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Solo travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway - Safe?

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1. Posted by Dean685 (Budding Member 4 posts) 15w Star this if you like it!

Hi all

I'm planning to travel from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia on the Trans-Siberian Railway later this year. My friend is planning to come with me too, but there's a strong chance it'll be just me going it alone.

I just wondered about safety as I've heard a few stories. I'm a 26 year old male, independent and relatively streetwise - what are your thoughts on doing this journey alone?

All replies are much appreciated.

Dean

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Mar-2017, at 11:26 by Dean685 ]

2. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 766 posts) 15w 1 Star this if you like it!

You'll have no problems traveling on the Trans-Mongolian. I traveled alone; and had a compartment all to myself from Ulan Bator onward. In my carriage was a single woman from Japan; a young couple from Sweden; and a man from the U.K. That's it.

Here is my review on TripAdvisor in 2015:

Much of the information you read online is outdated. There should be no problem getting tickets through the various travel agencies since there likely will be plenty of berths available. Some agents will candidly admit that traffic has declined over the years. Train conductors cite air travel. I took train K3 on May 27 from Beijing; and went all the way to Moscow, arriving June 1. The carriages had few passengers. Many of those who got on in Beijing got off in Ulan-Bator; and a few others got off in Irkutsk for Lake Baikal. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Meals purchased onboard have small portions, particularly the Russian dining car, where every key ingredient is weighed in grams. If you don't get rubles at ATMs at some stations (such as Irkutsk and Malinsk), the dining car will use the pre-Ukraine crisis exchange rate of 35 rubles to the US$ vs. about 50 currently. So the meals will be more expensive as they already are. The exchange rate on the Mongolian dining car (from yuan to tughrik) also is unfavorable. Unless you are getting off in Mongolia, don't get any tughrik as they will not be accepted in Russia. The supermarket in the basement of the Henderson Shopping Center, across from the Beijing Railway Station (below the Howard Johnson Paragon Hotel), has everything you need at great prices. Besides a wide-selection of food, it sells a variety of things that will help ease your trip, including wet wipes that will keep you refreshed. If you forget something, there are kiosks that sell food and other items at most stations. Forget about seeing ladies selling food on the platforms. Those largely are of a bygone era. The trains are punctual, clean and comfortable. If you paid for a "hard sleeper," a conductor suggests putting one of the blankets under the sheet for extra cushioning. The Chinese conductors, who go all the way from Beijing to Moscow, are eager to please. They're great. I've taken train trips all over the world; and this one is definitely one of the best.

Post 3 was removed by a moderator
4. Posted by ADAMYAMEY (Respected Member 37 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

Sounds like a great idea, although I have never done it myself!

5. Posted by Ed_P (Budding Member 14 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

I would love to do something like this...I am sure you will have absolutely no issues at all as long as you keep your wits about you. Enjoy! :)

6. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 766 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

Dean685 wondered about safety but gave no details of the "few stories" he's heard.

There is a thriller movie, "Transsiberian." Rest assured the journey is nothing like that.

If you don't know already, a conductor lives in each carriage. And he's around virtually all the time, even when the train stops en route. If you get off, he's there standing next to the carriage entrance when you get back on.

As with anywhere you travel, it's important to keep your wits about you; and to be observant.

7. Posted by Dean685 (Budding Member 4 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

Thanks for your replies, and the patronising most recent response!

I had heard about criminals holding up trains, roaming carriages etc. Im sure this would be extremely rare but Russian is quite the unknown so I just don't know!

Either way I will be doing this, a country im fascinated with.

8. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 766 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

Sorry, I didn't mean to be patronizing. Profuse apologies if I offended.

It would be great if you could share any reports you have of criminals holding up trains and roaming carriages on trains in Russia, Mongolia and China. I hadn't heard those reports before. I've traveled on trains throughout the world and have not had those kinds of experiences, although there was smuggling on the rails between Hungary and Ukraine; and pickpocket attempts in Krakow, Poland; and on the train from Aswan to Luxor in Egypt.

I'm glad you've decided to make the trip. You'll have a grand time.

P.S. I'm making an encore trip to Russia in August and September. I'll be in Moscow, Vladivostok and the Kamchatka peninsula.

9. Posted by Dean685 (Budding Member 4 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

No worries at all, might have just been the way I read the message!

What I've heard might be hearsay, it was a family friend who had heard stories of the mafia holding up and looting trains and advised me to look more into the Trans-Siberian.

That sounds fantastic going all the way to the far east of Russia, I'd like to go there too as it really it the unknown out there.

10. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 766 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

Thanks, Dean.

If you're going from Moscow to Beijing, it's the Trans-Mongolian instead of the Trans-Siberian.

This Web site has a lot of useful information: http://www.seat61.com/

If you live in the U.S., there is an office of China International Travel Service in Pasadena, Calif., where I bought my Trans-Mongolian ticket. CITS is government owned. I picked up the ticket in the CITS office in Beijing.

http://www.citsusa.com/traintix.php

The Web site will give you an idea of current ticket prices.

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