Trans Siberian Express highlights
WHERE TO GO
From St Petersburg and Moscow to Ulaanbaatar and Beijing, when you consider that these legendary locations are often mere book ends to the real experience of travelling on the Trans Siberian Express, you know that you’ve got a really exciting adventure on your hands.
The never ending coastal scenery of Lake Baikal, staying overnight at a ger camp in Mongolia’s Terelj National Park and those unforgettable characters that you’ll inevitably meet on-board, whichever highlight sits best with you, the world’s lengthiest train ride is certain to be anything but dull.
There are untold opportunities to meet fellow passengers and although you may not share the same language you will be sharing the same hot water tap, bathroom and carriage so it’s worth getting to know each other over a brew or bowl of noodles. Card games, language exchanges and nodding and smiling, a lot, are all ways to pass the time and often provide the most memorable moments of your time away.
Ger camps & homestays
Terelj NP features lush grasslands pitted with rock formations and bordered by forests filled with birds. Traditional ger camps are in the south and present the perfect chance to horse ride or hike to mountainside monasteries before enjoying steaming bowls of Mongolian meatballs and star-abundant skies. Russian homestays, often near Lake Baikal, offer further insight into local lifestyles.
Lake Baikal is one of the Trans Siberian’s natural highlights and staying overnight in a traditional homestay helps you get even closer to the shoreline. Activities include boat rides, treks, ice skating and eating smoked fish, with the often overcrowded west coast village of Listvyanka providing the main base. In contrast, the sandier eastern shores attract fewer tourists but do take longer to reach from Irkutsk.
From the steppe grasslands that were once the preserve of Genghis Khan to the monuments, museums and monasteries of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is not only a highlight on the Trans Siberian railway it’s also the first indication that you’re leaving Siberia and heading east to Beijing. Taste the breeze as well as the dumplings before stocking up on supplies for the last leg.
The undisputed heavyweight of Mother Russia, or so Muscovites would have you believe, Moscow provides a dark, mysterious and incredibly powerful series of images that will certainly stay with you long after your train journey has reached its final destination. Red Square, the Kremlin and Lenin’s Mausoleum; prepare yourself for an itinerary of icons as well as some extremely expensive hot chocolates.
Ulan-Ude presents a more authentic alternative to Irkutsk as well as easier access to the less-touristy and sandier eastern shores of Lake Baikal. Ulan-Ude also boasts the world’s largest head of Lenin, a massive open-air museum and a Siberian baroque cathedral built within a highly seismic activity zone; well-worth exploring three and a half days from Moscow.
If you'd like to chat about the Trans Siberian Express or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Rosy & team.
01273 823 700
Trans Siberian Railway holidays advice
TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS
Olga Sitnik, co-founder of our tour suppliers ExploRussia, shares her local knowledge of Moscow.
“If a fellow passenger offers you some food make sure you take them up on the offer. Grandmas, especially, often insist grandchildren take far too much food on a long train trip so much so that they're often happy to lighten their load by offering it around the carriage.”
“Stereotypical non-smiling Russians do exist however, be aware that smiling is considered to mean that you want something which is why it rarely takes place with strangers. A few words of Russian spoken by a foreigner, especially an offer of hot tea, will unlock those smiles and break the ice over the course of a long train journey. But remember – Russia is so vast that it can often provide a cultural shock for its travelling citizens too. Don't be surprised if you ask a few questions about Siberia and are met with equal bewilderment.”
Tips on passing the time
“There’s a saying in Russia if you’re stuck for reading material: “read the classics” for example: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky or Pushkin.”
Trans Siberian Express advice from our travellers
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THOSE WHO HAVE DONE IT
At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.
We have selected some of the most useful Trans Siberian Express advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Pack light and download metro maps for St Petersburg and Moscow before leaving.” – Samantha Thomas
“Have a sense of humour, patience when things you are not use to happens, and involve yourselves in all of the activities. Make sure to bring a sink plug for the train.” – Alan Kay
“If your leader recommends somewhere really try and do it; they have done it before and if they think you would like it you probably will.” – Julia Ware
“If you are a woman then be aware that you may well get some hassle & some inappropriate proposals. I would recommend that women always stay in pairs or larger groups.” – Georgina Wright
“1. Don't forget flip-flops, eye mask and ear plugs for the train. 2. If you have back problems ask for extra bedding - this made all the difference at some of the hotels and on the train.” – Jane Cozens
“We were very surprised at how easy everything was and how good the accommodation was. The worst room we had was better than we had expected for the best. The entire trip is now fairly "mainstream" - with English understood by a large number of people with whom we interacted.” – Ian Daniels
“Take vitamins. Russian and Mongolian food is very high on stodge. Take nice face-wipes. The train toilet is awful even when it's at its best and it's the only place to wash. Be ready for extreme temperature changes from within to outside of the train.” - Jessica Dromgoole