Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.
Stretching 1,000km in length, Sakhalin is visible from the northernmost tip of Hokkaido on clear days and, at their closest point, the two islands are only 40km apart. Once belonging to Japan, Sakhalin is still known to many Japanese as ‘Karafuto’, but the island was seized by Russia towards the end of WWII and bitter territorial disputes between the two countries have seen it stagnate. In spite, or perhaps because of this, the island has developed a distinct culture.
It’s by no means your usual holiday destination – in fact, residents are far from throwing their arms open to tourists. But I was intrigued enough to board the 5.5-hour Eins Soya ferry from Hokkaido’s Wakkanai port to Korsakov. With hardly no information available online, I arrived with no particular plan at all and quickly realised this was not the best idea. Want to follow in my footsteps? Here are my top tips for a smoother landing in Russia’s bewildering far east.