Khabarovsk

Khabarovsk ice festival

Khabarovsk or Chabarovsk (Russian: Хаба́ровск, khah-BAH-ruhvsk) is a city on the Amur river in the Russian Far East, near the Chinese border. Often overlooked due to its proximity to Vladivostok, Khabarovsk could easily be a highlight in the long line of predominately dull cities along the Trans-Siberian Railway. But while most cities look their best when the sun is out, only in few is the effect as profound as in Khabarovsk – attractive parks, beaches, outdoor beer tents with live music, pretty girls promenading and classic architecture awaits if the weather gods favour you. Even if you are unfortunate, it's not a loss to go indoors: the city also houses some of the best museums east of Moscow.

Understand

Overlooking the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers, Khabarovsk is the second largest city in the Russian Far East, approaching 600.000 residents and growing. It is also the capital of both Khabarovsk Krai and the Far Eastern Federal District. Unlike Vladivostok, the city has never been closed to foreigners, and retains a distinct international feel, rare for the Russian provincial centers – a feeling propped up by an increasing Asian presence with arrivals from Asian countries now numbering over a million each year. In turn, Asians come here to experience a piece of Europe close to home, with the fortunate effect that the city is spending huge swaths of money renovating the city, in which old classical buildings were spared much of the destructive effects of the 1917-23 civil war, to provide its visitors with just that feeling. From a European's perspective, Soviet city planning has unmistakably taken its toll, but it is still far more attractive than your average Siberian city.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) -16 -11 -2 10 18 24 27 24 19 10 -3 -14
Nightly lows (°C) -24 -20 -11 0 7 13 17 16 9 0 -11 -21
Precipitation (mm) 12 11 18 45 60 78 132 151 86 52 24 17

Averages of Khabarovsk

The climate is temperate and monsoonal, with a cold, dry winter and a hot and humid summer. The average temperature for a full year is just 2°C, but covers over wide span of monthly averages ranging from a bone chilling −20°C in January to a quite warm +21°C average in July. The city sees an average of 686 mm precipitation in a year, but unfortunately the lions' share falls in the warm summer months. The number of sunny days per year is 70, which is higher than Moscow's 54. Climate-wise, end of May - early June or end of August - early September are the best time for a visit.

History

The former city Duma is one of the oldest buildings in the city

The lands near the confluence of the Ussury and the Amur, where today's Khabarovsk stands, have been populated for centuries by the indigenous Tungusic people. Chinese expeditions reached this area as early as the first half of the 15th century, and in the mid-17th century the Amur Valley became the scene of hostilities between the Russian Cossacks, trying to expand into the region, and the rising Manchu Qing Dynasty, bent on securing the region for itself. Nearly a century of skirmishes between the Chinese, Koreans and Cossacks followed, one of those involving Russian explorer Yerofey Khabarov, whose name the city later adapted. The Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) brought the conflict to a close and made the area an undisputed part of the Chinese Qing Empire. According to French Jesuits mapping the Ussury and the Amur rivers in 1709, the future site of Khabarovsk was known to the Chinese as Yupi Dazi ("Fishskin Tartars").

In 1858, the area was ceded to Russia under the Treaty of Aigun. The Russians founded the military outpost of Khabarovka (Хаба́ровка), which subsequently became an important industrial centre for the region. The Russian Geographical Society then began founding libraries, theaters, and museums in the growing city. Since then, Khabarovsk's cultural life has flourished. Much of the local indigenous history has been well-preserved in the Regional Lore Museum and Natural History Museum and in places like near the Nanai settlement of Sikhachi-Alyan, where cliff drawings from more than 1,300 years ago can be found.

The Trans-Siberian first reached Khabarovsk from Vladivostok in 1897, while the complete railway to Moscow did not see completion until 1913. Three years later, the Khabarovsk Bridge across the Amur was completed, allowing Trans-Siberian trains to cross the river without using ferries. The city was occupied by the Japanese for much of the Russian Civil War, which may offer some explanation to the many old buildings still standing around the city center.

Get in

By plane

Khabarovsk's airport mainly functions as a refueling and emergency landing point for polar flights between North America and Asia. The main carriers in the region are Asiana Airlines, Vladivostok Airlines, SAT Airlines and Far Eastern Aviation. There are scheduled passenger flights to Khabarovsk from Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea, and Israel. Asiana serves Khabarovsk 3 times/week from Seoul.

Russian domestic flights to Khabarovsk are served from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Vladivostok, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Magadan, Chita, Irkutsk, Yakutsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar.

By train

Khabarovsk station, listed as Habarovsk 1 in most train schedules, is a major stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway. There are several trains each day bound for Vladivostok (800 km) and Moscow (about 8500 km) along the main Trans-Siberian line. Other options include trains #386 or #035 to Blagoveshchensk, #325 for Tynda, #667э for Komsomolsk, #943э Vanino, all on the Baikal-Amur Mainline. Vanino is an interesting option as it allows ferry connections to Sakhalin and further on to Wakkanai in Japan – more details in the Russia to Japan via Sakhalin itinerary.

The international trains are Khabarovsk-Harbin, ongoing twice a week and Khabarovsk-Pyongyang on special days.

By boat

If you want to go to places upstream on the Amur river, the Meteor speedboats will often be your transport of choice, but only during the summer when the river is navigable. However, in 2008, the water level in the river was at a historic low, so that the Meteor traffic had to be stopped. If Meteor traffic functions normally, you can go some 1,000 km downstream to the Ul'chi municipal district (rayon), a region mostly inhabited by indigenous Ul'chi people.

Get around

The bridge across Amur river on the 5000 rubles banknote

The best thing to start with is to walk around the center part of city. Have a nice walk from Lenin Square to the Amur River via the main street, Muravieva-Amurski. You will find all sorts of shops and places to eat.

By Tram

The city has a network of four tram lines (there is no line 3 or 4). The most useful section for visitors is the stretch of the network running from the main railway station along Amursky Boulevard, before making a left turn down Volochaevskaya St. (near the market), and crossing Muravyov-Amursky Street one block west of Lenina Square, it then continues south intersecting Lenina Street roughly at its halfway point, before a stop at the botanical gardens (Lines 1, 2 & 6). The remainder of the network mainly extends into the sleepy suburbs. Line 5 serves the North, Line 1 and 2 the South along Krasnorechenskaya St.

By Bus

The electric trolleybuses also has a few useful sections for visitors, Line 2 runs between the Airport and the main railway station, and line 1 between the Airport and Komsomolskaya Square (River promenade, Museum cluster) along Karla Marksa and Mureava Amursky streets. Line 5 makes a stop near the City History museum.

The regular bus number 1, is a useful circle line. It starts at the Railway station, turns down Seryshev street (a block north of Amursky Boulevard) until it reaches the river park at Lenin Stadium. Turns down Komsomolskaya Street (and square) and runs south until Lenina Street. It then runs the entire length of Lenina street before north at the City History Museum and returns to the train station.

Major destinations

See

The Far East Regional Museum

The Far Eastern Museums

There is a fantastic cluster of top notch museums along Shevchenko Street, just behind the tall blue-domed Church of Theotokos on Komsomolskaya Square towards the river and stadium. Not only are the museums some of the best in the far east, they also make their home in some impressive century-old buildings dating back to before the revolution. After a visit, the nice river promenade is just a short walk away, so you can wash all that new found knowledge away with some pivos in good company.

Map of Khabarovsk

Tugged away just across the next street behind the military museum, you also find the Archeology Museum on Turgeneva street.

Other Museums

Other attractions

The Transfiguration Cathedral in winter blue

Do

The city beach with the Cathedral of the Transfiguration towering above.

In addition to these listings there are also a Drama Theatre and a Children's 'Theatre, but they are probably not of much interest unless you speak Russian. Nonetheless, the city has a fairly vibrant cultural life.

Events

Buy

Muravyov-Amurskiy street is one of the city's main thoroughfares and lines with shops and attractive buildings.

Eat

The local cuisine consists primarily of traditional Russian restaurants and different Asian-style places. Italian food is also common. However, there's a great variety of cheap fast-food outlets on the streets. Prices start from $3 for good snack to $5–10 at the Golden Bird fast food chain. Meals in small restaurants are available for $10–20. If money is not a concern, you can dine with a view of sunset and the Amur River at Hotel "Inturist" for $50–100.

Amur riverbank in winter.

Fast food

Drink

Bars at the river promenade

Locals will happily teach you how to drink Russian-style. People are very friendly, and in general you will find lots of locals who would love to practice their English. Don't miss an offer to visit a Russian banya (sauna) somewhere outside the city.

For the most part you should avoid the pubs and bars if weather permits, and indulge in the many beer tents instead. The River Promenade (Набережная Хабаровска) below the large cathedral is a lively place in the summer months, open air cafes in large tents, dot the promenade along the river. Most bars play different styles of music, and there is usually live music going on in one of the tents. Young crowd, and some establishments stay open till very late. This is also the starting point for a host of river boats, taking the party going crowd on short cruises down the river with loud music banging out the speakers. Dynamo Park (Парк Динамо) also has some beergarten style watering holes along long benches beneath coloured lanterns and Russian schlagers blasting out the speakers.

Coffee

Learn

The Pacific National University, formally a Polytechnic Institute, is now a full fledged university, with over 21.000 students enrolled. Has a single Masters programme in Computer Sciences in cooperation with a German university, which is taught in English.

The Far Eastern State University of Humanities offers a summer course in Russian language in July as well as courses during the academic year.

The Far-Eastern State Medical University is a major medical institution in Eastern Siberia.

The Far-Eastern State University of Railways being one of the largest universities includes the course of Russian-Americam Programme.

The Far-Eastern State Scientific Library is an old and beautiful Art-Nouveau building in the city's center and has American, German and Japanese centers.

Japanese Center in Khabarovsk offers course of Japanese language as well as participation in business seminars

Sleep

No hostels and not many unrenovated Soviet rooms, so accommodation is pretty steep — on the other hand, the situation is not much different from the rest of Russia. If the situation is desperate and you have a valid ISIC card, you could try to see if the university will hook you up with a room in their dorms — though call ahead instead of showing up on the day. If not, rooms can go as low as 1000 rubles (€25) if you look around and book well ahead of arrival.

Connect

Phones

Khabarovsk has the traditional set of Russian mobile operators:

GSM 900/1800:

CDMA:

4G (LTE):

Check roaming prices before using non-Russian sim-card, especially those for mobile Internet. Some standards of mobile connection are not supported in Russia, e.g. those for Japan and United States.

Staying in Russia for a week or more, it's definetily worth to buy a local sim-card, but be aware, that a passport is needed for that. The easiest way refill a local mobile account is to use an ATM for that. Most ATMs have bilingual interfaces, allowing numerous kinds of payments, including those for mobile services by local operators. Another ways include terminals spread all over town - like Qiwi or mobile shops.

Internet

Post

The General post office at 28 Muravyov-Amurskiy St. If you plan on calling anyone, Khabarovsk is UTC +10 (or 7 hours ahead of Moscow).

The post-office at the railway station is located on 13 Leningradsky per. about 200m from the station building.

Cope

Consulates

Travel Agencies

Go next

Aerial photo of Khabarovsk, clearly showing the Amur and Ussuri River confluence.
Routes through Khabarovsk

Irkutsk Birobidzhan  W  E  Ussuriysk Vladivostok


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