Please note that while part of this guide is written from actual on the ground experience, significant parts are based on internet research conducted in order to make the guide more complete
The first builders of Komsomolsk
First settled by indigenous people, then by settlers from the Perm region, but the history of this BAM town in the far flung reaches of the union come federation, doesn't kick off until the communist hey-ho fervour in the early honeymoon days of the Soviet union, when patriotic fresh-faced members of the Komsomol - the Soviet youth league - landed on the Amurs shores in the 1930s, to build a "model city" with wide tree lined avenues, modern trams and large factories - a new future, carrying the Soviet dream to the far east. And while there are countless monuments and murals celebrating the valour and accomplishments of the Komsomol and the BAM builders here, reality however, is far more sinister; nearly three quarters of the builders were actually convicts, Japanese POW's and other dissidents, and the city became a major, if not the most important GULAG centre during Stalin's purges, and nearly a million prisoners tramped trough the various camps of Komsomolsk. So the city is not, as legend would have it, build on the glory of labour and patriotism alone, but also on top of thousands of unmarked graves.
Owing to it's aircraft industry (the Sukhoi Superjet 100 is produced here) and its strategic importance, the city actually has two airports, but unless you find yourself unwittingly recruited by the Russian army, your interest will mainly be in Khurba airbase (ICAO: UHKK; IATA: KXK) 17 kilometers south of the city. Vladivostok Avia  is your choice for direct 8 hour flights to Moscow (Vnukovo, VKO), but only once weekly most of the year (on Tuesdays at the time of writing, returning Wednesday). The only other airline operating is Sakhalin based SAT Airlines  with once or twice weekly services to Ignatyevo Airport (BQS) near Blagoveshchensk and more importantly to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (UUS) where the airline operates a decent hub with a number of connections to East Asia.
Planes aside, most visitors who wound up in the city is here because the city is an important hub on the Baikal-Amur Mainline. Westwards the next major town is Tynda (~40 hours, once daily) and to the east the line reaches the pacific with with a stop in Vanino (~15 hours, once daily, twice in summer), where ferries takes passengers across to Sakhalin before the railway terminates in Sovetskaya Gavan. Going south there is a branch line with 1-3 daily trains from Khabarovsk or Vladivostok. Occasionally there are direct trains to Irkutsk and beyond, you can try the #008/667 from/to Novosibirsk if that's useful to your itinerary - in the summer there is even sometimes a direct carriage attached to the Rossiya from Moscow.
If you want to shorten time from Komsomolsk to Khabarovsk, you may get off at Selikhino between them, where a bus will await you for connection. The total travel time will be 6 hours instead of 11.
The road to Khabarovsk is, by Russian standards, in workable condition and paved for nearly the entire length, so naturally buses are taking full advantage of this rare feat, with around 10 round trips per day. The trip takes a good 8 hours and costs between 460-660 rubles depending on which bus you catch. There is a red eye service leaving in both directions at 23.00 if you're on a really tight budget, and the 09.30 #306 bus continues onwards to Birobidzhan. Supposedly there is a single daily bus to Vanino, but if that's a miss, there should definitely be a Marshrutka leaving sometime. The Bus station (Автовокзал), at Pionerskaya Street 2, ☎ +7 (4217) 59-11-54. is a short walk from the river terminal north along the beach.
If potholes is not your thing, and 7000 kilometers of shouting provodnitzas has put a dent in your railway enthusiasm, you can go liquid instead, that is, when it's not frozen between June and August. Meteor hydrofoils speed up the Amur from Khabarovsk in six hours, which actually makes it the fastest connection between the two cities. In the same period, you can continue onwards to Nikolaevsk-on-Amur with the boats too, really the only option other than the daily flights from Khabarovsk, if you like your bones right where they are. This trip takes around 12 hours. The River terminal (Речной вокзал, +7 (4217) 59-29-35) is at the end of Oktyabrskiy Prospekt right by the beach.
As of July 2014, there's no more river connection between Komsomolsk and Khabarovsk. Seems like it's still running upwards to Nikolaevsk, but better double-check.
While the River terminal and the Bus Station are just a few hundred meters apart on the river front, the Railway Station is about 4km away; tram line number 2 or bus number 17 will do the work for you. In fact any tram numbered 2, 3 or 4 will take you to the river terminal, while 1, 2 and 5 will take you the railway station, provided you take it in the right direction of course, all the tram lines convene at the intersection of Lenina and Mira Prospekts
Unless Komsomolsk is the first stop on the Russian mainland coming from Japan, it should come as no surprise by now that this young city is not a prime sightseeing spot by anyone's standard, unless of-course you've seen nothing but taiga pines for the past year or so, in which case it might just stir a bit of excitement. As a short stopover however, the city works surprisingly well - especially (or perhaps mainly) if you have an interest in photography; there is a number of buildings in Stalin's Neo-renaissance style in the city centre, and many of the housing blocks are adorned with both sculptured and painted murals with soviet themes - makes for some amazing pictures if you know what you're doing. As does the War Memorial on a marble plaza right above the river boat terminal, with it's seven giant granite heads looking towards an eternal flame. If seen from the river the River Terminal itself is also a bit interesting, as it's designed to look like a ship, another monument nearby portrays a band of Komsomolsk pioneers.
Aircraft Plant Expocenter (ЭкспоцентрКнААПО), Kopylova St 48а, ☎ +7 (4217) 22-95-09. Exhibition on the history of aircraft factory, including several displays of aircraft built at the factory, including the WWII IL-2 (Sturmovik), Korean war-era Mig-17 (Fresco), the modern SU-27 (Flanker) fighter-jet and the odd looking BE-103 (Snipe) amphibious plane. Access is tricky as it's only open to prearranged visits, which is not easy. Try contacting a tour agency, sometimes they can even arrange tours of the plant itself, but you'll need a healthy dose of luck for both.
Artist Union Exhibition Hall (ВыставочныйзалСоюзаХудожников), Pervostroitelej Av 21, ☎ +7 (4217) 53-93-88. The local branch of the Russian Artist Union runs a small gallery with local art exhibitions, and a small souvenir store where you can buy indigenous souvenirs
City Museum (Museum of Local lore; ГородскойкраеведческиймузейгородаКомсомольск-на-Амуре), Mira Prospekt 8 (Bus:2 or Trams: 2, 3 or 4 to 'Dzerzhinsky st' stop), ☎ +7 (4217) 45-54-40, . Tu-Su 10-18, by appointment only. Somewhat feeble attempt at a local museum. Covers both the area's ancient history with a archaeological and ethnographic collection, as well as the more recent history relating to the construction of the modern city by the Komsomol and BAM builders. There is also a small free open air tank museum outside with around 20 different tanks.Foreigners: 20 rubles.
Church of the Holy Prophet Elijah (ХрамсвятогопророкаИльи), Mehanicheskaja St 37. While this rather large church was only build in 2002, it's still quite picturesque, especially contrasting the rather dodgy area which surrounds it - so cameras out and practice your photography skills.
Metamoforza Gallery of Modern Art (Галереясовременногоискусства «Метаморфоз»), Dzerzhinsky St 24/2 (Bus 23 or Trams 2 and 3 to the Youth Theater (театр Юного Зрителя) stop), ☎ +7 (4217) 27-23-40., . Daily 12-19. In business since 2001, this small independent gallery covers 140 square meters and has around 20 changing exhibitions per year covering everything from graphics design, folk and traditional art over to the more experimental. They also organize a small art school for the local population
Monument to the crew of Rodiny (Памятникэкипажамспасателей «Родины»), Kirova St 46. In a town with little in the way of attractions, this can count as one. This odd monument made out of the tail of a plane can make a good addition to your photo album. it's a monument to the pilots who perished saving the crew in a emergency landing in the Taiga, after their plane ran out of fuel during a record attempt for the longest flight back in the pioneering days of aeronautics.
Museum of Fine Arts (Музейизобразительныхискусств), Mira Prospekt 16 (Same as the City Museum), ☎ +7 (4217) 54-12-62. Tu-Su 10-17, by appointment only. The ground floor is dedicated to Wehstern art, including some nice promgrafiki from Soviet tobacco manufacturers, and a hall for temporary exhibitions. Upstairs is a nice collection of indigenous art, ritual sculptures, clothing, utensils and ornaments from the Narnaii's and other Amur estuary aboriginal peoples. There is also a collection of Chinese folk art.Foreigners: 20 rubles.
Python Zoological Center (Зоологическийцентр «Питон»), Ordzhonikidze St 9a, ☎ +7 (4217) 55-35-28. Really not that interesting, but if you are bored, there is around 100 species of animals here you can check out.
Amurstalevskaya Sopka Ski slope (Лыжнаябаза «Амурсталевскаясопка»), Kommunisticheskaya St (bus N25 or tram 1 and 3 to Park Metallurgov (Парк Металлургов) stop). Tu-Su 11-17 and Th 19-22. A small 250 meter ski slope with a single rope lift. 200 rubles/hour.
City Beach (Городскойпляж), Naberezhnaja (Tram 2,3,4 or any bus going to Абтовокзал). If you wound up feeling lonely in a suspiciously empty town on sunny days, half the population will probably be at the surprisingly nice sandy beach by the river terminal. Spot the standing sun bathers! you could take a dip, many locals does, but watch out for the current, and keep in mind that there is plenty of very polluting industries right at the river, both in town and upstream.
Drama Theatre (Драматическийтеатр), Pervostroitelej St 11, ☎ +7 (4217) 53-50-29, . Home to a 20 man troupe and two halls seating around 600 and 100 respectively. The theatre makes it's own productions, and also provides a stage for touring theatre companies from other Russian cities. (50.526072,137.008548)
KnAM Theatre (ТеатрКнАМ), Pervostroitelej 15, ☎ +7 (4217) 53-70-88, . email:email@example.com A small independent avantgarde theatre founded in 1985 with just 26 seats available for show. The actors are not paid, and solely depend on profit sharing from the show - talk about shotgun employment.Theatre is known in Europe and Asia, often on tour in France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Singapore. Check the schedule if in town for a while, they might have arty stuff going on that you don't need Russian skills to enjoy
Sudostroitel Park (ПаркСудостроителей), Mira Prospekt/Truda Avenue (Tram 2, 3 or 4 to Glavpochtamt (Главпочтамт)). The "park of the shipbuilders" has a few attractions and running amusements, at last passing a new 30 meters tall ferris wheel were being constructed to celebrate the towns 75th anniversary (50.544036,137.02599)
Talan Parachute Club (Парашютныйклуб «Талан»), Orekhova St 70, ☎ +7 (4217) 22-27-37 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . The local skydiving club offers classes, equipment rental, jumping tower, Class for training parachute jumps, jumping ground for the rental of equipment for diving. Preparatory courses are free of charge, but in Russian only
Central Department Store (ЦУМ), Mira Prospect 37 (Tram 2,3,4 to Kinoteater Fakel (Кинотеатр Факел) stop), ☎ +7 (4217) 54-64-73. Nearly every Russian city has one, and as a model soviet city Komsomolsk of course is no exception. Decent selection of various stores inside.
Soviet architecture on Lenina Street
Expedition (Экспедиция), Lenina St 39, ☎ +7 8-914-179-5222, . M-Sa 10-19, Su 10-18. Adventure equipment and gift store.
Konkom (Конком), Kirova St 42, ☎ +7 (4217) 54-75-52. M-F 9-19, Sa 10-19, Su 10-18. Photo services, Souvenirs, Film and batteries
Pix Center, Leningradskaya St 48, ☎ +7 (4217) 25-32-53. M-F 9-20,Sa 10-19,Su 10-18. Photocopy/Xerox, photo prints and stationary.
Stinol (СТИНОЛ), Oktjabrskij Av 22-24, ☎ +7 (4217) 55-31-31, . Daily 10-19. A big electronics store with digital equipment, computers and household appliances.
Tourist - Sports and recreation shop (магазинспортивныхтоваров «Турист»), Vokzalnaya St 50, ☎ +7 (4217) 53-40-22. M-F 10-19,Sa 10-17,Su 11-15. Outdoor equipment, sporting goods and clothing, fishing and camping equipment, ski's, bikes etc.
As the author of the Lonely Planet guide so eloquently puts it; "Komsomolsk isn't Russian for 'spirited dining scene'"...
Golden Buddha Cafe (Золотой «Буддакафе»), Pervostroitelej Av 15, ☎ +7 (4217) 53-74-07. 11-02. Aside from a selection of Chinese cuisine, this place offers excellent Green Tea, and more importantly a wide variety of cocktails and other alchohol. Sometimes have live music, though it's mainly "restaurant style" table seating, so best for groups.
Heilongjiang Restaurant (Ресторан «Хэйлунцзян»), Pervostroiteley 21, ☎ +7 (4217) 53-13-72.. noon-03. Popular Chinese option, which also serves a bit of Russian cuisine. Live music in the evenings from 21 (Tu-Su). Unlike to stir much excitement, but it's not bad either if you avoid the deep-friend-greasy stuff.
Suin Restaurant (Ресторан «Сиун»), Dzerzhinsky St 3 (Inside Meridian Hotel), ☎ +7 (4217) 52-15-20. 8-01. Interesting, if upscale and slightly expensive option, as they besides some usual suspects from the Russian and European kitchens, had a few traditional Nanai dishes on the menu at the latest visit.
Sushi City (Суши-Сити), Lenina St 21. For a frontier restaurant rather fancy and modern decór, obviously sells Sushi and other usual suspects of the Japanese kitchen. Also has take-away which is a nice concept for the train journey don't you think? though, if you're a regular at high-class sushi joint's back home, you might want to give it a miss. Sets 250-700 rubles.
Beverly Hills Bar (BHB), Alleja Truda 22, 3rd floor, ☎ +7 (4217) 54-35-35. Th-Su. The nightclub of the "Krasnyj (Красный (Red))" entertainment complex which also includes a cinema and an arcade. Cover charge 150-300 rubles.
Boeing Club & Café (Кафе-Клуб «Боинг»), Lenina St 39, ☎ +7 (4217) 53-33-29. Daily 11-02, weekends 11-06. Where else would you find a bar called Boeing (other than perhaps Seattle), than in the city with an aircraft industry on it's own. Serves European and Asian food during the day. At night it turns into a club, with strict "face control" Two bars, two dance floors and a karaoke room. From 20: 100 rubles, F-Sa 200 rubles.
Eldorado (Эльдорадо), Alleja Truda 6, ☎ +7 (4217) 54-11-94. Tu-Th 21-05,F-Sa 21-06. An entertainment complex fitted into the old factory kitchen of the shipyard, once full of hungry workers. People still come here to eat, as it's now a considerably more up-scale restaurant and night club. If you eat for more than 1000 rubles (€25/$30) in the restaurant, entrance to the two halls of the nightclub is free. Tu-Th 50 rubles (girls free); F-Sa 150-200 rubles.
Zhara Nightclub («Жара» ночнойклуб), Naberezhnaja St 7, ☎ +7 (4217) 51-09-60. W-Su 22-06. The name means heat, and true to it's corny name it sometimes have strippers. Though, for the most part it's just a pretty nice club on the waterfront, which dishes up some nice DJ sets once in a while, mainly house and electronica.
Center for International Economic and Cultural Ties (Centr vneshnejekonomicheskih i kul'turnyx svjazej, Центрвнешнеэкономическихикультурныx связей), Khabarovskaya St 47 (Look for the green fence), ☎ +7 (4217) 54-06-59. Concrete villa with it's own garden. Originally build for Soviet über comerade Khrushchev, and temporary home of a couple of other premiers since then. Has an impressive banquet hall, a sauna, gym and swimming pool. You can either opt for sleeping in with history in the "lyux" room, or take the more modest accommodations downstairs. You'll need to book ahead.1500-3100 rubles.
Hotel Amur (Гостиница «Амур»), Mira Prospect 15, ☎ +7 (4217) 59-09-84, . 500 meters from the River- and Bus stations up Mira Prospekt, in a surprisingly attractive yellow 1932 building. Has 48 rooms, adequate but slightly tacky.single beds in shared rooms from 280 rubles, otherwise private rooms goes from 480-1920 rubles.
Hotel Vizavi (Гостиница «Визави»), Vokzalnaya St 52, ☎ +7 (4217) 28-40-59. It may be closed, as there isn't much information about this place, but this small 8-room hotel is/was very near the the train station, and may be an option if you arrive exhausted after your trip.
Hotel Voskhod (Гостиница «Восход»), Pervostroitelej St 31a, ☎ +7 (4217) 53-51-31. Big gray soviet style concrete block, fortunately the 200 rooms inside have been renovated since those days (2006 to be exact) and are OK for the price. There is an attached entertainment complex with nightclub, bowling, casino and what have you for a rainy day, and a restaurant on the top floor. This hotel asks visitors to pay for their rooms in cash, in advance, on a daily basis. There is an ATM (cash machine) in the lobby, but if you don't speak Russian it might be a good idea to have someone to help you. If you don't press any button within 20 seconds after entering your card, the machine keeps your card.550-2700 rubles.
Meridian Hotel («Меридиан» Бизнес-Центр), Dzerzhinsky St 3, ☎ +7 (4217) 52-15-22, . No, the big international chain of the same name did not get lost out here in the far east on a Vodka bender, and the hotel mainly brands itself as the "Business Center Hotel" these days. Features 12 rooms equipped with Air-conditioning, Satellite TV and Internet Access. Also actually has a business center as well as laundry service and a pool table. English-speaking staff is a plus2300-3150 rubles with 'suites' going for 6850 rubles.
Nata Tour (НАТА-ТУР), Vasanina st 12, room 110, ☎ +7 (4217) 20 10 67 (email@example.com), . English speaking staff, arranges a wide range of activities and tours around the region surrounding Komsomolsk, including river rafting, bike rentals, fishing trips and excursions down the Amur. Perhaps more importantly they also assist with bookings for the Sakhalin ferry, although for a rather steep fee.
Komsomolsky Zapovednik (Комсомольскийзаповедник, ), ☎ +7 (4217) 22-18-23. is a large nature reserve 50 km north of the city, covering some 650 km² of both river wetlands, lowlands and mountain landscapes, around the mouth of the Gorin River on the west bank of the Amur. The reserve is transitional between the mixed forests of the south morphing into Taiga, and it's home to an amazingly diverse range of animals and plants; wild boars, raccoons, bears. Siberian tigers occasionally cross into the reserve, but you'd probably have better odds winning the lottery and buying one, than spotting a tiger here by chance. Since several important migratory routes for birds crosses the reserve, spring and fall brings an amazing diversity of bird species here, cranes, storks, ospreys, eagles and 200 other species makes it a hotspot of ornithologists during those seasons.
Transportation wise the next major stops are Tynda to the west, and the port city of Vanino with ferries to Sakhalin to the east along the BAM. Along the mighty Amur river, you'll find Amursk and Khabarovsk to south with both bus, river and railway connections, and Nikolaevsk-on-Amur going North, but only reachable in summer. Nearby you can check out some sights of natural and ethnographic interest;
Kholdomi (Холдоми), ☎ +7 (4214) 62-37-89, . The area's largest ski resort, about 40 km north-west of the city. It has 3 ski trails ranging from 250-1850 meters and a snowboard park, all serviced by two rope lifts and a modern chair lift. Ski rental available, and there is accommodation for up to 140 people, as well as a restaurant and various other entertainment. There is a bus leaving F-Su at 10 from the school just off Metalurgov Square (площадь Металургов, also stops at Lenin Prospect 11), Returning at 17:00. One way ticket is 50 rubles(50.73278,136.52361)
Nizhny Khalby (НижниеХалбы), ☎ +7 (4217) 54-70-96. A small Nanai settlement of 400 people, some 60 km downstream from Komsomolsk. It has a Nanai ethnographic museum/cultural house(50.79584,137.92523)