How did we get there?
Here is our lowdown on the ferry crossing to Russia.
Between Japan, South Korea and Russia plies one ferry company, DSB. But if you just need to ferry between Japan and South Korea you have more options.
We took the DSB ferry Eastern Dream from South Korea (port of Donghae) to Vladivostok in March 2018.
The Ferry Crossing to Russia
Schedules & Fees:
- The journey from South Korea takes about 22 hours. The ferry leaves every Sunday and arrives in Vladivostok on Monday.
- We paid:
- US $600 for the Land Cruiser. We paid cash, in Korean Won, but you can also pay in US dollars.
- 148,740 Won per person for the passenger fee (there no driver’s ticket included in the car fee). The regular fee is 222,000 won but we got 33% discount. We paid cash.
- 2500 Won per person for the terminal fee, which we also paid cash.
- Prices and schedules change, so make sure to check the website for details.
Read More: How to Start an Off-Road Adventure in Russia
The above-mentioned passenger fee normally gives you a bunk bed. For some reason we were upgraded to a private cabin, which was nice. The driver gets three meal tickets with the passenger ticket but the second passenger not (yes, odd).
We were not particularly impressed with the meals and were happy to have brought our own snacks and noodles. On board you can fill up your bottle with cold and hot drinking water from a machine (free of charge).
Read More: Stories about Russia
Step 1: Preparation
What to do (long) before taking the ferry:
- Organize your visa.
- Reserve a ticket in advance via email, [email protected]
- Send copies of the following documents at least 2 weeks before departure to DBS:
- Temporary Import/Export Declaration from the Korean Customs.
- Vehicle certificate of registration.
- International driving license.
- Get in touch with Yuri (email see below), the guy who will help you on the Russian side to clear your vehicle from customs. You have to send him copies of the following:
- Valid Russia visa.
- Vehicle registration papers, and the following data if it is not given in the papers: dry weight & maximum weight, engine volume (cc), horsepower, diesel/petrol, color.
- Car Insurance valid for Russia (if available, otherwise they will issue it in Russia).
- Three photos of your vehicle: general view, plates, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
- Organize your car insurance. Yuri can help you with this. Note that at the time of writing, Yuri told us that it was a pain in the ass to get insurance for foreign motorcycles, so plan ahead of time.
- Note that in Vladivostok you can’t drive your vehicle off the ferry (you will have to hand over the car key). To prevent theft, we constructed a barrier between the passenger seats and the rear, and locked anything of value in the rear.
Read More: Organizing your Visa for Russia
We paid $150 for Yuri’s service, which we thought was value for money. Yuri was quick in responding to emails and willing help with other issues (e.g. getting a sim card for our smartphone). When we arrived in Vladivostok he picked us up, drove us to and from the place we were staying for the night and had prepared all papers ready to be processed. He clearly knows what he is doing.
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Step 2: Getting on the ferry
In the port of Donghae:
- At 9 a.m. sharp Coen parked in front of the DSB office inside the Ferry Terminal [gps: 37.491404, 129.12623] and paid the cargo fee.
- He drove the car inside the Customs zone.
- The officer did a thorough inspection of the Land Cruiser, which we had not expected at all. It was a mess in the rear with everything from the front thrown in but the official climbed in the car nonetheless and checked everything. The officer confiscated four gas canisters and the 5-liter jerrycan with gasoline that we use for cooking! One large bag [our down blanket] that was convenient to grab was pushed through an X-ray scanner.
- Coen drove the Land Cruiser onto the ferry, locked it and handed the keys to the purser.
- Back inside the ferry terminal, we paid for our tickets that we had reserved beforehand.
- To get on the ferry all hand luggage was X-rayed, to which pretty much the same rules apply as for airlines.
Read More: Russia Travel Guide
Stap 3: Vladivostok: Getting off the ferry and through customs
- You get off the ferry without your vehicle. Before we knew what was happening, a purser came for us and shepherded us to the front of the disembarking cue. Directly after the passport control, Yuri was waiting for us and drove us wherever we needed to be. Our ferry was three hours late and arrived at 5 o’clock so the customs processed all paperwork the following day.
- On Tuesday morning Yuri picked us up. He and his assistant Svetlana had prepared all documents to clear the vehicle and get our Temporary Import Document. We drove to the customs office where Svetlana handed all papers were to the powers that were and Coen had to show his passport. In order to enter the customs building, you need to show your passport!
- Early Tuesday afternoon Yuri called us when all was ready. We returned to the ferry terminal where our Land Cruiser was driven out of the customs parking lot and we were free to go.
The Temporary Import Document (TID)
- It is valid for one year.
- But: There is some kind of agreement between Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and the one year is for those three countries combined.
- More on the Temporary Import Document here – what is it & when do you need it?
All in all, we found the ferry crossing to Russia quite straightforward procedure.
Oh, and when in Vladivostok, don’t forget to do some sightseeing – it’s a beautiful city. And do take the time to explore some of the surrounding regions along the coast, which is stunning and offers lots of rough camp and off-road opportunities.
Read More: Sightseeing in Vladivostok
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