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Everbrite's Russia, Belarus and Ukraine Pages

Belarus
Belarus Info

Russia
Russia General Info

Russian Consulate Information:
A to F
G to J
K to South Africa
Spain to Z

Obtaining a Russian Visa

Money and Other Tips

Tidbits for Tourists:
A to I
K to Z

Rulers of Russia:
From the Beginning to the Time of Troubles
From the Romanovs to Revolution
From Soviet Times to the present

Russia Regional Information:
Moscow
Petersburg
Irkutsk/Lake Baikal
Kaliningrad
Karelia
Tuva
Valdivostok

Moscow Metro Tour

Central Moscow Tour- in four parts with map:
Part 1 Stops 1 through 13. Marriott Royal/Hotel Budapest to Manezh Ploshchad
Part 2 Stops 14 though 22. Around Manezh Ploshchad
Part 3 Stops 23 though 44. Along Tverskaya Street to the area around Pushkin Square
Part 4 Stops 45 though 48. From Pushkinskaya Ploshchad to Upper St. Peter's Monastery and back
MAP

Travel in Russia planes, trains and automobiles

Trans-Siberian Trains
Trans-Siberian Trains general information to get you started on your journey
Trans-Siberian Stops information about common stops along the way
Notes about Chinese Consulates some informataion about Chinese consulates

Russian Language and Culture
The Alphabet
Books, Tapes and other Resources
Basic Words
Superstitions

Ukraine
Ukraine Info

 

Traveling in / to Russia

Page Contents

Planes
Airline and Airport Information
Air Travel to Russia on a Budget
Trains
General Train Information
Types of accommodations
Spelling conventions
Schedules and Time Zones
Train numbers
Branded or Luxury Trains
Tickets
Seasonal Price Adjustments
Checking Prices
Buying Tickets Online
Cheapest Price to Beijing
Explanation of Services and Cars
Reading a Ticket
Everbrite's General information about Train Travel
Buses, Trams, Subways
International Buses
Russian Subway, Bus and Tram Information
Metro in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other cities
Automobiles
Car Information
Driving across Russia
Driving into Russia from Europe
Car insurance and other documents
Notes about Driving to or within Russia
Ferries
To/From Kaliningrad
To/From Novorossiisk
To/From Saint Petersburg
To/From Sakhalin
To/From Sochi
To/From Valdivostok
Odds and Ends
Travel between Russia and Helsinki
Crossing the Bering Strait
 

Airline and Airport Information 

For air travel information within Russia, starting or ending in Russia, try these sites:

  • Unifest Travel -formerly Infinity Travel
  • Star Travel - This is the only official place in Russia to obtain an International Student or Youth ID card, for students or travelers under 26. They also have special prices for students

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For information about airports and airlines operating within Russia, try these sites:

  • Aeroflot The Russian airlines with both national and international operations. Now part of the SkyTeam Alliance with Delta airlines.
  • S7 This was formerly Sibir Airlines. Now part of the OneWorld alliance with American and British Airways.
  • Sky Express This is Russia's only real budget carrier operating mostly within Russia but including international destinations such as Dubai, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Yerevan.
  • Transaero This was one of the first airlines in Russia having started as a charter operation renting planes from Aeroflot.
  • Vladivostok Air This is the main carrier to and from Vladivostok
  • Tolmachevo The English language page for Tolmachevo airport in Novosibirsk.
  • Moscow's Domodedovo Airport
  • Moscow's Sheremetevo Airport
  • Moscow's Vnukovo Airport
  • Vladivostok Airport

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There are several airports in Moscow. Until recently, two of them even have the same name and shared the same fields. If you were flying into Sheremetevo and catching another flight, it was important to determine if you are flying into and out of the same Sheremetevo airport. Sheretemevo 2 (SVO2) was built in the late 1970s for the 1980 Olympics and until recently was the only international airport. Sheremetevo 1 (SVO1) was located several kilometers away and serves Russia and many of the CIS countries.

All this ended in 2010 when the airports were combined and completely rebuilt with all new facilities. There can still be the issue of transit within the airport so it is important to contact the airlines to determine if a transit visa is necessary.

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Air Travel to Russia on a Budget 

Budget carriers come and go. As of September 2011, the options for budget flights directly into Russia seem to be limited to the following airlines:

  • Air Baltic through Latvia
  • Air Berlin primarily through Germany from Israel, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and UK
  • GermanWings primarily from cities in Germany to Moscow (DME)
  • Meridiana Eurofly primarily within Italy, Sardina and Bologna to Moscow (DME)
  • Pegasus German cities of Berlin, Dusseldorf and Munich to Moscow (DME)
  • Sky Express primarily within Russia
  • Vueling Barcelona to Moscow (DME) and St. Petersburg
  • Wind Jet Italy and Moscow (Vnukovo)

For information about budget flights within Russia and less known airlines, try the Russian version of Skyscanner

One option is Ryan Air, which operates between London Stansted and Tampere, Finland or London Luton and Tallinn, Estonia. From Tampere, it is possible to either go to Helsinki and then to Saint Petersburg or Moscow or to take a bus directly to Saint Petersburg. From Tallinn, it is possible to take a bus to Saint Petersburg or a train to Moscow.

Other low cost flights are available to other nearby cities with bus or train service to Moscow or Saint Petersburg. However, since budget airlines seem to come and go, it is important to check on these things regularly. Several sites that try to keep on top of this ever changing market are cheap0 and flybudget and WhichBudget.

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Car Information 

Driving Across Russia 
For information about driving across Russia check out the book, Russian and Central Asia by Road written by Hazel Barker and published in 1997. It was published by Bradt Travel Guides, but is now out of print. If you intend to make such a trip, it might be worth trying to get a copy for historical information.

One of the first road trips taken after the country opened was the 1999 trip of Mark and Michelle from Vladivostok to Istanbul. The couple drove a Toyota Hilux four wheel drive crew cab over 33,000 kilometers between April and November, 33.000km, Toyota Hilux 4wd crew cab. Unfortunately their website is no longer on the internet. It used to be possible to find it using the webarchive, Way Back Machine but since January 2011 the web domain is now owned by a young EastAsian American couple. It might be possible to find old versions of some pages, but many of the main pages were hard to read because of a lacking background picture. If you find them, try using your mouse & 'select text' to have the text stand out better.

There is a Trans-Russia highway, and in February 2004 this is what the Moscow Times reported: "President Vladimir Putin on Thursday opened a stretch of highway in the Far East that will make it possible for the first time to drive by road across this sprawling nation -- setting off in Europe and ending in Asia.... A lot of work remains to be done. Even the newly opened Chita-Khabarovsk stretch is only partly paved and officials have set a 2008 deadline to finish "dressing" the highway.... And the road is already a source of local pride; there are even a couple of Internet pages devoted to describing its every pothole in detail, much like the United States' famed old Route 66." The final stretch from Chita to Khabarovsk in the Far East has been completed passing over permafrost that is topped by mud in the summer and virgin taiga.

Completion of a seven meter wide highway between Chita and Khabarovsk now is slated for 2010.

Two Germans, two Russians and an American, Michael Shipley drove 8000 kilometers in 15 days to Ulan Bator and Chita in the summer of 2006. You can read about some of his adventures here.

A National Geographic article written in 2008 and entitled 6,000 Miles to Moscow tells the story of a drive from Vladivostok to Moscow across the newly opened Trans-Siberian highway.

Russian adventurer Mikhail (Misha) Rybochkin writes on his website, Road Trips Across Russia, that "over the last four years, he has driven through 77 out of 89 Russian administrative territories extending from the Russian - Norwegian to the Russian - North Korean border, completed two drives from Moscow - Vladivostok and back plus a number of shorter ones. Plus he is available to be your guide assisting with the language barrier, unfamiliar road conditions, strange driving habits, corrupted Russian traffic cops,..."

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Driving into Russia from Europe 
Generally, it is better to avoid traveling through Belarus and Ukraine as it is the main route for trucks and second-hand car importers. Also traveling this route there are more border crossings that you need pass. However, if this is the best route, then keep to the E30 motorway which crosses Brest and Minsk (Belarus), then passes through Smolensk in Russia and finishes in Moscow.

The best route to take is to enter Russia through the border with Latvia, Estonia or Finland, as all of them are part of the EU and Schengen zone, which means less hassle. The shortest route from Poland to Russia avoiding Belarus (and thus transit visa hassle) is to travel through Kaunas (Lithuania), Riga (Latvia) entering Russia near Pskov.

If you are traveling from Finland, Nujimaa/Bruschnishnaya control point is usually quite fast, while Valimaa/Torfjanak usually has longer queues. The border between Latvia and Russia is usually not too busy, but it depends: sometimes you can get through the border in 20 minutes, sometimes you might have to wait 2 hours.

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Car insurance and other documents 
To travel in Russia by car or motorcycle you need (according to the Russian authorities):

  • your personal passport with valid Russian visa, original
    your driving licence, original, and an international driving permit - DP 1949 or by post through The Automible Association (AA)
  • the registration document on your car (a document that proves you are the owner of the car with all the information about the owner and registration - called "techpassport" or auto-passport in Russian), original
  • third-party insurance valid in Russia (can be purchased at petrol stations just before the border or if you want to save money and time at the local office or affilliate of a Russian insurance company (such as Ingosstrakh, Rosno, etc.), for example, in Latvia it can be bought at most Parex Bank branches). The standard price is about $40 for cars and $80 for campers and caravans.

None of these documents need to be translated into Russian (except for your visa, insurance, and International driving permit that will be in Russian, anyway). Your visa does not need to have the information about your car, but it's recommended, so when you apply for your visa support, submit your car details as well.

It is mandatory that your vehicle carry a fire extingiusher and first-aid kit.

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Notes about driving to or within Russia 
The information below is modified from a report provided by janwd, a TT contributor.

  • Generally speaking you do not need a car. Everyone acts as a cab. Stick out your hand, a car will stop, negotiate the price before getting in. don't get into a car with someone other than the driver present, don't get into a car with empty bottles on the floor or if you don't like the appearance of the car or driver.
  • If you want to get out of town, usually it is easy to arrange for a car and driver to do this. Many travel agencies can provide this service at a reasonable cost. Sometimes it can be arranged by your hotel.
  • Russian road police is omnipresent and indeed quite unpredictable. Generally however, they were not at all very difficult to deal with, provided that your papers are in order and you have adhered to the traffic rules.
  • Russian drivers rarely keep to the speed limit and have a different sense of traffic rules but perhaps not all that different from Greece or Italy. Be prepared to find cars on side walks, in imaginary lanes and other unexpected locations.
  • The driving mentality of the Russians is somewhat chaotic, but to be honest it does not differs much from driving in Italy or Greece.

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Should you decide to bring your car with you from Europe:

  • Green card insurance now includes coverage for Russia since 1 January 2009.
  • You will have to temporarily import your car to Russia. You will need your international driving license, and the 'car passport'. The important data are the chassis number, the volume of the engine and the manufacturing year. You will need to pay half a euro for a registration paper upon which they will copy the car passport. This paper you'll then need to hand in somewhere else, upon which you will receive your temporary admission. Typically this form is valid for the same duration of your visa. If you have a double entry visa, then you will be able to keep the paper, and will not have to buy a second one for your second entry. You will still get a new admission paper though. And upon leaving the country you will have to export the car, and hand in those papers. There are no further costs (so all in all it costs only 50 eurocents - they accept euros, but rubles will do as well of course, the experience is that they also take Polish money if you are at the polish border.)
  • There is big difference between border posts. Some are very fast and efficient (ie. on the road from Saint Peterburg to Helsinki: finished in 20 minutes.) Some are very slow (Narva in Estonia to Ivangorod in Russia can take up to six hours easily.)
  • Parking is free in Petersburg and Moscow. OTOH there are 'independent businessmen' who will guard your car for a small fee. This arrangement is more common in Moscow than Petersburg. You would be wise to pay when someone presents themselves unless you like changing flat tires or replacing side view mirrors. Guarded parking is widely available. Prices are not very high. Depending on the state of your car you can choose to use guarded parking. If you drive an old car, it is the experience that you can park unguarded without problems, but basic precautions (as anywhere) are useful such as a steering lock and not leaving anything valuable in your car.
  • Petrol stations are widely available. Russia is the cheapest country, Baltic states are all more less equal to each other. If you are getting diesel, take care that you don't use the pump where it says TIR as that is for trucks. In Russia, diesel is marked with the cyrillic letters for the Roman DT.
  • Almost every petrol station will be selling maps, though they are not always on display (ie. have to ask for 'schema kaliningrad?'. The maps are very cheap, and usually will also list accommodation places.
  • There are plenty of signs for directions, but a map will help. Especially in Russia, if you are not Russian-speaking, the cyrillic letters on the signs might be difficult to read very quickly!
  • In Siberia, and in fact, throughout Russia, it is legal to drive a car with the steering wheel either on the left or the right side.

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International Buses 

From Southern Finland to Saint Petersburg by road the trip takes about 8 hours. Check Sovavto

From Kirkenes, Norway to Murmansk, Russia the distance by bus is 250 kilometers and the ride takes approximately 5 hours. Contact Pasvikturist AS, for schedule information, cost and reservations.

Bus travel between Saint Petersburg and the Baltic capitols is very reasonable. In fact, there is no longer train service between Petersburg and Estonia, so buses are the best option.
Saint Petersburg <-> Tallinn, Estonia: 6 hrs
Saint Petersburg <-> Tartu, Estonia: 9 hrs
Saint Petersburg <-> Riga, Latvia: 14 hrs

Between the Baltic capitols and either Moscow or Saint Petersburg, there at least two options for international buses:
EcoLines
EuroLines

Russian Subway, Bus and Tram Information 

For information about transportation within a city, commuter trains or other local transport, try this site for Russian Subway, Railway and Tram maps. This site offers maps of many Russian transportation routes, but it does not offer schedules.
For information, in Russian and English, about transport within about a dozen Russian cities, check Russian Transport
For information about Russian intercity buses in English and Russian, try Aviabus

Metro in Russian Cities 

Any trip to Moscow is not complete without a trip on the metro misses an amazing experience. For some history and a tour and other links about the Moscow metro, see Moscow Metro History and Tour. The official Moscow government metro website has lots of lots of interesting and useful information about the metro and its history some of which is in English. An unofficial site, all in Russian has lots of interesting information and lots of old metro maps, Moscow Metro

While not nearly as large nor with as many stunning stations, the Saint Petersburg metro is also worth visiting. Unfortunately the official Saint Petersburg metro website is entirely in Russian.

There are metros in other Russian cities including: Chelyabinsk, Kazan, Moscow, Nizhniy Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Samara, Saint Petersburg, Ufa, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg. Links to the metro maps for these cities can be found on the website of the Russian Information Center.

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Train 

For train information, please click here.

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Ferry Information 

To/From Kaliningrad 
In a dramatic turnabout, there is no longer an international ferry service between Kaliningrad and either Germany or Poland, but there is now service between Kaliningrad and Ust Luga, 150 kilometers from Saint Petersburg. For current information (September 2011), see the Travel Information - Ferry section of my Kaliningrad page.

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To/From Novorossiisk and other Russian Black Sea Ports 
Although there are reports that the first rail-ferry left Supsa for the Ukrainian port of Ilichevsk on 17 April 1999 and that this ferry service would be extended to Novorossiisk and ports in Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, there is no indication that this has occurred. This route was funded by the EU within the framework of the TRACECA project aimed at linking the states of Central Asia with Europe via the Transcaucasus and intended to provide landlocked countries in the region with access to the sea.

The Port of Kavkaz, Russia is situated on the Taman Peninsula on Chushka Spit at the Strait of Kerch. Since 1995 the port is open for international cargo and passenger communication. Transshipment of motor transport, oil products, mineral fertilizers in bags and other packaged cargo is carried out at the port. From Yalta and Sevastopol, there are buses, which use the same ferry, and go via Feodosia and Kerch to Krasnodar, Rostov, Novorossiisk and Gelendzhik.
Information posted in 2007, indicates that this ferry is in operation year-round, but call to be certain the times haven't changed.
Tel:+380 6561 695 88
Departure times from Kerch, Ukraine:
01:30
04:45 (summer only)
07:30
10:15
13:15
16:15 (summer only)
22:00
The 5km crossing only takes a scheduled 35 mins, and the ship returns from Russia an hour after it left Ukraine. Remember that there is a time zone change of one hour.

The fares, as of August 2007, were 24/12 uah adult/child, car 113-200 uah, depending upon the size.
Marshrutka no. 1 gets you from the bus station in Kerch to the port.

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In summer 2011 there were hydrofoils operating four times a week between Novorossiisk and Sochi.
Tel: +7 8622 609 622
Port of Sochi for more information.
Depart Novorossiisk at 08:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from May until October. Departure from Sochi at 17:00 on the same days. No advance booking available.

During the summer of 2009, the same company offered high speed service between Novorossiisk and Sochi offered express passenger line service between Novorossiisk and Yalta. There is no information to indicate if this line is still in operation but it would appear doubtful. The operator was the Russian company Southern Transport Lines, Южные Транспортные Линии
Address: Ul. Kommunisticheskaya, 53 Seaport, Novorossiisk, 353900
Tel: +7 8617 611 707
Email: seaflight@yalta-sbs.com

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To/From Saint Petersburg 
Tallink and Silja are now one company. They no longer operate service between Petersburg and Tallinn or Helsinki.

In 2011 the company St. Peter Line began operating between Saint Petersburg, Russia and Helsinki, Finland. Later they added trips between Saint Petersburg and Stockholm, Sweden, and Tallinn, Estonia. Cruises are expected to operate year round and there are a variety of options. See the website for details regarding the schedule, prices and the various group tours available to those arriving on a short stay visa.

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To/From Sakhalin 
posted on the ThornTree in September 2009:
GOING FROM JAPAN TO RUSSIA VIA SAKHALIN ISLAND: possible and awesome.

1. Wakkanai, Hokkaido, Japan to Korsakov, Sakhalin Island, Russia: ferry. This is an easy ferry trip. The website to go to is http://www.heartlandferry.jp/english/index4-1.html. It describes everything you need to know.

Once at Korsakov, it's a 40 minute ride to the main city on Sakhalin, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. There's minibuses ("marshrutki"), or buses, or a taxi (which is $40, boo). There's no place to get roubles in Korsakov. Maybe make friends on the ferry and bum a ride with them to Yuzhno.

In Yuzhno, you can get money from ATMs, but there is none at the train/bus station ("vokzal"). There's a great couchsurfing host in Yuzhno.

2. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to Kholmsk: bus. It's number 516, leaves every hour 9am to 8pm from the Vokzal. Takes 2 hours. $8 I think. Buy ticket in the bus station.

3. Kholmsk to Vanino: ferry. A little tricky, since the ferry company doesn't have a set departure schedule. You can go to http://www.sasco.org/index.php?lang=en for their info. There is usually one or two a day. Each day they announce what time the ferry will leave that day, by putting up a sign in the ferry terminal in Kholmsk. There's a number you can try calling the day before or day of. We called and they said 6pm or later. We got to Kholmsk at 1pm, and the ferry didn't leave until 10pm. Not so bad, though. North of the ferry terminal 15 minutes is a nice park on the water, with outdoor and indoor restaurants and swimming Russians.

The ferry cost about $50 for a two berth room. It takes 19 hours.

It is useful to check the WikiTravel page which often has the latest updates on travel from Russia to Japan via Sakhalin

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To/From Sochi 
Port of Sochi
Tel: +7 8622 609 603
Fax: +7 8622 609 609
Email: info@morport-sochi.ru
Website: http://www.seaport-sochi.ru/lines/
Ferries used to operate between Sochi and Novorossiisk, Sochi and Batumi, Georgia (with a stop in Poti), Sochi and Trabzon, Turkey, Sochi and Istanbul, Turkey. Some of these routes no longer exist and others are not open to international passport holders.

Service between Sochi and Batumi is via high speed hydrofoil, Express Batumi, departing Sochi on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Unfortunately this option is NOT open to international travelers.
Tel: +7 8622 609 622 or +7 9184 091 296
Travel time to Batumi is about 6 hours.
Travel from Batumi is on Mondays and Thursdays.

Service between Sochi and Trabzon is via either high speed hydrofoil or Passenger -cargo ferry.
Hermes, high speed hydrofoil
Departs: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays at 2 p.m.(GMT+3:00)
Departs from Trabzon: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays at 2 p.m.(GMT+4:00)
Tel: +7 8622 609 865

Passenger - cargo ferry, multiple companies
Departures are not fixed. Tickets can be purchased 1 day before departure from 10:00 a.m. till 6 p.m. and on the day of departure from 9:00 a.m. till departure time.
Travel time is about 12 hours
Tel: +7 8622 625 152 or +7 8622 609 702

This report was posted in Spring 2011.
"The boat leaves Sotchi every Sundays and Tuesdays, and takes around 13 hours overnight. They will tell you to call the office or to step by on the day of departure to know about departure in more details, and be sure to do so because schedule is VERY variable. The boarding process starts at 6pm usually, but do not expect to leave before 8.30pm. Customs are OK, but passport control is tedious as fuck, because of Turkish travelers who don't speak Russian (obviously). I waited myself one hour, probably because they are not used to Europeans, and my situation was weird I guess (traveling alone, possessing a multiple entry visa from Moscow). A guy without uniform interrogated my twice, asking me about books on Syria, Lebanon, the Iranian and Georgian visas, but nothing too serious. IMO, they wouldn't even bother with people that don't speak Russian.

For a French citizen, the same process on the Turkish side was very quick.

For a car, the price is 20 000 roubles, 7500 or so for a motorcycle - and I don't know if that includes only a seat or a cabin. The price is 4700 for a cabin (not too sure because I didn't take it) and 3600 roubles for a seat (ask not to pay for insurance, "straravanie" in russian), but you can sleep in the "restoran" if you don't mind the smoky atmosphere (you can lay, and its more comfortable). They stop all music and TV around midnight, depending on how quick people get drunk. A previous post said people aboard were "low-life" and more or less petty criminals, with prostitutes. It is not completely false, but a little exaggerated. There is definitely nothing dangerous, some people might be obnoxious or sketchy, but that's it. I spent a rather good evening, people were dancing and everything.

Take blankets, also food and coffee/tea would be a good idea because the onboard service is non existent or a total ripoff.

Then again, they WON'T sell Sotchi-Batoumi tickets to foreigners. Also, you won't probably be allowed to book a cruise to Abkhazia from the Russian side, and if they accept, you might get in trouble on your way back. Going there from Georgia is definitely the only option."

This report was posted in Summer 2009:
"The smart people bring their own food & drinks. If there is a storm the ferry will be delayed until cleared for departure. Within 4+/- hours of Sochi, there will likely be dolphins under the bow. For most cell phones, you can get a signal about an hour away from Sochi. For Trabzon, you will need to be closer.

Reportedly there have been ferries between Sochi and Istanbul in the past, but the Sochi Port website does not currently (2011) list any.

A news article on 31 July 2003 (RFE/RL) indicates that "for the first time in 10 years, a passenger ferry raised anchor on 26 July en route from the Abkhaz capital, Sukhum, to the Russian port of Sochi. The ferry is registered in Panama and sails under the Bolivian flag. The Abkhaz Prime Minister Raul Khadjimba told journalists it will bring Russian tourists to Abkhazia." Then in 2008 the disputes arose between Georgia and Russia over Abkhazia and tempers flared at these borders."

In 2011, the Sochi port website shows high speed catamarans operating to Gagra, but there is no evidence that international passport holders can take these.

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To/From Vladivostok and Far East Russia Ports 
FESCO, the Far East Shipping Company is a Vladivostok based transport group that either operates or contacts for all service departing from the port of Vladivostok. Information regarding the various services are available on their website. Generally speaking, the schedule is posted for quarterly. Some routes are year round and others are only seasonal.
Address: 690091, Russia, Vladivostok, Aleutskaya Str, 15
Tel: +7 4232 521 010
Email: fesco@fesco.ru
Website: http://www.fesco.ru/en/index.html
Download schedules from: http://www.fesco.ru/en/clients/schedule/

Booking can also be done through:
BUSINESS INTOUR SERVICE
Address: 690090, Vladivostok, 1, Nizhneportovaya Street, Sea Terminal, 3rd floor
Tel.: +7 (4232) 497 392, 497 393, 300 146
Fax: +7 (4232) 411 829
Email: bis@vtc.ruwww.bisintour.com OR email bis@ints.vtc.ru
Website: http://bisintour.com/

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Fushiki to Vladivostok
There used to be regular ferry service offered by the Far Eastern Shipping Company (FESCO) between Fushiki, Japan and Vladivostok, Russia but this has not been in operation since mid 2009.

Since July 2009 the service is provided by DBS Ferry's 1993-built passenger ship "Eastern Dream" which sails from Vladivostok (Russia) to Donghae (South Korea) and then on to Sakaiminato (Japan) once a week all year round, taking 1 night to Korea, 2 nights and a day to Japan. Vladivostok to Japan starts at US$235 one-way in a shared sleeping room or $485 in a 2-berth cabin.

DBS cruise ferry JAPAN (this company is in the building at the port)
Tel.:+81 859 302 332 (in Japan)
Fax:+81 859 302 313 (in Japan)
Website: http://www.dbsferry.com/main/main.asp (Korean, Japanese and Russian only) Price schedule: http://www.dbsferry.com/jp/02_ticket/ticket04.asp It is highly recommended to book travel on this route in advance. This seems to be fairly difficult unless you use an agency as booking online directly is not possible. Regarding agencies, Monkeyshrine requires that you buy everything for your trip through them. RealRussia, however, lets you just purchase the ferry tickets but their markup is considered high by many. Another possibility is the German company, Gleisnost, whose staff are multilingual. Another possibility is Vladivostok based Storm Marine, part of whose website is in English.

Vladivoskok to other Asian ports
Check the Far East Shipping Company website, FESCO for current information.

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Travel between Russia and Helsinki 

There are again three options for travel between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg.

Ferry
See the website for the ferry, St. Peter Line. Train
The new high speed train is the most expensive option and the easiest to take from center city to center city. It takes 3 hours and 36 minutes and there are no berths, only nice seats. There is only one railway station in Helsinki and it's very centrally located. For more info on trains check: VR Passenger Service to Russia. Note that the website indicates that advance tickets are cheaper although I am not sure that this applies to international travel.

In addition to four high speed trains a day, there is still a slow train between Moscow and Helsinki which offers first and second (no third or platskartniy) service. This train takes 6 hours and 44 minutes to Saint Petersburg. If traveling from Russia to Finland, it is now possible to check ticket availability and even to purchase tickets for this route online on the rzd.ru website. Helsinki is ХЕЛЬСИНКИ in Cyrillic.

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Bus
In Saint Petersburg there are two bus stations: Avtovokzal and Eurolines.
Avtovokzal
Address: 36, Obvodny Kanal Embankment
Tel: 1665777
Closest metro: Ligovsky Prospect.
Services long-distance bus routes to Novgorod, Pskov, Moscow, as well as various suburban locations en route to these destinations. International destinations include Finland and the Baltic States.

Eurolines Bus Station
Address: 10, Shkapina Street
Tel: 3246534
Closest metro: Baltiyskaya
Operates bus connections to Germany, the Baltic States and various Northwest destinations. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Baltiysky Railway Station or at the Central Air Travel agency located at 7, Nevsky Prospect.

The Russian Company, Sovavto, operates service between Finland and Saint Petersburg. They run buses between Saint Petersburg, Helsinki and Turku and Saint Petersburg and the border town of Lappeenranta. The buses meet current international standards and are equipped with a telephone, air conditioner, VCR, and a WC. The schedule is one bus to or from Helsinki in each direction daily. The departure of the Saint Petersburg-Helsinki-Turku buses is synced the departure of Silja Line and Viking Line ferries from Helsinki to Stockholm and back.
Address: Main office: Vitebskiy prospekt, 3, Sankt Petersburg
Tel. + 7 812 702 25 50
Website: http://www.sovavto.ru/eng/index.html
Tickets are sold at:
The Sovavto Central Ticket Office in "Pulkovskaya" Hotel:
Address: pl. Pobedy, 1
Hours: 10:30 AM - 7:30 PM daily; lunch break: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Tel: +7 (812) 740 39 85
Tel/fax: +7 (812) 740 39 86

Ticket Office in Vyborg:
Address: ul.Demitrova, 4B
Tel. (81378) 212 13

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The Finnish Company, Savonlinja Group, operates service between Finland and Saint Petersburg (Pietari in Finnish). They have express services from Helsinki via Kotka and Hamina, from Jyväskylä via Mikkeli, and from Lappeenranta, all to the Vyborg railway station and then to Saint Petersburg. In Saint Petersburg there is always a stop at the Hotel Moskva and sometimes stops at Italyanskaya 37 and Bus Station #2. These buses only carry passengers crossing the border. Seat reservation is compulsory. Service varies and links to schedules and price information can be found online.
Head office:
Savonlinja Oy
Otavankatu 23, P.0.Box 400, FI-50101 MIKKELI
Tel . +358 (0)20 141 5500 (exchange)
Fax +358 (0)20 141 5550
Email: liikenne@savonlinja.fi
Website: http://www.savonlinja.fi/eng/yritys/index.html

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Crossing the Bering Strait 

This question gets asked fairly often. Presently there is no easy way to get across the Bering Strait. While the Chukotkan village of Provideniya and the Alaskan village of Wales appear to be quite close on maps of the region, the body of water between them is treacherous. In addition, there is no regularly scheduled transport between the two.

The only remotely feasible option for a normal tourist would be to take the one-hour flight between Nome, Alaska, and Provideniya, Chukotka.

Bering Air is a U.S. commuter airline operating under Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The company has bases in Nome and Kotzebue, Alaska and does offer charter flights to the Russian deep water port, Provideniya and Anadyr, which are both in the Russian region of Chukotka.
While they are a charter operation, occasionally Bering Air will occasionally take seat fare passengers when the charter flights aren't full. They generally operate only during the summer months. However, please note that Chukotka, the region to which Bering Air flies, is considered to be a border region within the Russian Federation. U.S. citizens and other non Russian nationals must have a valid passport, Russian visa and an official entry permission document signed by appropriate Russian/Chukotkan authorities. Since neither Nome, Alaska nor anywhere in Chukotka are a standard port of entry for international travelers, arrangements would need to be made with immigration and customs on both sides.

Russian Travel Desk, Bering Air, Inc.
Address: P.O. Box 1650, Nome, Alaska 99762-1650 U.S.A.
Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday - Thursday
Tel: 907 443 5620, This phone number is also a message phone
Fax: 907 443 5919
Email: russiantravel@beringair.com
Website: http://www.beringair.com/

Bering Air will arrange:
  • Arrange for the flight across the international border with proper Russian offices
  • Arrange for US Customs to meet incoming flights
  • Payment of all US Customs and Immigration fees

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If you are considering traveling this route, it is probably a good idea to contact a company that has some experience with this region of Russia. Try west coast US based, Red Star Travel:
Address: 123 Queen Anne Ave. N., Ste. 102, Seattle, WA 98109
Tel: (206) 522 5995, (800) 215 4378
Fax: (206) 522-6295
Email: travel@travel2russia.com
Website: http://www.travel2russia.com/
Online visa application service and lots of information about travel in Russia

or Alaska based, Circumpolar Expeditions:
Address: 3201 West 31st Avenue, Suite. 101, Anchorage, Alaska 99517, USA
Tel: 907 272 9299, 888 567 7165
Fax: 907 278 6092
Email: info@arctictravel.net
Website: http://www.arctictravel.net/
Circumpolar Expeditions in Anchorage provides customized tours to Provideniya that include housing, meals, entertainment and transportation. The housing is usually a furnished apartment and the hosts.

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It should be noted that Nome is not a usual port of entry into the USA, and it could be a problem as there is only a part time Immigration and Customs agent. In addition, from Nome to the rest of Alaska would then require an expensive flight to either Anchorage or Fairbanks. Also from Provideniya there are only occasional flights to Anadyr, the Chukotka capital that is considered one of Russia's less desirable destinations.

Although old it is worth checking the Alaskan Government's Division of Trade and Development: Russian Far East, which may have additional information about other plane flights and cruises in the Far East Russia Region.

For those of you with an intellectual interest in crossing the Bering Strait, start by reading the Wikipedia entry about the Bering Strait. Note that there are several possible overland connections across this treacherous body of water.

There are several railway tunnel proposals including one by the Interhemispheric Bering Strait Tunnel and Railway Group. As well as this page of links put together by the XXI century Transcontinental Highway Project that promotes the linking of Europe - Russia - Asia - America. Also check out the 2003 Global Railway Report and the 2006 Trans Global Highway.

Another proposal to cross the Strait is over the water. The Discovery Channel page on extreme engineering has an interactive discussion modeling a 55 mile bridge across the Bering Strait.

For those with the fantasy of walking across the Bering Strait as it is theorized was done thousands of years ago, read about the adventures of one brave soul who is walking across the arctic. Polar Challenges, is the story of a man taking three years to walk from North Cape to the Bering Strait. Also check out this page: Crossing the Bering Strait & Beringian Gap.

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For those interested in actual passages across the Bering Strait, here are some adventurers who tried and several who actually made it:

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last revised 20 September 2011 © 2003-2011 Ruth E. Imershein
The information contained on these pages is intended to assist in making travel plans but things change, mistakes can be made.
Please do not depend entirely on this information when making your decisions.

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