Suifenhe

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Suifenhe

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Suifenhe over Guanmin Monastery

Suifenhe (绥芬河; Suífēnhé) is a city in Heilongjiang Province. It is on the border with Russia and is China's gateway to Vladivostok.

Understand[edit]

Suifenhe is inland and elevated. As such it has warm summers and bitterly cold winters. From December to January a daytime maximum of -15°C is not uncommon.

Mandarin is dominant but Russian speakers are not hard to come by. English speakers are rare.

Get in[edit]

Suifenhe is accessible from Harbin by daily coaches, frequent minibuses from Mudanjiang and trains, including an approximately bi-weekly train (8 hours) that continues through to Vladivostok and is often booked out for a few weeks in advance. The bus station also seems to double for a night market. From the Russian side, trains and coaches cross the border (~20 km of no man's land) to Ussurisk, a 4-hour trip. Trains also have a change of gauge, which takes some time.

By bus[edit]

Buses to Vladivostok do not leave from the bus station across from the railway station, which is for domestic routes. The international bus station is a fair bit away, take a taxi for about ¥10-20 (depending on bargaining skills). The last bus departs for Russia in the early afternoon and the terminal will be closed from around 4PM, you may purchase the ticket in the early morning on the same day of departure though. Note: The terminal may just look like any closed shop with corrugated iron covering the entrance, do not be fooled as the buses leave from inside the big building.

Not all buses go straight to Vladivostok but will involve a change somewhere on the Russian side. Many Russians returning to Vladivostok after shopping in China will have their cars parked just on the other side of the border and may provide you with a lift if lucky.

Given that you have all your papers sorted the border crossing is straightforward and a short 5-10 min bus ride from the terminal. Guard(s) on the Chinese side speak fluent English and might be curious of non-Russian/Chinese passports. You are required to take all your items with you when crossing the border, do not leave bags on the bus as it will be thoroughly searched. Expect a fair bit of waiting as there may be other vehicles being searched as well.

(Information valid as of May 2010)

By train[edit]

Suifenhe railway station was built in 1899. It consists of a building with big Cyrillic lettering at the top.

As of 2017, the overnight train (number K7023) from Harbin (East station) leaves at 19:00 and arrives in Suifenhe the next day at 05:05. The return train (number K7024) leaves from Suifenhe at 20:56 and arrives in Harbin (East station) the next day at 06:20.

A daily train operated by China Railway leaves for the town of Pogranichny, Russia (Пограничный, 44°24′N, 131°23′E) (格罗捷科沃 or 格罗迭科沃 in Chinese) on the other side of the border. The railway line between Suifenhe and Pogranichny uses the Russian gauge. The journey time is 1hr 30min. The Chinese exit border checks take place in Suifenhe railway station before boarding the train to Russia. Russian entry border checks take place in Pogranichny (Grodekovo) station after leaving the train. As of 2017, the train (number 402) departs daily from Suifenhe at 10:00 (local time, GMT+8) and arrives in Pogranichny at 13:30 (local time, GMT+10)/06:30 (Moscow time, GMT+3). The return train (number 401) departs daily from Pogranichny at 17:43 (local time, GMT+10)/10:43 (Moscow time, GMT+3) and arrives in Suifenhe at 17:14 (local time, GMT+8). Check the up-to-date train timetable on the Russian Railways website (note that the railway station in Pogranichny appears on the Russian Railways website as Grodekovo, and Suifenhe appears as Sujfjen'hje). As of 2017, according to the information on the Russian Railways website, a one-way ticket from Pogranichny (Grodekovo) to Suifenhe costs 7.10 Swiss Francs (CHF). As of 2015, a one-way ticket from Suifenhe to Pogranichny (Grodekovo) costs ¥71/person (see this Chinese blog post to view a ticket on this route from 2015).

The price is subject to scheming and might prove suspect at times.

From Pogranichny (Grodekovo), there is a train to Ussuriysk, where you can change for Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.

The Chinese border crossing in Suifenhe railway station opens around 8:30AM. The people running this route seem to be regulars who bring Chinese goods into Russia. On the Russian side, try to get your entry cards on the train as the line of traders going through customs is intimidating (40+min).

After departing from the station, remember to set your clock 2 hours ahead and cross the train tracks via the stairs on your left to the bus station/market area. A bus leaves to Vladivostok at 3:55PM (12:55PM China time) and takes about 4 hours (2 hours to clear customs and make it to the bus station).

Going this route my trip from Harbin to Vladivostok by train and bus took just under 21 hours. The countryside traveled through on the train is incredible.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

  • Protestant church (绥芬河市基督教会), 135 Da Zhi Lu (大直街135号), built as an Orthodox church in 1913, before it was converted for use by the government

Do[edit][add listing]

Buy[edit][add listing]

Yuan and rubles are readily accepted. ATMs are mainly found around the main square and accept VISA/MasterCard and appear somewhat unreliable, some also seem to demand a six digit pin. If so, try adding 00 before your four-digit pin. Changing U.S. dollars is possible but time consuming (you'll need a photocopy of your passport, which can be obtained nearby, for a fee).

Like all border towns there is an assortment of goods to buy.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Up the stairs in front of the train station and left across the bus station (not the one with buses to Vladivostok) is a street lined with restaurants.

  • Breakfast Buffet Place. Look for a packed restaurant with a table filled with breakfast items. Lots of dumplings, deep fried/breaded stuff, soups, Chinese salad-type things, egg-based dishes. All delicious and all cheap. A couple big items, bowl of soup and a plate of salad should cost about ¥4-5. Bring it to your table and the waitress will calculate it for you.
  • California Beef Noodle King. Looks like a knock-off of this Chinese restaurant chain.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • The place, (On the right hand side of the street leading up from the train station/domestic bus station). If you find yourself stuck in Suifenhe, which is not unlikely given the infrequency and changing nature of buses to Russia, this place on the square in front of the train station will do fine. Cheap and basic but with a friendly owner and a reasonably secure feeling. Appears negotiable but less than ¥50 for private room.  edit


Contact[edit]

Internet cafe[edit]

A Chinese ID is required to access Net bars.

Get out[edit]

By bus[edit]

Buses to Vladivostok do not leave from the bus station across from the railway station, which is for domestic routes. The international bus station is a fair bit away, take a taxi for about ¥10-20 (depending on bargaining skills, or better, just ask to use the meter). The last bus departs for Russia in the early afternoon and the terminal will be closed from around 4PM, you may purchase the ticket in the early morning on the same day of departure though. Note: The terminal may just look like any closed shop with corrugated iron covering the entrance, do not be fooled as the buses leave from inside the big building.

The price for the ticket (December 2015) is around 180¥. Don't change all your money before entering the station, as an hour before the departure the bags are measured and then you will have to pay for the over-weight (Maybe more then 10 KG?) and you can do it only in chinese RMB.

Your bags will be loaded on a bus that drives to the chinese border (only 5 minutes), and you will be taken there as well by bus. After you pass chinese customs, the bus drives a short amount of time to the russian border where you will receive your bags again and have to move through russian customs. There are usually russian people taking lots of goods with them so expect chaos, but don't worry, the bus is not going to leave without you.

Not all buses go straight to Vladivostok but will involve a change somewhere on the Russian side. Many Russians returning to Vladivostok after shopping in China will have their cars parked just on the other side of the border and may provide you with a lift if lucky.

Given that you have all your papers sorted the border crossing is straightforward and a short 5-10 min bus ride from the terminal. Guard(s) on the Chinese side speak fluent English and might be curious of non-Russian/Chinese passports. You are required to take all your items with you when crossing the border, do not leave bags on the bus as it will be thoroughly searched. Expect a fair bit of waiting as there may be other vehicles being searched as well. As the time changes 3 hours later as soon as you enter Russia, expect to get quite late to Vladivostok.

(Information valid as of June 2013)

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