Trans-Siberian Railway

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1. Posted by RussianDanger (Inactive 3 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

Hey travel people!

I've always had this trip in the back of my mind. I heard people saying that taking Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Beijing was the craziest experience they've had. It's a long journey, I think I'd need at least 14 days for it, which is fine with me, even if it takes longer. But I am just curious to see if any of you had done it, or if you could give me any kind of advice about it. It's also cool to start a conversation about it and share ideas of the things to see, etc.

Thank you,
RussianDanger

2. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1258 posts) 2w 1 Star this if you like it!

This Web site has all the information that you need: https://www.seat61.com/Trans-Siberian.htm

I took the Trans-Mongolian from Beijing to Moscow in 2015. This is a Chinese train all the way to Moscow and back to Beijing. Many of the passengers who boarded the train in Beijing got off in Ulan Bator. Others also left at Irkutsk for Lake Baikal. The train was largely empty after that as it rolled across the rest of Siberia to Moscow, passing wide expanses of forest. The romance of yesteryear has largely disappeared. There no longer are women selling food and other items as the train rolls into cities. But there are nearby kiosks selling an array of packaged foods.

The restaurant cars are removed and replaced as you cross each border. For example, when the train rolls into Mongolia from China, the Chinese restaurant car is replaced with a Mongolian one. When it rolls into Russia, it's replaced by a Russian one.

The Mongolian restaurant car accepts Chinese yuan and Mongolian tugrik. The Russian restaurant accepts rubles and dollars (at an exceptionally poor exchange rate). Rubles are available from ATMS at major train stations in Russia, such as Irkutsk.

If you are boarding the train in Beijing, there isn't much difference between a soft sleeper and the less expensive hard sleeper. Bedding is provided. Simply put an extra blanket under the sheet and you'll be more comfortable, a conductor told me. He indicated that passenger traffic isn't what it used to be. Most people fly these days because it's faster and cheaper.

You can also take the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Vladivostok, or the other way around. In my view, the Trans-Mongolian is more scenic, particularly as it moves from China into Mongolia.

Vladivostok was interesting. I spent a few days there before traveling to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to hike active volcanoes and watch brown bears. If you have the time, Kamchatka is worth exploring; truly amazing and spectacular.

3. Posted by RussianDanger (Inactive 3 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

Thank you for the advice @berner256! I'll check out the website and do more research about Vladivostok (as another potential route instead of Beijing).

Cheers :)

[ Edit: Edited on 06-Jan-2020, 12:33 GMT by RussianDanger ]

4. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1258 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

I know people who've done both routes; and most prefer the Trans-Mongolian.

5. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1832 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

I've also heard that it isn't the experience it once was, now that everyone is using cheap flights instead.

If the rail trip still appeals anyway, another route to research is the BAM - Baikal-Amur Mainline. Built as a strategic alternative to the TSR it runs further north away from the Chinese border. Apparently it's at risk of sinking into the bog as climate change causes permafrost to melt.

Actually a vague memory tells me it's more properly the Baikal Amur Magistral. Sorry, probably overgeeking now.

[ Edit: Edited on 06-Jan-2020, 21:03 GMT by AndyF ]

6. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1258 posts) 2w Star this if you like it!

Interesting ride:

https://eggbananatravels.com/2016/12/winter-baikal-amur-mainline/