Solo women Trans Siberian Railway

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1. Posted by STACEY929292 (Budding Member 2 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Hi all,

I'm hoping to get any advice from anyone who has made the journey on the transiberian railway.

I'm 28 lesbian Woman from England; I do have a partner however she will not be doing this journey with me. I will be going Solo.

Starting out in St Petersburg then onto Moscow to begin the journey through to Beijing. This will be over the space of around 3 weeks.

My question was surrounding safety. I know to keep my sexuality and relationship to myself however; I wouldn't say I looked heterosexual will appearances be an issue?

My second concern is Facebook. I have it on private but if heard that I should get VPN to protect my internet browser etc. If someone had access to my Facebook they would be able to see my relationship etc. If also been told that authorities can and sometimes do take your mobile phones off you. Is this true/likely?

Finally I just wanted to see if there were any other safety concerns for a solo travelling women in general outside of common sense like I would anywhere I go.

And also just any tips in general for when I do go would be great.

Thank you all,
Stacey

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2372 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Hi Stacey

I've travelled in Russia a little, and on their sleeper trains.

I wouldn't be too concerned about homophobic hassle in your situation. As far as I know it mostly manifests as hassle and abuse to men showing affection to one another. I'm not sure the idea of homosexuality among women is even on their radar, so I hope you should be fine.

I've not heard of the Russian authorities taking phones.

I've not travelled as a woman so I can't say for certain how a solo woman would be treated, but my impression is that Russia isn't the problem the Arab world can be. I recall seeing Russian women frequently around on their own, many of them glammed up. This part of the world is usually pretty good on personal safety. Although there are often drunks around.

My biggest concern would be people stealing your things whilst you are sleeping, and having no-one to keep an eye on your things when you visit the toilet.

Sounds like a good trip. I gather the trains aren't quite the melting-pot experience they once were, due to cheap flights. Do you speak much Russian?

3. Posted by STACEY929292 (Budding Member 2 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Hi thank you for your response.

I speak No Russian but I will be learning basic conversational Russian prior to the trip.

If also heard that the trans siberian isn't what it once was and I am wondering if it is worth it or if I should fly instead. The Trans Siberian is something iv wanted to do since the age of 16 but if it's not what it once was I'm wondering if it's worth it or if my money is better spent differently.

For example it used to be popular with backpackers etc however; I don't know if that's the case.

The trip isn't planned until 2023 so I'm trying to find as much info as possible to decide

Thanks again
Stacey

4. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2372 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Personally I think the experience on the train won't be as good as it had the reputation for being. But the stops along the way will be every bit as good.

I know lots of people just ride it without stopping. That sounds boring to me, but then I'm fascinated by a bit of post-Soviet dilapidation so it's the cities that appeal! :)

I found that a little study made a huge difference. Just a knowledge of Cyrillic brings all the signage into focus.

5. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1519 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

If you're traveling between Beijing and Moscow, you'll be taking the Trans-Mongolian, not the Trans-Siberian. The latter connects Vladivostok and Moscow. The Trans-Mongolian is operated with a Chinese staff both ways. I traveled on the Trans-Mongolian in 2018 from Beijing to Moscow, preferring to ride all the way without getting off, except to buy food and get Russian currency from ATMs at certain stations. The largest percentage of passengers who boarded in Beijing left the train in Ulan Bator. The next largest number was for the stop near Lake Baikal.

The Trans-Mongolian isn't crowded and is past its heyday. I asked a conductor why. He pointed to the sky. It's quicker and cheaper to fly. The Chinese staff the sleeping cars. But a new dining car is attached as the train enters each new country. When the train crosses into Mongolia, the Chinese dining car is replaced by a Mongolian one; and when the train enters Russia, the Mongolian dining car is replaced by a Russian one. Beware: You'll encounter a horrible U.S. dollar exchange rate in the Russian dining car. It's better to use ATMs at the larger stations to get rubles. Please also note the Mongolian tugrik is accepted only in Mongolia. A few passengers exchanged quite a bit of dollars into tugrik, only to discover the currency isn't accepted in Russia and elsewhere. On the Russian dining car each ingredient is measured. If you're used to a hearty meal, you'll need to supplement with your own food stash.

Because of the drop in popularity, there aren't women peddling food and other wares on the station platforms. However, there are kiosks that you can buy a variety of things.

This Web site has useful information: https://www.seat61.com/

If my experience is any guide, you're not likely to encounter security issues while on the train. The conductors are on watch all the time. A solo woman from Japan was in my carriage. After Ulan Bator, I had an entire compartment to myself all the way to Moscow. Also in my carriage was a young couple from Sweden; and a man from the U.K. returning home. He had traveled overland from Singapore to Beijing to catch the Trans-Mongolian. He frequently travels the route (he hates flying) and also has taken the Trans-Siberian. He prefers the Trans-Mongolian for its friendly and helpful staff.

There is a steady supply of hot water from machines in each carriage, so you'll have no problem making tea, coffee and instant noodles anytime you want. The Chinese market "soft sleeper" and "hard sleeper" accommodations. A conductor says choose "soft sleeper." An extra blanket under the sheet turns a "hard sleeper" into a "soft sleeper."

Hope this helps.

6. Posted by noemiea28 (Budding Member 2 posts) 1w Star this if you like it!

Hi Stacey, I've travelled in Russia for many months the past years, always by myself & even to some remote places. If there's one country I'd recommend for a solo female tourist (even one without much experience), it's Russia. You have nothing to worry about.

Few tips :
- Travel in Platskart, the 3rd class on the train, it's all open and trust me the babushka sleeping on the bunk bed next to yours will step up if a man tries to mess up with you. Also the person working in the carriage is often a woman.
- Buy your tickets on the official website https://eng.rzd.ru/en - make sure to print it out & don't select the insurrance, it's pointless and more expensive.
- the police won't check your phone. Unless you've traveled to central asian countries and have stamps, they shouldn't be suspicious with you.
- Don't bribe the police even if one young cop is annoying & asking for money ... speak louder in English, tell him to call someone else, or just to f*ck off and leave. It's that simple. It only happened to me once. And honeslty, it's unlikely to happen.

I'd also highly recommend to make it to Vladivostock but 3 weeks is very short ...

Let me know if you need recommendations on stops to make on the way !