The Chekhov Museum

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. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is 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 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.

Get in

By plane

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

Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport Khomutovo (IATA: UUS) 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, +7 4242 788055 and the live flight information on the airport's website (in Russian). The airport is subject to long closures under bad weather conditions.

Despite its moderate size, the airport has a luggage room and a lounge (both 24/7), as well as a cafe and a food store closed during the night.

By train

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.

The railway station is in the city center at Lenina Sq. The station is open 5:30AM—11PM; there is a luggage room (7:30AM—8:40PM). Information: +7 4242 712134.

By bus

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 (unofficial) timetable (in Russian).

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.

By car

Sakhalin has few roads, so you are unlikely to miss Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk which is at their very crossing. The nearest destinations are Korsakov (40 km/25 mi) and Kholmsk (80 km/50 mi).

Tour & Travel Agencies

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) -6.7 -5.3 -0.3 6.9 13.4 17.7 20.8 22.4 18.9 12.2 3.2 -3.7
Nightly lows (°C) -17.0 -17.3 -10.7 -2.4 2.5 7.5 12.0 13.6 8.5 1.8 -5.4 -13.1
Precipitation (mm) 49 37 49 59 67 51 83 110 114 99 81 62
Snowfall (cm) 49 58 55 30 7 0 0 0 0 5 12 22


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.

Get around

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. For 500 RUB , you can travel between airport and centre by taxi.


Sakhalin regional museum
The typical landscape of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk: drab Soviet-style buildings and picturesque mountains

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.

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
Alpacas in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Zoo



Market street in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

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.






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!


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.






Desktop connection is available at certain post offices (see below) and in the following places:

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:
  • 220 Lenina St — 8AM-8PM
  • 78 Purkaeva St — M-F 8AM—7PM, Sa 9AM—4PM

Mobile network

Post office

The postal code of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is 6930**. Post offices in the city center:




Go next

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.
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!).
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.
Mud Volcano
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 tunnels, 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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