I'm planning on traveling from Singapore back to the UK, via The Trans Mongolian Railway, at some point next year.
The route would be Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand (i've travelled these countries by rail a few times so am comfortable with that part of the journey) then on to Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Russia, Europe and home.
Has any one ever done the whole or part of this route before?
Could you tell me about your experience, prices, ease of booking tickets independently, Visas etc.
I'm going to be picking up the Trans-Siberian Guide by Bryn Thomas as I've heard good things about it.
Any help you could give me would be much appreciated.
Hi, I couldn't help but notice your post as I am currently doing the same trip in the opposite direction! At the moment I'm in Laos wondering where to go next. It's pouring with rain here, hence me sitting in front of a computer.
General thoughts that have just come to me:
Booking tickets independently has been very easy. Russia being the most difficult as station staff have been almost without exception grumpy, rude and comically unhelpful (the opposite of what Russians seem to be like outside of their workplace). But it was still easy enough with a bit of writing down beforehand.
Take a big mug on the trains so you can make tea and also use it for instant noodles/eating out of.
Go to the loo before the border crossings as they shut the toilets and they may not let you off the train, and the wait can be 5+ hours!
Tomsk was a lovely town, and the highlight of Russia was (predictably) Lake Baikal, specifically Olkhon Island - worth the detour I would say.
I only did one day trip out of Ulaan Baatar to the Terelj National Park. More time would have been much better, and I heard that the West part of the country was a more worthwhile trip. Lots of people headed for the Gobi desert which (they said) took forever to reach and there was not much there when they arrived. I can confirm this from the train window! But I'm sure others will have more of a clue than me.
I loved China, where people's friendliness was a real treat - could have stayed longer, but the total time available for the whole trip is 8 weeks. The sleeper in China was great. One word of attempted Mandarin sent all and sundry into hysterics.
Erm that's all I can think of at the moment.
Check out this thread, Trans-Siberian, which I posted a reply in recently that will help. I'd suggest also checking out The Man in Seat 61, who has some excellent advice on the train. The Trans-Siberian page in the travel guide here has some knowledge from members of the board that's worth checking out. I'll also plug my own little trip report Travel from Paris to Hong Kong via rail.