Uncovering The Russian Far East

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Although most people visiting Russia will head for bustling Moscow or elegant St. Petersburg, the remote Far East of the country is fast becoming a travel hotspot. So what is it about this formerly forgotten region which is attracting so many people? Here’s what you need to know about a fascinating part of the world which has more to offer than meets the eye.

The Destinations

Oymyakon is the coldest city in the world, a city built on permafrost, and offering plenty of fun winter activities. Also check out the Pole of the Cold Monument, which pays homage to a destination with freezing temperatures matched only by Antarctica. Meanwhile, Esso is a small village on the Kamchatka Peninsula, a wild and untamed wilderness famous for the Bystrinsky Nature Park and hot springs, with endless hiking opportunities. There are also reindeer farms you can visit, as well as dog-sledding competitions. Vladivostok is eastern Russia major port city, and the country’s main Pacific port, a coastal city with plenty of culture and nightlife. In summer, visitors flock to Sportivnaya Harbour, which features some wonderful beaches, while other attractions include the Primorsky Aquarium, Russky Bridge, The Children’s Art Gallery, and the Cathedral of the Most Holy Mother of God. The Kuril Islands sit off the coast of Russia close to northern Japan, and famous for pristine landscapes with forests, blue lagoons, and geothermal rivers. Another destination to put on a “to do” list is the Lena Pillars, a natural rock formation and World Heritage Site which formed centuries ago; some of the pillars reach as high as 300 meters. They’re in an isolated spot, but have nearby villages including Petrovskoye and Tit-Ary where you can stay, and eat. Khabarovsk is the second largest city in the Russian Far East, and a sightseeing mecca which will appeal to lovers of Russian history. Just a few essentials to tick off your list include exploring Lenin Square and the Transfiguration Cathedral, along with Park Dinamo and the Far Eastern Art Museum.

Food And Drink

The tap water in Russia is not considered safe to drink so you should stick to bottled mineral water, which is readily available in hotels, shops and restaurants and cheap to buy. When it comes to food, however, restaurants and cafes have changed vastly since the fall of the Soviet Union, and there is a wide variety of culinary options to be enjoyed particularly in the bigger cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg. Go remote, however, and the choice is more limited, however, foods you are likely to encounter include caviar, smoked sausage, pickles, and field mushrooms, along with a stuff, savoury pastry called piroshki, and a stuffed savoury pancake called a blini. Other common dishes include hearty meat and vegetable-based soups, along with classics  such as beef Stroganoff and Siberian dumplings called pelmeny. You’ll also enjoy Russian rye bread. One particular Russian drink has become a staple across the world - vodka - and in Russia it is often drunk neat with food. Russians also enjoying drinking beer, which is cheap.

Money Matters

Russia’s currency is the Russian Rouble, but it can sometimes be difficult to buy in advance or to exchange upon your return, so US Dollars are recommended; it is the easiest to convert with the better exchange rates. There are currency exchange shops and ATM machines in Moscow and St Petersburg, and credit cards are rarely accepted outside the main cities. Traveller's Cheques are not generally recommended as they're often difficult to exchange and incur high fees. When it comes to tipping, it is generally practised across the service industry in Russia. It’s customary to leave a tip of around 10 percent with food, while taxi fares are metered so there's no need to leave a tip, although like in Australia the final amount is usually rounded up. In luxury hotels and resorts, porters expect a tip of around USD $1 per bag and cleaning staff $2 per day to keep your room ship shape.


When visiting churches, cathedrals and monasteries in Russia, women need to cover their heads and bare shoulders with scarves; if you don’t have something suitable, they can usually provide one on entry. At some religious places women are also required to wear a long wrap-around skirt, which are also provided. For men, shorts and hats are not appropriate attire for visiting churches. If you decide to visit a banya (sauna) you will need to wear swimwear, although in same sex steam houses you can go au natural. Remember to bring your own towel and footwear, however.

Best Of The Rest

Sightseeing can be expensive, as many of the more popular places require separate entry tickets to see different attractions within a complex. This can all add up so make sure you have plenty of cash, and if you are on limited time, pick out your top spots to visit. When it comes to electrical products, the standard voltage in Russia is 220 volts, 50Hz AC, and primary sockets generally require European plugs of the two round pin variety. These days Wi-Fi is widely available across Russia's cities and larger towns with many hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes offering free access for guests. In the more rural areas the Wi-Fi options may be more limited and slower. Russia is also divided into 11 time zones with the furthest point of eastern Russia 12 hours ahead of GMT. The city of Yekaterinburg falls in a different time zone to Moscow and St Petersburg and is five hours ahead of GMT. As a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, Russia observes a number of religious holidays and official public holidays. The biggest is New Year's Day, with Christmas taking place a week later according to the Orthodox calendar, and many businesses close for the week between New Year's and Christmas.



Ben Hall


  • 4
    Cruises Are Expensive

    Posted by Terry Nestor on 29th Jul 2019

    I have looked at a few cruises to these parts and they are usually only luxury or expedition ships and very expensive. I wonder how much it costs to fly and travel between some of these places? You don't say in the article.