Trans-Siberian Railway

Adventure #154:
It’s time to take a train journey. A very lenghty one.
Route: Beijing to Moscow
Duration: 1 hr. 06 min. 54 sec.

Video by: Sha Hwang

More info:
The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East. With a length of 9,289 kilometres (5,772 miles), it is the longest railway line in the world.
Omsk is the capital of Omsk Oblast, Siberia, and is a regional hub for Western Siberia and the Altai mountains in Russia, as well as northern Kazakhstan.
Founded in 1716 as a fortress on the Imperial Russia’s expanding southern frontier, by 1850s Omsk grew to become the capital of Western Siberia and parts of Central Asia. The construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway in the late 1890s brought a rapid development boom, culminating in an extravagant 1910s World Fair, around the time of which Omsk acquired much of its neoclassical architectural heritage.
Novosibirsk is the capital of Novosibirsk Oblast, Siberia, Russia.
It was founded in 1893 at the future site of the Trans-Siberian Railway bridge crossing the great Siberian river Ob.


Russian Railways (Wikipedia)
Omsk (Wikivoyage)
Omsk (Wikipedia)
Novosibirsk (Wikivoyage)
Novosibirsk (Wikipedia)

A Journey Through the Trans-Siberian Railway: Impressions for Life

If you are ready for a while to give up a comfortable life with a hot shower and warm food, then on a journey along the Trans-Siberian Railway you will be rewarded with impressions for the rest of your life.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is a railway with a length of 9,289 km, which connects Moscow with Vladivostok. Transsib crosses eight time zones – to travel all the way from Moscow to Vladivostok without stops, it will take seven full days. Today it is still the longest railway in the world.
At one time the Transsib was proclaimed “the most beautiful of the crown diamonds of the Russian Empire”; even then this route thundered all over the world, attracting many travelers – and now people just want to make this trip on the train. Perhaps this is a kind of nostalgia for the glorious past, perhaps – a thirst to see with my own eyes the miracle of engineering thought, a stunning symbol of victory won by man over nature.

Clearly, however, only one thing – the Trans-Siberian Railway uniquely combines the romantic notions of travel with absolutely unmatched landscapes and unique experience; all this turns the trip into one of the main adventures in life.
To acquaint you with all the nuances of this adventure, which is difficult to refuse, we cooperated with Fib Bay, the author of the blog The Traveling Squid . She kindly shared with us her personal experience, gained during her journey along the Trans-Siberian Railway, and provided many useful tips for planning the trip.
In principle, the Transsib was built for purely practical reasons – as a tool for moving goods across Russia – but in fact it has become something more than just the road that the locomotive drives. The edge of harsh winters, Siberia is often associated with incredible beauty.
The Trans-Siberian Railway allows residents of small towns along the railway to join the life of the rest of Russia. It is a symbol of hope, and, perhaps, of a collective identity.
There are two more railway lines branched off from the Transsib; Transmanchurian highway (China Eastern Railway) and Transmongolskaya. If the Transsib passes exclusively through Russia, the Transmanchur line leads to Chinese cities such as Harbin and Changchun, and Transmongolian winds through the Mongolian border towns and then leads to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.
If you are more attracted by a dramatically changing picture outside the window – then snow-covered hills to endless plains – then go on the Transmongol route, which starts in Moscow, passes through Ulaanbaatar and then leads you to Beijing . Landscapes on the way from Russia to Mongolia, and then to China, replace one another, like scenery, so that the journey by train turns into a spectacular spectacle.

When to go and how to plan a route
Planning a trip along the Trans-Siberian Railway is an adventure in itself: there are so many things to consider. One of the resources that can be very useful is Seat 61 , where you can find detailed information and tips on how to buy tickets and plan your route.

From east to west or from west to east?
The choice of the direction of the train depends on whether you are going to stop and visit Moscow or Beijing after the end of the railway trip.
In traveling to the east, there is some romantic flair, and if you are traveling to Moscow from Europe, you can start your railway journey of the century by taking a train in one of the European cities – in order to simply move to Moscow following the Trans-Siberian route. And along the way, you are more likely to get acquainted with other travelers who, solving this dilemma, have come to the same conclusions as you.

Stops along the way
You will have two weeks on this journey if you are going to make one stop along the way, plus spend some time both in Moscow and in Beijing. We advise to stop in the middle of the road – in Irkutsk .
From there it is most convenient to go to Lake Baikal , the largest reservoir of fresh water in the world. And since you are there, try the local fish (omul), which is sold in the local markets – just caught from the lake.
Travelers are unlikely to regret if they stop in Ulaanbaatar, because one must taste the taste of nomadic life. Directly from the capital of Mongolia, you can go to the neighborhood of the city to spend the night in a Mongolian ger (a traditional portable yurt, which is a round tent covered with skins or pieces of cloth for isolation). Take with you a lot of warm things – nights there are very junior.
Another curious stop on your journey is Ulan-Ude, the capital of the autonomous republic of Buryatia, 100 km southeast of Lake Baikal. The most famous landmark of the city is a bronze monument depicting the head of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. It is believed that this is the largest monument of its kind in the whole world.
Architecture in Ulan-Ude in general is very interesting – due to the traces of Russian and Mongolian cultural influences in it.

When is it better to go
Depends on what landscapes and types of landscape you are more attracted to, but generally the most popular months are between May and August. From the train window it will be possible to examine both the sloping hills of Mongolia and the Siberian taiga. If you prefer winter, with snow, species, then go on a trip between November and February.

So, now we turn to practical recommendations

Booking tickets may not be as easy as it seems. Actually, there is no separate Trans-Siberian Express itself – there are a lot of trains making both domestic and international flights – and crossing borders with Mongolia and China.
If you plan to make many stops, it may be cheaper to buy tickets for slower domestic trains on the selected section of the route. But if you plan to spend a few days on the train, then it’s better to take the “Russia” from Moscow to Vladivostok – this is a convenient and fast train that stops only in large settlements.
Tickets will be cheaper if you buy them on the official website of the Russian Railways. Sleeper in the compartment car “Russia” on the route Moscow-Irkutsk costs from 17394 rubles. A ticket to a reserved seat car costs from 11680 r, which is quite divine, for a three-day trip. Just keep in mind that the system allows you to book seats in advance for a maximum of 60 days.
The process of booking tickets through the site of the Russian Railways may seem too confusing, and even the ticket can not be paid by all types of credit cards. In the event that you encounter unresolvable obstacles, you can contact the agency.
If you have time to spare, or you are going to make many stops along the road, then some online travel agency can help you buy the tickets you need. But keep in mind that in this case an extra charge will be required to pay 15-20% of the base price.
Website Seat 61 recommends the agency Real Russia and several other Russian agencies that carry out online ticket sales.

If you travel with a very tight belt, then everything can be covered in thousands of thirty: this is if you move a reserved seat and do not go to lunch in a dining car. This option means that you store your food on the road – well, or jump out of the car at major stops, in time to get hold of food before you hear the whistle of the departing train. About the boiling water you can not worry, it is poured directly into the car.
If you prefer to travel, enjoying some sort of privacy and comfort, you will have to pay twice as much. With such a budget, you can from time to time visit the dining car, where one dinner will cost about 1500 rubles. from the nose. Traveling in a compartment car is not an expensive pleasure, but it is very convenient and safe if you travel the four of them.

How to choose places
If you travel together, it is better to take the lower and upper shelf. On the bottom shelf usually sit in the afternoon, and from there you can look out the window. If you take only the top, then in the afternoon you will have to ask permission to sit on someone’s lower shelf. Here’s another important thing: stay away from places that are close to toilets. You know why.
One of the main reasons for which you go on trips of this kind are people you meet on the way. If you want to understand what a real Russian life is, travel a reserved seat.
If you are lucky, you will have children in the car – who on such long trips are always like a breath of fresh air. On the stretch from Mongolia to Beijing, you can meet Chinese traders returning to China from Ulaanbaatar. Agencies usually mingle foreign travelers together, which increases the chances of meeting people who are like you in the way of thinking.

To get to China, citizens of most countries, including Russia, will need a visa – you can get it directly from the Chinese Embassy in Moscow or through specialized agencies. But in Mongolia, Russian citizens do not need a visa for up to thirty days. Look at the website Real Russia site , to understand which citizens are required to what citizens.

In general, the Trans-Siberian journey is quite safe. However, we would advise traveling together and take a ticket to the compartment car with a door that can be locked from the inside – to any fireman. Passengers are in the habit of drinking alcoholic drinks on the way, but if you at any moment feel that you are annoying, do not hesitate to go to the conductor, who may transplant you into another compartment if it is free.
If you are traveling in full parade, with pockets stuffed with different smart gadgets, just keep in mind: always keep all valuables closer to the body, and during sleep in particular.

What to take to the train
The main thing that you need to take with you on the train is toilet paper and wet wipes. The point here is not only in the proper hygienic needs – it is just sometimes necessary to wipe the dust, wipe the table after eating and so on. You should definitely take your headphones and a sleeping mask with you – maybe next to you there will be a crying baby (maybe that’s it), or maybe you suddenly want to pokemarit during the day (well, everything happens in life).
The toilets are quite primitive, they also have a sink. Soap does not happen, so it’s better to go there with your own. Keep in mind that there are no shower cabins in compartment cars and second-hand cars, and here it is very convenient to use wet wipes. Yes, one more thing, keep in mind that toilets in trains are best used after stops at large stations, where they are cleaned. And most importantly – treat all this as an adventure.
In the compartment cars are given bed linen, but it is possible, for every fireman, to take a sleeping bag with him. If you are going to mess on the train on your own grubs, do not forget to bring a can opener and scissors with you to open any packages. It’s worse not when he sees an eye, but a tooth: you eat food, but you can not open it.
Of course, taking a camera with you is not the worst idea. And still take with you a flashlight, in the dark can come in handy, aipad and a good book-another – so as not to get bored on the road.

About food
On different segments of your journey, dining cars can look different. For example, in a restaurant car in the Chinese part, simple Chinese food is served – boiled rice, cabbage, celery and chicken. Some “brand” trains – such as “Russia” – offer tickets with or without “service”. “With service” means only that one or more ready meals are included in the price, and they either bring you directly in the compartment, or they can be eaten in a restaurant car. For all the other dishes you have to pay at the restaurant – or take your own food.
In the Russian dining cars, a lot of all kinds of food are served – fried potatoes, soup, dumplings. There may be snack-desserts – chocolate, potato chips, instant noodles, but this will all be much more expensive than on the street. The bar also sells beer and Russian vodka, but prices are biting, so that, perhaps, provide themselves with a supply of provisions before departure – not such a bad idea.
It is customary to take with you on a train trip various snacks, tea bags, instant noodles, rolls and, most importantly, canned food. You can not imagine how tasty food seems to be from a tin can in a train car. After all, she, albeit remotely, but recalls real food – and it’s so good to spread on bread. Do not forget to take disposable cutlery on your way – and a mug for hot tea on a cold night.

The main journey in life
From the Mongolian slopes to the snow-capped peaks of Siberia, the Trans-Siberian Railway promises a lot of all sorts of amazing things. But Transsib is a story not only about beautiful landscapes from a window. An essential part of the journey is life itself on the trip: sleep, food, reading and, it is not excluded, also dreams about a hot shower and home food.
Transsib – is, in fact, a way to smoothly press the brake pedal, rely on luck, on what’s called, maybe – somewhere a curve and take it out, you go quietly – you’ll go further. It’s a good way to get a good look at the world around you – and even think hard about yourself. Transsib is not for typical tourists and not for those who want to get to a particular place. But if you need to venture into an adventure – and at the same time you were overcome by a thirst for self-knowledge, then this is exactly the journey that you need.

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