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Page Contents
General Information
Tourist Information
Transportation Hub
Transportation to Japan
Transportation to Other Asian Ports
Transportation to China
Transportation to Harbin
Transportation to Hunchun
Local News in English
Weather and Climate
Moscow Times article

General Information 
Vladivostok's history began in 1860 when the military transport "Manchuria" with Ensign Komarov and 40 soldiers dropped anchor in the Zolotoy Rog (Golden Horn) bay. The first barracks and church were quickly built, allowing Russia to lay claim new territories known today as the Russian Far East. Closed to foreigners from 1958 until 1991 because it was home to the Russian Pacific Fleet, Vladivostok has often been compared to San Francisco due to the many hills and ocean views. Vladivostok, whose name means "Ruler of the East" is located less than 100 kilometers east of the Chinese border, just across the Sea of Japan from the main Japanese island of Honshu and 9302 kilometers from Moscow via the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The sea is a major factor in life in Vladivostok. Most of its 700,000 citizens are connected in some manner with the sea; some are sailors, others are fisherman and some serving in the navy. As one of only four major seaports in Russia, with extensive fishing rights, it also has tremendous potential for economic growth.

In fact, modern Vladivostok has been compared to the American West during the Gold Rush years. Businesses from all over the world have flocked to the city in recent years to take advantage of location as a crossroads in Northeast Asia. Foreign investment and influence have helped to fuel Vladivostok's independence from control by politicians located in Moscow. Many in Vladivostok today lobby for the establishment of a Free Economic Zone, hoping that the city might eventually become another Hong Kong or Singapore. Its citizens believe that the city's economic future lies less with Moscow and the West than in the East and other Asia countries, including Japan and Korea who have already invested heavily in the area.

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Tourist information 
Few travelers consider Vladivostok a tourist destination as there are few real tourist attractions. However, most consider the city to be worth a few days. Among the sites mentioned as worth seeing are:

  • the V.K. Arsenev Regional Museum, named after a famous filed researcher, includes natural history and historical displays about the region from the aborigines to present day,
  • the Museum of the Pacific Fleet, which displays the Krasny Vympel (Red Pennant)
  • the first ship of the Soviet Pacific Navy
  • the C-56 Submarine that sank 10 German ships and a military trasnport during World War II. The sub is part of a memorial complex called "Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet,"
  • the Aquarium, which features live exhibitions of local species from the Far Eastern seas and coast, including its main attraction, beluga whales,
  • the Fortress territory, which includes a museum with exhibitions of weapons, and the history of defense in the area, bunkers, fortifications and subterranean passages.

The main streets are Svetlanskaya, stretching along the coast of the bay from Amurskiy Bay to the Muraviyov peninsula and Aleutskaya. At the end of Svetlanskaya ulitsa take the funicular up the hillside to the upper station and climb the stairs to the observation deck for a nice view.

Possible excursions in the area include a visit to the local Observatory, the Kravtsovskiy Waterfalls and to the Primorskiy Krai region including ancient cities of the Bohai kingdom that existed from 698 AD to 926 AD. Contact a local or Russian-based tour company for information about these trips.

Vladivostok is also a good center for organizing camping and trekking trips to Siberia and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Because it is a strategic port city (home to the Russian Far Eastern Fleet), you will need to be careful where you take photographs.

If your budget is limited and you are looking for something interesting to do while waiting for your visa, plane, train, ferry or other travel connections, consider this walking tour of the historic parts of Vladivostok.

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Transporation Hub 
This site is a travel agency in Seattle, Washington that specializes in travel to the Russian Far East and has some good information about train, ferry and plane routes from Vladivostok. Also they have an excellent map of transportation connections in the Russian Far East. Far East Transportation Map

Schedule of flights departing from or going to Vladivostok

Vladivostok to other points in Russia
Trans-Siberian Railway
Most people who visit Vladivostok do so because it is the terminus of the all Russian Trans-Siberian Railway. Some start their journey here, while others come from Moscow and points west to end here.

It is possible to use Vladivostok as a jumping off point for Kamchatka or to travel further in Asia.

Vladivostok to Japan 
For more information about the ferries to Japan and elsewhere, check out the website of the Far East Shipping Company: FESCO

If traveling from Russia to Japan, check out this website: Japan - International Ferries with Russia

To/From Vladivostok, Far East Russia to Japan
Fushiki to Vladivostok
From July until the first week in October a twice-monthly ferry service operates between Fushiki, near Toyama on the Japan Sea Coast, and the Russian port city of Vladivostok. One-way tickets cost between ¥25,200 and ¥88,800 with discounts of 10% on return fares. The journey takes approximately 40 hours. Please contact the following agency for further information.

Toyo Kyodo Kaiun
4F Shuwa-Sakurabashi Bldg.
4-5-4 Hachobori
Tokyo, Japan
Tel.: +81 (0) 3 5541 7511 Fax.: +81 (0) 3 3552 7322

Wakkanai to Korsakov
From mid-July until the end of September the East Japan Sea Ferry Company operates a regular service between Wakkanai, on the northern tip of Hokkaido, and the Russian port of Korsakov. Fares for the 8-hour journey range from ¥20,000 to ¥30,000 one-way. Please contact the East Japan Sea Ferry Company for further information.

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East Japan Sea Ferry Company
1-4-1 Kaiun
Wakkanai 097-0023
Hokkaido, Japan
Tel.: +81 (0) 162 23 3780
Fax.: +81 (0) 162 23 6730

East Japan Sea Ferry Company
9F Tsutai Building
11-1292 4 jo- Nishi
Chuo-ku Minami
Sapporo 064-0804, Japan
Tel. +81 (0) 11 518 2780
Fax. +81 (0) 11 418 2783

East Japan Sea Ferry Company
C/- Sakhalin Fantastic Ltd.
154 Lenina Str
Sakhalin 693000 Russia
Tel/Fax.: + 7 4242 42 0917

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Russian Far East to other Asian ports 
Sokcho, Korea to Zarubino, Russia
Ferry leaves Monday and Wednesday at 2 pm and Friday at 3 pm.
Ferry arrives Zarubino at 10 am
Travel to Vladivostok by bus takes about 4 hours. Note that Zarubino is in the Primorye area of Russia. Although there are plans to extend service to Vladivostok, there is no indication as to when this might occur.

Check the Far East Shipping Company for information on service in this area.
Service is operated from Vostochny - Vladivostok - Masan - Pusan - Vostochny by the Korea Direct Line.
ORISTA, Vostochny Port
Tel.: +7 (4236) 660-195
Fax.: +7 (4236) 660-272

Transfes Maritime Agency Vladivostok
Tel.: (4232) 49-70-53
Fax.: (4232) 41-19-11

TransOrient Shipping, South Korea
Tel.: (822) 3702-20 52
Fax.: (822) 734-59 25/27

Vostochny to China - FCDL - FESCO China Direct Service
Vostochny, Russia to Magadan - FML - FESCO Magadan Line Magadan
Vostochny to Japan - JTSL - Japan Trans Siberian Line
Vostochny to Vietnam - FVDL - FESCO Vietnam Direct Service

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Vladivostok to China 
Vladivostok to Harbin 
Train to Harbin
International trains run between Vladivostok and Harbin in Heilongjiang Province about twice a week. The journey takes about 30 hours, not because of the distance, which isn't very big, but because the international part of the train stays in Ussurisk overnight. There are indeed now almost daily trains from Harbin to Grodekovo, where one can easily connect to Ussuriisk and then travel on to Vladivostok or the reverse. You can check the Russian train schedules at: Your Train - CIS railway schedule.

Here is one fellow traveler's report of his journey on this route in summer 2003:

"Bought the tickets 2 days in advance at Vladivostok station for about 25 pounds a go, kupé, train to Harbin on the Thursday, maybe more frequent I don't know.

The train to Harbin consists of one carriage on the back of a train going to Khabarovsk, when the train reaches the border the carriage is dropped off and the rest of the train carries on to Khaborovsk. You then have to get off the train with bags and go to the customs "shed," buy yourself a "form" for what reason we never worked out and wait for the Chinese train to reach the border to pick up your carriage, after 7 hours the chinese train finally arrived but we had to wait another 4 hours for the chinese on this train to pass through customs entering Russia (lots of traders, lots of dodgy bags), once finally completed scramble straight to the front of the queue shouting "Harbin" and waving your form and ticket, Russians and non-chinese going all the way to Harbin get preference over the Chinese traders simply crossing the border on the train. passing through customs is fairly simple after this and then its back on the carriage you came on which is now attached to a huge Chinese train. It is a very good introduction to Chinese and China itself."

Bus to Harbin
A recent announcement, 18 June 2006, indicated that the situation on traveling between Harbin and Vladivostok would be made easier as both the Russian and Chinese governments had come to some understandings about the road border crossings. The new agreements should cut road travel from two days to about 12 hours. Road travel between the two cities has been facilitated with an agreement to allow passengers to pass customs before their journey's begin.

Previously, travelers could only buy a ticket to the border and then wait there to clear the crossing before entering the other country and purchasing another ticket on another bus in order to get to Harbin or Vladivostok.

Reportedly there will be a bus operating between the two and a ticket from Vladivostok will cost 1600 rubles. (June 2006 about 60 USD). Service supposedly will be provided on the Russian side by Primoravtotrans, Tel.: +7 (4232) 45 03 93 but their website which is entirely in Russian only indicates travel for Russian tourists on trips to China, not transit passengers traveling on their own.

Until there is more information about the through bus, Dalintourist travel agency in Vladivostok indicates that there is a Bus that leaves daily, except Sundays. It leaves from railway station around 04:30 a.m. and arrives at Suifenhe at 08:00 a.m. Their Chinese partners can help with arrangement within China territory. Price is 58 USD per person. I believe that there is also a daily train operating between Harbin and Suifenhe.

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Plane to Harbin
Also there are currently twice weekly flights between Vladivostok and Harbin on Vladivostok Air or Vlad Avia, which is a fairly economical and painless way to travel.

Vladivostok to Hunchun 
Bus to Kraskino - Hunchun border
Vladivostok to Hunchun by bus as reported in August 2004:
This is what I did. I took the 8:50am (no. 528, I believe, get there early to get a ticket) bus from Vladivostok Bus Station (AvtoVoksal) to Slavyanka (150 Roubles 4.5 hrs) and then caught a taxi to the Kraskino border (1400roubles 45-60 mins or so (probably way too much).

The bus station at Slavyanka for buses to Hunchun (700 roubles or a little more) is at least 1.5 km back up (approx. North) the street from the bus stop for buses from Vladivostok, but as I mentioned I took a taxi, so I never made it there.

The border only allows civilians on buses to cross, so I had to wait for a passenger bus to come back through (lesson: catch bus in Slavyanka) and there is nothing outside those gates except a dirty outhouse. There was some type of additional head tax at the border, It was 700 R for Chinese, 200 R for me, a Canadian, and I don't know what for whoever else.

At the border, Russian customs asked everyone if they had any dollars or roubles and everybody swore that they were dead broke, exept me. I told them I had dollars and it did not seem to make the slightest bit of difference: they did not even ask how many.

China has a 3 hours time difference in the summer from Vladivostok!

It seemed that I saw about 10 buses going east between when I got on the taxi in Slavyanka and when the border guards put me on the first bus going west accross the border.

Chinese customs was pretty normal.

The bus dropped us off at the Hunchun bus depot.

I noticed Slavyanka destination signs at both the Yanji long distance and Hunchun bus stations.

Apparently there is a Casino/Hotel in Kraskino catering to Chinese but I saw no accommodations there or anywhere else south of Vladivostok. I therefore recommend doing the trip in one day. I would not count on any accomodation south of Vlad (although I am sure there is some).

There was a bus direct from Vlad to Kraskino, but it left at 17:30, which would have meant staying the rest of the night in Kraskino.

Nobody speaks English to help you anywhere. I was very kindly helped by a couple of North Koreans (I speak Korean) at the Vladivostok bus station.

Local News in English 
Vladivostok News

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Weather for Vladivostok 

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
ave. temp. -14 -9 -1 5 10 15 19 20 15 8 -1 -10
ave. high -7 -2 3 12 17 21 25 26 22 14 4 -4
ave. low -21 -16 -7 0 4 10 15 16 9 1 -8 -17
ave. temp. 6 15 28 42 51 59 67 69 60 47 28 12
ave. high 18 27 38 55 63 70 78 79 72 58 39 24
ave. low -6 2 17 31 40 50 59 62 49 35 16 0

Average Number of Days of Precipitation

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
rain 0 0 2 7 12 12 12 11 6 6 2 0
snow 4 3 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 4

Sokol Tours, a Russian tour company.
Voyage Torg Service, a Vladivostok based tour company.
WayToRussia, a web based company with lots of useful information.

Other Agencies located in Vladivostok:
Vladivostok Travel and Excursion Bureau
Address: 40, Posyetskaya st.
Vladivostok, 690091 Russia
Tel.: +7 (4232) 411 - 949, 411 - 988
Fax.: +7 (4232) 410 - 689

#18,3, Admiral Fokin Street
Vladivostok, 690091, RUSSIA
Tel.: +7 (4232) 260 - 328, 226 - 606
Fax.: +7 (4232) 260 - 328
Website: or

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Accommodations in Vladivostok are not cheap. Nor is it easy to find places that are centrally located, where English is spoke and where a foreigner can get a registration stamp. If you are looking for all these things, be prepared to pay for these amenities.

One other issue with getting accommodations in Vladivostok is that many of the places that take foreigners and provide registration of your migration card also require a 20% or more booking fee.

Two places get repeated mentions:
The Moryak 2 - This two star hotel was built in 1967 for transiting seamen, hence the name which means sailor. It was renovated in 2003. There are 6 floors and no elevator. This is a mid range to budget place located centrally not far from the train station and the main post office. There may or may not be people who can speak English but they do provide registration for foreigners. OTOH as do many of the hotels in Vladivostok, they charge 20 - 25% booking fee so unless you are planning to stay for a few days, it might not be the best option.
Address: Posyetskaya 38.
Tel./Fax.: +7 (4232) 49 94 95
Rates: 40 - 80 USD per night (2006)
(The is not the same place at the Moryak mentioned in the Moscow Times article from 2002)

The Vizit Vladivostok Hotel - This three star hotel opened in 1975 and continues to be the largest hotel in town. It is a 15 minute walk uphill from the train station but at least this 11 story building has an elevator. A beautiful view overlooking the Amursky Bay and the absence of the usual booking fee might make this a reasonable choice. Some staff even speak English. Among the services offered are wi if and cable tv.
NOTE that this is a different hotel from the Vladivostok Hotel. Although colocated in the same building, this hotel is a separate hotel with a separate management.
Address: Nabereznaya St 10
Tel.: +7 (4232) 413 453
Rates: 90 - 200 USD per night (2006)
Don't be confused between these two places. This is the website of the Vladivostok Hotel, not the separate Vizit Vladivostok Hotel. Although in the same building, the former charges a booking fee and a registration fee for foreigners.

The Hotel Equator apparently gets a lot of mention on the Russian travel boards. They have a website which is in English and indicates that foreigners stay there. According to the map, it would appear to be in a good location not far from the central square.
Address: Naberezhnaya, 20, Vladivostok 690091
Tel.: +7 (4232) 411254, 411290, 300110
Fax: +7 (4232) 411384
Rates: 70 USD for a single without a view, 85 for a double without a view and 137 for a luxury studio.
There is a restaurant on premises and they accept credit cards.

Check out this site: All for hotel information.

Check out this site: WaytoRussia

See the Moscow Times article below.

Homestays can be arranged through Sokol Tours or
Homestays - HOFA or a mirror site Hofa in Russia These folks, although located in Petersburg, can arrange homestays in a variety of places including Petersburg, Moscow, Irkutsk and Vladivostok.

There have been at least two ThornTree Posting in recent years about the difficult of finding budget housing in Vladivostok. Both parties seemed to end up at the same place for a short-term apartment. It is located in the outskirts of Vladivostok (the city center is reachable in 20 minutes by bus). They won't be able to register you, and there may be no water, but the views of the city were wonderful, and the cost in 2005-2006 was 1000 rubles a night.
Gostinii Dvor'
ulitsa Ladigina 5-85
Tel: 526-993 or 264-117 or 448-694

The agency that was used was VladTurBiznes.
#18,3, Admiral Fokin Street
Vladivostok, 690091, RUSSIA
Tel.: +7(4232) 260 - 328, 226 - 606
Fax.: +7(4232) 260 - 328
Website: or

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Moscow Times Article August 2002 
Head to the Far East for a Dose of Ships & Seafood
By Avery Johnson

Like San Francisco, Vladivostok is situated on a hill on a bay, but the similarities end there -- Vladivostok prides itself on its hardbitten naval history and Pacific Fleet.

In Vladivostok, the focus is very much on water. Upon arriving in the Far East port, the first thing you'll notice is the wide expanse of the Pacific, but the city's ubiquitous maritime imagery comes a close second. Everywhere you will encounter anchors, ships and monuments to the Pacific Fleet, which -- rather like the ocean itself -- pound away at your consciousness until you get the point: Water is very important in Vladivostok.

In a largely landlocked country, Vladivostok is an anomaly, and this sense of separation makes it a fascinating place to visit, with plenty of aquatic attractions for tourists -- from seafood restaurants to summer sporting events. But the sea is not everything: The city is also reinventing itself as a fast-moving Asian trading center, with a thriving nightlife to match.

Vladivostok celebrates water for good reason because -- as anyone who has traveled overland from Moscow knows -- the country doesn't have much to go around. While there are rivers ideal for shipping goods, they empty mostly into seas outside Russia's borders or in the frozen north, a geographic sticking point that has troubled Russian leaders for centuries.

Peter the Great first focused on establishing an oceanic port when he founded the Russian navy in 1695, years behind other European countries. In 1703, he built St. Petersburg to conduct maritime trade, but even the new city's harbor was only ice-free for four months a year.

In the 19th century, frequent skirmishes between Russia and the Ottoman Turks revolved around control of the coveted Bosporus Strait, while the Russo-Japanese War at the turn of the 20th century was fueled by Japan's designs on Russia's one year-round warm-water harbor, Port Arthur.

Soviet leaders, too, battled against the country's lack of port access, taming Siberian rivers with dams, channeling the Aral Sea into irrigation canals, and pushing ever southward and westward toward the open sea. And after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the loss of the Crimean ports made Vladivostok -- the biggest port in the Far East and home to the Pacific Fleet -- even more important to Russia.

At first Vladivostok's oceanic imagery feels as strange as sculptor Zurab Tsereteli's towering monument to Peter the Great that stands on the Moscow River. In that statue -- and in Vladivostok -- the combination of Russia and the sea feels like a contradiction. After all, traditional Russian imagery focuses on the country's life-giving land.

Arriving by train in Vladivostok, you will first encounter this odd juxtaposition in the massive Marine Terminal, which towers over the station platform and almost blocks out the ocean behind it. This hulking building is decorated in a soon-to-be-familiar Vladivostok marriage of Soviet-style concrete and cheerful nautical themes.

If the station leaves you in any doubt about where you are, the warm sea breeze should reassure you that you have finally reached the Pacific.

Vladivostok's ocean climate has often been compared to that of San Francisco, with winters and summers that are mild by Russian standards, frequent rain and fog that rolls in fairly regularly every afternoon around 4 o'clock. Like San Francisco, Vladivostok is also situated on a hill overlooking a peninsula, on the left side of which is the port, with its forest of ships' masts, and on the right of which are bathers and beer stalls.

The subtleties of Vladivostok's urban planning and the nooks and crannies of its architecture seem to evoke the sea, too: Small, carved waves lap across building facades, statues of maritime traders watch benevolently from rooftops and raised anchors on the streets' iron railings remind visitors that hard months at sea are never far off for many of the city's residents.

For naval history buffs, Vladivostok offers a rare chance to stroll among working military ships. For a major military base, Vladivostok's port is remarkably accessible, especially considering that the city was closed to foreigners until 1991 to shield the same navy that is now prominently displayed.

Today, the port is thronged by a mixture of freight, fishing boats and ferries, and there is so little regulation that it is hard to tell where the civilian vessels end and the naval base begins. Visitors are welcome to wander around and photograph the ships, and a few enterprising crab and beer shacks have popped up along the way to provide another diversion.

Vladivostok's museums are less involving than the living history unfolding daily on the docks, but they are worth an afternoon of exploration.

Particularly interesting is the Museum of the Pacific Fleet at 14 Pushkinskaya Ulitsa. Although its literature and guides sometimes fail to distinguish between Pacific Fleet history and general Soviet military history, the museum contains fascinating photographs and maps of World War II's Pacific front and a unique exhibit and lifelike panorama honoring the far eastern border guards. Also covering that Pacific campaign is the Submarine Museum, housed in a World War II era sub on Korabelnaya Naberezhnaya Ulitsa.

Wining and dining in Vladivostok is also dominated by watery themes, and the seafood is first-rate.

Avoid the mayonnaise-drenched Russian renditions and head down to the fish market on Ulitsa Admirala Fokina, where you can purchase cooked shrimp and delicious, sweet crab for a song. The food is best enjoyed with a beer in the picnic areas adjacent to the market or on a bench near the massive Poseidon fountain just up the hill.

The fish market overlooks the recreational part of the waterfront, where local girls in bikinis pack the boardwalk during prime tanning hours. During the summer, boats from the Vladivostok Yacht Club pack the harbor and compete in regattas there. In the ramshackle back lots bordering the bay, teenagers play volleyball regardless of cement patches and chain link fences.

But Vladivostok isn't all lazy strolls by the seaside.

Since 1991, city officials have tried to forge a new identity for Vladivostok as a freewheeling Asiatic trading center. You can see evidence of this in the many Japanese cars on the streets, the amount of English speakers in the city and in the building boom that has resulted in the city's skyline becoming crowded with cranes.

As night falls, this side of the city's character becomes dominant. Unlike most towns east of Moscow, nothing closes early in Vladivostok. It is a port after all, and sailors at dock expect a good time, which Vladivostok offers in abundance. Even at night, however, the city does not entirely trade its nautical feel for faceless modernity. In the Amursky Zaliv hotel's bar and disco, for example, the walls are decorated by ships' ropes and the MC and DJ team dress like pirates, although none of the locals on the dancefloor or at the crowded bar seem to notice these kitschy touches.

While Vladivostok might be finally letting its hair down, however, the long period in which it was closed off has meant that it is only just beginning to develop an infrastructure for tourism. The positive side of this is that you can walk unrestricted among the ships at port and meet city residents over cheap crab legs. One of the drawbacks is that even high room rates in your hotel do not guarantee working water.

Still, even with the water shortages, Vladivostok seems a world away from the rest of Russia -- a contrast that struck us again as we drove out of town for our flight home. At the city limits, our Toyota sedan sped past a giant cardboard Poseidon, its trident flapping in the breeze, and pointing always toward the mainland.

where to stay
The Hotel Vladivostok (10 Ulitsa Naberezhnaya. Tel. (4232) 22 22 08) has cleaned up its reputation as an Intourist holdover with a recent makeover that left about half the rooms a bit rough around the edges and half renovated Western-style. Singles cost $35 per night, doubles $50 per night.

For those on a tighter budget, the Hotel Moryak (14 Partizansky Prospekt. Tel. 25 38 15) offers single rooms in a turn-of-the-century building for $10 per night.

where to eat
To purchase fresh, cheap seafood, visit the fish market on Ulitsa Admirala Fokina, or, for a meal, try Nostalgia on Pervaya Morskaya Ulitsa, a charming restaurant with a cafe that serves breakfasts of bliny with honey and jam, overstuffed omelets and real coffee. If you prefer Japanese to Russian cuisine, try Eden (at 29 Ulitsa Pushkinskaya) for standard rolls, sashimi and tempura.

how to get there
A one-way train ticket from Moscow to Vladivostok costs about $130. The Rossiya train leaves from Yaroslavsky Station every other day and arrives in Vladivostok 6 1/2 days later.

Aeroflot flights leave daily. A one-way ticket costs about $325 one way, a roundtrip $600. Flight time is 7 1/2 hours. Call Aeroflot (Tel. 753 55 55) for details.

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last revised 25 Jun 2006 © 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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