Northeast China and the Russian Far East in 23 Days

In 2013 just after my HKDSE exam (A-Level equivalent in Hong Kong), I did a train trip from Hong Kong all the way to London by train with two of my friends. It was an enjoyable journey and we really missed the time during the endless train journey. We knew we would do it someday again, and the time just came right during this winter break.

Since we have travelled on the western part of the Trans-Siberian railway (Ulan-Ude–Moscow), why don’t we travel on the easter part this time? Another highlight of our trip is the snowy winter weather of northeast China and the Russian Far East, something that people like us living in a city of subtropical climate can never imagine.

Overview

the route of our trip
the route of our trip

We have visited five Chinese cities/towns, which were Beijing (北京), Harbin (哈尔滨), Manzhouli (满洲里), Yanji (延吉) and Tumen (图们), and three Russian cities/towns of Zabaikalsk (Забайкальск), Chita (Чита) and Vladivostok (Владивосток).

23-Dec: Leaving Hong Kong for Beijing by train Z98
24-Dec: Arriving in Beijing
25-Dec: Leaving Beijing for Harbin by train Z17
26-Dec: Arriving in Harbin
29-Dec: Leaving Harbin for Manzhouli by train K7091
30-Dec: Arriving in Manzhouli
31-Dec: Crossing the border and arriving in Zabaikalsk. Leaving for Chita by train 683Ч
1-Jan: Arriving in Chita in the morning. Leaving for Vladivostok by train 100Э
4-Jan: Arriving in Vladivostok
9-Jan: Leaving Vladivostok by bus to the border twon of Pogranichny (Пограничный). Crossing the border in to the Chinese border town of Suifenhe (绥芬河). Taking train T5008 to Mudanjiang (牡丹江). Changing to train 2168 to Yanji
11-Jan: Taking a day short trip by bus to the border town of Tumen, which is just a river across the North Korean town of Namyang (남양)
12-Jan: Leaving Yanji by train D7678. Changing to train D102 for Beijing at Shenyang (沈阳)
13-Jan: Leaving Beijing for Hong Kong by train Z97
14-Jan: Arriving in Hong Kong

Costs

We have spent about HKD4,000 (~USD515) on transportation and HKD1,000 (~USD130) on accomadation (hostels in Harbin and Vladivostok, a friend’s house in Beijing and hotels for the rest of the trip).

I paid ~USD96 for a single-entry Russian visa. All I did was to get an invitation letter online from RealRussia, showed up at the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong and waited for a week. I did not need a Chinese visa since there is a visa-free regime for Singapore citizen.

Meals in China and Russia are relatively cheap compared to Hong Kong (and most part of the Western World of course). We usually spent ~¥100 (~USD14) for a meal for three in China, but sometimes it can be as low as ¥8 (~USD1.2) per person in local restaurants! For Russia, a meal for three is usually ~USD25.

Preview

I will post a travelouge of this trip once I have got all the photos developed (yes, I still shoot film). Here is a photo of the North Korean town of Namyang taken from the Chinese side of the border as a sneak peek.

IMG_1820

 

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