When many people think of Russia’s far eastern regions, almost immediately, images of a vast, frozen wasteland with a brutal past spring to mind. You’d probably be quite surprised to learn that the far east of Russia was named one of the top travel destinations for 2019. Really? What would attract so many people to a land of endless lakes and forests with short summers and bitterly cold winters? Stay tuned, because you’re about to learn that there is so much more to this part of the world than meets the eye.
Believe it or not, there is a growing niche market amongst tourists who come to far eastern Russia precisely because they enjoy the isolation and even frigid climate. Oymyakon has the distinction of being the coldest city in the world. As you may have guessed – Oymyakon – which is built on permafrost, features some fun winter activities. You can also check out the Pole of the Cold Monument, which pays tribute to a town whose freezing temperatures are matched only by those found in Antarctica.
Esso is a small village on the Kamchatka Peninsula, a wild and untamed wilderness known as one of the planet’s last frontiers. Esso has drawn considerable tourist attention in recent years due in large part to endless hiking opportunities in Bystrinsky Nature Park and wonderful hot springs. Esso is comprised almost entirely of wooden houses that are heated using water from the hot springs. There are also reindeer farms nearby as well as dog-sledding competitions.
Vladivostok is the major city for eastern Russia and the country’s main Pacific port. This seaside city has plenty of culture and nightlife. Golden Horn Bay is always full of naval and commercial ships. In the summer, head to Sportivnaya Harbor, which features some wonderful beaches. While you’re there, check out the bustling Sportivnaya Market. Other attractions include the Primorsky Aquarium, Russky Bridge, The Children’s Art Gallery, and the Cathedral of the Most Holy Mother of God.
You may have figured out by now that the far east of Russia is one wild, outdoorsy kind of place. For a truly unique tourism experience, it is recommended that you visit the Kuril Islands. These islands are off the coast of Russia close to northern Japan. It isn’t uncommon for residents to speak both Russian and Japanese. The Kurils are pristine with many forests, blue lagoons, and geothermal rivers.
Magadan is about as far off the beaten track as you can get while still having some semblance of civilization. The small town – which began as a labor camp during the Gulag period – has a rugged beauty to it. Magadan lies on the northern shores of the Sea of Okhotsk in the region of Kolyma. While it’s definitely worth taking a trip to this wild outpost, the only way to get there is by plane.
Primorye Safari Park
You definitely won’t see any lions, giraffes or elephants on this safari, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to take in (from a safe distance) the local wildlife. You’ll see Grizzly bears, moose, reindeer and the elusive though deadly Siberian Tiger.
This is a natural rock formation that had formed during the Cambrian period. Many of the pillars are as high as 300 meters. This is another isolated region of far eastern Russia, but there are some villages nearby such as Petrovskoye and Tit-Ary that offer accommodations. The Lena Pillars was made a World Heritage Site in 2012. These days, it’s becoming quite popular for tourists to take river cruisers to this natural wonder from Yakutsk, the largest city in the region that lies 260 kilometers to the south.
The second – largest city in the region, Khabarovsk is a sightseeing mecca. If you want to experience some authentic Russian history, spend a few hours walking around Lenin Square before heading on over to the Transfiguration Cathedral, one of the oldest and tallest churches in the country. There is also Park Dinamo and the Far Eastern Art Museum.
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