The following is a quick overview to some of those services and products that students often need in the course of a semester or summer abroad. This covers everything from haircuts to pharmacies and gyms to computer repair. Students should generally expect to need to speak at least some Russian when seeking out these experiences – that’s part of study abroad!
In This Guide
1. A Practical Introduction to Vladivostok
Vladivostok is surrounded on three sides by the sea. Walking its winding, hilly streets, one encounters reminders of its maritime traditions everywhere: ever-present sea air, piers, ports, monuments, and many visible cultural effects of proximity to and contact with Asia. While Vladivostok is unmistakably Russian, one can find various Asian languages, cuisines, and people throughout the city.
For students interested in Russia’s little-understood Far East and its development potential, Vladivostok is an excellent choice. The city is also an exceptional vantage point for adventurous students studying Russian to see (literally) another side of Russia.
Although a critical economic hub, investment has been spotty. Depending on where you stand, Vladivostok is a modernized, bustling, historic port town or a painted-over soviet relic. It’s both. Both strategic for and yet separate from European Russia, Vladivostok is at once a proud, yet ambitious, independent part of Russia. Students also report that the city and its social circles can be more difficult to fully immerse yourself in, but can be phenomenally rewarding if you do. Vladivostok is very much a city that is what you make of it.
Vladivostok weather is quite moderate. Summers are pleasant, with lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s. Later summer can be rainy. Spring and summer tend to be cool. Winter temperatures typically stay in the single digits and occasionally drop below zero. However, humidity can intensify the cold and it is almost always breezy if not windy in Vladivostok, so wind-chill factor is also important to consider when packing. If you have allergies to dust or pollution, know that both are created by the ships that surround the city. You might want to bring a supply of your favored remedy.
Vladivostok’s distance from the capital, maritime traditions, and proximity to Asia have created a unique city known for its independence, ambitiousness, and particular mix of cultures that provide an excellent window to Asia and a view of Russia that most never see. For more on the history of Vladivostok, see this article on GeoHistory, also part of the SRAS Family of Sites.
2. Eating and Going Out
Traditional Russian: Nostalgia, serves good quality Russian dishes for fair prices, and is also an art gallery and souvenir shop. For a cheaper Russian option head to the Satisfied Dragon (Сытый Горныч) at 4a Admiral Fokina Street. Ух ты блин is a popular local place serving blini and other traditional Russian food.
Former USSR: The Two Georgians is an excellent place to get some pretty cheap and very tasty Georgian food. Try their khachapuri! Café Khlopok offers Central Asian food with a huge tea list, authentic plov, very tasty shashlik, and wonderful traditional pastries (cheburek, samsa, etc.) Supra is a new Georgian restaurant with two locations, one in the center on the boardwalk and another in the upscale part of the city. It is VERY popular, unbelievably delicious, and entertaining (the staff put on little dance performances). It is a tad more expensive than other restaurants in town and the wait can be up to an hour, but it is definitely worth it.
For the Homesick: Some locations of Royal Burger are open all night to serve your burger fix. Okie Dokie Pizza is a great place to grab a cheap slice. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, Drinks and Burgers specializes in quintessential American cuisine (burgers and shakes) and atmosphere.
Coffee: Great coffee has come to Vladivostok! Try this handy guide from SRAS.
Music – Mummy Troll was opened by the popular Russian music group of the same name (they are originally from Vladivostok). This bar/restaurant features live music every night. It typically starts gathering a crowd around 8 or 9 pm, so it’s best to get there a little earlier. You can also reserve a table for 1000 rubles. Rock’s is another bar that has live music daily. They have beer specials on Tuesdays and cocktail specials every Thursday.
Vegetarian – You’ll find mouthwatering Indian food at Ganga Vegetarian Café. The Two Georgians and Cafe Lima, also recommended by this guide, also have good vegetarian options. Many vegetarians in Vladivostok cook for themselves, as even most salads have meat in them here.
Japanese – Sushi restaurants in Vladivostok are plentiful, and you won’t have to look very long to find one, especially near the city center. Tokyo Sushi Bar is a popular regional chain with a few restaurants located around Vladivostok. Osama-Sushi is highly rated, and another option located downtown (ul. Praporshchika Komarova, 15).
Italian – In the Primorye hotel, Pizza M has decent Italian-style pizza at decent prices. Mauro Gianvanni is run by an actual Italian. This restaurant, which has two locations, has arguably the best pasta in town, with homemade noodles. It’s a bit pricier than Pizza M but worth it.
Peruvian – Craving guac, burritos, and enchiladas? Try Cafe Lima. The Central/South American dishes are reasonably authentic, and the café has a great atmosphere with good music.
Water/Water Filters: Don’t drink the tap water in Vladivostok. Bottled water is cheap and everywhere and water filters are widely available in larger supermarkets and appliance stores.
Antiques and Souvenirs:There is one souvenir shop that virtually all the city’s guides take their tourists to. It’s located at the top of the city’s funicular, at an outlook with a great view of the Golden Horn Bay. It’s simply called “Souvenir Shop” and sells all sorts of Russian goodies, from matryoshkas to Russian shawls to thousand dollar samovars. The Arsenyev Museum of the Primorsky Region is a good place to find more locally-themed souvenirs with the icons of Vladivostok: anchors and tigers.
Clothing: Vladivostok’s various shopping centers are spattered with high-end clothing. American brands like Columbia and The North Face can usually be found at sports chain clothing stores like Sportlandia. However, if you are on a budget, see the entry below on “rynok” for cheap, Chinese knockoffs of brands like Adidas, Uggs, and others.
Books: The Russia-wide chain Chitai Gorod is a bookstore with a wide selection of Russian books and a few branches around Vladivostok. For foreign books, try Восточный Центр Иностранной Книги which has books in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
Shopping Malls: Cloverhouse is the most centrally located. Kalima Mall is new and very popular. Vladivostok’s GUM (most Russian cities have one) is located in several locations along Ul. Svetlanskaya and contains a large number of retailers. The best place to start with the GUM is Ul. Svetlanskaya 45, which houses stores and restaurants over several floors connected by escalators.
Rinok: For really cheap goods as well as organic produce, stop by the rinoks in the city. There are two specialized in food near the university. For a larger experience – and especially if you are looking for clothes, electronics, etc, the most well-known is “The Chinese Market” at Sportivnaya. Haggling is customary here.
Eyeglasses / Contacts: Farmatsiya is centrally located and the old ladies working there are incredibly friendly. They sell glasses and contacts (even colored lenses!) and are able to fix broken glasses. Much nearer the university is News, another option, especially for contact lens solution.
Pharmacies: Most pharmacies are tiny little shops and are called “аптека.” These are generally good for general medications (aspirin, anitinflamatories), but Russian has different names for most medications. If you are looking for something specific, look it up on Wikipedia, switch to Russian to get its local name, and try one of the larger chains in town such as O’Vita.
Vegetarian and Organic Foods – The Chinese Market on Sportivnaya Street in the Lugovaya District of Vladivostok is one of the few places in the city that sells vegetarian foods, such as tofu. Though there are a few vegetarians in Vladivostok, there isn’t a large demand for vegetarian products.
Cell Phone and Internet: For more on cellphone and mobile Internet service, see our Guide to Vladivostok Budgets.
Internet Cafés and Public WiFi: Most Internet cafes that are left are mostly dedicated to gaming. Cyber Arena, for instance, has tournaments. You’ll find free WiFi at malls and cafes across town.
Public Transport: Within downtown, walking is always the fastest due to the traffic jams that plague the city. If you have a ways to go you’ll need to take a bus or marshrutka. One ride costs 23 rubles and you pay the driver as you disembark. To navigate the city, Yandex Maps, Yandex Metro, and 2GIS are available in app stores and favored by locals. For more on public transport costs, see our Guide to Vladivostok Budgets.
Computer Repair – Megabyte is near campus and both sells and repairs laptop and desktop computers. You can also take your laptop to VSEUS’s own IT team and they might fix it for free if it’s an easy repair. Ask the international office how to contact them.
Gyms: See our Guide to Budgets in Vladivostok for more information on the large student gym on campus. Or, you can shop around.
Banyas: Public banyas are quickly going out of style in Vladivostok, while private saunas seem to be taking over. Note that at most, you’ll need to rent the whole sauna – it’s expected that you’ll go as a group. Near the university is the Americano, a sauna/pool hall. Otherwise, check out this Yandex Map.
Haircuts: Try Komilfo, which charges between 300-400 rubles for men’s haircuts and 500-600 for women’s. If you are looking for a good deal, VSUES has a hair stylist school and is always looking for people to practice on. Haircuts typically cost about 100 rubles.
Dry Cleaner / Laundry: VSUES has a laundry service in the dorm for its students. Laundromats are starting to gain a foothold in Vladivostok, in case you’d like to do it yourself. For dry cleaning, Kristal is one of the largest chains in town and has a location near the university.
Charitable Giving: The charity run by the Orthodox Church accepts donations for the less fortunate children living in the Primorsky region. Feel free to donate any lightly used clothes or bathroom accessories. Tel: 269-08-38, 258-55-10, Okeansky Prospekt, 44.
Medical Services: The Lotus Medical Center is located on campus. They accept international insurance for more expensive visits, but you will probably have to pay out of pocket (about 500 rubles) for a quick examination. They also offer dentistry services and are fully equipped with the equipment for more serious medical examinations, such as x-rays and ultrasounds. The facility is new and the staff are quite friendly and helpful. You might also try Sanas or Falck for other options fo high quality, private care.
Post: Post offices in Russia also sell stamps, envelopes, and fax services. The closest post office to the VSUES dorms is located at Ul. Nekrasovskaja, 72. You can find the Central Post Office, which additionally has Internet access and telegraph services at 2a Verhneportovaya St. DHL has an office in Vladivostok located in the Hotel Hyundai (Ul. Semyonavskaya, 29). For sending postcards and letters, the Russian post is just fine although slow, but know that packages sent from America sometimes still have “difficulties” getting to recipients in Russia.