The Trans Siberian train route

The Trans Siberian train route

The Trans-Siberian railway is undoubtedly one of the most famous and iconic railway journey in the world. This railroad is prominent for its greatest train routes in the world.

Trans-Siberian railway is the name given to the rail routes that span Siberia, Mongolia and China from Moscow. With changing trains, the three longest train routes all cover the Trans-Siberian route. It is a continuous journey and includes three principal routes with multiple train services: The three routes are:

  • Trans-Siberian
  • Trans-Mongolia
  • Trans-Manchurian

Embarking on a Trans-Siberian railway journey is one of the greatest adventures to undertake. It spans two continents, eight different time zones, six federal states, sixteen major rivers, and hundreds of cities.

The Trans-Siberian railway

The Trans-Siberian railway

All Trans-Siberian trains depart from Moscow’s Yaroslavsky station. They further split into three different routes depending on their course. You can select the preferred route based on what you want to see and experience.

Moscow – Vladivostok

The proper Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostok is the original Siberian express route. The route stretches at 9,258 km or 6,152 miles and takes approximately seven days to complete the rail journey.

It is also one of the longest and classic out of the three Trans-Siberian railway routes. The train journey crosses the entire territory of Russia to Vladivostok, situated above northeastern China.

The stunning Lake Baikal in Southern Siberia

The stunning Lake Baikal in Southern Siberia

Since it does not cover Mongolia or China, this route only offers Siberian landscapes, unlike the other two rail lines. However, its desirable location makes it interesting as you can change trains at Vladivostok and head to Beijing or Japan which is just a ferry ride away.

Highlights of Moscow-Vladivostok route:

Connecting Moscow to the far east, the Moscow-Vladivostok route offers awe-inspiring landscapes in between the journey. Starting at the bustling city of Moscow, you can witness cities like the picturesque Kazan, Novosibirsk, and the traditional Vladivostok along the way. The most famous attraction is Lake Baikal, the oldest yet largest freshwater lake on Earth. It is one of the most highly anticipated spots on the rail journey.


The Trans-Mongolian is the shortest out of the three Trans-Siberian routes. Covering 7,621 km or 4,735 miles, it runs from Moscow and ends in Beijing.

During the journey, the train makes its way across Mongolia, crossing three countries. It follows the Trans Mongolian route till Ulan-Ude till the course splits off and travels the Trans-Mongolian line. This means your train journey starts from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar and then continues from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing.

A train passes through beautiful Mongolian landscapes

A train passes through beautiful Mongolian landscapes

This route offers the most varied landscapes as it travels through remote villages, endless forests, and faraway mountains. The Trans-Mongolian route also traverses through the Gobi Desert and the Great wall of China.

Once you reach the border of Mongolia and China respectively, the immigration process takes place and the rail bogies are changed.

Highlights of Trans-Mongolian route:

Along with the Gobi Desert, the Great Wall, and Lake Baikal, the journey covers extensive terrain between Moscow and Beijing. The prominent Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, is an exciting destination to observe. During the train expedition, you are met with the diverse Siberian Taiga and the traditional Mongolian culture, before entering the urban landscapes of Beijing.


Finally, the Trans-Manchurian line runs only once a week and travels from Moscow to Beijing via Manchuria. This route covers 8,986 km or 5,623 miles and skips the Mongolian desert. The route crosses only one border which is between Russia and China.

Harbin lights up during the snow and ice festival at night

Harbin lights up during the snow and ice festival at night

The Trans-Manchurian train journey can be completed directly in over 6 days. This route is perfect for traveling in the winter as travelers have the opportunity to enjoy the Harbin snow and ice festival.

Highlights of Trans-Manchurian route:

The Trans-Manchurian route has stops in cities like Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, and more. It also covers rugged landscapes as well as scenic vistas of Europe and Asia. But the most sought-after attraction in the Trans- Manchurian line is the beautiful Harbin city in the winter. It is home to the world’s biggest ice festival. Here, you can witness magnificent ice sculptures and lanterns shows as well as dazzling light shows at night.

Riding the Trans-Siberian railway

The Trans-Siberian railway is the backbone of the Russian rail network. It also serves as an important connection between Asian and European railway networks. This rail network is the most traveled in the world as it helps along with Russia’s oil transportation.

Along the whole route, the population will largely make up of ethically Russians. However, as the train crosses borders, you will come across various Asian ethnic groups. This journey allows you to interact with locals, and learn about various cultures, especially the Russian.

Additional tips to keep in mind while traveling the Trans-Siberian

The Trans-Siberian journey stands apart from the rest of the mainstream trips. It involves thorough planning as it comes along with challenges and quirks. Here are some additional yet essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Plan an itinerary and include cities that you want to experience and fulfill your interests.
  • The restaurant cars inside the trains don’t serve snacks. It is recommended to stock up on food in advance, especially if you have dietary restrictions. The tiny platform kiosk at every train stop offers various food items. Moreover, you can buy instant coffee or noodles which can be cooked on a samovar or coal-fired boiler equipped in every train carriage.
  • Carry several packs of wet wipes and tissues for personal hygiene.
  • Wear or bring along comfortable shoes or flip flops
  • Aside from the scenic views keeping you company, the long hours on the train can become more enjoyable by bringing books or mini board games. For instance, a deck of cards or other popular games are not only entertaining but can also help you socialize with fellow travelers.
  • For your laptops, tablets, and other electronic gadgets, carry an extender with surge protection to charge your equipment from the train outlets. In Russia, Mongolia, and China, the standard voltage is 220V, 50 Hz AC. You can pack a worldwide travel adapter that fits every socket.
  • Although traveling the Trans-Siberian railway is safe, keep your valuables such as money and documentations secured.

The Trans- Siberian railway offers the most exhilarating train rides that cannot be experienced elsewhere. Covering several attractions and stunning vistas, this journey must be on every enthusiastic traveler’s bucket list.


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