Firstly, I apologise for coming on here looking for advice having not contributed first. Together with my girlfriend, I am planning a trip this summer through the Baltics into Russia, across the trans-mongolian, and around China. We have about 5 months in total, from early April to early September. This will be our first such long trip. I've come up with the following rough itinerary and would welcome any comments/suggestions from anyone with previous experience:
1. Fly from Manchester to Berlin. Two or three days there, so my (German) girlfriend can see her family, friends etc.
2. Train from Berlin to Warsaw. Not sure how long to spend there or whether to visit Krakow or not.
3. Train (or bus?) from Warsaw to Vilnius. 2-4 nights in Vilnius or the surrounding area.
4. Bus from Vilnius to Riga. 2-4 nights in Riga or the surrounding area.
5. Bus from Riga to Tallinn. 2-4 nights in Tallinn or the surrounding area (as you can see I’m not sure whether one of the Baltic states deserves more time than the others).
6. Bus from Tallinn to St Petersburg. 5-7 nights in St Petersburg.
7. Train from St Petersburg to Moscow. 5-7 nights in Moscow.
8. Start Trans-Mongolian journey. This should be early/mid-May. We are intending to buy tickets for the trans-mongolian on the go. At the moment I’m not sure where we’ll stop off, but we have allocated around 6 weeks for the journey (I realize this will require a 3 month business visa). We’d definitely like to spend quite a bit of time at Lake Baikal and Ulan Bator (and the surrounding area), but apart from that any suggestions are welcomed.
9. Arrive in Beijing (roughly end of June). Then we will have about 2 months in China, probably flying back to England from Hong Kong. Haven’t worked out this part of the trip yet but as the visa situation seems easier in China than Russia I’m concentrating on the Russian side of things first.
Any comments/suggestions to the above would be gratefully received. I’m also trying to get an idea of the cost. I know it’s hard to estimate but if anyone who’s done a similar trip could suggest the absolute minimum cost for something like this, I’d be very grateful.
As an aside, we were originally thinking of taking the trans-siberian (instead of the trans-mongolian) to Vladivostok, then a ferry to Japan, travelling down Japan then taking a ferry to Shanghai, then carrying on the trip around China. But I fear this might be considerably more expensive – would it be worth the extra expense?
Thanks in advance for any comments,
I'm unclear, and maybe I'm just not reading your message correctly. I know you're concerned on whether THAT would be more expensive (toward the end of your trip). But what is "THAT"? I mean taking the ferry around and going around China, compared to WHAT? Going home? Home would be cheaper, obviously.
But to answer your question directly, I think the ferry from Vladivostok sounds great. Do it. You'll be glad you did. It's probably cheaper than flying, but if you can spend the time, then avoid flying. You can't see much from 50,000 feet. If you don't need to rush back, then stay as long as you can. You'll be glad you did, and it would be cheaper while you're there rather than regretting those things you missed later and having to come back to see them.
While we're on the subject (kinda'), what can you tell me about the Trans-Siberian / Mongolian trip? I'm putting together at trip that will take me across the same route. But while on it - will I have the option of getting off the train and staying over at a stop for a day or two and then catching the next train? Or once I'm on, do I have to take the whole ride at once? AND, it is running all year, right?
Thanks for the reply. What I meant was that we have two options: (a) take the trans-siberian to vladivostok, sail to japan, travel down japan, sail to shanghai then travel round china, or (b) take the trans-mongolian to beijing then travel round china. I imagine (a) would be more expensive, and we would miss mongolia, but i'm wondering whether it would be worth it to see japan.
To answer your question, I've never travelled on the trans-siberian/mongolian, and only know what I've read in guidebooks etc, which is that you can break the journey up by buying invidual tickets at each station, and I think it operates all year round.
I've been considering Japan and Vladivostok in summer (July / August 2005). I'm interested in whatever you can find out about the ferry service between these two places.
I think you should go with option "A". I think you'd regret bypassing Japan.
But what direction do you take when you're finished? Personally, I'd think about the train into Beijing, around China for a bit and then over to Japan. I know that would be expensive, but since you're in the area... And there are always ways to skimp on costs and keep them down.
Hi, ref ur warsaw and krakow bit, i went to both last summer and i would def reccommend Krakow, even at the expense of warsaw if necessary. Krakow is lovely, and there are a couple of day trips worth taking, one to the salt mines which was cool and the other to auswitsch which was really eerrie. Warsaw to me felt too much like home and whilst there was a fair amount to do, i would much rather return to Krakow.
One thought for you if you want to do japan and mongolia is doing the Vladivostock and then Japan trip, but instead of then going direct to Shanghai on the boat, just go from japan to Korea (lots of ferries) and then from Korea to Beijing.
That way you don't back track around China so much, and from Beijing or Northern China, Mongolia is a - relatively - easy side trip that could be made, before heading down through China to Hong Kong as already planned. That way you don't miss out on Vladivostock or Japan whilst doing it, and can also get a taster of a few days/week in Korea. And as a final note, because Mongolia is then a side trip, if you find you've spent more time than you'd planned to that point, it can be dropped relatively easily.
First let me suggest goin to Krakow. Much better than Warsaw
I have also have a few questions related to this topic.
After 10 months in the UK, im headin back to America the long way - Lithuania, Moscow - Beijing - LA - Boston, in June.
Is it possible to get a VISA to Russia and China in the UK if Im a US citizen? I recall in Vilnius a dodgy side alley place offering Russian visas but has anyone experience this?
The Trans-Mucherian - we want to do the 'get-off get-on' - do we just buy point-to-point tickets as we go or is there a package deal u can get in Moscow?
And we have about 3 weeks to cover this ground (mainly Russia / Mongolia, China) is 1500 US a reasonable amount to bring for this part of the trip?