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Komsomolsk-on-Amur

Travel Guide Europe Russia Far Eastern Russia Komsomolsk-on-Amur

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Introduction

Komsomolsk-on-Amur is a city in the far east of Russia with around 260,000 inhabitants. First settled by indigenous people, then by settlers from the Perm region, but the history of this BAM town in the far flung reaches of the union come federation, doesn't kick of until the communist hey-ho fervour in the early honeymoon days of the Soviet union, when patriotic fresh-faced members of the Komsomol - the Soviet youth league - landed on the Amurs shores in the 1930'ties, to build a "model city" with wide tree lined avenues, modern trams and large factories - a new future, carrying the Soviet dream to the far east. And while there are countless monuments and murals celebrating the valour and accomplishments of the Komsomol and the BAM builders here, reality however, is far more sinister; nearly three quarters of the builders were actually convicts, Japanese POW's and other dissidents, and the city became a major, if not the most important GULAG centre during Stalin's purges, and nearly a million prisoners tramped trough the various camps of Komsomolsk. So the city is not, as legend would have it, built on the glory of labour and patriotism alone, but also on top of thousands of unmarked graves.

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Sights and Activities

Unless Komsomolsk is the first stop on the Russian mainland coming from Japan, it should come as no surprise by now that this young city is not a prime sightseeing spot by anyone's standard, unless of-course you've seen nothing but taiga pines for the past year or so, in which case it might just stir a bit of excitement. As a short stopover however, the city works surprisingly well - especially (or perhaps mainly) if you have an interest in photography; there is a number of buildings in Stalin's Neo-renaissance style in the city centre, and many of the housing blocks are adorned with both sculptured and painted murals with soviet themes - makes for some amazing pictures if you know what you're doing. As does the War Memorial on a marble plaza right above the river boat terminal, with its seven giant granite heads looking towards an eternal flame. If seen from the river the River Terminal itself is also a bit interesting, as it's designed to look like a ship, another monument nearby portrays a band of Komsomolsk pioneers.

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Weather

Komsomolsk-on-Amur has a severe continental climate with cold winters and relatively warm summers. From June to August, temperatures are mostly well above 20 °C and often between 25 and 30 °C during the day. Nights are mostly around or slightly above 15 °C. Winters start early and the coldest period is December to early March with daytime temperatures dropping to deepfreeze temperatures and nights around or below -30 °C! Most of the annual precipitation falls during the warmer summer months, though snow falls in winter of course, mostly just before and after the coldest months (October-November and March-April).

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Getting There

By Plane

Owing to its aircraft industry (the Sukhoi Superjet 100 is produced here) and its strategic importance, the city actually has two airports, but unless you find yourself unwittingly recruited by the Russian army, your interest will mainly be in Khurba airbase (KXK IATA) 17 kilometres south of the city. Sakhalin-based SAT Airlines operates once or twice weekly services to Ignatyevo Airport (BQS) near Blagoveshchensk and more importantly to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (UUS) where the airline operates a decent hub with a number of connections to East Asia.

By Train

Komsomolsk-on-Amur is located along the Baikal Amur Mainline (BAM), a railway section north of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Regular trains also connect Komsomolsk with Khabarovsk, on the Transsib. Westwards the next major town is Tynda (~40 hours, once daily) and to the east the line reaches the pacific with a stop in Vanino (~15 hours, once daily, twice in summer), where ferries takes passengers across to Sakhalin before the railway terminates in Sovetskaya Gavan. Going south there is a branch line with 1-3 daily trains from Khabarovsk or Vladivostok. Occasionally there are direct trains to Irkutsk and beyond, you can try the #008/667 from/to Novosibirsk if that's useful to your itinerary - in the summer there is even sometimes a direct carriage attached to the Rossiya from Moscow. If you want to shorten time from Komsomolsk to Khabarovsk, you may get off at Selikhino between them, where a bus will await you for connection. The total travel time will be 6 hours instead of 11.

By Bus

The road to Khabarovsk is, by Russian standards, in workable condition and paved for nearly the entire length, so naturally buses are taking full advantage of this rare feat, with around 10 round trips per day. The trip takes a good 8 hours and costs between 460-660 rubles depending on which bus you catch. There is a red eye service leaving in both directions at 23.00 if you're on a really tight budget, and the 09.30 #306 bus continues onwards to Birobidzhan. Supposedly there is a single daily bus to Vanino, but if that's a miss, there should definitely be a Marshrutka leaving sometime. The Bus station (Автовокзал), at Pionerskaya Street 2, ☎ +7 4217 59-11-54. edit is a short walk from the river terminal north along the beach.

By Boat

If potholes is not your thing, and 7,000 kilometres of shouting provodnitzas has put a dent in your railway enthusiasm, you can go liquid instead, that is, when it's not frozen between June and August. Meteor hydrofoils speed up the Amur from Khabarovsk in six hours, which actually makes it the fastest connection between the two cities. In the same period, you can continue onwards to Nikolaevsk-on-Amur with the boats too, really the only option other than the daily flights from Khabarovsk, if you like your bones right where they are. This trip takes around 12 hours. The River terminal (Речной вокзал, +7 (4217) 59-29-35) is at the end of Oktyabrskiy Prospekt right by the beach.

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Getting Around

While the River terminal and the Bus Station are just a few hundred meters apart on the river front, the Railway Station is about 4km away; tram line number 2 or bus number 17 will do the work for you. In fact any tram numbered 2, 3 or 4 will take you to the river terminal, while 1, 2 and 5 will take you the railway station, provided you take it in the right direction of course, all the tram lines convene at the intersection of Lenina and Mira Prospekts.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Russia is a huge country, and excess to the internet varies a lot. The main cities and tourist places have (free) wifi excess at lots of places, like restaurants and cafes (McDonald's is always a safe bet). Internet cafes are present in larger places as well. Rural areas and especially if you venture into remote and/or mountainous areas have little excess at all. Most travellers will find connections though when using their phone or tablet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The emergency number is 112. The country code for Russia is 7. Russian phone numbers have an area code with three, four or five digits (according to their province), followed by an individual number with, respectively, 7, 6 or 5 digits, always yielding 10 digits in total. The three digit code 800 is used for toll-free calls. Mobile phones always have three-digit "area" codes and seven-digit numbers. Calls within any one area code may omit the area code (except in Moscow). Inter-area code calls within Russia: 8 (wait for tone) full Russian number including area code. The international access code for dialling outwith Russia is the sequence of 8 (wait for secondary tone and then) 10. International calls to Russia, as always, replace the plus sign (+) in the international phone format with the local international access code for the country you're calling from, followed by Russia's country code of 7 followed by the individual Russian phone number including area code.

You will require a SIM-unlocked GSM 900 / 1800 compatible international cell phone when buying a Russian SIM card. If you do not have your own international cell phone, it's best to buy a cheap cell phone with some value on the card. Foreigners can purchase a local SIM card by showing your passport. BeeLine is considered to be the best in terms of reliability and connections quality. However Megafon's services can be a bit cheaper.

Post

Russian Post is the national postal service of Russia. It's English version is currently under construction, but mainly involves the track&trace system. The domestic post is reasonably reliable, and sending international mail is fairly reliable but slow, taking at least a few weeks to European countries, longer to the USA or Australia for example. The delivery of mail sent from abroad to Russia is highly unreliable, and people or companies tend to use foreign adresses, from where a private carrier sends it to Russia. Alternatives like poste restante are non-existent with Russian Post. Most cities and large towns in Russia have a Central Post Office (Glavpochtamt), which also sells stamps and envelopes, and usually has fax services and Internet availability, though the latter mostly not in smaller places. Also, many hotels have postal services, including mail boxes. Post offices tend to keep long hours, usually from 8:00am or 9:00am until 8:00pm or 9:00pm Monday to Friday, and closing earlier during weekends. The main central post offices in the biggest cities keep even longer hours. For sending parcels, you can also try services by DHL Russia and FedEx Russia. For all mail you can use the regular alphabet, though maybe include the country's name in Cyrillic. For sending post to Russia (or trying to receive it) note that addresses should be in reverse order: Russia, postal code, city, street address, name.

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Accommodation in Komsomolsk-on-Amur

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This is version 3. Last edited at 15:38 on Nov 27, 17 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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