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Trans-Siberian Railway 2013: Lake Baikal, Siberia Photo Report

1 FAW V5 UAZ BukhankaFAW V5 and UAZ Bukhanka

* See the Full Photo Report by clicking on the title! *

This is Part 9 of my Trans-Siberian Photo Report. You can see all other Parts of this long-term Photo Report here. This time we are doing a tiny little hop 80 km South East of Irkutsk to the shores of Lake Baikal, more precisely in the Litsvyanka village. Granted, there are not many cars here and the landscape is surely not representative of the region as Litsvyanka is mostly visited by Russian tourists but the mix of cars I saw was so striking once again than I thought it should warrant an update on its own.

2 UAZ BukhankaUAZ Bukhanka

3 Hyundai SolarisHyundai Solaris

If any of you have had the chance of visiting the Japanese countryside (I haven’t, only saw it in movies), it is probably what it would look like… Blink and you will miss the only vehicles that let me know we were not in Japan: the ever-present Hyundai Solaris, a couple of SsangYongs, Hyundais and Kia and one FAW V5 (featured above), a few Lada Zhiguli hidden in the backyards of some lovely Siberian log cabins, three UAZ Bukhanka and one lonely Renault Logan/UAZ Hunter/ZAZ Tavria/Lada 4×4/Oka and GAZ Volga. That’s it. Apart from those, you would swear you are in Japan as almost every single vehicle here is a right-hand drive Japanese import…

4 Toyota ProboxToyota Probox x2

6 Lada ZhiguliZhiguli

It’s simple: I saw way more Toyota Probox than Lada/Zhiguli on the shores of Lake Baikal, and when you take into account the fact that the Probox has only been on sale in Japan for 10 years whereas the Zhiguli’s career started 43 years ago all the way back in 1970 – let alone dominated Russian sales charts for a good 30 of these 43 years, you can appreciate how much of a feat that is.

5 Nissan SerenaNissan Serena

11b Toyota VoxyToyota Voxy

The Toyota Ist, Ractis, Voxy, Alphard and Nissan Serena (all generations) are also popular here, along with the odd (unrelated to Japan although it is successful there too as an import) Mercedes E-Class coupe a few cashed-up Russians in need of Baikal bliss have brought here.

8 Toyota VenzaToyota Venza

9 Nissan BassaraNissan Bassara

On the way from Irkutsk to the Lake Baikal, the only Ladas I saw where the couple of police Samaras posted along the road at every village we passed… I even improved my Japanese models skills in Litsyanka: welcome to the Nissan Bassara and Toyota Vista! As I mentioned above, even though there is an FAW V5 featured in the top picture of this article, that’s the only one I saw in Litsvyanka and it’s only up there because it was so brand-new it didn’t even have any license plates yet! – which by the way is rather frequent in Russia, but unthinkable in many other countries in the world.

7 UAZ Bukhanka Post OfficeUAZ Bukhanka in front of the Litsvyanka Post Office

But wait there are more interesting Baikal facts: not only are Russian car buyers this side of Russia completely in love with used Japanese models, I have now started to spot used Korean imports, which in a way make more sense as they are left-hand drive – as they should be in Russia! This was a little harder to pick when you are focused on checking right-hand drive Japanese models but I did spot one Daewoo Winstorm, and the only country where the Chevrolet Captiva is called that way is South Korea…

10 Daewoo WinstormDaewoo Winstorm

Let’s see if this trend gets confirmed in Ulan Ude, on the other side of Lake Baikal and 455 km East of Irkustk, my last stop in Russia before I pass the Mongolian border.

11 Litsvyanka landscape Litsvyanka car (and Lake Baikal) landscape

13 Toyota AlphardToyota Alphard

12 Hyundai SolarisHyundai Solaris

14 Toyota AllionToyota Allion

15 Litsvyanka landscapeLitsvyanka car landscape

16 Toyota ProboxToyota Probox

17 Honda StreamHonda Stream

18 SsangYong Actyon Sports Toyota Ipsum SsangYong Actyon Sports and Toyota Ipsum

19 Nissan Note GAZ VolgaNissan Note and GAZ Volga

20 Toyota SpacioToyota Raum


22 Litsvyanka landscape 3Litsvyanka

23 Nissan PatrolNissan Patrol

24 UAZ HunterUAZ Hunter

25 Nissan SerenaNissan Serena

26 ZAZ Tavria Toyota AllionZAZ Tavria and Toyota Allion

27 SsangYong Actyon Nissan SerenaSsangYong Actyon and Nissan Serena

This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. I find it interesting that you seem to think it is odd to have RHD cars in a LHD market, I live in the USA and you can actually buy brand new RHD cars here. Used RHD are a daily sighting in the medium sized city I live in, and honestly having driven both, I PREFER RHD over LHD in the USA because it puts the oncoming headlights further away and doesn’t cause as much glare or blinding at night. It does take about 30 mi (50 km) of driving to get the hang of it though.

    1. Hi Richard,
      Glad you find my point of view interesting. There is a difference between being able to buy RHD cars and having the majority of the traffic be RHD cars in a LHD country though.

  2. I hope you enjoy this work, Matt. Pics are exellent! Many Japanese cars, I didnt know for same of these! Old UAZ, with new name Hunter, first time on your Photo Report series. Toyota Probox is much more popular than Corolla. MPVs are everywhere. I thought that SUVs and offroad vehicles are majority! Russian VAZ totaly lost their eastern regions.

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