The Trans-Siberian Railway is undoubtedly one of the most famous and iconic railway journeys in the world. This railroad is prominent for having the best train routes in the world.
The 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 were all over the Trans-Siberian route. It is a continuous journey and includes three principal routes with multiple train services: The three routes are:
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.
All Trans-Siberian trains depart from Moscow’s Yaroslavsky station. They further split into three different routes, depending on their course. You can select your preferred route based on what you want to see and experience.
The proper Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostok is the original Siberian Express route. The route stretches for 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 most classic of the three Trans-Siberian railway routes. The train journey crosses the entire territory of Russia to Vladivostok, situated above northeastern China.
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 are just a ferry ride away.
Highlights of the Moscow-Vladivostok route:
Connecting Moscow to the far east, the Moscow-Vladivostok route offers awe-inspiring landscapes in between the journeys Starting in 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 and largest freshwater lake on Earth. It is one of the most highly anticipated spots on the rail journey.
The Trans-Mongolian is the shortest of the three Trans-Siberian routes. Covering 7,621 km (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 to Ulan-Ude, where 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.
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 borders of Mongolia and China, respectively, the immigration process takes place and the rail bogies are changed.
Highlights of the 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.
The Trans-Manchurian train journey can be completed directly in over 6 days. This route is perfect for travelling in the winter, as travellers have the opportunity to enjoy the Harbin Snow and Ice Festival.
Highlights of the 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 in Europe and Asia. But the most sought-after attraction on 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 lantern 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 travelled in the world, as it helps with Russia’s oil transportation.
Along the whole route, the population will be largely made up of ethical 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 Russians.
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 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 that fulfil 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 socialise with fellow travellers.
- 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 220 V, 50 Hz AC. You can pack a worldwide travel adapter that fits every socket.
- Although travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway is safe, keep your valuables, such as money and documentation, secured.
The Trans-Siberian Railway provides unparalleled train rides that you can’t experience anywhere else. Covering several attractions and stunning vistas, this journey must be on every enthusiastic traveler’s bucket list.
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