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Trans-Siberia Railroad

Has anyone taken the Trans-Siberia Railroad? I know there are different routes so if so, which route did you take and how was your experience? I've wanted to take that trip for a couple years but haven't had the time due to work. I've taken a few trains in Ukraine and had good experiences but all the way across Russia and through Mongolia or China would be another thing entirely. I think the whole trip is like 5 or 6 days.
I know the Russia visa would be required but any other helpful travel tips would be appreciated.
Thanks.

Posted by
2233 posts

We had some good friends who did the journey as part of a tour with Road Scholar a couple of years ago, and they loved it. Not sure whether you want to do it independently or as part of an organized tour, but this link from the Road Scholar website has their detailed itinerary, routing and a description of their offerings to at least get you started:
https://www.roadscholar.org/find-an-adventure/19580/trans-siberian-railway-from-beijing-to-moscow/itinerary/

Posted by
2914 posts

I would love to do this! But do it like Paul Theroux or Ian Frasier rather than on a tour. It would be a lot less expensive as well. It's on my bucket list. Sorry, I can't really help you, unless you haven't read the books by the aforementioned authors.

Posted by
518 posts

I have done this trip, a number of years ago in 2008. I did it with a small-group "adventure" tour operator called Intrepid Travel. Here are a few things to know about this trip.

There are multiple routes and multiple start-end points. Even the tour operators will offer several routes for your choosing as well as your option of direction (east to west or vice versa). My trip started in Beijing, China and ended in St. Petersburg, Russia. The route traversed Mongolia. Depending on the context, the route, or the market, these journeys can be described as "Trans-Siberian," "Trans-Mongolian", etc. To get from one end to the other (without stopping) takes 6-7 days I think, but the tours will stop at various towns for an overnight. The trip I went on took a total of three weeks. So, you might want to consider what it is you want to accomplish and what sights you want to see and go from there.

Yes, you do need a visa.

Posted by
11 posts

@Robert,
Thanks for the information about the Trans-Siberian/Mongolian Railway tours. These look like good tours. Probably a little out of my price range but definitely something to consider and to help me plan my eventual tour.

Posted by
11 posts

@Wray,
I need to Google Paul Theroux and Ian Frasier. They must be adventure/mystery book authors? Anyway, I think I would like to do the trip independently as you can be on your own time schedule and stay in some places longer or not as long if you like. I saw the Wood Harrelson/Ben Kingsly movie "Trans-Siberia" a couple years ago and, despite the strangeness of that movie, the route itself looks like it goes through some beautiful country.

Posted by
11 posts

@KC,
I appreciate the feedback. I think the "Trans-Siberian" might be my best option. I would probably start in Vladivostok, go north to Khabarovsk, head west through Irkutsk, Ekaterinburg, and finally, end in St. Petersburg. Then I think it would be nice to take the short ride to Moscow and head west again all the way to Paris or London, finishing up on the Champs Elysees drinking a glass of champagne or having a good beer with some fish and chips at a pub in London. Either way, I will have had an incredible trip and used the time for a great experience. I think I would do something similar to what you did and give myself about 3 weeks to complete the whole trip.

Posted by
4637 posts

Charles, I would recommend stopping at Baykal Lake. When you go to St. Petersburg from Vladivostok you go via Moscow. So you don't have to go back there again, instead stop on the way. I would not call Moscow to St. Petersburg a short ride. Most trains take 8 to 10 hours. Super-fast (and most expensive) Sapsan makes it in 4 hours.

Posted by
3 posts

Hello, everyone.

My friends and I are planning a trip in August. Moscow-Mongolia. We are searching for some cheap tickets and so far we have found only the following articles:

https://t1cket.guru/tips-about-russia/trans-siberian-express/ and

http://www.travelodium.com/travelling-the-trans-siberian-railway/

As far as I'm concerned, if I don't want to pay to a travel agent, then I need to arrive in Russia and pray for the tickets from Irkutsk to Ulaanbaatar to be available, right?

Does anybody have any experience in buying tickets in Russia?
I read, that this destination has lost its popularity, so the tickets are always available. Is it true? Maybe anyone has a word of advice? Should I hope that I could buy the tickets there, or should I better buy them in advance?

Thank you!

Posted by
498 posts

Ian Frazier is a writer/humorist for New Yorker Magazine and his article-length feature about traveling across Siberia that appeared in the New Yorker is a must read if you don't have time for the whole book. It's truly captivating!

Posted by
3 posts

Jtraveler,

Excellent article, this is a big story, thank you!

"The book is a great way to travel without leaving home"

I forgot where I saw such a quote :-)

Posted by
518 posts

"I would not call Moscow to St. Petersburg a short ride. "

Yes, this is true. On the trip that I went on, the Moscow-to-St. Petersburg journey was an over night train journey and we had a sleeping berth on the train, departing Moscow at night and arriving in St. Petersburg early in the morning. As with any early morning arrival in a city, you probably won't get to check in to your hotel right away although you can probably drop your bags off there.

Posted by
661 posts

Rick Steves' podcast #483 (May 6, 2017) has info on the Trans-Siberia Railroad. Author Lisa Dickey has published a book describing her trips in 1995, 2005 & 2015.

Posted by
430 posts

Thanks for the link! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this podcast; sounds like the book is a great read.