first Japanese expedition visited Sakhalin in 1635. By the end of the 18th century English and French explorers showed an interest in Sakhalin and the Kurils, sending expeditions there. After the 1905 war, the island was divided between Japan and Russia. The Soviet Union siezed the island and several islands to the south at the end of WWII, creating a territorial dispute that has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty to this day. Today, the island is best known as the location of one of Russia's first liquified natural gas projects and considerable offshore natural gas exploration. However, its nature is also still remarkable.
- The BAM and Tinda - In the early seventies the Soviet government launched a giant project targeting untapped mineral and lumber resources of the Russian Far East. It was to be called the Baikal-Amur Magistrate. The need for this rail was great at that time. Japan was importing millions of cubic meters of raw lumber. When the easier-to-tap resources near existing cities and settlements were exhausted in the USSR, the Soviet government decided to establish new settlements far from populated areas. People were invited from all over the Soviet Union. It was proclaimed a Komsomolskaya Stroika (Youth Building Project). The government offered enticing benefit packages to young people in return for their commitment to live in tents before first houses and streets would appear, later it contracted North Korean workers to fill its labor gap. The capital of the BAM is Tinda, a city built for the role. Although today it is a sleepy and shrinking city of less than 50,000, it still has a small local airport and, of course, a railway station and is still one of the best places to check out the BAM and experience smaller town Russian life.
- Blagoveshchensk is one of the most important border crossings between Russia and China. In 1858, shortly after China and Russia agreed that the Amur would serve largely as their border, Russia found Blagoveschensk on the northern embankment of the river. This area is rich farmland and is rich in gold and timber. Although Blagoveshchensk is one of the least accessible (flights will take the better part of a day because most are routed through multiple regional airports or through Moscow) and therefore least visited major cities, it is a singularly attractive city and one of the oldest in the Russian Far East. The city lies on a flat riverbank, separated by a kilometer of river from the modern Chinese city of Hei-Hei. The city is strikingly clean; its many ornate 19th century buildings were repaired during its recent 140th anniversary celebration. The river between Chinese Heihe and Russian Blagoveshchensk is guarded by an old Russian gunboat anchored in mid-stream, several deserted WWII vintage pillboxes, and a decaying fort whose buildings date from Tsarist times. In contrast to the Russian city's 19th century buildings and Soviet-era apartment blocks, the Chinese city across the river is made up of new skyscrapers, office buildings and hotels. Blagoveshchensk and the Amur region are profiting from nearby China. Cooperation with the Chinese city just 800 meters across the Amur river, has led to an international free trade zone, which has spurred the development of infrastructure and production in both cities. A lively cross-border shuttle trade (via ice road in winter and ferry in summer) fills Blagoveshchensk markets with low-cost Chinese foodstuffs and clothing.
- The Kamchatka Peninsula, one of the most easterly parts of Russia and all Asia, is an unforgettable land marked by contrast: ice and fire, geyser-studded deserts and lush vegetation. Vladimir Atlassov, a Russian fur merchant who had come to Siberia in search of fortune and was then appointed general of the Cossacks, took possession of the peninsula in the name of Tsar Peter the Great on 13 July 1697, as can be seen by the date engraved on the cross in front of the first fort built there by Atlassov. The Tsar soon hear great tales of the region's riches and sent Vitus Bering, the explorer, to find a route to there and Japan via the Arctic. One century later Kamchatka was already a militarized zone and its capital, Petropavlosk-Kamatchatskiy, had become one of the empire's leading naval bases. The city is located on Avacha Bay and, at the beginning of the 19th century it became a center of Russian/American trade and naval activities. The center of the city is still occupied by old wooden buildings. During the Soviet period the region remained a military zone, strictly off-limits for foreigners and even for Soviet citizens who did not live there. Only in very recent times have the frontiers that isolated Kamchatka from the rest of the world been removed, so that the mysterious peninsula could welcome its first visitors, revealing its many marvels - the 120 volcanoes, many of which are still active, more than 200 geysers, as well as boundless glaciers, forests, and wildlife. Perhaps the best way to see the nature of the peninsula is by traveling to Kronotskiy Wildlife Reserve, home to many endangered species and home to a "hot lake," the Maliy Semliachik, formed in the crater of an old volcano.
Find Out More!
Student's Guide to Vladivostok
Great Photos of Vladivostok
Internships in Russia
Health and Safety in Russia
The SRAS Newsletter
Library: What to Know
More Eurasian Regions/Cities
Journal for Students
More Free Resources!
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