Getting to Siberia for foreigners has never been easier.
Today so much has changed, especially for overseas visitors approaching from the East and from China, but certainly for those taking the ‘usual’ transit via Moscow.
To give just few examples, Russian S7 Airlines (http://s7.ru/en) flies Airbus320 direct from Beijing, China to Novosibirsk, Western Siberia, from three to five times a week, depending on season schedule.
Yakutia Airlines boosted flights from Alaska, making it easier than ever for Americans to escape to Siberia's colourful and diamond-rich Republic of Sakha, and to the Kamchatka Peninsula, known as the Land of Fire and Ice for its stunning volcanoes and glaciers, along with other enticing destinations.
Tolmachevo airport, Novosibirsk, Western Siberia. Pictures: Tolmachevo airport
Other major Siberian hubs with several-times-a-week connections to China are Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Omsk, Yakutsk, Ulan-Ude, Khabarovsk and Petropavovsk-Kamchatskiy.
The airports are changing rapidly, putting high quality service up their priority lists, and with more and more people speaking good English and willing to help foreigners, traveling around to and around Siberia becomes an easy, civilised, pleasant journey.
Novosibirsk's Tomlachevo airport (http://en.tolmachevo.ru) positions itself as one of the busiest transit points between Europe and Asia, which it is probably a while away from — but it is certainly the biggest airport in Siberia, with direct flights to the Czech Republic, China, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.
All other destinations can be easily reached with a stopover at Moscow, St Petersburg, or Ekaterinburg, which is half way between Moscow and Novosibirsk.
Little things like free wi-fi, growing number of restaurants and cafes, newspapers, books, clothes and souvenir shops help to make you feel welcome, as well as well-organised luggage delivery.
One thing which we are sure will be improved soon is the taxi service to the cities: speaking about Novosibirsk, sometimes foreigners are charged much higher rates than Russians — an outdated and regrettable approach.
The Siberian Times will closely follow travel news and developments, and highlight developments on this page — more will be coming soon, as well as good travel deals.
For city by city 'Getting Here' guides please go to 'City Focus', which is being written, but is aimed at giving a closer look at all major Siberian cities: their history, how they live now, their attractions and places of interest.
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