I’m departing on my RTW in October, and was going to take the Trans Mongolian train through to China.
Now, a fellow traveler thought of an alternative, the Silk Route.
Now has anybody done either? I would really love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
If any one has done both, I would love to hear a comparison.
I look forward to hearing for you.
Hi, haven't done either, but the Silk route is my dream trip. It used to be the Transsib, but I changed my mind after spending time on Russian trains and information I got from fellow travellers.
The biggest advantage of the silk route is that there is more to see. The landscape, the people, the language change more often. You get into contact with the remains of what was once a powerful muslim empire, a totally different culture from the Russian one in what was once part of the USSR. Plus, Central Asia is one of the least travelled areas in the whole world.
For all the hype about the transsib, it is nothing but an 8 day non-stop train trip. Spending 8 days on a train can get pretty boring, even if it is a Russian train and you get to see some great scenery. The standard stops of Irkutsk and Ulan-Bator on the Transsib are nothing compared to such Silk Road gems as Buchara, Tashkent or Samarkand. Another plus is that if you get off in Urumqi, you'll see a side of China that very few travellers experience.
All in all the only downside I can personally find to travelling the Silk Route instead of the Transsib is that it requires getting visa for the Central Asian countries. These visa cost approx. 50 USD each and are a real hassle to get. After you dealt with them, visa procedure for any other country will seem easy to you.
[ Edit: Edited on Apr 16, 2007, at 4:12 PM by t_maia ]
Thanks for the reply!
I think that this looks really exciting.
I'm trying to plan it too see how it works logistically.
Do you know how I should go about organising and if there are any tools that could help me plan it?
there's a list of foreign embassies in the passport/visa section you'll need for the Central Asian countries. Besides that I'm clueless as I've never traveled Central Asia or nearby