All international flights between South Korea and Russia have stopped. Due to the current political climate, there are a decreasing number of ways for Russians living abroad to visit family or return home. Luckily for us, the ferry from Donghae to Vladivostok is still operating!
During the previous two years, it was hard to travel abroad due to various rules put in place to prevent the spreading of COVID. However, these days most restrictions are lifted, and beginning on June 15 the ferry from Korea to Vladivostok (Russia) began to operate again after more than 2 years of being suspended.
It is important to note that absolutely everybody may take this type of transport. However, you should check whether you need to get a visa to enter Russia or not.
The relaunching of this service could not have come at a better time. Most international flights to and from Russia have stopped. There are no longer any flights from South Korea to Russia.
As of now, the main ways to get to Vladivostok are either by this ferry or by going to Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan first. To return back to Korea from Russia first, you would have to go to Moscow which is an 8hour and 45-minute flight to Vladivostok. Then, you would need to fly to an intermediary country before you can come to Seoul. All and all, the journey without this ferry would take at least two days each way and cost a lot of money.
Let’s take a look at this ferry from the company Eastern Dream. It was constructed in 1993 and its capacity of 465 people, 66 cars, and 130 containers. Its length is 140 meters and its width is 20 meters. The maximum speed of this ferry is 22 knots, which is slightly above 40 km/h. There are three classes, a nightclub, karaoke, man and woman’s saunas, a restaurant, a convenience store, and also a duty-free shop.
However, since it was relaunched, passengers can enjoy only the restaurant and duty-free shop. In total, the entire trip takes about 23 hours. However, the arrival time might be postponed because of weather conditions.
The company offers meals three times. A pro tip is that it is cheaper to pay for this at the check-in desk, it will be a little bit more expensive on the board. So, the price of one meal is 15,000 Won on board and 13,500 Won at check-in. Payment is only by cash! Also, it is allowed to bring your own food and water.
Now I will describe the process of preparation for this trip.
First, you need to visit the Eastern Dream website and find the contact information and make a reservation by call or email. The ferry departs from Donghae every Friday and leaves Vladivostok every Tuesday.
Eastern Dream Ferry Reservation Phone: +82 33-521-0661 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.dwship.co.kr/en/reservation/online.asp
After the reservation, a worker will send you an email. The email will contain bank account information that will include details on how to pay for your ticket. Payment is also available with a bank card on the day of departure. The cheapest ticket is economy class, it costs 62,7000 Won each way. For a round trip, it costs 1,044,000 Won.
One of the requirements is to do a PCR test. The results must be in English. Usually, public health centers (보건소) do not provide results in English. So, I went to a Seegene Medical Foundation (씨젠의료재단). It was 65,000 Won, but it was the cheapest option.
Luckily, Seegene Medical Foundation (씨젠의료재단) has multiple locations throughout South Korea. You can either search them on Naver maps or call them at 1533-1500 to find the closest testing center near you.
There are trains from Seoul to Donghae. The KTX goes about 2 and a half hours and costs a bit more than 30,000 Won. The international port is situated less than a 15 min walk from the train station. In case you have a huge luggage, you can take public transport and pass only one bus stop, or take a taxi.
This step is quite similar to what everybody does in the airport when taking an airplane to travel. Passengers should arrive at least two hours before departure. Then, they need to provide a PCR test, a printed ticket at the check-in desk, and check their luggage. If the luggage exceeds 25 kg, then you have to pay more: 3,000 Won for every kilogram. My luggage was 26 kg and I paid 3,000 won more. The maximum baggage weight is 50 kg. Once doing all these actions and going through migration control, passengers may onboard.
Hope provided information was sufficient and you will have less issues, when you decide to take this ferry.
Donghae Harbor Ferry Terminal (동해항 국제여객터미널 별관) Address: 210, Daedong-Ro, Donghae-Si, Kangwondo, Korea Korean Address: 강원도 동해시 대동로 210 Departure Time: 16:00 Every Friday *Arrive at least two hours before *Bring your passport, visa, ARC etc. *PCR Test is required