I'm looking to visit Tomsk as a detour from the trans-Mongolian railway in October. We've been told a possible rail route is Moscow-Omsk-Taiga-Tomsk.
Just wondered if anyone knew anything about Taiga. I know the vast forest is called the taiga but presumably there is a station too. And maybe a town?
Also, while I'm here... stopping at Irkutsk too. Any advice on how long to stay there, what's good to visit?
Thanks a lot.
Hmmm.... What do you what to see? Nature, towns, russian life??
All of the above! From Irkutsk we obviously wanted to take a trip to Lake Baikal, and had planned to hang around a few days. At Taiga, the plan was to hop from one train to another unless there is actually something at Taiga, other than a station! It seems we can't buy rail tickets as we go, so need to decide this in advance.
It seems we can't buy rail tickets as we go,
Why on earth not ?!
Yes, Taiga is a town as well, though not a desperately exciting one.
We've been told a possible rail route is Moscow-Omsk-Taiga-Tomsk.
There is a direct Moscow - Tomsk train every other day. Other than that, there are a more options if you change in Novosibirsk (which also is more useful than Taiga from a waiting around point of view) from where there are also lots of buses. Also, whilst Taiga is further East than Novosibirsk and thus on the way to Irkutsk, there aren't any more connections by going there, and there are only 4 (effectively 3, as two run close together) trains a day in any case.
As for Tomsk to Irkutsk, there is a daily train between the two (though at different times during the day on alternate days). It's possibly worth noting that they are fairly high numbers so won't be the newest or fastest trains, but they will also be cheaper, and won't be much slower than the high end ones in any case.
I shouldn't have said we 'can't' by tickets as we go... it's just that the advice seemed to be to book them in advance unless you really have open-ended time. Eg from seat61.com: "...the weekly Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian trains direct from Moscow to Beijing, and the weekly Moscow-Ulan Bator train (train numbers 4, 6 & 20) usually get fully booked weeks or even a month or more in advance..."
We have 6 or 7 weeks to do a trip London-Singapore overland, and we didn't want to spend 3 of those weeks waiting at Irkutsk for a train! But if you're telling me we can buy as we go then I would be happier to do that.
Thanks for the other info. Where are you getting your timetable/train number information from? It would be useful to have a list of which trains go when, how long they take and rough cost. Otherwise I am either relying on RealRussia agents in Moscow or wait-and-see when we get there.
[ Edit: Edited on Jul 12, 2007, at 4:33 AM by sheepshank ]
Oh, the other reason why we wanted to book in advance is that the Russian visa requires either an itinerary from an agent or accommodation bookings. If that's what you need then how can you play it by ear?
Oh, the other reason why we wanted to book in advance is that the Russian visa requires either an itinerary from an agent or accommodation bookings.
Legally, you have to have all of your accom pre-booked, but (unless you are Japanese, or getting your visa through a consulate/embassy in Japan) you don't actually have to. Having the first one isn't a bad thing, but i've been numerous times without even that.
"...the weekly Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian trains direct from Moscow to Beijing, and the weekly Moscow-Ulan Bator train (train numbers 4, 6 & 20) usually get fully booked weeks or even a month or more in advance..."
This is very true. But. BUT. You can NOT get off these trains until you have left Russia anyway. They are for international journeys only. And if you are going to Irkutsk anyway, they become irrelevant. There is an extra train from Irkutsk to Ulan-Bator which leaves every other day, and is (normally) easy to book a few days (or sometimes same day) in advance.
From Ulan-Bator, there is an extra train to Beijing, though it's true that this can be hard to get tickets on as well. However, there are also 4 trains a week to Hohhot or Jining (i think - Hohhot is definite) in Inner Mongolia which are normally easy enough to get tickets on, from where there are lots of onward trains a day. And if that isn't working, you can get a train to the south of Mongolia - Saynshard (sp?), then a bus/taxi to the border (30km or so), from where you can then get a train onwards again.
Russian train info is at poezda and there is an English page (though be aware that it uses old spelling or odd transliterations, such as Pekin for Bejing. Also, Russian stations are often still called by their communist era names in all publicity, even though the names themselves have changed. eg Yekaterinberg is still called Sverdlovsk to the railways).
Chinese train info is at Travel China Guide
Hope some of that helps, and if you have problems, just holler.
Thanks Gelli. In the light of that we're looking at booking the trip to Tomsk to get us started, then feel our way as we go. We might get back to you with more questions...