Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Russian: Ю́жно-Сахали́нск, YOOZH-nuh suh-khah-LEENSK) , also spelled Uzno-Sakhalinsk and previously known in Japanese as Toyohara (豊原), is the largest city and capital of Sakhalin Oblast, in the Russian Far East, with a population of around 173.000. And a booming oil town.
The city was founded in 1882 as the village Vladimirovka, but was transferred to Japanese control after the end of the Russo-Japanese war. The Japanese renamed the city as Toyohara, and made it the capital of the Japanese prefecture Karafuto occupying the southern half of the island. After the end of of World War II, Soviet troops occupied Karafuto, and the city was renamed Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk when control of the city was transferred back to Russia. Little remains of the Japanese administration apart from a very limited number of Japanese buildings, including the impressive old government building now used as a regional museum. The main heritage of the Japanese ownership of the city is a sizable number of Sakhalin-Koreans, deported here by the Japanese in the 1930s, and denied repatriation until the mid-1980s; many have decided to stay on Sakhalin, and around 20.000 reside in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
Further information available
See also the itinerary Russia to Japan via Sakhalin for more information on the northern connection between the Trans-Siberian railway and Japan.
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport Khomutovo (IATA: UUS, ICAO: UHSS) fields flights from major Russian cities as well as several Asian cities. Sakhalin's own carrier, SAT Airlines , has its main hub here and operates several domestic routes, as well as flights to South Korea, Japan and China.
Information: +7 4242 788390, 788055 and the live flight information on the airport's website (in Russian). The airport is subject to long closures under bad weather conditions.
Russia: Aeroflot and Transaero operate flights to and from Moscow (9 hours), while SAT and S7 (Siberian) have useful connections to the major far eastern cities of Khabarovsk (~1 hour) , Vladivostok (2 hours) , and Novosibirsk as well.
South Korea: Asiana and SAT operate flights to Seoul-Incheon several times a week.
Japan: SAT has frequent flights to Sapporo as well as less frequent ones to Hakodate. Vladivostok Air has charter flights from Tokyo, though they are not shown on the timetable on its website.
The station in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is the main transportation hub for the entire island
For towns close to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, it's often an easier and more convenient choice to jump on a bus, while the train is the main mode of transportation to destinations on the northern part of the island. It's a good idea to confirm these times as train schedules change fairly frequently.
Korsakov: Various trains depart daily at 5:30AM, 1:45PM and 7:44PM except on public holidays.
Okha: Daily train 1 departs at 6:50AM, and runs across most of the length of the island to Nogilki in the north, from where there is a connecting bus to Okha.
The parking lot outside the train station doubles as a bus terminal, where both scheduled and leave-when-full minibuses regularly depart for other parts of the island. The minibus is often the best choice, as the public buses are often slow, uncomfortable, and worn out.
Information on public buses: +7 4242 722553, the (inofficial) timetable (in Russian).
Kholmsk: Buses 516 and 518 depart on top of the hour, every hour between 8AM-9PM, the latter continuing onwards to Nevelsk for access to Moneron. The minibus alternative takes around an hour and costs RUB400.
Korsakov: Bus 115 shuttles between Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Korsakov every 30 minutes between 7AM-10PM and takes around 90 minutes, and costs around RUB100. Double the price and you can catch a minibus that takes half the time.
From the ports of Kholmsk and Korsakov, it is possible to catch ferries to Vanino on the mainland, or Wakkanai in Japan respectively. Check Bi-timo, listed below, to purchase tickets.
While frequently visited by workers in the oil industry, Sakhalin has a very undeveloped tourism sector. If you don't speak Russian and don't have an abundance of time, enlisting the help of a travel agency to see the sights you want to see is probably necessary for all but the most adventurous travelers.
Bi-tomo (Би-томо), 1-1 Sakhalinskaya St, ☎ +7 4242 72-68-89 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +7 50985-61217). A local travel agency specializing in Japan, and selling tickets for the Korsakov -Wakkanai crossing (note that Sakhalin-Fantastic, who used to sell tickets, no longer seems to be in business).edit
Mishka Tour (Мишкатур), Khabarovskaya St 29-B, ☎ +7 4242 461770 (email@example.com), . One of the very few agencies which arranges tours to the Vaida caves, which should only be visited with a guide and the necessary safety equipment. Can also help with fishing trips to the Lake Tunaycha region.edit
Omega Plus (Омега-Плюс), Kommunistichesky Pr 86, ☎ +7 4242 723410 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . The most frequent operator of tours to the Kuril Islands, and probably your best bet for ferry tickets there as well.edit
Intracity transportation is provided by a network of a few public buses, running along the main avenues, and large number of minibuses running on set routes, but with no particular schedules. The convenient route map (in Russian).
Buses 8, 63, and 93 provide connections to and from the airport.
The drab rows of Soviet-style concrete blocks that makes up much of the island's capital are really not that interesting for travelers, especially not the ones who have been adventurous enough to come here in the first place. On the other hand, there should be enough to entertain you for a day while you get your bearings and organize things to venture out into Sakhalin's great outdoors — and you really owe it to yourself to get out there if you have come this far. If you're short on time and only here to catch a ferry, skip these sights and hike up Chekov Peak — the trail head is a muddy dirt road just behind the Santa resort, the whole hike takes around 6 hours if you're in reasonable shape.
Sakhalin regional museum
Chekhov Literary and Art Museum (Городскойлитературно-художественныймузейкнигиА.П.Чехова), 42 Kurilskaya St, ☎ +7 8 4242 42-3349, . Tu—Sa 10—18. Housed in a 1954 building somewhat reminiscent of Chekhov's house, there are some items from the everyday life of Anton Chekhov and his family as well as a collection of some of his artworks, and naturally copies of Chekhov's book "Sakhalin Island" in various languages from all over the world, as well as a Facsimile edition from 1895.RUB20 (2009). edit
Railway museum, Vokzal'naya St 34 (near the train station), ☎ +7 4242 714197. M—F 8:30AM—5:30PM. An open-air exhibition of old locomotives and railway trucks, including Japanese machinery operated on Sakhalin. The tunnel boring machine is also on display here. The museum does not really follow the declared schedule, so arrange in advance or glance through the fence.edit
The typical landscape of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk: drab Soviet-style buildings and picturesque mountains
Sakhalin Regional Art Museum (Сахалинскийобластнойхудожественныймузей), 137 Lenin St, ☎ +7 4242 72-3643. Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. Opened in 1989 in the building of the former Japanese bank "Hokkaido Takuseku" from the 1930s. The three permanent expositions include: "Copies of Ancient Russian Frescos", "Art of Japan", and "Art of Korea". RUB60 (2010). edit
Sakhalin Regional Museum (Сахалинскийгосударственныйобластнойкраеведческиймузей), Kommunistichesky Pr. 29, ☎ +7 4242 72-7555 (email@example.com), . M-F 11AM-6PM except Tu 11AM-5PM. (pictured) Housed in the former Japanese building dating back to 1937, the museum hosts exhibitions about the islands natural and climatic features, as well as the history of Sakhalin and a quite good ethnographic collection of the island's indigenous peoples. Don't miss the outdoor exhibition that includes Japanese steles and border stones, the houses of indigenous people, local plants, and old cannons.Foreigners RUB60 (2010). edit
Sakhalin Zoo (Сахалинскийзооботаническийпарк), Detskaya St 4A, ☎ +7 4242 72-4509, . 11AM—5:30PM daily. Russian zoos are depressing, and this one founded in 1993 is no exception; though they seem to be genuinely interested in improving conditions, limited funds have thus far prevented any major improvements. They have 145 species up for display, mainly fauna related to Sakhalin such as wolves and brown bears.RUB80 (2010). edit
If you are interested in the Japanese heritage, consider the regional and art museums, the house of the garrison court (1908; Nevel'skogo St 44), and the small bridge on Sakhalinskaya St. Other Japanese buildings were destroyed before 70s.
Chekhov International Theatre Center (СахалинскийтеатральныйцентрЧехова), Kommunistichesky Pr 35, ☎ +7 4242 42-5262, . Really not that much "International" about it, this theatre is in a rather unusual (for a frontier region) building covered by mosaics in the socialist realism style (1964). The theatre has roots back to the 1930s. It sometimes has musicals and concerts on the repertoire, if sitting through 2 hours of incomprehensible Russian is not your thing. edit
Gagarin Park (Парким. Ю.А. Гагарина). Scrappy but loved, the 220-acre Gagarin Park is a nice place for a stroll, supposedly the largest in the far east and something of a leisure center for the local population. The park features athletic facilities, adventure playgrounds, a lake with small boats, a miniature railroad for kids, a zoo and a run down amusement park. On the eastern corner of the park there is a trail head leading up the hill for a nice view over the city. edit
Gorny Vozdukh Ski center (горнолыжныйкомплекс 'ГорныйВоздух'), Gorkogo 7/1, ☎ +7 4242 742416 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . noon-10PM. An alpine complex located within Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk city proper. It has nine runs (1 black, 5 reds & 3 greens) and three lifts, including a spanking new 2.5 km gondola lift. There is also a bit of English information on the local snowboarding federation's website . From RUB100 for 1 ride, to RUB750 for 6 hours or more. edit
Sakhalin Diving (СахалинДайвинг), 77/71 Chekhova St, ☎ +7 4242 429738 (email@example.com). This PADI dive shop can help with tours to Moneron island, listed in the Sakhalin guide. There is also a diving club on Kommunistichesky Pr 19 (DKS@sakhalin.ru/42-26-91)edit
Sakhalin Regional Puppet Theatre (Сахалинскийобластнойтеатр), Karla Marksa St 24, ☎ +7 4242 42-3498 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . While mostly geared towards children, some of their shows are actually quite extraordinary, so it might be an option for a rainy day, even if you don't have kids. They are quite renowned within Russia and even booked abroad occasionally.edit
There is a sizable market at the corners of Lenina & Sakhalinskaya, where you can stock up with fresh fruits and vegetables, an outfit for your next eighties party, or cheap Chinese goods. A bit more useful are the electronics stalls for new batteries and the like.
Black Cat Café (кафе «Чёрнаякошка»), 34A Chekhov St (Just off Popovicha ST hidden away in an alley, look for a sign with a black cat), ☎ +7 4242 420263. Dishes out Russian and European meals, in a pleasant atmosphere with jazz music on the stereo.RUB250-400. edit
Nihon Mitay Sushi Bar (суши-бар «НихонМитай»), 28v Pobedy Ave, ☎ +7 4242 55-19-01, 55-17-31. Self-service sushi bar and Japanese restaurant.edit
Opium Café (кафе «Опиум»), 43a Chekhova St, ☎ +7 4242 42-02-63. Korean cuisine, stylish design. Live music in the evening.edit
Pacific Café (кафе «Пасифик»), 32 Kommunistichesky Ave (inside the Sakalhin center), ☎ +7 4242 727008. Daily: 8AM-8PM. An expat hangout, reputedly offering the best burgers in town, and some European dishes on the menu. Meals from RUB300, Espresso from RUB50. edit
Taj Mahal Restaurant (ресторан «ТаджМахал»), 38 Antona Buyukly St, ☎ +7 4242 499488, . M-Th 11AM-11:30PM, F Sa 11:30AM-12:30AM, Su 11:30AM-10PM. Something as odd as an Indian cuisine from a Japanese franchise, which offers the usual popular Indian dishes, in Russia! To further add to the oddness, it's also the sole outlet of the only Sakhalin guidebook, "Sakhalin Unplugged". edit
Bagration Restaurant (ресторан «Багратион»), 44a Dzerzhinskogo St, ☎ +7 4242 74-26-32, 74-26-86, . An expensive restaurant combining different cuisines, including rather distant (Mediterranean, Caucasian, Korean, Japanese).Meals from RUB600 (2010). edit
Furusato Restaurant, 179 Lenina St, ☎ +7 4242 74-27-36. noon—3PM, 6PM—11PM. A pretentious Japanese restaurant.edit
Slavyanka Restaurant (ресторан «Славянка»), 45 Sakhalinskaya St, ☎ +7 4242 429667. noon-10PM. Serves up Russian and Ukrainian Cuisine, and is a good place for local dishes, even with an English menu. For something this remote, it's interesting to note that this restaurant was actually reviewed and praised in Time magazine . From RUB600. edit
Toyohara Restaurant, 246A Lenina St, ☎ +7 (4242) 741486. noon-10PM daily. A nice place if you fancy some Asian cuisine. Good Chinese-style stir fry and a mainly Japanese menu.edit
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is a rather youthful town, so the nightlife is rather happening considering its size. If the weather is nice, an alternative to the bars listed here is hanging out with the locals in the beer tents dotted around Gagarin Park. Don't miss the local beer!
777 Club, 71 Chekov St, ☎ +7 4242 429462. Large club, two stories with a mix of local and international tunes. There are usually a few expats around, and there is a decent chance of finding the odd English speaking local here.edit
Dive Club, 66 Mira Ave, ☎ +7 4242 42-94-44. Th—Su 9PM—6AM. Disco, bar, billiard.edit
Ice Glass Bar (бар «Ледянойстаканчик»), 113 Sakhalinskaya St, ☎ +7 4242 72-62-72. Fresh beer from the local brewery.edit
Jump Club, 56A Mira Ave, ☎ +7 4242 726054, . Is a night club with a young crowd.edit
Khameleon Club (ночнойклуб «Хамелеон»), 24a Pogranichnaya St, ☎ +7 4242 42-22-10, . Disco, live music.edit
Mishka Pub, 45 Chekhov St, ☎ +7 4242 422811. noon-midnight (weekends till 1AM). Located in the basement of the same building as the Rubin hotel, this is a local expat hangout, mainly people from the oil industry. British style pub with the usual range of alcohol and pub food. Staff speaks English. edit
Due to the large number of visitors connected to the booming oil industry on the island, there are a substantial number of good hotels in the city. Room rates, however, are very expensive, even by international standards: expect to pay at least RUB3,000 for a single room at Western style hotels.
Far Eastern Hotel, 179 Lenina St (на пл. Ленина), ☎ +7 4242 42-94-53. An old and shabby Soviet-stlye hotel, the cheapest accommodation in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Common shower (charged).Single from RUB500, Double from RUB800 (2009). edit
Moneron Hotel (гостиница «Монерон»), 86 Kommunistichesky Ave, ☎ +7 4242 72-34-53, 72-34-54. Another budget, but a bit cleaner accommodation. Conveniently located next to the railway station. Common shower (charged).Singles from RUB700, doubles from RUB1,200 (2009). edit
Belka Hotel, 29b Khabarovskaya St, ☎ +7 4242 46-17-61, . A modern hotel decorated in the wooden style. Single and double rooms en-suite. Additional facilities include restaurant, bar, sauna, and spa.Single RUB2900, Double RUB3,400 (2010). edit
Eurasia Hotel (гостиница «Евразия»), 54 Vokzal'naya St 54 (next to the railway station), ☎ +7 4242 71-35-60, 71-44-66. En-suite rooms.Single RUB2,500, Double RUB2,800 (2009). edit
Fisherman Hotel (гостиница «Рыбак»), 51 Marksa St (next to the railway station), ☎ +7 4242 72-37-68. Single, double, and even triple rooms. Shared facilities.Singles from RUB1,700, doubles from RUB2,400 (2009). edit
Jubilee Hotel (гостиница «Юбилейная»), 10 Altayskiy Per, ☎ +7 4242 49-83-00, 43-48-09, . A new hotel in the suburbs. Single rooms en-suite, two-room suites. Breakfasts and Internet for additional cost.Single RUB1,950 (2010). edit
Lotus Hotel (гостиница «Лотос»), 41a Kuril'skaya St, ☎ +7 4242 43-09-18, 42-43-98 (email@example.com), . A modern hotel in the city center, en-suite single rooms only. Free Internet access, free parking.Singles RUB2,400/2,700 (2010). edit
Neptun Hotel (гостиница «Нептун»), 14 Dzerzhinskogo St (угол с Сахалинской ул.), ☎ +7 4242 77-47-20. A small hotel in the city center: five en-suite single rooms.Single RUB2,000 (2009). edit
Oriental' Hotel (гостиница «Ориенталь»), 2a Sakhalinskaya St (next to Gagarin's park), ☎ +7 4242 72-19-72, 72-19-73, 72-19-74, . Plain, but convenient en-suite rooms, breakfast included.Single RUB2,200, two persons in a single room RUB2,900 (2010). edit
Panorama Hotel (гостиница «Панорама»), 231 Mira Ave, ☎ +7 4242 70-08-88, . Single and double en-suite rooms, central location. Breakfast additionally charged. A large entertainment area with cafe, sauna, swimming pool, and cinema.Single RUB2,300, Double RUB2,700—3,000 (2010). edit
Tourist Hotel (гостиница «Турист»), 2 Sakhalinskaya St (NE from the city center, next to Gagarin's park), ☎ +7 4242 46-78-00, . Single rooms en-suite and two-room suites, wooden-style design. Breakfast included, Wi-Fi for additional cost.Single RUB2,400 (2010). edit
Gagarin Hotel, 133 Komsomol'skaya St, ☎ +7 4242 49-84-00. A business hotel with two restaurants, sauna, and other facilities.From RUB3000 (2010). edit
Mega Palace Hotel, 4 Detskaya St (рядом с парком им. Гагарина), ☎ +7 4242 45-04-50, . A massive, spanking new, 10-storey luxury hotel located just north of the city center. Wi-Fi for additional cost (probably, free in the lobby), two restaurants, and many other facilities.Double RUB4,600 (2010), discount web rates possible. edit
Mira Hotel (отельМира), 255 Mira Ave, ☎ +7 4242 45-45-00 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Free Wi-Fi in the lobby, on-line booking system.Double RUB4,800 (2010), discount web rates possible. edit
Mytos Hotel (гостиница «Митос»), 5 Tisovaya alleya (south from the city, the road to the airport), ☎ +7 4242 45-20-10, . Two nice houses with en-suite singles, suites, and a restaurant.edit
Pacific Plaza Hotel, 172 Mira Ave, ☎ +7 4242 45-50-00 (email@example.com), . (Previously Ramada Plaza) A central 4 star business hotel, which opened in 2006. Rooms have satellite TV, and separate bath and shower. WiFi via scratch cards purchased at the reception. Also has 2 restaurants, a couple of bars and business centre, all with English speaking staff.Double from RUB4,000 (2010). edit
Rubin Hotel (гостиница «Рубин»), 85 Chekhova St, ☎ +7 4242 42-22-12, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. Reputedly one of the best hotels in town, has a decent British style pub downstairs. Wi-Fi in the lobby.Singles from RUB4,000 (2010). edit
Sakhalin-Sapporo Hotel (гостиница «Сахалин-Саппоро»), 181 Lenina St, ☎ +7 4242 72-15-60. One of the longer running hotels in town, centrally located. Looks Soviet on the outside but has been upgraded to Japanese standard on the inside.From RUB5000. edit
Santa Resort Hotel, 3 Venskaya St (next to Gagarin's park), ☎ +7 4242 49-91-77, . Nice hotel located outside of Yuzhno in a beautiful and peaceful landscape, features numerous sport facilities. Very close to Gagarin Park. Has two overpriced restaurants with good European and Japanese cuisine though. Wi-Fi internet for additional cost and free Hotel-City-Hotel shuttle service.Double from RUB6,000 (2010). edit
Strawberry Hills Hotel (гостиница «Земляничныехолмы»), 2 Sunlight St (south from the city, the road to the airport), ☎ +7 4242 70-00-20, . A modern hotel in the expat settlement, right outside the city.From RUB4,000 (2010). edit
Desktop connection is available at certain post offices (see below) and in the following places:
Central library, ул. Ленина, 244, ☎ +7 4242 42-45-59, 42-96-90. Tu—F 11AM—7PM, Sa 10AM—5PM. RUB26/hour (2009). edit
Dal'svyaz Internet access point (интернет-пункт «Дальсвязь»), 220 Lenina St, ☎ +7 4242 72-16-72. 8AM—8PM. RUB60/hour (2009). edit
Internet сafé, 153 Komsomol'skaya St (crossing with Komsomol'sky Ave.), ☎ +7 4242 76-08-23. Open 24/7. RUB50/hour (2009). edit
Uspeh.ru Internet café (интернет-салон «Успех.Ру»), 164 Lenina St (crossing with Severnaya St), ☎ +7 4242 72-15-06, 72-66-79. 9AM—9PM. RUB50/hour (2009). edit
Web Internet café (интернет-салон «Паутина»), 41 Sakhalinskaya St (between Chekhova and Dzerzhinskogo St.), ☎ +7 4242 77-40-55. 10AM—10PM. RUB60/hour + RUB2/Mb, each hour first 10 Mb free (2009). edit
Wi-Fi connection: there is free Wi-Fi in the Royal trade center (Emel'yanova St. 36). Throughout the city (hotels, café, restaurants), you also find charged Wi-Fi internet from Sakhalin Telecom or Dal'svyaz companies. The connection is paid by access cards which are sold at service centers and may also be available from waiters/receptionists.
Sakhalin Telekom — access cards 100 rubles/hour (2010). Service centers:
213а Komsomol'skaya St
32 Karla Marksa St
Dal'svyaz — access cards 90 rubles/hour (2010). Paying with SMS is possible, but more expensive. Service centers:
International SOS Medical Clinic, Kommunisticheskyi Pr 32, ☎ +7 (4242) 46-2900 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . M-F 9-16,Sa 9-noon. Professional outfit with emergency room and a wide range of English speaking specialistsedit
Abandoned railway to Kholmsk, one of the strange landmarks of the region. The road was built by Japanese in 20's and abandoned by Russians in 90's. The railway tracks, bridges, and tunnels are mostly preserved and suitable for walking. The road is a good hiking trail that combines amazing landscapes of Sakhalin mountains with interesting technical sights of the historical mountain railroad. Take a lantern for tunnels and be careful on the bridges.
Getting there: the abandoned part of the road begins at Novoderevenskaya station which has two daily trains from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. The next opportunity to get off is 35 km to the west, at the crossing with the road to Kholmsk.
Aniva Bay is a popular recreation area on the southern coast of Sakhalin. Most of the seashore as well as the lower part of the Lyutoga river are good for swimming, fishing, and other activities.
Getting there: via Korsakov to the seashore. Alternatively, take the road to Kholmsk with regular buses/minibuses and reach the Lyutoga river. The most quiet places are, however, on the seashore and further south. Travelling by foot, you will finally reach Сrillon Cape, the southernmost point of Sakhalin (but be prepared for a long hike!).
Kholmsk is a seaport on the western coast with ferries to continental part of Russia
Korsakov is another seaport, 40 km south from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the departure point for ferries to Japan
Lake Tunaycha. The Lake Tunaycha area is a string of shallow lakes, including the islands largest fresh water lake, which runs along Sakhalin's western coast line. In summer, Tunaycha may be overpopulated, and it makes sense to explore smaller (as well as more distant) lakes in the area. The coastline is also sandy and beautiful, although the ocean is too cold for swimming. Come here to watch the sunrise and enjoy the scenic landscape. Finally, there is a salt lake Izmenchivoe (Changing), the place of mud baths.
Getting there:Ohotskoe village, the largest settlement in the area, is located between Tunaycha and Izmenchivoe. It is reachable by car, by bus (#174), and by minibuses.
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Mud Volcano. This sight (20 km north-west from the city) consists of several cones within a 15-acre (6 hectares) site of volcanic mud which erupt periodically. In many places you can see fumaroles bubbling through the mud.
Getting there: arrange with a tour operator or try to reach this place on your own. Take one of the two daily trains to Novoderevenskaya station and follow the abandoned railway track in the western direction (9 km; to pass through tonnels, a lantern would be helpful). Alternatively, take the bus to the village Klyuchi and then another 9 km walk. Detailed description of the route is here (in Russian). The road directly to the volcano may be very dirty and impassable for regular cars.
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