What is the Trans Siberian rail trip?
The Trans Siberian is a rail route - not a specific train. In fact, you will probably travel on many different trains when you travel through Russian, Mongolia and China.
The Trans Siberian route crosses 5 time zones and travels from Moscow or St Petersburg in the West, across The Urals, the Altai Mountains, through Siberia, over the Great Wall of China and through Northern China into Beijing in the East. More about the Trans Siberian route and stops.
The 'Trans Sib' train journey really is an incredible trip of a lifetime.
When are the best times to travel on the Trans Siberian?
The best times to travel on the Trans Siberian train are from April to September.
October tends to be the rainy season and November through to March is winter.
Although most people do book Trans-Siberian tickets for the summer months more and more travellers are wanting to experience Siberia in winter time.
The cost of the Trans Sib train tickets do not change with the seasons but your open-jaw flights will.
How long does the Trans Siberian take?
There are actually a few options when booking Trans Siberian tickets:
The quickest Trans Siberian tickets
The quickest Trans Siberian trip is the basic Moscow to Beijing journey - with no stops.
You would spend 8 days and 7 nights on the Trans Siberian trains and would not be able to explore the surrounding areas. Not many people take this option.
This trip is called either The Classic Trans Siberian or the Trans-Manchurian, depending on who you talk to, and actually misses Mongolia. The Trans-Siberian tracks split near Irkutsk and this train takes the northern route to China avoiding Mongolia and arrives into Beijing from the North-East.
What are the most popular Trans Siberian trips?
The most popular Trans Siberian trips take between 16 and 21 days travelling between Moscow and Beijing with between 3 to 6 stops in Russia and Mongolia en-route.
The Trans Mongolian Express is the most popular Trans Siberian ticket and takes 21 days, stopping in Irkutsk and Lake Baikal as well as Ulaanbaatar before arriving in Beijing. Most people start from St Petersburg before catching the main train from Moscow.
Where does the Trans Siberian stop?
The first thing you need to do is get the Trans Siberian brochure with the routes and prices.
Main Trans Siberian stops between Moscow and Beijing
The main Trans Siberian stops are as follows:
What are the most popular stops on the Trans Sib?
The most popular and cheapest stops to add in your trip are:
Irkutsk is the access place for Lake Baikal. There are trekking, diving and horse riding options at Lake Baikal as well as Siberian saunas!
Ulan Bator, Mongolia
Getting off the train at Ulan Bator gives you the chance to go up onto the Mongolian Steppe and stay in a Ger Camp (a structured felt tent).
Other stops, such as at the Altai Mountains or Ulan Ude and Ekaterinburg can be added in but may be tricky depending on your combination as some trains only leave every 2 weeks.
I want to go to Vladivostok
If you want to finish your Trans Siberian trip in Vladivostok, think again. This is one of the most difficult and expensive areas to leave from and many companies will not let you book the train until they have seen proof that you can get yourself out from there. Vladivostok is a huge port and can be extremely dangerous. Unless you are going there on business it may be worth re-considering your trip....
There are flights from Vladivostok to Anchorage in Alaska and you may also be able to arrange the train back to Beijing - both costly options though.
How much does the Trans Siberian cost?
Trans Siberian trips may seem expensive at first but check what is included and you may be pleasantly surprised.
What is included in the Trans Siberian price?
Firstly, because of Russian visa regulations it is very hard to buy just the Trans Siberian ticket, therefore, most companies offer Trans Siberian packages which incorporate a night or two at the start in St Petersburg or Moscow, as well as the train ticket itself.
In addition, most Trans Siberian packages will include all your accommodation if you stop in Siberia and Mongolia, plus all your travel and most of your meals.
This leaves very little for you to actually pay for when you are travelling.
It may be useful to divide the total cost of the Trans Siberian package down per day and you may be pleasantly surprised!
Is it cheaper to travel in a group, as a couple or on my own on the Trans Siberian?
You can buy food quite cheaply on most trains in the restaurant-car.
It is also cheaper for two people to travel together on the Trans Siberian. This is because you can save on the accommodation and any transfers that are included.
If you can't entice any of your friends to head with you into Outer Mongolia you could try placing adverts in the travel magazines for example, as we get lots of enquiries from people travelling on their own.
1st or 2nd Class?
There is very little difference in standard between First and Second Class accommodation on the Trans Siberian trains.
The main difference between First and Second Class is the number of beds in the compartment and of course the price!
Second class is 4-berth, while first is only 2-berth. Travelling First Class on the Trans Siberian means you only get to share the wash room with just one other cabin whereas you have to share toilet facilities with half a train carriage in Second Class.
If you can cover the extra cost for First Class it may be worth it for security and privacy reasons if there are just two of you travelling. If you can't afford it, or you are travelling on your own, don't worry, the Trans Siberian is a very socialable train and you will probably end up making more friends in Second Class anyway.
Can I do the Trans Siberian in reverse?
Until recently it was very difficult to buy tickets for travelling westbound on the Trans Siberian (ie from Beijing to Moscow).
However, Responsible Travel can arrange west-bound trips on the Trans Siberian for you.
Can I book Trans Siberian tickets indpendently?
Because of Russian visa restrictions, it is incredibly difficult to buy Trans Siberian tickets directly from stations in Russia.
To ensure you get the most of this trip of a lifetime we recommend using an experienced Trans Siberian company to book your train tickets.
How much does it cost to extend the Trans Siberian to include more destinations?
Most people actually start their main Trans Siberian trip from St Petersburg rather than Moscow.
The main Trans Siberian stops are as follows:
The most popular stops are Irkutsk, Ulan Bator, the Altai Mountains, Ulan Ude and Ekaterinburg.
Trans Siberian visas
Almost everybody will need to arrange visas to travel on the Trans Siberian.
Your visas are the most time consuming part of your Trans Siberian trip so allow plenty of time and book early!
Russian visas can only be arranged against pre-booked accommodation documents. Most companies arrange a minimum of two nights for you in Moscow or St. Petersburg at the start or end of your Trans Siberian trip.
DO NOT OVERRUN YOUR VISAS!
Huge problems (for yourself) will arise if you do not stick to your itinerary and you could also face arrest on departure.
Mongolian and Chinese visas
The Mongolian and Chinese visas are both a little easier to arrange but still take about a working week each, minimum.
All three visas can be obtained faster through express visa processing fees at the embassies but you should really try to avoid this option as they can be as much as £80 extra for the Russian visa for example!
Where to book Trans Siberian train tickets
Because of Russian visa restrictions, 99% of people book pre-arranged itineraries when travelling on the Trans Siberian train.
Responsible Travel have detailed itineraries of the most popular Trans Siberian tickets and trips online.
Choose your Trans Siberian trip online or just order the brochure and think about it.
Booking flights into Russia and out of China
You will need an open jaw flight ticket when travelling on the Trans Siberian train.
Or book your flights with the following: