I have been for the last two months arranging a trip consisting basically in going from Helsinki, where I live, to Vladivostok by train and then to North Korea.
The problem is that I just want to be 3 days there (it is SO expensive) and apparently the only way to go there is by plane, which departs only once a week in each direction.
I'm begging for help as the travel agencies I have been asking for have more or less making me lose my time, and now I'm in a hurry since the whole trip will be from 16th of June to 21st of July, and I only have three weeks to make the visa (in Stockholm, Sweden), but before, I need to agree the dates.
My question is:
- Do you know the dates/times of departures of trains from Vladivostok or Khasan to Pyongyang? And prices?
- The same in the opposite direction.
I need this information in order to state the exact entry and departure date for North Korea, but since the last month I have been asking travel agencies and I only got partial answers (such as, "yeah! there are two trains a week from Khasan", ok, but which days??) which doesn't allow me to decide one specific date.
Please, to the ones living in Vladivostok, help!
Thank you very much!
The trains are supposed to be there and had over 5000 passenger turnover last year. Not much, but given there are 52 weeks (thus 104 train pairs) it's roughly 50 passenger/train. I expect, it will be probably one "chair" car or two - a typical "small border" train. However, it goes only between the border points, so you have to change the train to/from Vladivostok once in Ussurijsk in order to get to Tumangan!
Goes every Tuesday and Friday Hasan (RUS) ---> Tumangan (NOK)
Departs 2:30 (Moscow time), arrives 3:30 (also Moscow time)
The other way here:
Departs Tumangan 6:00 (Moscow time), arrives Hasan 6:30 (also Moscow time), The train is obviously Russian, both directions are served on Tuesday and Friday only.
There is no direct train to/from Vladivostok, you have to use the Ussurijsk - > Hasan train going to Korea train no. 954, departs Ussurijsk 915, arrives Hasan 16:16. The other way is a bit better, Hasan --> Ussurijsk train no. 953 departs Hasan 17:58, arrives Ussurijsk 0:55
There are four trains daily Vladivostok --> Ussurijsk, the travel time is 2.5 hours or so.
I am not sure, this is the most up-to-date info, please not the spellings of the cities "???????????", "?????????", "?????" in Russia and "????????" in Korea. http://www.mza.ru has a forum, try them.
FYI: There IS a direct car of Korean railways which is attached to train "Rossia". It goes once in two weeks. It's obvious, it is attached to the above train I mentioned (departs Hasan at 2:30 Moscow time).
The days are provided on the web site but I would double-check with MZA. Since the car is departing Moscow, it's MZA responsibility to provide you with the tickets. Please write them - tey might help you out! This car is unique in that sense, you can actually board it in Moscow and it will take you directly to Pyongyang via Tumangan and not via China. Ask for Fyva Zucken on MZA web site, we had discussion about this single car a while ago so you may look up the forum archives. I would probably try to get on that car at least in Khabarovsk - from travel point of view to go through many train changes via Ussurijsk is a pain in the rear. The Korean car is not extremely clean - it seem to be just an older-style Chinese-made 4-bed car, but it's more convenient to use it. In the worst case the girls at MZA can even sell you a ticket into that car - but you have to travel all 10000 km from Moscow. On the positive side since Russians are not allowed to travel in foreign car domestically, the car will be most likely empty from Moscow on or host a family or two of Korean officials working in Moscow. You'll have a chance to communicate with them for many days on Russian soil - and I can say, Korean officials DO behave very-very differently on Russian or Chinese soil (I did witness!!!) than in Korea.
The MZA web site is here:
Obviously, you'll need a LOT of help to navigate there unless you know Russian. Asking them in english is OK, but you need to navigate yourself first.
Hope, this helps... Regarding the prices, you probably are looking to spend around300 each way from Helsinki.
Here are the sample prices
Pleaase note, the prices to Beijing and Ulaanbaatar are in Swiss Franks, not EUR. 2nd class is 283 Franks from Moscow. The least expensive would be of course to buy Helsinki-Luzhaika and from Luzhaika one sinlge through ticket to Pyongyang(?) through Moscow, Habarovsk, Vladivostok, Tumangan, etc. with sleeping car vouchers Luzhaika-Moscow and Moscow - whatever-place-you-can-get-in-Korea (Pyongyang?) Most likely it will be difficult, and if you just get it like Helsinki-Moscow and Moscow - P.Y. it's also OK.
An intersting option would be to purchase EuroDomino all the way! Probably, the ceapest, too. You can get as far as Tumangan-border from Helsinki. I would say, go for EuroDomino! 8 days should be OK and the price is 88 EURO for the ticket only, that probably should take you until Tumangan one way (+ sleeper vouchers). Sleeper Voucher on RU car should run under EUR 20, probably under EUR 15, (that's until Moscow). On NOK car expect more since it's quite a bit of distance - but it won't reach EUR 100. Ultimately, one-way from Finn/Russian border to Tumangan by train should run at around EUR 200 - if you use EuroDomino. Tumangan - PY is an other question, but as I know, Russia is the most expensive of all member countries if we talk about Euro/Km. EuroDomino is probably a big blessing.
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