Shutterstock / Viktor Gabyshev

Yakutsk

Remote yet booming Yakutsk stands on stilts (the shifting permafrost causes buildings to collapse otherwise) and has its water and gas delivered in giant overground pipes, the surreal, entangled sight of which might be its most enduring image to visitors.

With a long-awaited train link to the city still incomplete, it's pretty much cut off from the already remote Far East, and yet, unlike so many remote Russian cities out here, Yakutsk roars with optimism and gusto. New buildings are popping up all over the city and the population is rising, as the gold and diamond rush continues. Yakutsk is an excellent base for exploring the vast wilderness of Yakutia and has plenty to keep visitors entertained between forays into nature.

Brace yourself for extreme weather. It’s hot and swarms with mosquitoes in summer and then utterly freezing in winter (January averages –40°C), a time of year nonetheless beloved by locals.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Yakutsk.