Trans Siberian Railway Trains, Map and Tickets Cost

Trans siberian railway facts.

Map of the Trans-Siberian railway

Trans Siberian Railway Map

Buying Trans Siberian Tickets

Trans-mongolian trains: moscow - ulan-bataar - beijing, trans-manchurian trains: moscow - kharbin - beijing,   trans-siberian trains: route moscow - vladivostok.

Other trains to Vladivostok: you might be interested in these other trains  as well, however, they don't go as far as Vladivostok, stopping in Khabarovsk, which is 13 hours away from Vladivostok (you can change a train there). These trains are cheaper than the direct Moscow - Vladivostok train, however. If you're lucky, you could get from Moscow to Vladivostok for about €170 one way.     Train: #044. Moscow - Khabarovsk Departs: Moscow, Yaroslavsky station [on even dates at 0.35] Passes: Khabarovsk [6 d 2 h 30 mins later, at 4.54] Route: ( goes thru Yaroslavl , joining the "classic" Trans-Siberian just before Kirov) Moscow [0h, at 0.35] - Yaroslavl [4 h 5 mins, at 4.48, stops for 5 mins] - Kostroma [6 h 17 mins, at 7.00, stops for 25 mins] - Kirov [18 h 6 mins, at 18.49, stops for 20 mins] - Perm - Ekaterinburg [1 d 8 h 46 mins, at 9.29, stops for 24 mins] - Tyumen - Omsk - Novosibirsk [2 d 6 h 3 mins, at 6.46, stops for 37 mins] - Krasnoyarsk [2 d 19 h 17 mins, at 20.00, stops for 20 mins] - Taishet - Angarsk - Irkutsk [3 d 14 h 11 mins, at 14.54, stops for 23 mins - change here for trains to Mongolia and China ] - Ulan-Ude [3 d 21h 55 mins, at 22.38, stops for 23 mins] - Chita [4 d 7 h 39 mins, at 8.22, stops for 21 mins] - Skovorodino - Birobidzhan - Khabarovsk [5 d 15 h 36 mins later, at 8.52]. (see the route description ) Price:  2nd class - €150-€300, 3rd class (platzcart) - €120  

Trans-Siberian trains: Moscow - Ulan-Ude

Trains-siberian trains: moscow - irkutsk, trans-siberian trains: moscow - novosibirsk, how to buy a russian train ticket.

  • Trans-Siberian Railway: Best Cities to Visit
  • Trans-Siberian Railway History and Facts

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How to Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberia Railway in Russia crossing the steppe

I’ve always wanted to travel on the Trans-Siberian railway. It seems like an amazing adventure that literally spans the width of an entire continent. Until I make the journey myself, Katie Aune is here to share her experiences on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

In this guest post, Katie shares everything you need to know for the journey. She is a frequent traveler to Russia and knows this journey well. She’s here to share her wisdom with you to help you make the most out of your trip across Russia!

The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the most famous train journeys in the world. For me, it was the highlight of the three months I spent in Russia. I traveled in reverse, going from Vladivostok to Moscow (most people start in Moscow) and went slowly, taking nearly a month to complete the journey and stopping in five cities along the way.

In this post, I’ll go over everything you need to know to plan your trip. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

  • Planning Your Route
  • Booking Your Tickets
  • How Much Should You Budget?

What to Expect on the Train

Step one: planning your route.

The traditional Trans-Siberian route stretches 9,288 kilometers between Moscow and Vladivostok. Two variations are also popular: the Trans-Mongolian (between Moscow and Beijing via Mongolia) and the Trans-Manchurian (between Moscow and Beijing, bypassing Mongolia). All three routes take 6–7 days if going non-stop.

Most travelers start their journeys in Moscow and go east. If you are anxious to interact with locals or improve your Russian skills, consider starting in Vladivostok or Beijing and heading west. You will likely encounter fewer tourists and more locals who are simply taking the train as a means of transportation, not as an adventure.

Beijing is probably a more attractive bookend to the journey than Vladivostok and likely provides easier onward connections — the best options from Vladivostok are to either fly back to Moscow (about $250 USD) or take a ferry to Japan or South Korea ($400 USD and up).

Chances are you will need to get a visa to travel to Russia, Mongolia, and China , so that may factor into which route makes the most sense for you. Rules vary by nationality, so I encourage you to visit the consulate website for your home country several months in advance to learn what is required.

Where to Stop Along the Way?

Unless you love the idea of spending a week straight on a train, I recommend making a couple of stops along the way. One of the best things about the Trans-Siberian is the opportunity it affords you to see more of Russia than just Moscow and/or St. Petersburg. The most interesting people I met and the best experiences I had along the way came not on the train, but during my stops, which included the following:

One of the traditional religious buildings in Kazan, Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Kazan’s Kremlin is a UNESCO World Heritage site and in my opinion, has much more character than the Kremlin in Moscow. A large mosque dominates the scene, the main drag is lined with pine trees, and vendors gather along the Kremlin walls, selling mostly Islamic and Tatar-themed souvenirs. I spent several hours there, including a visit to the Museum of Islam, the Russian Orthodox church, and the natural history museum.

Yekaterinburg, Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Now considered holy ground, seven chapels have been constructed on the site, one for each member of the royal family. I was most touched by a photo display showing the family in their daily lives — it really personalized the tragedy of their deaths.

The green hills and rocky mountains of the Stobly Nature Reserve in Russia

My guide, Vitaly, provided sometimes inappropriate stories about the rocks, a much-needed hand as we climbed a few for incredible views, and some cognac for warmth before we started!

 The amazing Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, in Irkutsk, Russia

If you have at least 3 days, Olkhon Island, the largest island in the lake, is a must-see. Its main town, Khuzhir, takes you back decades, with sandy dirt roads and cows roaming the streets. The ride there is half the fun — I shared the six-hour marshrutka (mini-van) trip to the island with a cute Belgian couple, a couple of babushkas, and a large Russian man chugging vodka out of a bottle stashed in his jacket pocket.

Once in Khuzhir, the couple and I split the cost of hiring a van and driver to take us around the island for an afternoon. Dipping my hand in the near-frozen lake, sliding on the ice that formed on its shores, and playing in the fresh snow on the north end of the island provided some of my best memories from my entire time in Russia.

A colorful Buddhist temple in Ulan Ude, Russia

Ulan Ude is also a center of Buddhism in Russia. I hired a guide (about $12 USD/hour) to accompany me to the Buddhist monastery in Ivolga, about 40 minutes outside of the city. She taught me the basics of Buddhism and, being a Buryat, she gave me insight into their culture. It was well worth the price!  

Step Two: Booking Your Tickets

If you are on a tight schedule, it makes sense to book your tickets ahead of time. Tickets can be issued up to 45 days in advance and many travel agencies can do this for you. I used Real Russia and highly recommend them — they can also help with obtaining a letter of invitation for visa purposes. It is also possible to book online yourself at www.poezda.net if you can read a little Russian.

For more flexible travelers, you can purchase your tickets at the stations as you go along. However, be prepared for the possibility that the train you want may already be sold out, and don’t be surprised if none of the cashiers speak any English. And schedules posted at the stations will be on Moscow, not local, time.

Most trains offer three classes of sleeper service:  spalny vagon (1st class), kupe (2nd class), and platskartny (3rd class). Spalny vagon compartments have just two berths, with both beds at the lower level. Kupe are four-berth compartments consisting of two upper and two lower bunks. Finally, platskartny are open six-berth compartments with both upper and lower bunks.

Both spalny vagon and kupe have doors that lock, while platskartny compartments are open — this makes third class a little more social, but a little less secure.  

Step Three: How Much Should You Budget?

How much you spend on your train journey will depend on all of the factors mentioned above, but I would say around $1,000 for tickets, accommodations, and food is a good starting point.

For example, booking through Real Russia, a kupe ticket from Moscow to Vladivostok might run about $900, while platskartny would be less than half, at just $360. On the other hand, splurging on first-class would cost you nearly $1,800. Prices for the nonstop trip to Beijing are similar. You can save up to 33% by taking one of the lower-quality passenger trains instead of the cosmetically nicer firmenny  trains.

Note that breaking up the journey into separate legs may add some additional cost to your trip. For example, making stops in both Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk en route to Vladivostok would increase the total to $1,130 for kupe .

Price can also vary by day and time of departure, so if you are on a tight budget, be sure to play around with the schedules and note that not all types of trains are available on all routes or run on all days. Russian Railways offered a sale this fall that offered up to 50% off fares booked at least 30 days in advance but also imposed a 5% penalty on tickets purchased less than 10 days before departure. Keep an eye out for similar deals in the future.

When I boarded my first train, I felt a bit lost. Everyone around me seemed to have their routines down, from the clothes they changed into and the food they neatly set out on the small table, to the way they effortlessly made up their bed. I just tried to watch and follow their lead, and by the time I departed on my second leg, I felt like an old pro.

Toilets Each carriage has a toilet on each end, and they will be locked shortly before, during, and shortly after most station stops (and border crossings if you’re heading into China or Mongolia). The toilet doors usually have a schedule showing these closures. Despite my fears, they were kept quite clean and well stocked with toilet paper (though this is not always the case, so be prepared with your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer).

Food and water: You will find a samovar with boiling water on one end of the car, usually opposite the attendant’s compartment. If you bring your own water bottle, you can also refill it with drinkable water from the attendant. While food is available for purchase in the dining car and from vendors roaming the halls, it can be overpriced and the selection may be limited. You may be better off bringing your own provisions, especially for a multi-day journey.

Electronics: Outlets for charging cell phones and the like are available in the hallways, though some of the newer cars have their own plugs. Most carriages have fold-down seats so you can sit with your device as it charges, although it was not uncommon for people to leave theirs hanging unattended.

During my time on the train, I shared my kupe compartment with Russians ranging from businessmen and babushkas to members of a girls’ volleyball team. Some of my “roommates” boarded and went straight to sleep; others were traveling with people in other compartments and spent most of their time elsewhere. One guy stood in the hallway staring out at the passing landscape for hours at a time. Just a few really wanted to talk.

A babushka flashed her gold teeth as she rambled nonstop to anyone who would listen. An orphanage teacher was wonderfully patient as I practiced my Russian with her over our two days together, while an engineer was anxious to try out his English, paging through my dictionary and asking me carefully formulated questions. None were looking to party — the drink of choice for most was tea, not vodka, which is contrary to many of the stories you hear about the Trans-Siberian.

By the end of my journey, I was exhausted, relieved, satisfied, and immensely grateful. My fears prior to the trip were unfounded, the people I met were some of the friendliest in my three months in Russia, and the experiences were unforgettable.

And back in Moscow, sharing my stories with friends there, I began to really appreciate the fact that I had just seen more of Russia in one month than most Russians will ever see in a lifetime.

Traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway is truly a magical experience and I hope this guide helps you in your planning!

Katie Aune is a Minnesota native and former attorney who recently quit her job in nonprofit fundraising to spend a year volunteering and traveling through the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union. You can follow her adventures on Katie Aune  or on Twitter @katieaune .

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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A journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway should be on everyone's bucket list.  It's safe, comfortable & affordable.  On this page I'll explain the routes, trains, classes, prices, answer your questions, and help you plan & book your trip.  Page last updated March 2022

IMPORTANT UPDATE 2024:   All international Trans-Siberian trains between Russia & China have been suspended since February 2020, originally due to Covid-19.  They remain suspended until further notice, although a weekly Irkutsk-Ulan Bator train resumed in late 2022.  All international trains between western Europe & Russia are suspended because of the war in Ukraine and sanctions.  Russian domestic trains are running including Moscow-Vladivostok.  However, the Foreign Office advises against all travel to Russia because of the war, see www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/russia .  I have left this page as was pre-pandemic, but various companies including Real Russia may no longer be trading.

Trans-Siberian trains, fares, tickets

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Connecting trains & ferries

What is the trans-siberian railway.

The Trans-Siberian Railway is just one part of the massive Russian railway network, transporting passengers and freight safely at affordable prices.  It connects the European rail network at one end with either Vladivostok or the Chinese rail network at the other.  Take a look at the route map below to see where the Trans-Siberian Railway goes.  You can use it to travel overland in either direction between London, Paris or anywhere in Europe and China, Japan, Korea or even Southeast Asia...

Interactive map : Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian, Trans-Manchurian

There's also a less well-travelled route to China via Kazakhstan, sometimes known as the Silk Route, for details click here .

An overview of the 3 routes

Moscow to Vladivostok :   Every day, the Rossiya (the Russia, train number 2 eastbound, train 1 westbound) leaves Moscow on its 9,259 km (5,752 mile) journey to Vladivostok, taking 8 nights/7 days.  In addition, 3 times a week you'll also find un-named train 61 westbound & 62 eastbound which link Moscow with Vladivostok with fewer stops in just 7 nights/6 days.  This is almost the longest train ride of them all, 9,259 km or 5,752 miles.  Trains 1/2 & 61/62 have 2nd class 4-berth compartments called kupé , open-plan bunks called platskartny & a restaurant car, see the photos below .  There are no longer any 2-berth spalny vagon sleepers on these trains, at least not at the moment, but if you like you can pay for 4 tickets to get sole occupancy of a 4-berth sleeper for one, two or three people.  These trains now have dynamic pricing, one-way fares from Moscow to Vladivostok start at around 11,500 rubles ($170 or £140) in kupé with a bed in a 4-berth sleeper, more if booked through an agency.  See a brief account of the journey .  There is a weekly ferry from Vladivostok to South Korea & Japan taking 2 nights & 1 day, although this was discontinued in February 2020, it has been resurrected by another company using the same ship, and should start taking passengers when borders reopen after the pandemic.

Two routes to China :   Although the main Trans-Siberian line runs from Moscow to Vladivostok, most western travellers head for China on one of two branches, the Trans-Mongolian line (completed in the 1950s) or the Trans-Manchurian line (built around 1900), see the route map .  There are two direct trains each week between Moscow & Beijing, train 3/4 via Mongolia using Chinese coaches and train 19/20 Vostok via Manchuria using Russian coaches.

Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia :   This is arguably the most interesting Trans-Siberian route to take.  The weekly Trans-Mongolian train (train 4 eastbound, train 3 westbound) leaves Moscow for Beijing every Tuesday night.  The 7,621 km (4,735 mile) journey takes 6 nights.  This train crosses Siberia, cuts across Mongolia and the Gobi desert, then enters China.  Westbound, it leaves Beijing every Wednesday morning.  This train uses Chinese rolling stock and has deluxe 2-berth compartments (with shared shower), 1st class 4-berth compartments & 2nd class 4-berth compartments.  Booked through a local Russian agency, journey costs around $805 or £555 one-way in 2nd class 4-berth or $1130 or £780 in 1st class 2-berth.  See an illustrated account of the journey .

Moscow to Beijing via Manchuria: The weekly Trans-Manchurian train (the Vostok , train 20 eastbound, train 19 westbound, using Russian rolling stock) leaves Moscow on Saturday nights for Beijing via Manchuria, taking just over six days to cover the 8,986km (5,623 miles).  Westbound, it leaves Beijing every Saturday night.  There are 2-berth 1st class compartments (spalny vagon) and 4-berth 2nd class compartments (kupé).  Prices are similar to the Chinese train.

Other Trans-Siberian trains:   These aren't the only Trans-Siberian trains.  Far from it!  Many other trains run over parts of these routes.  There's even a slightly slower Moscow-Vladivostok train, train 100 taking 7 nights instead of 6...  See the Trans-Siberian timetable below .

Planning your trip

1.  when to go eastbound or westbound is it safe.

Yes, the Trans-Siberian is perfectly safe, even for families or solo females.  It's the way Russian families and women travel, after all.

You can go at any time of year as the Trans-Siberian Railway operates all year round.  Naturally, the summer months from May to September have the best weather and the longest daylight hours so are the most popular.  In winter it's easier to get tickets, the trains are warmly heated and the Siberian landscape beautiful in the snow, but the hours of daylight will be shorter and stretching your legs at stations or visiting the cities will be chillier.  In many ways it's the slushy thaw around April that's least attractive. 

On board the trains, Kupé 4-berth sleepers (2nd class) is the usual comfortable choice for most westerners.  2-berth Spalny Vagon (1st class) is now quite rare, but you can pay for 4 tickets in kupé to get sole occupancy or a 4-berth compartment if you like.

You can travel the Trans-Siberian Railway either eastbound or westbound, it's up to you, although eastbound tends to be more popular with westerners, perhaps because going out by rail from your local station and flying back is more romantic than starting your trip with a flight.  On this page I cover both directions, remember that any comments written from an eastbound perspective usually apply westbound too!

See the Trans-Siberian travel tips for more advice & answering all your FAQs .

2.  Decide on your route & final destination

The Trans-Siberian Railway doesn't just go to Vladivostok.  It links Europe with China, Japan, Korea, even Vietnam and South East Asia.  How about  going to Beijing?  Shanghai?  Hong Kong?  Tokyo?  Tibet?  See the Trans-Siberian route map to open your mind to all the possibilities which the Trans-Siberian Railway offers.  You can even reach Hanoi, Saigon, Bangkok or Singapore overland from London.

Vladivostok is an interesting place for a day or two if you're passing through before catching the ferry to Japan or Korea , but probably not worth a 7 day journey from Moscow just for its own sake.  Beijing is a far better choice of destination as it's an absolutely amazing city that's well worth the overland trip from Europe.

The Trans-Mongolian is easily the most interesting of the three routes, even though it means an extra visa, there are superb views of the Gobi desert and a chance to stop off in Mongolia on the way. 

But why end your trip in Beijing?  Shanghai or Xian are just a few hours high-speed train ride away.  There are trains from Beijing to Hong Kong . How about Japan?  There are ferries from Shanghai to Osaka .  There's even a twice-weekly direct train from Beijing to Hanoi in Vietnam taking 2 nights, 1 day ( see the Vietnam page ), then you can take daily trains to Saigon, a bus to Phnom Penh and on to Bangkok, then a train to Malaysia & Singapore, see the Cambodia & Thailand pages.

3.  Do you want to stop off?

You cannot buy an open ticket and hop on and off, as the Trans-Siberian is an all-reserved long-distance railway where everyone gets their own sleeping-berth and every ticket comes printed with a specific date, train number, car & berth number.  However, you can easily arrange stopovers along the way using a separate ticket for each train, easily pre-booked especially if you use the Trans-Siberian Trip Planner .

The varied scenery and camaraderie on board the direct Moscow-Beijing trains makes non-stop travel on these trains an enjoyable option and maximises your time in China.  On the other hand, travelling to Vladivostok non-stop in 7 days can be tedious (I should know) and it's better the break up the journey and see something of Siberia.  And even if you're heading for China, there's lots worth stopping off for on the way if you have time.

The obvious stopovers are Irkutsk in Siberia for Lake Baikal and Ulan Bator in Mongolia, for a side trip into the Gobi desert.  If you have more time, Ekaterinberg & Ulan Ude are also worth a stop.

To help decide where to stop off, buy a copy of Bryn Thomas' excellent Trans-Siberian Handbook , with journey planning information, town guides, the history of the line, and best of all, a mile-by-mile guide to the sights you can see from the train, which really helps you get the most from the trip. The Lonely Planet Trans-Siberian Railways guide is also good.

Most western travellers pre-book all their tickets, but if you have lots of time and are determined to stay flexible and buy tickets at stations as you go, read this section about buying tickets at the station .

4.  Plan your Trans-Siberian trains

There is no such train as the Trans-Siberian Express but a whole range of trains across Siberia, including countless Russian domestic trains plus a handful of direct international trains to Mongolia and China.  Plan your trains using the Trans-Siberian timetable below or the Trans-Siberian trip planner .  Within Russia, there are both faster quality trains & slower cheaper trains, it's your call which you take.

So for example, if you chose to travel from Moscow to Beijing straight through without stopovers, you'd obviously book one of the weekly direct Moscow-Beijing trains, trains 4 or 20.  But if, say, you wanted to go from Moscow to Beijing with stopovers at Irkutsk and Ulan Bator, you might first take any regular daily Russian domestic train from Moscow to Irkutsk, and it might be nice to ride the Moscow-Vladivostok Rossiya for this bit unless a cheaper ticket for a slower lower-quality train better suited your budget.  Then you might take train 6 from Irkutsk to Ulan Bator 4 times a week, as this is easier to get berths on and more frequent than waiting for weekly train 4.  Then you might pick up trains 4 or 24 from Ulan Bator to Beijing.  Browse the Trans-Siberian timetable or use the Trans-Siberian trip planner .

5.  How much will it cost?  How long does it take?

To give you a rough idea, the cheapest trip put together yourself would include a Moscow-Beijing 2nd class train ticket from around £442 or $590, plus a London-Moscow train ticket for around £200.  You'll also need at least 1 night in a hotel in Moscow, and of course you need to budget for visas for Russia, China and possibly Mongolia and Belarus, plus travel insurance .  But it all depends on what you want to do, and how economically or luxuriously you want to travel.

Fares are shown in the fares section below , although what you actually pay depends on how you buy your tickets as the various booking agencies add differing mark-ups.  You can use the Real Russia Trans-Siberian trip planner to get a good idea of cost including stopovers.

In terms of time, London to Beijing with a one day stopover in Moscow takes around 10 days, London to Beijing with 2-days in Irkutsk and 3 days in Ulan Bator in Mongolia would take 15 days.  London to Tokyo or Hanoi with stopovers in Moscow and Vladivostok takes about 14 days.  You could reach Bangkok in around 20 days.  But where and how long you stop off is up to you.  I suggest sketching out an itinerary and budget using the method explained on the How to plan an itinerary & budget page .

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Booking your trip

Step 1, buy your trans-siberian train tickets.

When you have planned your journey, the first thing to arrange are your Trans-Siberian train tickets.  There are several ways to buy tickets, some cheaper but more effort, others easier but more expensive.  See the how to buy tickets section below for an explanation of all the options, but I'd recommend the Real Russia Trans-Siberian trip planner as arguably the best compromise between cheapness & simplicity for arranging your tickets.

Step 2, book connecting trains, ferries & flights

After booking your Trans-Siberian train ticket, book any onward trains within China , the Beijing-Hanoi (Vietnam) train , a China-Japan ferry , the Vladivostok-Japan ferry or a ferry to South Korea .  You may also need to book a one-way flight if you are going one way by train, the other by air.

Step 3, book your hotels

To find & book hotels in Moscow, Beijing, Vladivostok or in cities along the way, I usually use www.booking.com , as you can usually book their hotels with free cancellation, so you can safely book your accommodation as soon as you decide on your travel dates without any risk of losing money, before confirming your train tickets or visas.  Any hotel with a review score over 8.0 will usually be great.

Step 4, arrange your visas

Once you have booked the Trans-Sib train, you need to arrange your visas.  You can apply for a visa for Russia 6 months or less before your date of entry, although for other countries it's usually 3 months or less.  See the visa section below for details of how to do this .

Step 5, book your train from London to Moscow

Finally, arrange travel from London to Moscow to connect with the Trans-Siberian, see the London to Russia page .  You can also travel to Moscow by direct sleeping-car from Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Helsinki and many other places, to find train times, use int.bahn.de .  Bookings for European trains typically open 3 months before departure, you can't book until reservations open, so do this bit last.

Step 6, don't forget insurance

Remember to take out travel insurance, ideally immediately after you've booked the first part of the trip, as cancellation cover starts as soon as you buy the insurance.  You might also want to get a VPN for safe browsing on public WiFi during your travels, and perhaps a Curve card to save on exchange rates & foreign transaction fees.  See the section on insurance, Curve card & VPNs .

Don't fly to Moscow!

Flying to Moscow to pick up the Trans-Siberian Railway is like entering a marathon and then accepting a lift in someone's car for the first hundred yards...  Don't cheat!  If you're going to go overland to the Far East, do it properly, starting at London St Pancras and staying firmly on the ground.  It's easy to travel from London to Moscow by train, click here for train times, fares & how to buy tickets .  How about starting your Trans-Siberian trip with Eurostar from London to Paris and then a ride on the excellent Paris-Moscow Express ?  

What are the trains like ?

The Trans-Siberian Railway is a regular railway, a means of transport vital to the people living along it.  It's not run for tourists, so you won't find bar cars with pianos or deluxe suites with en suite showers (although one or two tourist cruise trains now operate on the Trans-Siberian from time to time, details here ).  However, all passengers get a proper flat berth to sleep in, provided with all necessary bedding, convertible to a seat for day use.  There are washrooms and toilets along the corridor, and a restaurant car for meals.  Whichever train you take, the Trans-Siberian is a safe and comfortable way to reach China and the Far East.  You'll find more details about food, showers & toilets in the Travel tips & FAQ section .

A request:  If you get any good current interior or exterior photos to illustrate trains 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 56, 61/62, 305/306, 23/24, please let me know !

Trains 1 & 2, the Moscow to Vladivostok Rossiya

The famous Rossiya (the Russia) runs from Moscow to Vladivostok every day all year round, 9,259 km (5,752 miles) in 8 nights.  It has 2nd class 4-berth 2nd sleepers (called kupé ), 3rd class open-plan sleeper bunks (called platskartny ) and a restaurant car.  There are no longer any 1st class 2-berth sleepers (called SV or spalny vagon ), at least not at the moment, but you can pay for 4 tickets in kupé to get sole occupancy of a 4-berth compartment for 1, 2 or 3 people.

It's a very comfortable train, re-equipped with the latest air-conditioned sleeping-cars in July 2020 featuring power sockets & USB ports for every passenger, a mini-combination safe for valuables for each passenger and a hot shower in each car.  The bunks convert to seats for daytime use.  There are toilets & washrooms at the end of the corridor, room for luggage under the lower berths and above the door to the corridor.  Compartment doors lock securely from the inside.  The new cars are shown here:  www.tvz.ru/catalog/passenger/item_detail.php?ELEMENT_ID=1374 .

Changes in July 2020:   Train 1/2 Rossiya has always been the fastest train between Moscow & Vladivostok, taking 7 nights.  Until July 2020 it only ran every two days and there was a second slower train between Moscow & Vladivostok, train 99/100 leaving every day, making around 70 more station stops than the Rossiya and taking 8 nights.  Train 99/100 was gradually re-equipped with the very latest cars, and from 9 July 2020 this slower train 99/100 was renumbered 1/2 and became the Rossiya, whilst the former faster train 1/2 was renumbered 61/62.

So travellers now have a choice between riding the famous Rossiya , train 1 westbound & train 2 eastbound with daily departures and the latest rolling stock, but taking 8 nights, or riding nameless train 61/62 running only 3 days a week with slightly older rolling stock, but with 70 fewer stops, taking only 7 nights from Moscow to Vladivostok and saving a whole day & night.  Personally, I'd take the Rossiya , for the name as well as the hot shower in every car!

The photos below show the Rossiya pre-July 2020, courtesy of Yves Goovaerts, David Smith, Nicholas Stone & Hilary Onno.  It's possible that this rolling stock is now used on train 61/62, whilst even newer stock is used on train 1/2 Rossiya.

What's the journey to Vladivostok like ?

The Man in Seat 61 says:   "A journey from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Rossiya was a totally different experience from a previous journey from Moscow to Beijing on train 4.  Travelling to Japan via Vladivostok, my 1st class 2-berth car was comfortable, spotlessly clean and even air-conditioned.  I usually ate in the restaurant car, and by the end of the trip Mischa in the kitchen would have my ham & eggs in the frying pan for breakfast as soon as I appeared in the restaurant.  In contrast to the vibrant international community on board train 4 to Beijing, on train 2 I was the sole Westerner aboard until Irkutsk.  And also unlike the Moscow-Beijing train where almost everyone is making the complete journey, very few passengers on the Rossiya are going all the way to Vladivostok.  The Rossiya is used for all sorts of shorter intermediate journeys, with Russians getting on and off at every station.  I had a compartment all to myself on leaving Moscow, then shared it with a professional Russian ice hockey player from Yaroslavl to Perm, on his way to trial for the team there.  His place was taken by a Russian lady from Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk who said very little.  In Irkutsk two professors from Alabama joined the train and became my meal companions in the restaurant.  The train stops several times a day, usually only for 10-20 minutes, but you can stretch your legs and take photographs.  Arrival in Vladivostok was a full two minutes ahead of schedule, seven days after leaving Moscow. The ocean terminal is adjacent to the station, but you may need to spend a night in Vladivostok to be sure of a safe connection.  Vladivostok is an interesting city, and a day or two spent there will not be wasted.  Overall, the Moscow-Vladivostok route is 7 days of Siberia on a train with few fellow westerners and indeed few Russians making the whole trip.  This makes for a much less interesting journey that the Moscow-Mongolia-Beijing train, and one that it would be good to break up with stopovers rather than make in one go. "

Trains 3 & 4, the Moscow to Beijing Trans-Mongolian Express

Trains 3 (westbound) and 4 (eastbound) link Moscow & Beijing once a week all year round, taking the shorter and most interesting route via Mongolia and the Gobi desert, 4,735 miles in 6 nights.  The train is Chinese, and has Chinese carriage attendants.  Using the correct Chinese terminology it has deluxe soft sleepers (2-berth), soft sleepers (4-berth) and hard sleepers (also 4-berth).  Most westerners are content to use the fairly comfortable & economical 4-berth hard sleepers, which are essentially the equivalent of 4-berth kupé on the Russian trains.  The 4-berth soft sleepers are not worth the extra money as they are virtually identical to the 4-berth hard sleepers, just slightly larger, though not so as you'd notice without getting your tape measure out.  However, the 2-berth deluxe soft sleepers are definitely worth the extra cash if you can get one, as they have upper & lower berths and an armchair in one corner, a small table and access to a compact en suite washroom with shower head shared with the adjacent compartment, see the deluxe sleeper photo here .  Don't expect too much of the shower head though!  There are both western and squat toilets at the end of each car, along with washrooms.  A Russian restaurant car is attached whilst the train is in Russia, a Mongolian one in Mongolia and a Chinese one whilst it is in China, see food details here .

What's a journey to Beijing like?   Click here for an illustrated account...

How to avoid confusion over classes...   Remember that this train is Chinese, not Russian.  Deluxe soft sleeper , soft sleeper & hard sleeper are usually translated for westerners as 1st class 2-berth, 1st class 4-berth & 2nd class 4-berth, certainly by agencies at the Chinese end.  In my opinion that's an appropriate translation as the Chinese 4-berth hard sleepers are equivalent to 4-berth kupé sleepers on Russian trains, and so can safely be thought of as 2nd class, not 3rd.  However, some Russian agencies including the reliable Real Russia booking system translate the deluxe soft sleeper , soft sleeper & hard sleeper on this Chinese train as 1st, 2nd and 3rd class, where 2nd class means a 1st class 4-berth soft sleeper that's not worth the extra money and 3rd class means a comfortable 4-berth hard sleeper which is more accurately thought of as 2nd class and which I would recommend for most budget travellers.  I hope that's clear!  Oh, and train 4, train 004, train 004Z (or in Cyrillic, what is often mistaken for 0043) are all the same train, train 4...

Train 5 & 6 Moscow - Ulan Bator

Train 5 westbound, train 6 eastbound, uses modern air-conditioned Mongolian Railways (MTZ) sleeping-cars, newly-delivered in 2017.  It has 4-berth kupé (2nd class) compartments and spalny vagon (1st class) 2-berth compartments.  These new Mongolian cars have similar interiors to the cars on train 1 & 2 Rossiya .  A Russian restaurant car is attached whilst in Russia.

Trains 19 & 20 Vostok , the Trans-Manchurian train between Moscow & Beijing

Train 19 westbound, train 20 eastbound, the Vostok is the Russian train linking Moscow and Beijing once a week.  It by-passes Mongolia, crossing directly from Russia into China via the older and slightly longer route through Manchuria, 8,986km (5,623 miles) in 7 nights.  The name Vostok simply means 'East'.  The Vostok was given a makeover in 2012-2013, and the photos below show the new red and grey colour scheme and smart refurbished interior.  The train has Russian-style 2-berth & 4-berth sleepers, and a restaurant car - a Russian restaurant when in Russia and a Chinese one when in China.  There are power sockets for laptops, cameras or mobiles in every compartment.  Unlike the Chinese 2-berth sleepers on train 3/4, the Russian 1st class 2-berths on this train are of the Russian spalny vagon type with two lower berths, think of it as a 4-berth with the upper berths removed, but no washbasin or adjacent washroom, as in the 4-berth sleepers there are toilets and washrooms at the end of the corridor.  For an account of this journey, see Angie Bradshaw's blog here .

Trans-Siberian train times

Here is a summary of all the most important trains on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  Make sure you read the notes!  The times shown are departure times unless it says otherwise, at most stations you can assume the arrival time will be 5 to 15 minutes before departure.  There are other slower trains not shown here, simply use the Real Russia online system here to find train times for all possible trains, or to confirm these times.

All times shown below are local time...  Russian trains used to run to Moscow time whilst in Russia, even if local time was 7 hours ahead of Moscow.  However, but RZD Russian Railways ended this century-old practice from August 2018 and now use local time in all their timetables and booking systems.

Fun with time zones...   Russia made Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanent in 2011 making Moscow GMT+4 all year round but in 2014 they changed their minds and abolished it altogether, so Moscow is now GMT+3 all year round.  So China is now permanently 5 hours ahead of Moscow as they too have no DST.  Mongolia was also permanently 5 hours ahead of Moscow and on the same time as Beijing, until the Mongolians changed their minds and reintroduced DST in March 2015 making them GMT+8 (Moscow +5, Beijing+0) in winter but GMT+9 (Moscow+6, Beijing+1) in summer.  But in 2017 they've changed their minds again and have once more abolished DST so Mongolia is now GMT+8 or Moscow time +5 all year round.  Until someone changes their mind again, of course.

IMPORTANT UPDATE 2024:  The timetable below is the pre-pandemic, pre-war-in-Ukraine timetable, for information only.

Eastbound timetable

* Mongolia reintroduced Daylight Saving Time in March 2015.  The times with an asterisk will therefore be approx one hour later from late March to late September.

** Moscow-Beijing is 7,622 km (4,735 miles) via Ulan Bator or 8,986 km (5,623 miles) via Harbin.    Map of Moscow showing Yaroslavsky station

Time zones:   Moscow time is GMT+3 all year.  Mongolia is GMT+8 from late September to late March or GMT+9 from late March to late September.  China is GMT+8 all year.  Mongolia re-introduced daylight saving time in 2015, whilst Russia made DST permanent in 2011 then abolished it in 2014.  Do keep up!

Trains stop for only 1 or 2 minutes at small stations, but 15-50 minutes at major stations, long enough to stretch your legs.

Note A:   Rossiya .  High-quality train, see here for photos & more information .  Runs daily (increased from running every 2 days from 9 July 2020).  Uses the latest air-conditioned cars with a hot shower in every car, 2nd class 4-berth kupé sleepers, 3rd class platskartny berths & restaurant car.  There are now no 1st class 2-berth spalny vagon sleepers, but you can pay for 4 tickets to have sole occupancy of a 4-berth compartment for 1-3 passengers.

Note B:   Moscow-Beijing Trans-Mongolian express , see here for photos & information & see here for an illustrated account of the journey .  Leaves Moscow every Tuesday eastbound, leaves Beijing every Wednesday westbound.  Operated with Chinese coaches & staff.  1st class 2-berth, 1st class 4-berth, 2nd class 4-berth.  Russian restaurant car whilst in Russia, Mongolian restaurant in Mongolia, Chinese restaurant in China.  Note that if you're trying to buy a ticket from Ulan Bator to Beijing, berths on train 4 can only be booked within 24h of departure from Ulan Bator, so you'll find it much easier to use train 24 instead.  Train 4 can be shown online variously as train 4, train 004, train 004Z or with a Russian letter Z as a suffix so it looks like train 0043.  They all mean train 4.  And similarly for train 3.

Note C:   Train 6 runs from Moscow on most Wednesdays, train 5 runs from Ulan Bator on most Fridays.  It has modern Mongolian Railways spalny vagon (1st class) 2-berth   sleepers and kupé (2nd class) 4-berth sleepers.  A restaurant car is attached in Mongolia & in Russia.  It runs every week between late May & late September, but only on alternate weeks off-season, check departure dates using the Real Russia online system .  See here for photos & more information

Note D:   Vostok .  Moscow-Beijing trans-Manchurian express.  Leaves Moscow every Saturday.  Westbound, leaves Beijing every Saturday.  Operates with Russian coaches & staff.  2-berth spalny vagon, 4-berth kupé.  There is a Russian restaurant car whilst in Russia and a Chinese restaurant car in China.  From December 2017 it runs in the similar timings to the Rossiya between Moscow & Ulan Ude and when running days of both trains coincide it will be coupled to the Rossiya .

Note E:   Runs daily.  Fast high-quality train with spalny vagon 2-berth sleepers, kupé  4-berth sleepers, platskartny (open-plan bunks) between St Petersburg & Ekaterinberg.  The St Petersburg-Irkutsk Baikal was discontinued in 2013.  Train 71/72 is now the principal direct link between St Petersburg & Siberia unless you go via Moscow.

Note F:   Train 61/62 is a faster, but un-named alternative to the Rossiya , taking 7 nights rather than the Rossiya's 8, but only running 3 times a week and using slightly older rolling sock, probably that formerly used by the Rossiya pre-2020.  The carriages are still modern and air-conditioned, but without a shower in every car, for example.  Train 61/62 has 2-berth spalny vagon , 4-berth kupé, open-plan platskartny bunks and a restaurant car.

Note G:   Train 305/306 runs 3 times a week, check dates using the online system .  It has 4-berth kupé sleepers on all departures, but only the Monday & Friday departures from Irkutsk have 2-berth spalny vagon sleepers.  The Mongolians claim all 3 departures per week have spalny vagon in the other direction, but I suspect the Monday departure from UB may not have 2-berth spalny vagon if the Wednesday departure in the other direction doesn't.  The Mon & Fri departures from Irkutsk and the Tues & Sat departures from UB use older non-air-con Russian cars, the Wednesday departure from Irkutsk & the Monday departure from UB use Mongolian cars.  All together, trains 3/4, 5/6 & 305/306 link Irkutsk & Ulan Bator 4 or 5 times a week.  There's no restaurant car so bring your own provisions.

Note H:   Runs once a week all year, twice a week in summer.  This train is operated by the Mongolian Railways one year and Chinese Railways the next year, switching over each year at the end of May when the days of operation also change.  Assuming the pattern continues, this is how it should work...

From May 2017 to May 2018 and from May 2019 to May 2020 , Chinese Railways run the main all-year-round service with train 23 from Beijing to Ulan Bator running every Tuesday, train 24 from Ulan Bator to Beijing running every Thursday.  The Mongolians then run an additional weekly departure in summer from late June to early September, train 24 Ulan Bator to Beijing also running on Saturdays, train 23 Beijing to Ulan Bator also running on Mondays. 

From May 2018 to May 2019 , Mongolian Railways run the main all-year-round service with train 23 from Beijing to Ulan Bator running every Saturday, train 24 from Ulan Bator to Beijing running every Thursday.  The Chinese then run an additional weekly departure in summer from late June to early September, train 24 Ulan Bator to Beijing running additionally on Fridays, train 23 Beijing to Ulan Bator running additionally on Tuesdays.

The Chinese train has deluxe soft sleeper (2-berth), soft sleeper (4-berth) & hard sleeper (4-berth).  The Mongolian train has spalny vagon (1st class 2-berth) & kupé (2nd class 4-berth). 

Note that's it's much easier to buy a ticket from Ulan Bator to Beijing on train 24 than to get a berth on train 4 coming through from Moscow.  There are alternative, less convenient but more frequent ways to get from Ulan Bator to Beijing, with changes of train, click here for details .

Trains 3/4, 5/6 & 19/20 between Moscow, Ulan Bator & Beijing are mainly for passengers making international journeys e.g. Moscow to Beijing, Irkutsk to Beijing or Moscow to Ulan Bator) although they may offer berths for domestic Russian journeys.  But if you want to stop off at Ekaterinberg or Irkutsk for example, you would normally take a Russian internal train between Moscow, Ekaterinberg & Irkutsk such as the Rossiya or train 100 as these run more frequently.

Westbound timetable

For trains between Moscow and London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin or Warsaw, see the London to Russia page .

For trains within China between Beijing and Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xian or the Great wall at Badaling, see the Train travel in China page .

For the trains between Beijing and Hanoi in Vietnam, see the Vietnam page .

For the weekly ferry linking Vladivostok with South Korea & Japan, see the information below .

For ferries between China and Japan, see the ferries section on the China page .

For ferries between China and Korea, see the South Korea page .

Alternative transport between Ulan Bator & Beijing, if you can't get a berth on trains 3/4 or 23/24

If you're trying to do the Trans-Mongolian route flexibly, buying tickets as you go, this is relatively easy between Moscow & Ulan Bator as there are a whole range of domestic trains every day between Moscow, Irkutsk & Ulan Ude and you'll usually find places available even on the day of travel, even if not always on your first choice of class or train.  There's then a daily train between Irkutsk or Ulan Ude and Ulan Bator, although only one carriage of this train goes through to/from Ulan Bator, but there's often places available at short notice.

The real pinch-point is between Ulan Bator and Beijing where there are just two or three direct trains per week.  And one of those is train 4 coming through from Moscow on which only limited berths are available for passengers joining at UB and these are only released for sale 24 hours before departure from UB.  However, there are alternative Mongolian domestic trains between Ulan Bator and the Chinese border, so you're very unlikely to be stranded.  Here are the alternative trains, which are not shown in the timetable above:

Southbound:  Ulan Bator to the Chinese border & onwards to Beijing:   (1)  There is a daily overnight sleeper train (number 276) from Ulan Bator to Zamin Uud on the Mongolian side of the Chinese border, just 10km from the Chinese border post at Erlian.  It leaves Ulan Bator at 17:20 and arrives Dzamin Uud at 07:07 next morning, the fare in a soft sleeper is around 40,000 Mongolian Tugrik ($22).  (2) Local buses or taxis are available to Erlian - a taxi will cost around 40-50 RMB, about $7.  (3) There is then at least one daily train from Erlian to Jining South (Jining Nan) taking 6h50, fare for a hard seat around $7.  (4) There are then various daily trains from Jining South to Beijing, journey between 5h00 and 9h30 depending on the train, fare about $12 for a hard seat.  You can check train times for China using the planner at www.chinahighlights.com .

Northbound:  Beijing to the Chinese border for a train to Ulan Bator:   (1) Take one of the various daily trains from Beijing to Jining South (= Jining Nan), journey 5h00-9h30 depending on the train, fare in a hard seat around $12, you can find train times using the planner at www.chinahighlights.com .  (2) Then use www.chinahighlights.com again to find a train between Jining South and Erlian, there's at least one per day taking 6h50, fare for a hard seat around $7.  (3) Erlian is the Chinese border post, so you'll need to take local transport such as a local taxi the 10km or so across the border to Dzamin Uud on the Mongolian side.  (4) From Dzamin Uud, train 275 runs to UB daily leaving Dzamin Uud at 18:20 and arriving Ulan Bator at 08:55 next morning.  The fare in a soft sleeper is around 40,000 Mongolian Tugrik ($22).

Alternatively, on Mondays & Fridays, a hard class sleeper train (train 34) leaves Ulan Bator at 20:50 arriving Jining South (Jining Nan) around 19:00 next day - the train's final destination is Hohhot.  There are then several daily trains from Jining Nan to Beijing, journey 9 hours, fare about $7 with soft class seat.  www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains will confirm train times for any journey within China, just be aware that trains 3, 4, 23, 24 aren't daily.

On Thursdays & Sundays, a hard class sleeper train (train 22) leaves Ulan Bator at 20:50 for Erlian, just on the Chinese side of the border, arriving next morning.  There are daily trains from Erlian to Jining Nan (Jining South) then a number of daily trains from Jining Nan to Beijing.  Use www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains to find trains within China.

You can check current times for all these Mongolian trains - international and domestic - using the Mongolian Railways website ubtz.mn - English button top right.  If you have more information on these alternative UB-Beijing journey, please e-mail me !

How much does it cost?

In a nutshell....

As little as £492 or $686 buys you a one-way train ticket from Moscow to Beijing on train 4 including a bed in a 4-berth sleeper, pre-booked through a reliable agency such as Real Russia .  For almost 5,000 miles of travel, a bed for 6 nights and a memorable world-class travel experience, that's a bargain!  If you want a bed in a 2-bed sleeper, make that around £787 or $1,097.

Moscow-Vladivostok is an even greater bargain, 7 or 8 nights and 9,000km from as little as 14,500 rubles, about $210 or £170 with a bed in a shared 4-berth sleeper.  You can buy 4 tickets to get sole occupancy of a whole 4-berth compartment for 1, 2 or 3 of you.

If you want to stop off at places on the way, that increases the ticket price a bit, but not hugely.

Add train tickets from London to Moscow for around £250 and you're all set for an epic journey from the UK to China.

You should budget for at least one night in a hotel in Moscow, £40 upwards depending on how classy a hotel you want.

Don't forget visas.  This could add £140-£240 depending on which visas you need.  Russia, China, possibly Mongolia & Belarus.

The full story...

First, a reality check.  People expect me to tell them 'the fare' between Moscow and Vladivostok or Beijing.  It ain't like that!  True, the Russian have a set international tariff for trains to China, which may or may not be the same as the Chinese Railways international tariff for journeys westbound to Russia.  But the direct international trains often leave fully-booked, at least in summer, so you usually have to buy through an agency, and these agencies know that demand exceeds supply and resell tickets with whatever mark-up or added fees the market will bear.  So you have to shop around for quotes, rather than expecting to pay the official price.  And then there are both international and domestic tariffs.  So if you're stopping off in Russia, the fare for a domestic train will be different from the international rate, and will vary significantly by time of year and how high-quality the train in question is.  It's a bit of a black art, but I'll guide you through the jungle...

The good news is that a Trans-Siberian journey needn't be expensive if you travel independently rather than with an inclusive tour.  It's a real railway with regular fares, not an expensive tourist attraction.  But what you pay varies significantly depending on:

Which class you choose .  Most western travellers go 2nd class 4-berth (kupé).  1st class 2-berth (spalny vagon ) is nice if you can afford it, but twice the price of kupé so only worth it if money is no object.  3rd class (platskartny open-plan bunks) is a bit basic for most western travellers and not available on every train, but some adventurous low-budget travellers go for it.

Which train quality you choose :  For journeys wholly within Russia, you can travel on a firmeny fast quality train (recommended) such as train 2 Rossiya or a slow unnamed lower-quality train such as trains 240, 340 or 100 which have cheaper fares.  As a general rule, low train numbers are quality trains, slower low-quality trains have three-digit train numbers.  When you contact an agency, make sure you know what specific train number you're being quoted a fare for so you compare like with like.

Whether you travel independently (cheaper) or book an all-inclusive tour (more expensive).

How you buy :  If travelling independently, you can buy your ticket through a Russian travel agency like Real Russia (cheaper, recommended, easy to use with English language after-sales service), or a western travel agency (more expensive), or book direct with Russian Railways at rzd.ru (fiddly, but works and accepts most people's credit cards) or at the ticket office (cheapest, but not always practical if you need to be sure of being on a certain train on a certain date).

If booking through an agency, which agency you use .  Demand for the two weekly Moscow-Beijing trains exceeds supply, Russian Railways sells off tickets to travel agencies before bookings open to the public, and these agencies sell tickets to tourists for whatever price they can get for them.  So you need to shop around!

Some quality trains such as the Rossiya offer tickets with or without 'services'.  'With services' just means that one or more cooked meals is included in the price, either served in your compartment or eaten in the restaurant car, like the meal shown in these photos .  A number shows the number of meals you get on the whole trip.  It might just be one meal, even on a 7-day journey!  Other meals you'll need to pay for in the restaurant, or bring your own supplies.

Prices if you buy tickets at the ticket office in Moscow

Here are typical fares charged by Russian Railways, taken from the Russian Railways website www.rzd.ru .  In the search results, 2-cl sleeping compt. = kupé 4-berth.  3-cl sleeping = platskartny .  Russian fares for key trains now dynamic, so vary according to demand like air fares.  www.rzd.ru also lets you buy Russian domestic train tickets online, but not tickets for the international trains to Mongolia or China, and it may struggle with some overseas credit cards.

With or without services?   On the best trains you can buy tickets without services meaning without any meals, or with services meaning with some meals included, either served in the restaurant or in your compartment.   On the Real Russia booking system , a knife & fork logo with a number against that class (with a У1, У4, and so on appearing if you hover over it) in the class column indicates a 'with services' price where the number shows the number of meals provided.  On www.rzd.ru a 'with services' carriage is shown with a У1, У4 and so on against it in the category column - no 'У' and no number means without services .  Don't get too excited:  On the Moscow-Vladivostok Rossiya a 'with services' ticket means you get just one meal, even on a 7 day trip!

Prices if you buy tickets from Real Russia or other Russian agency

Unless you have lots of time and can afford to take pot luck when you get to Moscow, you should book your trains in advance.  Most westerners buy tickets through a travel agency, either a local Russian one such as the excellent Real Russia or other reputable Russian agencies (recommended) or a specialist western agency (sometimes less hassle, but significantly more expensive).  Different agencies charge completely different prices for the same journey, so shop around for the best deal.  However, to give you a rough idea, here are the prices charged by Real Russia, including their agency mark-up.  'Shopping around' means emailing each agency for a specific quote, not just looking at their website, as some agencies don't update their sites when prices rise - and Russian & Chinese railways have imposed some big fare rises in recent years.  When emailing an agency, be specific about which train you want, and remember to ask about their delivery charges & credit card fees.  I've seen websites quote very competitive prices for (say) Moscow-Irkutsk which turn out to be for a low-quality slow train, and the price they charge for a quality train such as the Rossiya is much higher and less competitive.  When you get quotes, make sure you compare like with like!  And some agencies charge credit card fees of up to 12% on top of their advertised fares (Real Russia charge 2.5%), so make sure the quote explains these.  How to buy tickets from Russian travel agencies .

Where did I get these fares?  How can you check current fares & fares for other journeys?  See the Real Russia Trans-Siberian trip planner .

Prices if you buy tickets from a western travel agency

There are various western agencies who specialise in Trans-Siberian travel.  They can sell you a package tour or arrange a tailor-made tour for you, but they can also sell just a train ticket if you like.  Their prices vary enormously, so shop around.  With higher overheads to support, a western agency will charge much more than a local Russian agency.  More about arranging your trip through a western tour agency .

Prices if you buy at the ticket office in Ulan Bator

Ulan Bator to Irkutsk costs around 109,500 togrog ($54) in 4-berth soft sleeper on train 263 or 137,500 togrog in 4-berth soft sleeper on train 5.

Ulan Bator to Beijing costs around 178,050 togrog (about $90) in a 4-bed sleeper on train 24.

More about buying tickets in Ulan Bator

Prices if you buy tickets in Beijing or from www.chinahighlights.com

You can buy tickets in person at Beijing main station or via the Chinese state tourist agency CITS, or arguably most easily online from reliable China-based agency www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains with ticket delivery to any hotel or address in China, Hong Kong or Macau.  see the full story below about how to buy westbound tickets from Beijing .

Check Trans-Siberian train times & prices online

Use www.realrussia.co.uk/Trains to check train times & prices and buy tickets for any individual train on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

How to buy tickets

There are several ways to book a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, each with advantages & disadvantages:

Option 1 : Buy tickets at the station

Is buying tickets at the station a practical proposition.

If you have a definite itinerary and limited time, and want to be sure of confirmed reservations, you should go straight to option 2 below to pre-book your tickets in advance through a reputable agency.  However, if you have lots of time, want to stay free and flexible, and are willing to take pot luck on what places you find available, it is indeed possible to buy your tickets at stations as you go along, at least for journeys wholly within Russia.  It's not usually difficult to get a ticket for a Russian internal journey a day or two before departure, for example Moscow-Ekaterinberg, Moscow-Irkutsk or even Moscow-Vladivostok, assuming you can be flexible about your exact departure date, time and class of travel.  The daily Irkutsk-Ulan Bator train is not too difficult to book at the ticket office, either.

But for travel between Russia and Mongolia or China, here's a reality check:  Demand exceeds supply for the two weekly Moscow-Beijing Trans-Mongolian & Trans-Manchurian trains (trains 4 & 20), also the weekly Moscow-Ulan Bator train (train 6), at least in the busy May-September peak summer season.  Russian Railways opens bookings 60 days before departure, and Russian travel agencies buy up all the tickets to resell them at a mark-up.  Station staff might tell you that these trains are all sold out even if you went to the station soon after bookings opened to the public, although you may be able to buy tickets if you called one of the agencies.  If you want to use these trains, you should pre-book through an agency as shown in option 2 or 3 below .  Ulan Bator to Beijing is also a pinch-point, as there are only 2 trains a week, so this too is best booked in advance through an agency.

How to buy tickets in Moscow & Russia

How to buy tickets in ulan bator.

You can buy tickets in Ulan Bator at the international booking office which is now located on the 2nd floor of the building next to the station, see station & ticket office location map .

The office is open 08:00-20:00 Monday-Friday.  At weekends use the normal booking windows.  Credit cards are not accepted, but there is an ATM on the first floor of the building.

International trains to Irkutsk, Moscow and Beijing can be booked up to 30 days in advance, except for berths on the Moscow-Beijing and Beijing-Moscow trains 3/4, on which berths for passengers joining at UB are only sold 24 hours before departure. 

If you are travelling to Beijing and find trains 4 & 24 fully-booked, don't worry, there are alternative trains from Ulan Bator to northern China, where you can change trains for Beijing, and indeed a daily overnight train from Ulan Bator to Dzamin Uud on the Chinese border from where you can easily reach Beijing any day of the week, see here for details of these alternatives .

How to buy tickets in Beijing

You can buy westbound Trans-Siberian tickets in Beijing at one of the designated reservation offices, although not at any of Beijing's stations.  The two weekly Beijing-Moscow trains often get booked up well in advance, so buy tickets as far ahead as you can.  However, don't despair if you need to travel in the near future, as it's not impossible to get tickets from Beijing to Moscow a week or two ahead, certainly outside peak season.  Westbound trains are generally easier to get berths on than eastbound trains, and it's easier finding a place in winter than in the May-September peak season.  Train 3 to Moscow via Mongolia is often fully booked a couple of weeks in advance especially in summer, although it can be easier to get a berth on train 19 via Manchuria, which occasionally has berths available even a few days before departure, but obviously not always!  So the basic message is this:  If you positively have to be on a specific train on a specific date, forget booking at the ticket office, you should pre-book via CITS or some other agency and pay their extra fee.  But if you're living in Beijing, or plan to be there for some time before leaving, and can be a bit flexible about exactly what date you leave, booking in person can be an option.  You can buy Trans-Siberian train tickets in Beijing at:

The CITS international train booking office on the ground floor of the Beijing International Hotel .  This is about 5 minutes walk north of Beijing railway station on Jianguo Men Nei Dajie, see location map .  It's open 09:00-12:00 & 13:30-17:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-12:00 on weekends and holidays.  It's not well-signed, but simply go through the hotel's main entrance and turn left, looking for a passageway at the far left side if the reception desks.  It's unlikely to be crowded.  The staff speak basic English and leaflets are available with international train times & fares in English.  See the section above for fares. 

Alternatively, try BTG Travel & Tours who have various agency offices around the city.

You cannot buy Trans-Siberian tickets at Beijing stations.

Option 2: Buy tickets using the Real Russia Trans-Siberian planner

Most western travellers want their Trans-Siberian reservations confirmed in advance before they leave home.  The best option is to buy tickets over the internet through a reputable local agency such as Real Russia, www.realrussia.co.uk .  Real Russia have developed an online trip planner that makes planning a Trans-Siberian journey & ordering tickets easy, eastbound or westbound, with or without stopovers.  In terms of price, simplicity & a sound reputation for customer care, they're one of the best agencies.  The company was started by a Brit with links to Russia, hence the .co.uk.  The prices shown on the Real Russia system are the Russian railways price plus a mark-up (all agencies mark up the base price).  Their system is linked to the actual Russian Railways database for train times, prices & availability, orders are fulfilled manually when made online, with good English-language after-sales service if you need it.

Option 3:  Other agencies who can arrange Trans-Siberian tickets

For journeys within or starting in russia, use a russian agency.

Real Russia is one of several reputable Russian agencies who can arrange Trans-Siberian train tickets, here are the best of the rest... 

Svezhy Veter ( www.svezhyveter.ru )

Way to russia ( www.waytorussia.net ), ost west ( www.ostwest.com ).

These agencies may keep their own waiting lists and will take Trans-Siberian bookings months ahead, well before the 60 day point when they can buy up the actual ticket, so contact a booking agency as far ahead as you can. 

All these agencies have been recommended by Seat61 correspondents and are all reputable, although further feedback is always welcome.  Booking through one of these Russian agencies is much cheaper than booking through a western travel agency , but prices vary enormously from agency to agency, so shop around.  Make sure that you compare like with like, so any quote you get is inclusive of credit card fees, and you know whether it's for a slow low-quality train (3-digit train numbers) or one of the fast quality trains such as the Rossiya (one or two-digit train numbers & usually a name).

Tickets can be picked up at their offices in Moscow or sent to you for a courier fee.  Some agencies (but not Real Russia) may ask you to fax them a photocopy of your credit card and/or passport, which sounds dodgy, but is not unusual when dealing with Russian companies.  Be prepared for a 7%-12% credit card fee (Real Russia charge only 2.5%), but using a credit card is still a safer way to buy tickets than using a money transfer.  These Russian agencies can also book hotels in Moscow and other Russian cities, and they can arrange a visa support letter for Russia (or use the recommended visa service at www.realrussia.co.uk ).

For booking trains 3/4, 5/6 & 19/20 on the Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian routes, it helps to know how the system works:  Russian Railways open up bookings for these trains 60 days before departure.  Knowing that demand for these trains exceeds supply, Russian agencies buy up blocks of tickets, leaving few or none for sale at the ticket office.  The agencies then re-sell these tickets for whatever price they can get, which may bear no relation to the face value of the ticket.  Trans-Mongolian train number 4 is particularly popular, and 1st class deluxe 2-berth on this train can sell out very quickly indeed, with more travel agencies trying to fulfil orders from rich privacy-loving westerners for deluxe berths than there are deluxe berths on the train.  So these particular trains should be booked well in advance.  You'll sometimes be told by one agency says the train is full, but another agency has speculatively bought a block of tickets and has some left, or knows a rival agency that it can buy tickets from.  So once again, the message is shop around !

Most of these agencies can also book journeys starting in China or Ulan Bator through their contacts in those countries, but as these contacts also take a 'cut' you'll usually find it cheaper to book journeys starting in Beijing direct with CITS as described below.

Remember that an agency cannot 100% confirm your reservation until Russian Railways opens reservations, 60 days ahead.  However, travel agencies will take your booking (and money) several months ahead as they keep their own internal waiting lists for the most popular trains such as the Moscow-Beijing Trans-Mongolian & Trans-Manchurian trains.  They will make your reservation with Russian Railways the moment bookings open, 60 days ahead.  99.9% of the time there's no problem, but very occasionally there are more tourists wanting berths than there are berths, especially for the deluxe 2-berth 1st class on Trans-Mongolian trains 3/4 as this is very popular with rich shower-loving westerners.  If you're trying for the deluxe 1st class, tell your agency in advance that you'll accept a 1st or 2nd class 4-berth ticket (or that you're willing to pay for dual occupancy of a 4-berth compartment) if the deluxe 2-berth is sold out.

For journeys starting in Beijing , use www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains

To book Trans-Siberian trains which start in Beijing, whether you want a ticket all the way to Moscow or only as far as Ulan Bator or Irkutsk, one of the best agencies to use is  is www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains .  Their online system makes booking easier than with most other agencies including CITS, especially if there's any doubt about what days your train runs, you can pay by credit card, they are reliable and get good reports.  They charge in US$ with a $20-$60 service fee and will deliver tickets to any hotel or private address in mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.  By all means shop around, but their prices are usually pretty competitive even compared to CITS, for example Beijing to Moscow on train 3 for $569 in a 2nd class (hard class) 4-bed sleeper.  Chinahighlights can only arrange tickets starting in China, so if you wanted to stop off in Irkutsk for example, you'd need to buy the onward Irkutsk to Moscow ticket from Real Russia or a Russian agency .  Feedback is always appreciated.

...or China International Travel Service (CITS)

CITS are the official Chinese state tourist agency, and they're usually one of the cheapest ways to buy westbound Trans-Sib tickets from Beijing.  You can book trains from Beijing to Moscow, Irkutsk or Ulan Bator by emailing [email protected] or by calling CITS on + 86 10 6522 2991, lines open Monday-Friday 09:00-17:00 GMT+8.  The CITS website is www.cits.net , direct link www.cits.net/china-tour/trans-siberian-trains .  Expect to pay by bank transfer rather than credit card.  Reports suggest they can't book Beijing-Irkutsk tickets on train 3, only Beijing-Krasnoyarsk and beyond, so by all means ask for Beijing-Irkutsk, but be prepared to accept an offer of a Beijing-Krasnoyarsk ticket and simply get off in Irkutsk (though their website shows Beijing-Irkutsk fares!).  As with most other Chinese agencies CITS can only arrange tickets starting in China, so if for example you wanted to stop off in Irkutsk, you'd need to buy the onward Irkutsk to Moscow ticket from Real Russia or a Russian agency .  Further feedback on the CITS booking situation would be welcome.

...or Monkeyshrine

Monkey Shrine ( www.monkeyshrine.com ) is an experienced China-based tour agency who can arrange a tailor-made itinerary with stop-overs and hotels along the way, plus help with visas.  Monkeyshrine offer a good service, but are naturally more expensive than booking it all yourself via CITS or Chinatripadvisor.  A key advantage is being able to arrange onward tickets, not just tickets starting in Beijing, and to arrange hotels or tours along the way.  They charge €649 (about $850) for a one-way Beijing to Moscow ticket in 4-berth on train 3.

For journeys starting in Ulan Bator, use a Mongolian agency...

To reserve tickets starting in Ulan Bator from outside Mongolia, try www.traintomongolia.com or www.mongoliatraintickets.com , two competing Mongolian train travel agencies that have both been recommended by seat61 correspondents. 

Alternatively, contact a local hotel, guesthouse or travel agency in Ulan Bator for example, www.discovermongolia.mn or www.legendtour.ru .  If these approaches fail you can use the Real Russia online system or contact one of the Russian agencies as most have contacts in Mongolia who can arrange tickets starting in Ulan Bator.

Option 4:  Buy online at www.rzd .ru

You can now buy Russian train tickets online using the RZD (Russian Railways) website www.rzd.ru , with no fees or mark-up.  You usually print your own ticket.  It now has an English version.  It's a bit fiddly and not as user-friendly as Real Russia, but it does work if you persevere.  It accepts some overseas credit cards, but can struggle with others.  It sells all Russian domestic tickets including Russian domestic Trans-Siberian trains, also some international trains, but it cannot sell eastbound tickets from Ulan Bator to Beijing or westbound tickets from Beijing or Ulan Bator into Russia.  Rzd.ru may reject some US-issued cards.

Option 5:  Let a specialist western agency arrange your whole trip

The most hassle-free way of arranging a Trans-Siberian trip, but the most expensive, is to arrange a tailor-made itinerary through one of the western travel agencies who specialise in independent travel to Russia.  There are various agencies in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and so on.  They can arrange your Russian visa, your hotel in Moscow, your Trans-Siberian train reservation, stop-overs and tours if you want them in places like Irkutsk or Mongolia, connecting trains in China and even the ship to Japan.  You can go in either direction, as they can make all the necessary arrangements through contacts in each country.  Here are some top agencies to contact for a quote...

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How to arrange tickets for connecting trains & ferries

Train tickets london - moscow.

Alternatively, you can book westbound train tickets from Moscow to many European cities from a Russian agency such as the four agencies listed in option 4 above, though the final Eurostar leg to London will need to be booked separately online.  See the London to Russia page for train information from Moscow to London.

T rain tickets Beijing - Shanghai, Xian, Hong Kong, Vietnam

Ferry tickets vladivostok - korea - japan, ferry tickets between china & korea or japan, if you want a one-way flight.

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How to arrange visas

After sorting out your Trans-Siberian tickets, you need to get your visas.

How to arrange a Russian visa

How to arrange a belarus transit visa, how to arrange a mongolian visa, how to arrange a chinese visa, travel tips & faq, when should you go.

The Trans-Siberian Railway runs all year round, so you can go at any time of year.  May to September are the peak months for foreign tourists, with the warmest weather and the longest hours of daylight.  This makes booking a specific date more difficult (you need to book well ahead) but you might like the party atmosphere amongst like-minded travellers on Moscow-Beijing trains 4 and 20.  On the other hand, Siberia in winter is a sight to see - the trains are well heated, warm and cosy, you'll just need to wrap up well when you get off for a stroll at station stops!  Traveller Rebecca Day reports from a February trip from Ulan Bator to Moscow:  "The train was really warm and comfortable.  For the outside I had snow boots, a jumper and a long wool coat, and this was fine most of the time. The temperature drops significantly once the sun goes down, but as long as I was wearing a hat and gloves I felt warm. I also brought a North Face down filled body warmer which was like a heater in itself! I ended up not wearing this most of the time, but it packs up really small and I'd probably bring it again if I were travelling in winter."

Should you travel 1st or 2nd class?

On the Russian internal trains there are normally 3 classes:  Spalny vagon 2-berth compartments, often described as 1st class (and sometimes called myagky or lyux );  kupé 4-berth compartments, usually described as 2nd class;  and platskartny open-plan dormitory cars, sometimes described as 3rd class.  The Russian Trans-Manchurian train (trains 19 & 20) only has spalny vagon 2-berth and kupé 4-berth, there's no platskartny.  Kupé is the way most travellers go, and can be considered the normal class of travel.  Spalny vagon gives you much more privacy, with 2 people instead of 4 in the same size compartment, but it costs twice as much.  The choice is yours.  Platskartny is a bit rough for most western travellers, but some budget-minded backpackers enjoy it.  The Chinese Trans-Mongolian train (trains 3 & 4) has 1st class deluxe 2-berth, 1st class 4-berth and 2nd class 4-berth.  1st class deluxe 2-berth is expensive but worth the extra if you can afford it as it has two beds, an armchair, and a private washroom with showerhead shared with the next door compartment.  It gets booked out very quickly!  However, 1st class 4-berth on train 3/4 is virtually identical to 2nd class 4-berth (see for yourself in the photo gallery !) and is probably not worth the extra.

What do you do on a train for 6 or 7 days?

This is the question most people ask.  Well, you put your feet up and relax.  You read, watch the scenery, look out for the sights listed on your Trans-Siberian Handbook, go to meals in the restaurant car, sleep in your own comfortable bed at night, meet people, talk, play chess, drink tea, drink vodka, get off at station stops and take photographs....  The Moscow-Mongolia-Beijing route is arguably the most interesting because of both the people on board and the sights and scenery on the way.  You are unlikely to be bored - the time just goes!

Is not speaking Russian a problem?

What about food .

All the main Trans-Siberian trains have a restaurant car, a Russian one when in Russia, a Mongolian one in Mongolia and a Chinese one in China.  Few people go to Russia for the cuisine, but contrary to what you might have heard, Russian restaurant car food is quite edible and not expensive.  The prices shown here are from 2013, further feedback is always appreciated.

Russian restaurant cars:   A soup (chicken or meat borsht) costs around 350 rubles (£7.50 or $12), a main course of steak or fish with rice or potatoes costs around 480 roubles (£11 or $17).  Don't expect an extensive menu or everything shown on the menu to be available!  Typical meals include ham and fried eggs for breakfast, schnitzel and potatoes for lunch or dinner, with soups and salads for starters.  The restaurant car also sells beer, Russian champagne and (of course) vodka, chocolate and snacks.  You can pay in rubles, although they may also accept euro or dollar notes.  See sample menu .

Mongolian dining-cars usually offer rice and mutton, and they accept euros, US dollars, Russian Rubles & Chinese RMB as well as Mongolian currency.  Fried rice costs RMB 40  (£4 or $6), a beer RMB 10 (£1 or $1.50).  See sample menu .

Chinese dining cars have a selection of excellent Chinese dishes, each for around RMB 15-20 (£1.50-£2 or $2-$3), but check if your ticket includes meals on the Chinese section of route, as it's reported that some tickets do.  A beer costs around RMB 10 (£1 or $1.50).

If you don't want to buy food & drink from the restaurant car, you can also buy food from the many vendors or kiosks on station platforms when the train stops.  But don't venture far from the train, as stops aren't long.

What about security?  Is it safe for families or women travelling alone?

Do the trains have power sockets & wifi.

Suddenly, no westerner can travel anywhere without a whole array of electrical gadgets, cameras, PDAs, iPods and mobile phones that need charging.  The situation varies by train.  All Russian, Mongolian & Chinese trains have shaver sockets in the corridor and washrooms which can be used to recharge things with the right adaptor.  Some trains have one or two similar sockets in the corridor that can be used to recharge things if you keep an eye on them.  The very latest Russian trains including train 1/2 Rossiya and Trans-Manchurian train 19/20 have a power socket in each compartment for charging laptops, mobile phones or digital cameras, although train 3/4 doesn't.  Your carriage attendant may be willing to charge items using the socket in their own compartment, for a small tip.

Your default assumption should be that there's no WiFi on Trans-Siberian trains, although you'll find WiFi in hotels and other public places along the route.  If you plan to use WiFi, consider getting a VPN .  There's data reception along much of the route, so contact your mobile network provider about data packages for Russia, Mongolia and China.

Toilets & showers

Do trans-siberian trains run on time, can you stop off on the way, can you take a car, bike or motorcycle, is this the longest train ride in the world  no.  well...  sort of..., a brief history of the trans-siberian railway.

In the late 19th century, Japan, Britain and America all managed to gain footholds on the Chinese coast as bases for their trade with China and the Orient.  Russia too needed to secure her foothold on the east as well as securing the vast expanses of Siberia, so in 1891 Tsar Alexander III approved a plan for a trans-continental line linking Moscow and St Petersburg with Vladivostok on the Pacific coast, as this was the only year-round ice-free port on Russian territory.  

A railway had been built as far as Ekaterinberg as early as 1878, and this was steadily extended Eastwards.  Omsk was reached in 1894, Irkutsk and Lake Baikal in 1898.  The Trans-Siberian Railway finally reached Vladivostok in 1901, but for several years passengers had to cross Lake Baikal by ice-breaking ferry to connect with a second train on the other side - only in 1904 was the line around Lake Baikal completed and the whole journey from Moscow to Vladivostok possible on a single train.  Until 1916, the eastern end of the journey involved cutting across China, over part of what is now the Trans-Manchurian route - you can see how the Trans-Manchurian line initially heads towards Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian route map above.  The Russians secured the right to build and maintain this route across China thanks to a treaty signed after they made a generous loan to China to help them pay off their debts to Japan.  From 1916, the complete journey could be made from Moscow to Vladivostok within Russia, taking the route followed by today's 'Rossiya' and skirting the Chinese border to the north via Khabarovsk.  The Trans-Mongolian line is a relatively recent addition to the Trans-Siberian network - construction started in 1940, it reached Ulan Bator in 1949, and it was completed into China by 1956.

The Trans-Siberian Railway today...

The best resource for further information about the Trans-Siberian Railway is www.transsib.ru/Eng/ .

Trans-Siberian web resources

These sites are very useful in planning a Trans-Siberian train journey:

www.transsib.ru/Eng/   - the Trans-Siberian web encyclopaedia.

www.trans-siberia.com - an independent site, based on a traveller's experiences.

www.myazcomputerguy.com/everbrite/Page9   - excellent advice from Ruth Imershein, an experienced and regular traveller to Russia.


Across Siberia by luxury train

If cost isn't an issue, you can ride the Trans-Siberian Railway in luxury with deluxe accommodation and 3-course meals with stopovers & tours included, using one of these two of privately-run deluxe cruise trains.  Expect fares of quite a few thousand pounds per person!

Golden Eagle cruise train:  Moscow - Mongolia - Vladivostok in 15 days

The luxurious Golden Eagle links Moscow with Vladivostok roughly once a month May to August, with a side trip to Mongolia. 

The Golden Eagle is sold by a number of travel agencies who can put together accommodation and travel to and from Moscow by train or air.  Here are two reliable agencies well worth contacting:

Railbookers - for trips on the Golden Eagle

Railbookers is a train travel specialist who can arrange train travel from the UK to Moscow, a trip on the luxury Golden Eagle train from Moscow to Vladivostok or Moscow to Beijing, and flights back to the UK.  A 15-night trips costs from around £5,300 from Moscow to Beijing or £9,700 from Moscow to Vladivostok, excluding flights, visas and travel to Moscow.

  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk .

  us call free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com .,   canada call free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com .,   australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au .,   new zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website ., great rail journeys - for escorted tours on the golden eagle.

UK-based company Great Rail Journeys ( www.greatrail.com ) offers 5-star escorted tours, leaving London overland by Eurostar via Brussels, Cologne & Warsaw to Moscow using scheduled trains, then across Siberia on a deluxe charter train to Vladivostok with private en suite sleepers, lounge and restaurant with stops and tours along the way at places like Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ulan Ude and even Ulan Bator in Mongolia.  Expect it to cost over £6,500, though this does include all transport, accommodation, meals and even wine in the restaurant car.  Great Rail Journeys also offer rail-based holidays to other countries in Europe and worldwide.  Check the holiday details online, then call 01904 527120 to book or use their online booking form .  Seat61 gets some commission to help support the site if you book your holiday through this link and phone number, please mention seat 61 when booking.

Lernidee cruise train:  Moscow - Mongolia - Beijing in 15/16 days

Roughly once a month May to September, this luxury train links Moscow with China in either direction, with stopover & tours included on a 15 or 16 day itinerary.  It can also be used for shorter sections.  You can book this train direct with the operator at www.transsiberian-travel.com or through Railbookers (UK 0207 864 4600, US/Canada toll-free 1-888-829-4775, Australia toll-free 1300 971 526 .

Vladivostok to Korea & Japan by ferry

Ferry m/v eastern dream.

Update late 2022:   The time-honoured weekly ferry run by Russia's Far East Shipping Company (FESCO) fell victim to the recession in late 2009.  A new company called DBS started a year-round weekly ferry from Vladivostok to South Korea & Japan that same year using a modern ship called the Eastern Dream .  Unfortunately, DBS suspended this ferry in November 2019 and discontinued it in February 2020.  A new company called Duwon Shipping then chartered the Eastern Dream and it started sailing again between Vladivostok, South Korea & Japan, although only carrying freight due to the pandemic.  The service was suspended again in February 2021, but in 2022 it's operating again, only between Vladivostok and South Korea, not Japan.  Please contact them to check the latest situation.

If you find you are unable to travel to Korea or Japan using this ferry from Vladivostok, you can of course take the Trans-Siberian Railway to Beijing and take a ferry from China to Japan or South Korea .

Eastbound : Vladivostok ► Pohang (South Korea) ► Maizuru (Japan)

If & when running, the ferry sails from Vladivostok on Tuesdays, arriving Pohang Port (South Korea, just north of Busan) on Wednesdays, and Maizuru Port (in Japan, on the north coast opposite Kyoto) on Thursdays.  Exact sailing times are not known.

When DBS ran this service there was a departure tax to pay from Vladivostok, around 560 roubles, which wasn't mentioned anywhere on their website, so don't let this come as a surprise.

Westbound : Maizuru (Japan) ► Pohang (South Korea) ► Vladivostok

If & when running, the ferry sails from Maizuru Port (in Japan, on the north coast opposite Kyoto) on Thursdays, sailing from Pohang Port (in South Korea, just north of Busan) Saturdays, arriving Vladivostok on Sundays.

When DBS ran this service, the cheapest fare from Vladivostok to Japan or vice versa is US$235 one-way or $435 return, that's in economy class with a berth in a shared open-plan sleeping area.   Sharing a 2-berth cabin the fare rises to $485 one-way or $825.  Deluxe suites also available.  New fares under Duwon Shipping are not yet known.

How to buy ferry tickets

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the ferry is not currently taking passengers.  However, their website is www.dwship.co.kr   and their email [email protected] .

On board the m/v Eastern Dream

There are a range of comfortable cabins on board, a restaurant, shop and bar.  You can spend Yen, Won, or US$ on board, but definitely not roubles .  The ship remains on Vladivostok time until 22:00, then the clocks are put back 2 hours to Korean/Japanese time.

The ferry from Vladivostok to Japan & South Korea

Traveller's reports

Traveller Matthew Woodward reports (from when the ferry was run by DBS):   "I travelled on the ship in December 2014, and at this time of the year the published timetable was quite different from normal. There was no crossing at all the week before (owing to Christmas), and on my dates the ship stopped overnight in Donghae, allowing a night to be spent in South Korea. The cabins on board are quite expensive for what they are. I would recommend the third class dormitories which seemed more comfortable than the more expensive but rather claustrophobic second class 8 berth cabins (very hot). The ship has a good bar which serves snack food and a restaurant that serves a Korean buffet (buy tickets from the Purser's office). Do try the Korean "pizza" and the local rice wine drink called "Makgeolli" served in the bar. The ferry terminals in Vladivostok and Donghae are good and have shops selling food, hard currency and souvenirs. Rules were enforced when leaving Donghae that prohibited carrying even pocket penknives onto the ship. The gangplank is a narrow and steep climb, but the ship's crew will happily carry your luggage up for you if you ask."  See Mathew's illustrated blog about the Eastern Dream at www.matthew-woodward.com/2014/12/kings-of-the-wild-frontier.html .

Recommended guidebooks

Trans-siberian railway guides - buy at amazon.co.uk.

Bryn Thomas' excellent Trans-Siberian Handbook has journey planning information, town guides, train information, the history of the line, and most importantly, a mile-by-mile guide to the sights you can see from the train, to help you get the most from your trip.  The Lonely Planet guide to the Trans-Siberian Railway is also highly recommended.  Buying one or both of these Trans-Siberian guidebooks is well worth it, both for planning your trip and on the go.

Or buy from Amazon.com in the USA .

General country guidebooks - click the images to buy online

You should also take a good general guidebook for the countries you are visiting, and perhaps a Russian phrasebook, too.  I think the Lonely Planets and Rough Guides are about the best ones out there for the serious independent traveller, with plenty of historical and cultural background as well as stacks of practical information on accommodation, places to eat, things to see, visas, transport, dangers and annoyances.  You won't regret buying any of these..!  If you buy anything at Amazon through these links, Seat61 gets a small commission which helps support the site.

Hotels & accommodation

Book a hotel in moscow, siberian cities or beijing..., tripadvisor hotel reviews....

www.tripadvisor.com is a good place to find independent travellers' reviews of the main hotels.  It also has the low-down on all the sights & attractions too.

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com :  If you're on a budget, don't forget the backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld has online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most Indian cities at rock-bottom prices.

Travel insurance & other tips

Always take out travel insurance.

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

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Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for the country you're visiting and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM card so you don't need to buy a physical SIM, including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list .  Maya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data .

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month at time of writing.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:   1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android .  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than digging a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card , they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  W hy you need a VPN

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explained .  ExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I get a small commission to help support this site.

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes are often held digitally on your mobile phone, so it's vital to keep it charged.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over if I can't get to a power outlet.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or from Buy from Amazon.com .

Trans-Siberian Railway Prices

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Home » Prices and Trans-Siberian Tickets » Trans-Siberian Railway Prices

Ticket prices for the Trans-Siberian Railway also depend on the current ruble exchange rate.

Is the Trans-Siberian Railway expensive?

Before starting on your Trans-Siberian Railway adventure you naturally want to know what the entire trip will cost. Although this sounds like a simple question, it is pretty difficult to answer. The Trans-Siberian Railway price of travel depends on the following factors:

  • Which travel class do I want to use? The price for a first class ticket is about three times the price of a 3rd class ticket
  • Am I willing to buy the tickets myself and assume responsibility for the organisation of the trip?
  • How many stopovers do I want to make? The more breaks, the higher the total price.
  • What sort of accommodation do I want? Will it be a luxury hotel or will a hostel dormitory be sufficient?
  • What tours and excursions would I like to go on?
  • What is the current exchange rate for rubles?

Basically, everything from a luxury to a budget holiday is available. If you buy yourself a 3rd Class nonstop ticket at the counter, a few hundred Euros will cover the price. All you will experience is a week on the Trans-Siberian train and will see nothing of the cities on the way. There is, however, any amount of room for upward expansion. Everyone makes different choices about which aspects they are willing to spend money on. I personally prefer to save money on accommodation and railcar class, visit as many cities and do as many trips as possible. To enable better classification of your travel expenses I have contrasted two typical traveler types. In the third column you can calculate the total cost of your own journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Please keep in mind that these are only rough estimations and not exact prices.

The all-in costs seem fairly high at first. However, they cover everything and it is quite a long journey taking four weeks. Many people forget to consider that when looking at the list. We should also deduct the running costs for food and leisure at home. I think most visitors to this page will classify themselves somewhere between the two categories, that is around the € 2,000 – € 2,500 range. When comparing these prices with other travel packages, you get the impression that it is hardly worthwhile travelling individually on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Please keep in mind that most packages last no more than 14 days and you are herded like cattle through the most beautiful locations.

If you spend less time on the Trans-Siberian Railway you will, of course, pay less. I chose this particular travel length because I prefer not to do things by halves. If you fulfill your dream of travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, enjoy it and don’t rush things. But it’s up to you, of course. Try playing around with the form a bit to find the appropriate price for your trip.

  • Trans-Siberian Railway Tickets »

Destination The World

Total Guide to plan & book a great Trans-Siberian Railway Trip

31. December 2020

Destination The World

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It’s slow travel at its best, taking you from one continent to another, through big cities, over the Siberian steppes and along the largest lake in the world. Without a doubt, a Trans-Siberian Railway trip will take you on the greatest railway journey in the world. This legendary adventure stretching over eight time zones is one of the best travel experiences you can have, and no other rail journey can compare to the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Travelling the Trans-Siberian Railway is a dream for many people, and for one of us, this ultimate adventure was a lifelong dream. Doing this trip independent can seem like a bit of a challenge, and it also did for us in the start. The questions can be many but read on. This blog post has all the answers on how to travel the Trans-Siberian Railway independently. We will also shortly present the stops we had en route and give you some suggestions on what to see there, as an idea, while you start planning your journey.

1. Planning your Trans-Siberian Railway trip

We chose the classic, original route, starting in Moscow, before ending in Vladivostok, and we had our Trans-Siberian Railway trip in winter. That is just one way of doing it, but the options are many.

There are many things to consider when you start planning your journey, but first things first. A trip with the Trans-Siberian is perfectly safe, both for families, solo and female travellers. It is the way Russians have travelled for years, and very few reported incidents. Take precautions, choose your berth wisely, and take care of your belongings.

A journey like this requires some planning. But if you are like us, then you also find planning your trip half the fun.

Checklist for planning your Trans-Siberian Railway trip:

  • When do you prefer to travel? Which season?
  • Do you want to travel eastbound or westbound?
  • Which visas will you need to organise? Check visa requirements
  • Make sure that your passport is valid six months after you return
  • What should be your final destination?
  • Which route should you choose?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Do you want to stop along the route? Where?
  • Organise travel insurance

The above list gives you a brief overview of things to take into consideration when planning your trip. What you choose will mostly depend on your wishes, budget and the time you have on hand.

Trans-Siberian Railway Trip in the winter

2. Best time to travel the Trans-Siberian Railway

If there is one best time to travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway or not, is really up to you and what you prefer. The train runs all year round, and each season has something to offer. Some periods are busy or warm while others are freezing cold.

Trans-Siberian in summer

Summer is the most popular time of the year for a Trans-Siberian Railway trip. With the summer holiday in the western world, lots of travellers find themselves onboard the train. It can get busy and harder to find tickets for some routes. The summer months are great if you travel solo and want to meet other fellow travellers.

The climate in Russia is mild, but July and August can get very hot. The same goes for Mongolia. Even the summer is shorter in Mongolia it really can get warm also there. China is hot and humid in the summer months.

Trans-Siberian in autumn

Autumn is by many considered the best time to travel the Trans-Siberian. It is less crowded, the worst heat is gone, and the foliage let you catch the autumn colours along the route. The weather can still be nice the whole route. In China, the humidity from the summer is gone.

Trans-Siberian in winter

A Trans-Siberian trip in the winter is spectacular. Yes, it can get freezing cold, like in really Siberian cold, and you will see that Siberia looks like yes, Siberia. The trains are heated and, you can expect to sweat even in winter. But to snug up inside while watching the Siberian winter pass by outside the windows is a magical feeling.

It is much fewer passengers in the winter, so it never gets crowded, and finding tickets is rarely a problem. Bring lots of warm clothes (think layers of clothes) for exploring the places you choose to stop.

Winter is considered the best time to visit Lake Baikal with its clear thick ice perfect for winter activities. The lake usually freezes from mid or end of February and last at least throughout March.

Trans-Siberian in spring

The spring is maybe the least recommended time for a Trans-Siberian Railway trip. It is no longer winter and also not summer. In late spring when the snow has melted, and nature starts to wake up is also very pretty. China has pleasant weather in the spring.

Spring is also not the busiest time on the train. It’s great for avoiding crowds and, tickets are available.

TIP: Read our post on the Harz Mountain Railway or the Zittauer Schmalspurbahn in Germany if you would like a nostalgic journey with a steam train

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

3. Choose your Trans-Siberian Railway route

The Trans-Siberian Railway is not one train route, but it’s a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East. The building of the railway started in 1891 and finished in 1916. Train services ran along the route much before its completion. Today, the expansion of the railway system continues, with connecting routes to China, Mongolia, Japan and North Korea.

You can choose from three main routes, but the Trans-Siberian Railway also has several other options for connections along with its extended network. You don’t have to follow the same route the whole time, and you can combine more routes in one journey.

Eastbound or Westbound?

You can make your Trans-Siberian Railway trip in both directions. The choice is up to you and what you prefer. The eastbound route tends to be more popular among western travellers, so westbound is recommended if you are looking to avoid too many other travellers.

Usually, you will have to book one long-haul flight. Either to start the journey or when you have finished. Check airfares before you decide, it can be a big difference in costs depending on where and when you fly.

BUDGET TIP: In case you end your journey in Vladivostok, you save big bucks on flying domestic back to Moscow, and then have your international flight out from there, instead of flying out from Vladivostok

We chose eastbound from Moscow for two reasons. Firstly we found it kind of more romantic to start our adventure with the long train journey first, instead of with a long haul flight. Secondly, starting our winter trip with the Trans-Siberian in Moscow, also gave us the chance to celebrate New Year’s Eve there before we boarded the train the next day.

TIP: Read our post with tips and attractions in Moscow for a Moscow city break

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

Trans-Siberian line: Moscow to Vladivostok

The legendary and original mainline from Moscow to Vladivostok is mostly following the historic path over the continent. Trains leave Moscow daily for this 9,259 km long journey. Depending on the train number, this route takes at least 143 hours, or around six full days. It can take longer. Some of the trains have slightly different routes or more stops en route.

The prime choice for this route is train number 1/2, the Rossiya. Train 1 is westbound and, train 2 is eastbound. Rossiya is regarded as the best train along this route, with the best comfort, service and food. It is also the most expensive one, so if you’re on a budget, consider doing only shorter legs with this train, and combine it with other trains, e.g. train number 62.

  • Train number 1/2 has daily departures, in both directions
  • Train number 61/62 departs Mon, Thurs, Sat, both directions
  • If you plan to stop on your way, it is also possible to travel by trains that follow the same route but doesn’t go all the way to Vladivostok. It is still the Trans-Siberian Railway.
  • Train number 70 will take you from Moscow to cities like Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk or Irkutsk. In any of these cities, you can catch up with train number 2 or 62.
  • For stops before Irkutsk, you can travel with the trains going to China and Mongolia and later change to trains for Vladivostok.

Trans-Manchurian line: Moscow to Beijing via Manchuria

This route takes just over six days for travelling 8,986 km. Train number 19/20 has weekly departures to or from Beijing via Manchuria (train 19 is westbound and train 20 is eastbound). This train follows the mainline on the Trans-Siberian Railway between Moscow and Chita. Also here you can combine it with stops and other trains. This route is operated by Russian trains.

  • Train number 19/20 departs Saturday nights from both cities
  • This train does not go via Mongolia. You will need visas for Russia and China only
  • Take this train if you wish to visit the Harbin International Ice Snow Sculpture Festival in China

Church upon the Blood in Yekaterinburg is the death site on the Romanov family and can be visited on a Trans-Siberian Railway trip

Trans-Mongolian line: Moscow to Beijing via Ulaanbaatar

This is the most popular route for western travellers on a Trans-Siberian Railway trip. This route is 7,621 km and takes 6 nights. With this train, you will have the chance to experience three different countries with their unique cultures. After travelling over Siberia, this train cuts across Mongolia and the Gobi desert before entering China.

TIP: Read our post on the Oslo to Bergen train an incredible beautiful train journey

The major train on this route is the weekly train number 3/4 (train 3 is westbound and train 4 is eastbound). This route is operated with Chinese trains, but when in Russia, a Russian restaurant car is attached, then later a Mongolian before a Chinese restaurant car for the last part of the trip is attached.

  • Train 3 departs Beijing every Wednesday
  • Train 4 departs Moscow every Tuesday
  • Between Moscow and Ulan Ude you can combine this route with all other trains
  • Most travellers on this train need a visa to Russia and China, and some also to Mongolia

Other routes

There are other alternative routes to take on your Trans-Siberian Railway trip as well, where you later can connect with the mainline to Vladivostok, or with the trains to China.

One route runs via Kazan, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan in southwest Russia. Another option is the train via Yaroslavl, northeast of Moscow. Yaroslavl is part of the Golden Ring of ancient towns in Russia.

TIP: Read our post on the best places to visit in Russia’s Golden Ring

4. Choose your Trans-Siberian Railway stops

When you have chosen your preferred route for your Trans-Siberian Railway trip, it is time to choose your stops. It is possible to travel the whole journey in one go. But we do recommend stopping en route to your destination. Russia has so much to see, so it would be sad to miss out on a stop there.

Depending on the time you have, you can almost have unlimited stops. If you follow the mainline, there are several interesting places in Russia to visit. Perm, Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk (Lake Baikal) and Ulan Ude are all recommended places to stop, among many others.

We chose two stops along the route, in Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk. If you have limited time, and can’t do too many stops, these two cities will give you many options to explore Russian culture, cities and nature.

Best things to do in Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg just west of the Ural mountains is the gateway between Europe and Asia. With a population of over 1,3 million, it is a major Russian city. The history goes long back but is maybe most famous for being the city where former president Boris Yeltsin came to rise, and also for being the city where Russia’s last monarchs, the Romanov family were executed.

The city centre is lively, with a mix of grand old and communist-era style buildings. The city has good cafes and restaurants. After some time on the train, a break here can be very welcome. If you visit Yekaterinburg in the winter, the city has a small ice sculpture festival in the city centre.

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

If you like opera or ballet (and think Bolshoi in Moscow is too expensive), Yekaterinburg has an excellent opera and ballet house showing first-class productions throughout the year. We were lucky and got good tickets for The Nutcracker for only €50.

If you’d like a detour out of the city, you can visit the Europe-Asia border, located 40km west of the city. Yekaterinburg For You can arrange the trip for you.

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

Our highlights in Yekaterinburg:

  • Visit the Church upon the Blood. This is the death site of Tsar Nicholas II and his family
  • See the mansion house of Sevastyanov
  • Watch an opera or ballet at Ural Opera & Ballet . Book tickets in advance
  • Eat excellent Uzbek food at the restaurant Nigora
  • Visit the Ascension Church
  • Enjoy the mix of architectural styles

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

Best things to do in Irkutsk

This Siberian city is such a hidden treasure. Irkutsk is beautiful. One of the best things to do there is simply to wander around its streets and take in the beauty of the city.

From streets full of beautifully crafted wooden houses to spectacular churches and monasteries, Irkutsk really was a pleasant surprise. The food scene in the city is also great. Cute cafes serve delicious breakfasts, trendy cafes have excellent coffee and restaurants serve mouth-watering Asian food.

TIP: Read our post on Flamsbana Railway in Norway . It is said to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world

Irkutsk is the gateway to the famous Lake Baikal. You can visit the lake on a day trip from Irkutsk, or better spend a night or two. Most hotels and hostels in Irkutsk can help arrange trips to Baikal. The nearby, lakeside village of Listvyanka is a good starting point for exploring Lake Baikal. You can reach the village by hourly bus from outside the tourist office in Irkutsk.

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

Our highlights in Irkutsk:

  • Wandering along the river and the streets to look at all the cute wooden houses and churches
  • Visit the amazing Kazan Church of Irkutsk
  • Visit Znamensky Monastery
  • Eat excellent Asian food and Russian dumplings
  • See the Epiphany Monastery

The river floating through a winter cold Irkutsk

5. Classes on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Of the regular trains, train number 1/2, the Rossiya , has the best standard. It is very comfortable, but don’t expect luxury even when travelling on this train.

There are usually two or three classes to choose from when booking your ticket, but this may vary from train to train, season and demand. The berths (rooms) don’t vary that much. It is more about the space, and how many you will share the berth with.

Which class you should choose depends on your wishes and your budget. If you value privacy, choose the first class. If you travel on a budget, choose the third class. On the other hand, if you want to meet the locals as they travel, choose this class as well. Choose the second class for anything in between.

To get the best experience of a Trans-Siberian railway trip, we would recommend a mix of the classes (if you have stops along the route). It will give you unforgettable memories with locals, and ensure some privacy and calmness on the trip.

First class

1st class berths, known as Spainy Vagon or SV , on Russian trains are usually the same as 2nd class, but only the lower beds as used, meaning you only share the berth with one other person. On Chinese trains, known as deluxe sleeper , you normally sleep in the upper bed and can relax on a sofa during the day.

On trains without first class, it is possible to buy out the whole berth for single-use or to buy out the left-over beds in your berth if you are more people travelling.

The luggage is stored under the lower beds, and the berth is equipped with a reading light and electric socket. There are toilets and washrooms at each end of the wagon. Some trains have a shower available. Ask your train host if your train has showers for rent.

Second class

Usually, 2. class is known as Kupe, which are 4-bed berths with two upper and two lower beds. The lower beds function as a sitting area during the daytime. Expect to share your lower bed with passengers from the upper bed during the day, e.g. for meals. The second class on Chinese trains is called soft sleeper .

The luggage is stored under the lower beds, and the compartment is equipped with a reading light and electric socket. There are toilets and washrooms at each end of the wagon.

Third class

The third class, known as platskartny , has an open plan with 54 bunks per wagon, arranged in groups of 4 or 2. Here you will have a lack of privacy, but on the other hand, you are guaranteed nice encounters with your fellow passengers.

If you are travelling on a tight budget, the third class will be the best option. It is significantly cheaper than the higher classes.

Private luxury trains

If you have the money and are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one of the private luxury trains could be the option for you. Here you travel in a secluded world, with meals, excursions and the best comfort included. It is expensive, so only expect to meet other wealthy travellers on this train. The downside is that you won’t have many encounters with the locals if you choose one of these trains.

Check Golden Eagle or Imperial Russia for more information on private luxury trains.

Trans-Siberian Railway in the winter

6. How much does the Trans-Siberian cost?

It’s a myth that a Trans-Siberian Railway trip is very expensive. On the contrary, when thinking of the distance travelled, it comes out as very affordable indeed.

In addition to the Trans-Siberian-Railway ticket itself, there are some additional costs you need to add:

  • Costs for the visa(s)
  • Health insurance
  • Flights (or other transport) to start and endpoint
  • Accommodation before and after the train ride, plus at the stops you make
  • Food and drinks
  • Personal expenses

The price of the train tickets depends on the time of year you travel, and your preferred class. The high season is June to August when the ticket prices are at the highest. Also around Russian New Year and Christmas, the prices rise. The same goes for the Chinese train around Chinese New Year.

In general, it is cheaper to travel the whole Trans-Siberian without stops, as you then travel on the same ticket the whole way. Making stops will raise the ticket cost, but not that much. The more stops you make, the higher the total cost you will get (when you stop you have to buy several independent tickets).

Your travel class will affect the ticket price the most, and in general, a first-class ticket is around double of a second-class 4-berth ticket. The lower bed is more expensive than the upper bed. Some tickets on certain trains also include one or a few meals, but far from all the meals, you’ll need.

Price example (per person) from our Trans-Siberian Railway trip (January 2020):

  • Train number 70 Moscow-Yekaterinburg, 2nd class, 4-bed berth, lower bed: €68/ $83
  • Train number 2, the Rossiya , Yekaterinburg-Irkutsk, 2nd class 4-bed berth, upper bed:€129 / $158
  • Train number 100 Irkutsk-Vladivostok, 2nd class, 4-bed berth, upper bed: €121/ $149/ lower bed: €157 / $193

Total price Moscow-Vladivostok with two stops: €672/ $825, or only €336/ $412 per person. With more stops, the price will go up, and without stops, it will go down, but the difference is really not that much.

Tickets from Moscow to Beijing can cost as little as €550/ $680, but the real bargain is on the classic route from Moscow to Vladivostok.

As seen above, it is possible to make a Trans-Siberian Railway trip quite cheap. If you travel only third class, you can save more, and first-class would cost around double. The total price for the whole trip will then more depend on your choice of accommodation before, during and after the trip, and how much the flights or other transport costs before and after the train itself. With budget accommodation and low-cost airlines, it is possible to do this whole trip for less than €1000/ $1230, food and activities not included, if you live in Europe.

Expect to pay much more if you use a travel agent. Should you prefer to book via a travel agency, you will get the best deal from local offices in China or Mongolia, while the western ones usually will be the most pricey option.

For private luxury trains, you should expect to pay more than €10,000 (up to €20,000). And that’s per person!

View over Vladivistok harbour with its modern bridge

7. How to book Trans-Siberian Railway tickets?

When you have decided your route and planned which stops your Trans-Siberian railway trip should have, it is time to book your tickets.

Booking tickets to the Trans-Siberian Railway is surprisingly easy and straightforward. There is no need to ask a travel agent at home or in Russia to do this for you. Expect to pay much more if you use a travel agent.

Tickets are available for booking 60 days before departure. Especially in the high season, it is recommended to book in advance, but often it is possible to find tickets 2-3 days in advance online or at the train stations in Russia. The Trans-Mongolian line is popular and can sell out due to only one departure per week. Book way ahead unless you are very flexible on time.

During the booking process, you can choose between available berths and between upper or lower beds. You can also choose between mixed-gender or female berth only. Smoking is prohibited anywhere on the train, so you don’t have to fear smoking in your compartment.

TIP: There are toilets at each end of the wagons. If the toilet is full, it can stink really bad, also in the corridor and berths close by. Choose your berth in the middle of the wagon.

How to book tickets at the Trans-Siberian railway (for trains starting in Russia)

  • Go to the official website of the Russian Railways (site in English)
  • Click on log-in or registration to create a profile (mandatory before booking)
  • Type in from/to and date and search
  • Click on the from-price in the class you prefer, and see which berths are available
  • Choose your berth, and if you want an upper or lower bed
  • Fill in personal information, confirm, and pay (NB: you need to add your passport number)
  • Voila! You have your ticket
  • Tickets work electronic but, we recommend a print-out in case of battery issues

PLEASE NOTE: This way of booking is at the moment only available for trains starting in Russia. You can not book tickets online on this site for trains starting in China or Mongolia. Some US-issued credit cards may get rejected.

How to buy tickets on trains starting in China and Mongolia:

  • You can not buy tickets for the Trans-Siberian Railway at Beijing stations
  • The CITS international train booking office is recommended for purchasing tickets in China and Mongolia
  • In Ulaanbaatar, you can buy tickets at the international ticket office next to the train station

8. Life onboard the Trans-Siberian Railway

A journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway is slow travel at its best. Prepare yourself for days on the tracks with many fellow passengers coming and going. The encounters with fellow passengers, tourists and locals, will be some of the most memorable moments of this trip. Keep in mind that the Trans-Siberian is not run for tourists. It is as it’s meant to be; a passenger train made for transporting many people over long distances. Don’t expect nightclubs and entertainment onboard.

Even though you will spend hours and days onboard the train, you hardly will have time to get bored. Somehow, the days pass by as the Siberian landscape slowly glides by outside your window. Relax, watch the scenery outside, read, play a game, listen to music or podcasts or watch a downloaded movie or series. Talk with your fellow passengers, stretch your legs at the stops, have a drink and enjoy your journey. That’s all that it’s about!

Please note that onboard the train, they always use Moscow time. Time tables show both Moscow and local time. Keep track of the time zone, and you will manage.

Before boarding the train

Essential items to pack

  • Comfy clothes
  • Slip-on footwear
  • Electric adapter
  • Toilet paper
  • Bottled water
  • Instant food

Arrival and boarding

  • Trains in Russia are punctual
  • Check the name of the station closely
  • Arrive latest 30 min before departure
  • Platform and track will be displayed in the departure hall
  • Keep tickets and passports safe but available for inspection

The Trans-Siberian railway ends in Vladivostok

Arrival on the train

Upon arrival, you will meet your train host, the provodnitsa. She is the boss, your best friend, and must be obeyed. Each wagon has its provodnitsa, and on long trains, they work in pairs (one works while the other rests). They only speak Russian and can seem very strict and fearsome, but mostly they are friendly and helpful.

On arrival, she will check your ticket and provide you with the bed linen. Her most important task is to keep her wagon clean, tidy and warm. She also makes sure that the samovar (water boiler) at the end of the corridor always contains hot water for your use.

At the beginning of the journey, they usually also offer some souvenirs or snacks they have for sale. Buy something, and you have a friend and helper for the rest of the journey. If you need something, like plates, cups or cutlery, you can often borrow it from her (for a small tip).

Your compartment

Depending on if you travel solo, as a couple or in a small group, usually, you share your compartment with other passengers, unless you have bought all beds. Be polite, greet fellow travellers and try to interact with them.

You can be lucky or not so lucky with your roommates, but that’s also a part of the experience. Put baggage under the seats, and keep personal belongings in your bed. Respect that people want to sleep in the night, and expect fellow passengers to come and go at all times as the train stops frequently.

If you have the lower bed, you are expected to make room for passengers in the upper bed to sit in your bed and share the table at meals. Not everyone is so happy with doing this, but all passengers have the right to use the table.

TIP: If you are two travelling together, book one lower and one upper bed on the same side. Then you can rest whenever you want, and sharing the lower bed as a daytime sofa and the table is never a problem.

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

Meals on board

Let’s be honest: don’t expect your Trans-Siberian Railway trip to be a culinary journey. In that case, you will get deeply disappointed. If your ticket includes some meals, you will get them brought to your compartment. Every train has a restaurant car, with various decorations. The food in the restaurant car is disappointing and nothing special. It is quite pricey for such low quality.

Try the food in the restaurant car as part of your experience. But don’t have all your meals here. Eat most meals in your compartment, and rather use the restaurant car for a drink or two during the day. It is a good place to meet other travellers.

Buy instant food, like noodles, soups and stews before you board the train. The samovar in your wagon always has hot water you can use. Stock up on fruits, crackers and other dry food items. When the train stops for more than just a few minutes you can buy more food at the stations along the route.

The food on the Trans-Siberian railway is nothing special

Short stops along the route

The many shortstops along the route are one of the highlights during the day onboard. Sometimes the train stops for just a few minutes and other times for anything between 30 minutes to an hour. Each wagon is equipped with a timetable showing the stops along the route. The timetable states arrival and departure times at each stop.

When the train only stops for a few minutes, it can be worth getting off to get some fresh air and stretch your legs. Don’t be late back. The train will not wait for you.

Life on the stations is some of the most fun and memorable moments of this journey. Passengers come and go, and everywhere it’s busy activities. Small stalls sell fresh or preserved food, drinks, fruits and sweets. Locals often also offer local products for sale. It can be handcrafted items, souvenirs, food and drinks. Often you can find fresh bread on the stations, and in some places, you can also find warm food. Try the smoked fish offered at the stations in Siberia. It’s delicious and a good supplement to all the instant food.

Life on the platform during a stop with the Trans-Siberian railway

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cost to travel trans siberian railroad

2 thoughts on “Total Guide to plan & book a great Trans-Siberian Railway Trip”

Hello guys!! Just loved your blog on the transiberian. It cleared my mind and encourage us to a future trip. Have fun and enjoy life as you two always do and maybe our paths will cross some day on a post covid dream trip. Big hugs from Monterrey, Mexico.

Thank you very much for your feedback! Trans-Siberian is such a great adventure that we would recommend to everyone.

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cost to travel trans siberian railroad

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Trans-Siberian Railway Travel Guide: Safety, Budget + Experiences!

St. Petersburg sights as my first stop on the Transsiberian Railway

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The Trans-Siberian Railway – the greatest train journey in the world, spanning over two continents, 7 time zones and thousands of kilometers – the connection of Europe and Asia, a part of so many bucket lists and the dream of every traveler. When I visited China in summer 2015, I met some people who finished their Trans-Siberian journey in Beijing and convinced me immediately that this journey is an absolute must-do. One year later, in summer 2016, I ventured on an epic backpacking adventure on this train and I’ll tell you everything you need to know!

Here’s a short video I created about my Trans-Siberian Railway adventure!

How to start planning your Trans-Siberian Railway experience

Okay, time to plan your ultimate Trans-Siberian-train-adventure! Let’s first get rid of the biggest misconception many people have – there’s no such thing as THE one Trans-Siberian Railway, there’s not one specific train; but actually a whole railway network which spreads out all across Siberia, from Europe to Asia and further into Mongolia and Beijing. This huge network can be referred to as the Tran-Siberian railway, giving you a lot of flexibility to adapt your itinerary.

When to travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Trains run all-year round, but the summer months are definitely considered as the “high season” of the Trans-Siberian Railway. You’ll have fewer chances of rain, more sunshine and longer days (remember that you’ll be far up north!). But you also need to plan and book a little bit in advance. Doing your journey in the winter might have its own charm. Nevertheless, be prepared for snow, darkness and freeeeezing temperatures, which will make your stops less enjoyable. Also, bear in mind that not only Russia but also Mongolia and northern China are absolutely freezing outside of the summer months, with big parts of Mongolia being not accessible at all. Unless you desperately want to have the ultimate “Winter is here” experience, I recommend you to go during the summer.

Picture of green landscape, taken from the Trans-Siberian Railway

Planning your route for the Trans-Siberian Railway

Since there’s not only one train line, you got a lot of choices – and it’s time to decide on YOUR personal Trans-Siberian Railway itinerary. For most people, the train journey starts officially in Moscow. If you fancy traveling from West to East without taking any flights, you can get to Moscow by train from every European city. I rather decided to take a cheap flight into Latvia, continued from there to Estonia and further up to St. Petersburg (here’s an extensive guide about visiting St. Petersburg) , from where I took the speed train to Moscow. From Moscow, trains run towards the east via several cities, including Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Irkutsk (next to Lake Baikal). After looking at a map, I realized how close I was from Kazakhstan – one of the big and unknown countries for me at that time – and decided to do a detour and include it! You see – this is uncommon, but there are no limits to your creativity! From Lake Baikal, most tourists continue their journey further into Mongolia (on the Trans-Mongolian Railway), although you can also go further east until Vladivostok, if you want to wander off the beaten path.

Rural houses in Russia and cows

It is possible to travel from Moscow all the way through to Mongolia and Beijing in 6-7 days without any break, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it – you won’t see anything! To get the true Trans-Siberian Railway experience, break up your journey into various legs. Get off the train and enjoy the places along the way before continuing further. Unfortunately, you need to plan your trip ahead, since trains might be fully booked (especially during the summer and in the 3rd class section). This makes a spontaneous change of plans difficult. After doing some research and reading various blog posts, I decided to do stopovers in Yekaterinburg, in Astana and Semey in Kazakhstan, in Novosibirsk, Irkutsk (to visit Lake Baikal), Ulan Ude and finally to finish my journey in Ulaanbaatar (continuing to Beijing was less attractive since I’d just been to China a year before). Many tourists travel from Moscow all the way to Irkutsk, go off to visit Lake Baikal, and continue into Mongolia. If you only have two weeks for the whole journey, this is the way to go. If you got more time, definitely do some more stops along the way.My 

Booking your tickets for the Trans-Siberian Railway

For your Trans-Siberian Railway experience, you have to book your train tickets in advance. These are your options for purchasing and booking the tickets!

Purchase tickets directly at the train station

Not booking your tickets is something that I would certainly avoid. Especially in high season, the trains are booked out weeks in advance. Further, ticket machines at train stations are only in Russian and you will most likely have difficulties finding English-speaking staff. Unless you’re VERY flexible about your itinerary and your travels, I’d avoid spontaneous ticket purchases and rather do the bookings in advance.

My recommendation: Book your train tickets via Real Russia

Very important: Make sure to contact Real Russia at the right moment. The ticket sale opens 45 days before departure, and especially in high season, tickets need to be booked straight away.

Purchase tickets via Russian Railways

Booking your Trans-Siberian train tickets completely independently on the official train website can be pretty difficult. The official website can be rather confusing and was entirely in Russian until recently. By now, there’s an English translation available, however, I didn’t get far with my ticket purchase there. If you wanna give it a try, have a look here . If you wanna save yourself some time and nerves, I’d recommend going with Real Russia. Another good thing about their service is also that you’d have a competent English-speaking staff member consulting you if you’re having any questions or remarks.

By the way: Try not to get confused – all time specifications on your tickets and on the billboards at the train stations have the Moscow time; even if you’re in eastern Russia with several hours of time difference to Moscow. Better practice some mental calculations!

A cathedral in St. Petersburg, the place where I started my Trans-Siberian Railway experience

Visas you will need for the Trans-Siberian Railway

Most nations (including Germans) need a tourist visa to enter Russia and since they require specific documents; including an invitation letter, it’s best to get support from an agency. If you book your tickets via Real Russia , they provide you with all the necessary documents for free and assist you with your visa application. You need to do some paperwork, but everything is straightforward. Just make sure to plan some time for the whole process. It will take you a few days to send away your passport, get the visa, and receive it back by mail. In case you plan to do a detour to Kazakhstan and return back to Russia, make sure to apply for a double-entry visa! 

Luckily, Germans don’t need any visa for Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and immigration was very smooth. This might vary from other nations, so please do your research in advance. If you continue to China, you’ll most probably need your visa. This can be quite complex (you need plenty of documents, including your complete itinerary, accommodation booking confirmations, etc.) and it can be relatively expensive after a recent increase in prices for Chinese visas.

Green countryside and rural villages, taken from the train

Where to stay when traveling by the Trans-Siberian Railway

When traveling by the Trans-Siberian train, you will most likely have several stops along the way. Luckily, there’s lots of good and affordable accommodation available in the Russian cities and towns. Here’s my recommendation for good and affordable accommodation across Russia!

• St. Petersburg: One of the best hostels in town is The Cuba Hostel , offering dormitories and private rooms for affordable rates. Other great options are Baby Lemonade Hostel  and Babushka House

• Moscow: I stayed at Vagabond Hostel  and enjoyed my stay a lot in Moscow. Another great option (with dorms and private rooms) is the ART Hostel

• Yekaterinburg: There isn’t that much accommodation available in Yekaterinburg (book in advance!). I stayed at RedLine Hostel  and had a good time there! They have dorms as well as private rooms.

• Novosibirsk: The best-rated hostel in town is FunKey Hostel . Another great option (also with private rooms) is Zokol

• Irkutsk: This city is the perfect getaway for a trip to Lake Baikal. A great choice for backpackers it the Travelcenter , a place with affordable dorms and private rooms is Z Hostel

• Lake Baikal: Accommodation at Lake Baikal is limited, but the Belka Hostel  is an awesome option and also recommended in Lonely Planet

•  Ulan Ude: This is the last stop before many people continue their trip into Mongolia! I stayed at Travellers House  and liked it

Budget for the Trans-Siberian Railway experience

There’s a common misconception that the Trans-Siberian railway is an expensive journey. This is not true (unless you travel 1st class). I paid for all the different trains I took, for the whole journey from St. Petersburg to Ulaanbaatar – including the detour into Kazakhstan – only 540€ (3rd class). If you decide to do fewer stops this gets even cheaper – the more you break your journey into distinct trains, the more expensive it gets.

Keep in mind that you’ll save a lot of money by not having to pay accommodation during the nights that you are on the train. You can also eat cheaply by bringing your own snacks and since you’ll spend plenty of days in trains on which you won’t spend any extra money.

Here’s a breakdown of the budget for the Trans-Mongolian Railway – but note that this fellow blogger chose an organized tour, which makes the trip easier, but also more expensive.

Life inside the Trans-Siberian train

Alright! After a good planning, it’s finally time to board and live the ultimate train experience! Get comfy, and get ready to spend A LOT of time looking out the window!

When you book your ticket, you need to decide on the class you want to travel – in Russian trains, you have three choices: 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class. Don’t worry, you get a bed in each of them. The difference is in the amount beds within a compartment. A 1st class compartment has two beds, a 2nd class has four beds (top and bottom), and a 3rd class has fours beds + two extra beds next to the outside hallway. This is the biggest difference. In 1st and 2nd class you can shut the door of your compartment to get some privacy, whereas, in the 3rd class, everything is open. The price difference between the classes is quite high. I chose the lowest (cheapest) class and it was perfectly fine – it was sometimes noisy, but this is also the class in which most locals travel, so it gives you the proper Trans-Siberian experience.

The compartments inside of the Trans-Siberian railway with locals

Get ready to spend a lot of time with random locals on the train. Since locals mostly don’t speak any English (although some older Russians even spoke some words of German), you might not have many people to socialize with – bring a book, or even better a friend with you. I enjoy traveling on my own, but in the Trans-Siberian railway, I was happy that a friend from home joined me for this trip. If you want to stay connected to the outside world during your journey, I recommend buying a local sim card. For around 15€, I got unlimited, fast mobile internet which worked when we were near a city and during the stops.

There’s a food wagon in each train, but I barely used it – food quality was bad, prices were high and the portions tiny! Better do it like the locals do – bring food from outside! Russians love to have a huge picnic on the train with lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, and sausages. There’s also free hot water and cups, so it’s convenient to bring tea bags, instant coffee, instant noodles, instant mashed potatoes etc., which you can buy in every Russian supermarket. It was not the healthiest choice , but it was the most convenient one. On every stop, there are also Babushkas (old Russian ladies) near the entrance door trying to sell their local delicacies such as fruits, vegetables, and dried fish.

There are toilets in the wagons, but beware – they are always locked half an hour before and after a stop. They are also locked during stops at borders, sometimes for a long time, if you go into Kazakhstan or Mongolia. So, take your precautions.

Okay, let’s get rid of one common misunderstanding as well: People don’t drink vodka in the train – in fact, it’s actually forbidden! When my friend and I boarded our first train, we wanted to go fully Russian and impress all the locals around us by putting out a vodka bottle, ready to invite them all for a shot. Unfortunately, people were confused and we had to hide the bottle again.

The beautiful Hermitage palace, famous building in St. Petersburg

Safety on the Trans-Siberian Railway

So, is Russia and the whole Trans-Siberian Railway journey safe? In short: yes! I always felt safe and I didn’t hear about anyone getting into serious trouble during this journey. Try to keep your valuables safe during the journey; don’t leave your luggage unattended and have a small bag with your most important things with you in your bed. In many trains, there’s room for luggage storage under the bottom bed, which means that no one can access any luggage stored in there while you are sleeping in this bed. Ask Real Russia to book you only bottom beds if you want to make sure about this. I also didn’t feel any danger when I got off and spent several days in the places along the way. But as always when you travel, take your precautions: Don’t show off your valuables in the streets and don’t walk alone into dark allies. Be especially careful with pickpockets in the touristic parts of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Since we’re in Russia, try to avoid any big political discussions, don’t walk around waving a rainbow flag and make a big detour if you encounter drunk people on the streets.

People you’ll meet traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway

A local sitting on a lake in Irkutsk

This depends a lot on your itinerary. If you take the direct train from Moscow to Mongolia/China, which leaves only once a week, you’ll meet plenty of fellow travelers making your train experience quite social. Since I did various stopovers, I ended up in local trains connecting shorter distances and I didn’t see many tourists. It was only during the last leg, from Ulan Ude to Mongolia, when I met several other travelers on the train.

Since I traveled in 3rd class with open compartments and no privacy, I can tell you that you’ll have plenty of locals around you during the journey. Some completely ignored me, some tried talking and connecting with me. Many continuously talked to me in Russian and thought I would understand it if they would speak louder or slower. Some tried to speak with me in broken English and even German! Whenever we could overcome the language barrier and actually have a conversation, it was a very fulfilling and interesting experience. Many locals told me about their children, inquired about my life and couldn’t believe that I was actually traveling even though I’m still a student – “you’re so lucky” is a sentence I got told all the time. During my journey, I got to know very kind and welcoming locals, offering me food and trying to connect with me despite the huge language barrier.

On the other hand, many people asked me straight away for my political opinion regarding our chancellor Merkel and the current refugee crisis. A lot of locals seemed to agree that Merkel was destroying Europe and that Germany would be taken over by immigrants – one old Russian even shouted: “you should kill all the refugees, before you have the same problem as France” – it was shocking, but also interesting to listen to their own personal opinion.

The countryside of Kazakhstan, a detour on my Trans-Siberian railway experience

My resume on my Trans-Siberian Railway experience

Traveling by the Trans-Siberian Railway is a unique experience, and one of these once-in-a-lifetime journeys that I absolutely recommend to every traveler. Considering that the length of the journey, the countries you’ll visit, the stops you’ll make and the class you can travel on are so flexible, this trip is possible for everyone, regardless of your time and budget. Enjoy your Trans-Siberian Railway experience!

I am always happy to answer any question you might have about my article and the journey. Feel free to send me a message!

In front of the cathedral in Moscow

Traveling the Trans-Siberian Railway – In a nutshell

• Decide on your personal itinerary – where do you want to start, where do you want to end? Do you want to continue into Mongolia and China? • Stop along the way! The most popular layovers are Lake Baikal and Ulaanbaatar (to explore Mongolia from there). I also recommend some more stops to get the true Trans-Siberian Railway experience (e.g. Yekaterinburg, Astana, Novosibirsk or Ulan Ude). Russia has a lot to offer! • Plan in advance – I recommend Real Russia to book your tickets • Travel 3rd class in the Trans-Siberian Railway to save money and have the true local experience • Get used to the weird time specifications (Moscow time!) • Bring food and entertainment (food, laptop,…) inside the train • Be open to connect with locals and listen to their opinions • Finally: Enjoy your Trans-Siberian Railway adventure!

Merken Merken

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Sri Lanka Beach

Patrick Muntzinger - German Backpacker

Patrick is the founder of the bilingual travel blog "German Backpacker" and writes on this website about his adventures and experiences exploring every part of the world!

That Adventurer

How to travel the Trans Siberian Railway (Trans Mongolia route)

I’ve always thought we’d travel on the Trans Siberian Railway I just didn’t realise it would be this summer. When Thom said he wanted to go to Eastern Russia or Mongolia, I went to the library to look up guide books and came across the Trans Siberian Railway Lonely Planet book .

A quick flick through and I realised we could go to Eastern Siberia and Mongolia (and also Beijing to see the sites we didn’t see during our first China trip ), on the train!

The only other overnight train ride I’ve done before is the Caledonian Sleeper Train from London to Scotland and that’s not even that long. We’ve done a lot of overnight bus journeys together but travelling on the Trans Siberian Express, or more specifically, the Trans Mongolia Railway, would be a whole new experience.

We didn’t really know what to expect when it came to travelling on a hard sleeper ticket on the train from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar and then the Russian train from Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk .

Somewhere I’d read that the toilets would be squat toilets and that the bunk beds would be three beds high with no room for us to sit up, and too short for Thom to lay flat.

Luckily this wasn’t the case at all and we were more than pleasantly surprised.

Useful resources and articles for planning your Trans Mongolia Railway trip

  • Our Trans Siberian Railway itinerary
  • How much did our trip cost?
  • How to book and plan a Trans Siberian Railway trip
  • Lonely Planet Trans Siberian Railway guide
  • Booking.com for great deals on accommodation
  • Getyourguide.com to find great small-group tours

If you’re planning to travel by train from Russia to China on the Trans Siberian Railway, the Trans Mongolian Express or the Manchurian Railway here’s a guide to what to expect and how to travel the Trans Siberian Railway.

how to travel on the trans siberian railway pin

About the Trans Siberian Railway

transsiberian express

The Trans Siberian Railway is one of the world’s best rail journeys . This train across Russia brings together unique landscapes; from the Gobi Desert to the world’s largest freshwater lake and hundreds of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

The Trans-Siberian Railway was once called the “fairest jewel in the crown of the Tsars”. Nowadays it’s the Trans Siberian Railway refers to the tracks that fan out from Moscow in Russia and cross seven time zones to the Pacific edge of Asia.

No matter which route you take along the 8,986km of track, your Trans Siberian journey will be packed with unforgettable moments. From Moscow’s Red Square to hiking the Great Wall of China just outside of Beijing, discovering Siberia and experiencing the festival of Naadam in Mongolia.

The journey is long and slow (average speeds are 60km/h), but that’s all part of the fun and the highlight of our two weeks spent travelling the Trans Mongolian Railway was definitely the train journey.

The trains are comfortable, even in the amusingly named “hard sleeper” carriages, and if you, like us, tend to pack your days full of activities when travelling, the train gives you a chance to slow down and relax.

Where does the Trans Siberian Railway start and end?

Wondering “where is Trans Siberian railway?” The main, longest route on the Trans Siberian Railway goes from Moscow in western, European Russia, to Vladivostok in eastern, Asian Russia.

Of course, you can also go the opposite way by getting the Beijing to Moscow train.

However, there are also other routes of the Trans Siberian Railway.

The Trans Manchurian Railway goes from Moscow to Beijing without going through Mongolia and is 8,986km (5,623 miles). This was completed in the 1900s making it the older of the two routes going to Beijing.

There’s also the Trans Mongolian Railway which is the route we travelled on. The name kinda gives away the fact that this route of the Trans Siberian Railway goes through Mongolia on its way to Beijing. This route is 7,621km (4,735 miles) long and is considered to be one of the most interesting train trips.

Take a look at this Trans Siberian railway map which also has a Trans Mongolian railway map and Trans Manchurian map.

trans siberian railway map

How long is the Trans Siberian Railway and how long does the Trans Siberian Railway take?

The Trans Siberian Railway is the longest journey in the world. The Trans Siberian Railway route from Moscow to Vladivostok takes 9,258km (6.152 miles) and takes 7 days.

How old is the Trans Siberian Railway?

The railway was built between 1891 and 1916 to connect Moscow with the far-east city of Vladivostok.

Best time to travel on the Trans Siberian Railway

The best time to ride the Trans Siberian Railway is between May and September. This is because you’ll get the longest hours of daylight and the best weather. Plus, you’ll be travelling through the freezing cold of Siberian so if you want to get off the train and explore, the summer months will be the most enjoyable.

If you want to travel the Trans Siberian Railway on a budget, tickets are usually cheaper in the winter.

How much does the Trans Siberian Railway cost?

I’d always assumed that taking the Trans Siberian Railway was the type of train journey that would cost an arm and a leg like the Rocky Mountaineer in Canada . I was pleasantly surprised, then, to find out that it’s not too expensive.

Sure, it’s not cheap either and getting an overnight bus is definitely going to be cheaper but, if you see the journey as part of the adventure rather than just a means of getting to somewhere else, it’s totally worth the cost.

The Trans Siberian Railway price depends on two things: the route you’re taking and whether you want to travel in first, second or third class. On top of this, booking in advance through an agency online is going to cost you a lot more than if you are able to book in person at the station.

There’s a great breakdown of approximate prices here. This site gives the rough cost in euros for the whole routes as well as from city to city as you take the China to Russia train.

Another thing to consider when budgeting for your Trans Siberian Railway trip is whether you’ll be getting off the train. If yes, then factor in the price of hotels, food and activities too.

Note: Prices are in USD and these rail fares are a rough estimate, they’ll vary depending on when you travel.

See how much our 2 weeks on the Trans Mongolian Railway cost (includes everything on & off the train!)

Trans Siberian Railway tickets cost

If you do the Trans Siberian Railway in one go on the Moscow to Vladivostok train it’ll cost around $850 USD in a second class compartment. The Trans Siberian Railway 1st class ticket price is roughly $1330.

Cost of Trans Mongolian Railway tickets

The Trans Mongolian route from Moscow – Beijing via Mongolia in one go will cost about $715 US in second class and first-class tickets on the Trans Mongolian Railway costs around $1050 US.

Cost of Trans Manchurian Railway tickets

A second class ticket on the Trans Manchurian Railway costs around $742 US and a first-class ticket is about $1175.

How to book Trans Siberian Railway tickets

beijing railway station

Nowadays you can book your Trans Siberian tickets online in advance. This is recommended if you’re travelling during the summer months since this is the busiest time, especially if you want to travel in first-class since there are fewer first-class carriages.

I’d read that you had to book in advance as the trains all sold out but, given a ticket mishap we had, I now know that this isn’t always the case. What actually seemed to happen was that the tour companies you book through have a specific allocation of beds. They may sell out quite far in advance, but you can usually still buy some tickets at the train station.

Having said that, if you’re only travelling for a short period of time and want to make double-y sure that you get tickets still book in advance. If you’re in the area for a few months and can afford to have your journey delayed by a few days on the off-chance that they are all booked up, then save some money and book in person a few days before.

Another thing to note is that if you’re breaking your journey up you’ll have to book your tickets through a company from that country. E.g. we broke our journey up by spending a few days in Beijing, a week in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and finally a few days in Irkutsk. We booked our tickets through CITS (a Chinese travel agency), but they had to use a Mongolian company to book the Mongolian leg and, had we wanted further train tickets in Russia, we would’ve had to have used a Russian website to book that.

Where to book Trans Siberian Railway tickets

Recommended websites to book train tickets through include:

  • Russian train booking sites: Russian train tickets can be bought from Russian Railways &  Transsib.com
  • In China: CITS – this is the company we used. Fast & easy communication
  • Mongolia train tickets: Can usually use a Russian or Chinese ticketing company but you’ll find they probably use New Juulchin Tours.

How far in advance should you book Trans Siberian Railway tickets?

If you’re travelling on the Trans Siberian Railway in summer then look to book your train tickets about 3 months in advance. This way you should be able to get the class of tickets you want as well as the dates.

We booked ours 2 months in advance and on the dates we wanted to travel the only class left was hard sleeper (which actually turned out fine!).

What are the different classes on the Trans Siberian Railway

trans siberian railway guide (2 of 6)

There are three classes of travelling on the Trans Siberian Railway and on some of the trains there are actually only 2 classes.

We travelled on the K23 between Beijing and Ulaanbaatar and the 3 Between Ulaanbaatar and Irkutsk and stayed in hard sleeper on both. We also walked up and down the train to see what the other classes were like.

Hard sleeper on the K23 and 305 trains

hard sleeper compartment on k23 from beijing to ulaanbaatar

We’d originally wanted to book the soft-sleeper beds on the Trans Mongolian route but were told they were already sold out. Therefore we booked hard sleeper tickets and were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable they were. In the end, we were very glad we hadn’t spent so much more money on the soft-sleeper beds.

The hard sleeper beds on the Trans Siberian trains have 2 bunk beds so 4 beds in total. There’s a small table, a few charging points under the table, and linen and blankets are provided. Each bed also has a personal reading light so you can carry on reading if others in your berth are sleeping.

The beds were pretty comfortable on both the Russian and Chinese trains; more comfortable than some hotels we’ve stayed in!

The carriage has a western-style toilet at each end and a big water boiler which you can use for hot drinks and instant noodles. The Chinese train, the K23, also had a couple of sinks outside of the toilet for washing both yourself and any mugs.

Soft Sleeper class on the train from China to Mongolia

Soft sleeper compartment on k23 from beijing to ulaanbaatar

We almost booked this and were glad we didn’t since it cost a lot more and didn’t seem to offer anything extra.

The soft sleeper berths are still for 4 people and seemed to have the exact same beds. There’s also a table and some plug points. The only difference seemed to be that they had a water thermos on their table which we did not. However, for $93US extra I’d rather walk to the water boiler and fill my mug!

The train from Mongolia to Irkutsk didn’t have a soft sleeper class or a dining car. So make sure you’ve bought plenty of snacks with you for the journey.

Trans Siberian Railway first class compartments

photo of first class on the trans siberian railway

Trains Siberian first-class carriages and Trans Mongolian Railway first class compartments sleep just 2 people. The beds are still bunk beds but they’re both on the same side and then in the empty space, there’s an armchair. The bedding also seemed to be a bit more luxurious.

You still have to share bathrooms as with the other carriages.

If you’re positive you don’t want to share your journey with anyone else then book a first-class train ticket for that privacy. Personally, I think part of the experience is meeting some new people on the ride!

Is there much storage in the compartments?

There’s plenty of storage in all the compartments. We were travelling with one big backpack each and then one smaller day bag. There’s plenty of space underneath both bottom bunks to fit a large suitcase or backpack. In addition, there’s storage in an alcove above the door to your compartment.

What happens on the border crossing on the Trans Mongolian Railway?

border crossing china to mongolia transsib railway

When travelling on the Trans Mongolian Railway you’ll have to cross two borders. One as you go into Mongolia and the other as you go into Russia (or into Mongolia and China if you’re travelling eastbound).

We’d heard lots of crazy stories about the border crossing along the Trans Siberian train route but, other than being long, nothing out of the ordinary happened to us. Here’s what to expect from the border crossings on the Trans Siberian Railway.

Border crossing from China to Mongolia on the Trans Mongolian Railway

trans siberian railway guide (1 of 7)

The border crossing on the China to Mongolia train on the Trans Mongolian Railway takes a long time. We arrived at the last town before the border around 8 pm and the border crossing wasn’t complete until about 2 am.

First, you’ll pull up at the town of Erlian where guards will come onto the train and take your passports from you. You’ll then be bumped along the track to a garage where the train is split into two. You’ll then be lifted up into the air and the train’s gauges (where the wheels go) are changed. This is because the railways in Mongolia and Russia are larger than in China. This is a long process that involves a lot of shunting of carriages. So, even though it’s the middle of the night you probably won’t get much sleep. However, it is quite interesting to watch what’s going on.

Once this is completed, you’ll head back to the station on the Chinese side. The guards come back on, check you against your passport and hand it back and have a quick check there’s no one hiding under your beds.

Then it’s about 20 or so minutes to the first Mongolian station. Here the guards come on again (they were a lot more smiley than the Chinese), take your passports for a few hours, come back on, check the compartments and hand back the passports.

We weren’t allowed off our carriage at any point during this border crossing, although some people in other carriages had got off at the station and sat inside the station while we were transferred to the garage. We also couldn’t use the bathroom for the whole 5 hours so make sure you’ve gone before you’ve reached the station!

What’s the border crossing on the Trans Mongolia Railway like between Russia and Mongolia?

russian 3 train trans siberian express

The crossing between Russia and Mongolia is much the same except that there’s no changing of the train gauges. It also happens overnight so your sleep will be disturbed and still takes about the same amount of time.

The guards in Russia were more thorough with their checks of the compartment and even got a torch out to check no one was hiding.

Life on the Trans Siberian Railway

travelling on the trans siberian railway

If you’re travelling the full length of the Trans Siberian train journey from Moscow to Vladivostok or to Beijing, there’s going to be a long stretch of time where you ride the train non-stop. For us, the max was about 36 hours, but Moscow – Irkutsk, for example, is about 3 day’s worth of train travel.

When you’re planning on spending that long on the train, it’s nice to have an idea of what to expect beforehand. Here are a few things I’d have found useful to know.

What’s the food situation on the trains?

chinese dining car trans siberian train from beijing to moscow

The trains usually have a food car although there wasn’t one on our train between Ulaanbaatar and Irkutsk. These food cars change depending on the country you’re travelling through, both in style and food served.

The Chinese food car was pretty plain looking (especially when compared to the Mongolian one!). They served mostly meat and vegetable dishes with rice on the side. They were reasonably priced at around 30RMB for each main dish and 15RMB for rice.

TOP TIP: Get to the food cart early. On our trip from Beijing – UB, the cart opened for dinner at 4 pm. We went at 5 pm and the cart was pretty much full. By 5.30 they’d sold out of most dishes on the menu.

Chinese dining car menu trans siberian railway

The Mongolian food car was added at the border crossing. This was a super fancy car with ornate, golden finishes. They served big pots of tea and more of a get-what-you’re-given type dinner. The two people we shared a compartment with went for food in the Mongolian car and it seemed a lot more expensive than the Chinese one. They said they were just presented with various dishes and charged 200RMB for it. Maybe that was because they didn’t have Turog, maybe not, but that price is just something to be aware of.

mongolia dining car on trans siberian train

Outside of the food cars, there weren’t many opportunities to get extra food. I’d read that there were people at every stop selling noodles, drinks and other snacks, but I only saw this once at one of the stops in Mongolia. Some of the bigger stations have small convenience stores where you can grab snacks but it’s best to take plenty with you (see packing essentials below!).

food on russian train trans siberian

What is there to do on the trains?

trans siberian railway guide (4 of 6)

Travelling on the Trans Siberian Railway is a great way to force yourself into relaxing. There’s isn’t a whole lot to do but that’s what I loved about it.

I read books, wrote my travel diary, played cards with the others in our compartment, ate snacks, drank beer, listening to podcasts and watched the landscapes outside change.

Can you charge electric items on the train?

Yes! There were two outlets within our compartment, plus some in the hallway too. It’s a good idea to have a battery pack too, but don’t worry about your phone running out and not being able to charge it at all.

Can you get off the trains?

trans siberian railway guide (3 of 6)

At a lot of the Trans Siberian railway stops you can get off the trains. However, this seems to depend a little on the guard for your carriage. While we were stuck on our carriage during the border crossing from China to Mongolia, other carriages were allowed off.

Before you get off the train, make sure you check the train’s schedule (it’s printed out and on show on every carriage) so you know to get back on the train at the right time. Sometimes the train stops for just a few minutes, other times it’s 30 minutes plus.

Also, remember to take some money and your passport and visas with you just in case you do miss the train. That way you can get a taxi to the next stop and get back on the train.

Most of the time there isn’t much to do once you’re off the train and you can’t leave the station. You usually only get off if you want to stretch your legs a bit more, or buy some drink or noodles from the sellers on the station.

IMPORTANT: If you plan to get off the train and stay in a certain city for a day or two, you’ll need to book a ticket to that exact station and then book another ticket for your onward journey. You cannot book a direct ticket from Moscow – Beijing and then stay in another city along the way.

How often does the Trans Siberian Railway stop?

The train stopped quite a few times along both journeys. Here’s a picture of the Trans Siberian Railway timetable for the trains we took. I don’t think they change much (if ever), so this is a useful Trans Siberian Railway itinerary for you.

China to Mongolia trans siberian railway timetable

What time zone do the trains use?

There are 11 time zones if you’re travelling the full length of the Trans Siberian Railway. That’s a lot of time changes and it gets even more confusing than you’d think since the Trans Siberian uses Moscow time. That means that if you’re leaving from Moscow and heading eastbound the train timetable sticks to GMT+3 times. It’s a good idea to keep your watch to Moscow, or set Moscow time on your phone. This will help stop you from missing your train or arriving way too early.

Since we were travelling Westbound and didn’t catch trains once in Russia, there were no time changes to make. Beijing, Ulaanbaatar and Irkutsk were all on the same time zone. The trains left from China and Mongolia and so used the local time zone rather than Moscow time.

What to pack for the Trans Siberian Railway

There are a few things you can pack that’ll make your Trans Siberian Railway journey a lot more pleasant. I’ve listed my top 5 items to pack below. You can see my full Trans Mongolian (but will work whichever route you’re taking) packing list here.

  • At least 1 good book: I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux while on the train.
  • Some snacks and water: instant oatmeal is great for the morning, as is instant coffee . We also had noodles for lunch or dinner. Also, take plenty of water (we had a big 5L bottle). You’re not going to want to drink water straight from the sink.
  • Cash: For the dining cars and if you want to get off the train for snacks. Make sure you’ve got multiple currencies depending on which countries you’re going through.
  • A sleeping bag liner: While the sheets were clean enough, there were a few questionable stains so having a liner is nice.
  • A travel mug and water bottle : To be filled with water, tea, beer or wine!

Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by Hannah

hannah author bio

Hannah started That Adventurer after graduating back in 2013 and has documented all of her adventures since then. From backpacking South America to city breaks in Europe , a 3 month road trip across the USA in a self-converted van and 6 years living in Canada , you’ll find posts on all of this.

Hannah specialises in active travel and on That Adventurer you’ll find hiking, walking, biking, skiing and all sorts of active travel guides to allow you to see a destination in an adventurous way.

Now back in Europe, you’ll find new guides as Hannah and her husband spend the next year ‘digital nomading’ from Norway to Portugal, Switzerland to Scotland and places in between.

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The Zarengold Private Train

Your Home on the Trans-Siberian Railroad

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

Browse Our Zarengold Journeys

Tailor your trip with the most extensive selection of Trans-Siberian tours available. Plot the path of your adventure as you wish—travel through China, Mongolia and Russia on our broad range of routes, flexible options and myriad destinations. Click here to go directly to our current routes featuring the Zarengold private train.


Attentive Service

Our patented Three Guide System guarantees absolute comfort and security for the entire journey and includes a multilingual tour director, a group guide and a local guide. An attentive guest relations manager is available to answer questions and requests throughout the journey. Be a part of exclusive tour groups of no more than 26 guests per route. Enjoy delicious, freshly prepared regional delicacies and international cuisine by our team of chefs. A doctor is on call 24 hours a day between Moscow and the Mongolia–China border.

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

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The Zarengold private train is not only a classic way to travel the famous Trans-Siberian Railroad—it is also a train like no other in the world. Its well-appointed dining cars, comfortable sleeping compartments, amazing staff and stellar service make the train itself an experience to remember forever—your home away from home on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railroad.

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More Compartments

The Zarengold features the widest selection of compartments on any Trans-Siberian train . Choose between six compartment categories—from the popular Classic, Superior and Nostalgic Comfort categories, to the premium Bolshoi and Bolshoi Platinum, which feature private bathrooms and showers.

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

Seasoned Experts

Travel with the world’s most seasoned Trans-Siberian tour operator . We have 30 years of experience—over 750 tours—on this legendary railroad. The Zarengold private train ensures your comfort, enjoyment and security as you embark on one of the greatest travel adventures in the world.


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See sights planned for the group or only sights that you wish. Stay overnight on your private train as well as hotels along the route— get the best of both worlds! Knowledgeable and friendly tour guides provide historical and cultural insights. Get a unique introduction to the Russian language and the Cyrillic alphabet. Experience a Russian tea ceremony and vodka tasting session with traditional toasts and customs.


World-Class Staff and Crew

Welcome aboard! Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are always on hand to help. We have experience providing over 750 successful private train tours on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to more than 30,000 satisfied customers. Your comfort, convenience and security are paramount. We even have a doctor on call 24 hours a day.

cost to travel trans siberian railroad

Delicious Food and Drink

See you for dinner at seven? Well-appointed dining cars delight guests with international meals and lovingly crafted local specialties. Perfect for relaxing with new friends over an after-dinner drink as you take in the stunning scenery. Ornate dining cars with panoramic windows provide breathtaking views—the romance of Russian rail travel at its best.


Fun and Informative Talks

We have carefully curated a program of events and sightseeing opportunities to provide you with profound insight into the rich lands and heritage you explore with us. Hear fascinating talks on local histories and the magic of the Russian language. Enjoy traditional tea ceremonies or a sampling of exquisite vodkas, complete with authentic toasts and customs.

Train Compartments

The Largest Selection of Compartments Available on the Trans-Siberian Railroad

Category V Bolshoi Platinum

Cat. V - Bolshoi Platinum

Number and Size of Beds ● Sleeps up to 2 guests ● 1 lower bed sized 47.2 x 72.4 in/120 x 184 cm ● upper bed sized 32.3 x 68.5 in/82 x 174 cm Features ● Large compartment sized 77 sq ft/7.15 sq m ● Small sofa ● Table ● Window ● Large closet ● Private bathroom with sink, toilet and separate shower ● 5 compartments per car

Category IV Bolshoi

Cat. IV - Bolshoi

Number and Size of Beds ● Sleeps up to 2 guests ● 1 lower bed sized 43.3 x 72.4 in/110 x 184 cm ● 1 upper bed sized 31.5 x 68.5 in/80 x 174 cm Features ● Large compartment sized 60 sq ft/5.57 sq m ● Small sofa ● Table ● Window ● Small closet ● Private bathroom with sink, toilet and integrated shower ● 6 compartments per car

Category III Nostalgic

Cat. III - Nostalgic Comfort

Number and Size of Beds ● Sleeps up to 2 guests ● 1 lower and 1 upper bed ● 31.5 x 72.8 in/80 x 185 cm Features ● Large Window ● Table ● Armchair ● 2 shared bathrooms with sink and toilet per car ● Semi-private shower shared between 2 compartments ● 8 compartments per car ● Nostalgic interior design

Cat II - Superior

Cat. II - Superior

Number and Size of Beds ● Sleeps up to 2 guests ● 2 lower beds ● 26.7 x 73.6 in/68 x 185 cm Features ● Large window ● Table ● 2 shared bathrooms with sink and toilet per car ● Shower shared between 1 to 3 cars ● 9 compartments per car ● Distinctive interior design

Cat II - Classic

Cat. II - Classic

Number and Size of Beds ● Sleeps up to 2 guests ● 2 lower beds ● 26.7 x 73.6 in/68 x 187 cm Features ● Large window ● Table ● 2 shared bathrooms with sink and toilet per car ● Shower shared between 2 to 4 cars ● 9 compartments per car

Cat I - Standard

Cat. I - Standard

Number and Size of Beds ● Sleeps up to 4 guests ● 2 lower and 2 upper beds ● 26.7 x 73.6 in/68 x 187 cm Features ● Large window ● Table ● 2 shared bathrooms with sink and toilet per car ● 9 compartments per car ● 3-person occupancy available for a supplemental charge

Category IV Bolshoi

Zarengold Frequently Asked Questions

Electricity and power sockets.

Power sockets are available in the corridors of sleeping cars and in Category III, IV and V compartments. Every car has both 110- and 220-volt AC sockets, intended for charging electric razors. Therefore, we recommend that you ask your tour guide to show you which sockets are rated for which voltage before using them so that you do not damage your devices. We also recommend that you bring along sufficient extra batteries for your electronic devices just in case. Click here to read more frequently asked questions about the Zarengold Private Train on Trans-Siberian-Travel.com

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Zarengold: From Beijing to Moscow

15-day private train journey on the trans-siberian railroad from beijing to moscow.

Experience one of the last great travel adventures. Your journey along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, one of the world’s most fascinating and safest train routes, is even more interesting, comfortable, and entertaining with our privately chartered train.

Zarengold: From Moscow to Beijing

16-day private train journey on the trans-siberian railroad from moscow to beijing, zarengold in winter: from moscow to ulan bator, 13- or 16-day private train journey on the trans-siberian railroad from moscow to ulan bator or beijing.

Experience the magic of Siberia with a 13-day private train journey through Russia and Mongolia with possible three-day extension to China.

Zarengold Virtual Tour


11 beautiful train trips around the world

Posted: September 25, 2023 | Last updated: September 25, 2023

<ul class="summary-list"> <li>Train travel <a href="https://www.insider.com/italian-luxury-train-la-dolce-vita-suites-orient-express-photos-2023-7">is trendy again</a> thanks to its low carbon footprint and romantic aesthetic. </li> <li>One of the best parts of traveling long distances by train are the scenic views. </li> <li>From Switzerland to California, these are the world's 11 most beautiful train routes. </li> </ul><p>"Tagskryt," a Scandanavian word that means bragging about train travel <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/vintage-train-day-trip-nyc-20th-century-limited-luxury-2022-11">(guilty)</a>, is all the rage nowadays as younger generations rediscover the sustainable and aesthetic means of transportation. </p><p>While it's not the quickest way to get from point A to point B, long-distance trains are definitely one of the most scenic ways to explore a new country. </p><p>Below, in no particular order, we rounded up some of the most stunning train rides that are definitely worth bragging about.</p><p>The list includes train rides around the world, from Canada to India, and itineraries that range from a couple of hours to multiple days. All the costs are estimates — international train fares are dependent on many factors like exchange rates, the company, and selected travel dates and itineraries. </p><div class="read-original">Read the original article on <a href="https://www.insider.com/scenic-train-trips-around-the-world-2023-8">Insider</a></div>

  • Train travel is trendy again thanks to its low carbon footprint and romantic aesthetic. 
  • One of the best parts of traveling long distances by train are the scenic views. 
  • From Switzerland to California, these are the world's 11 most beautiful train routes. 

"Tagskryt," a Scandanavian word that means bragging about train travel (guilty) , is all the rage nowadays as younger generations rediscover the sustainable and aesthetic means of transportation. 

While it's not the quickest way to get from point A to point B, long-distance trains are definitely one of the most scenic ways to explore a new country. 

Below, in no particular order, we rounded up some of the most stunning train rides that are definitely worth bragging about.

The list includes train rides around the world, from Canada to India, and itineraries that range from a couple of hours to multiple days. All the costs are estimates — international train fares are dependent on many factors like exchange rates, the company, and selected travel dates and itineraries. 

<p><strong>Country</strong>: Serbia, Montenegro</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: Approximately 10 hours</p><p><strong>Description:</strong> The Belgrade to Bar railway takes passengers over 435 bridges and through 254 tunnels from Serbia's capital to the shores of the Adriatic in Montenegro. </p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Approximately €24 </p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.seat61.com/belgrade-to-bar-railway.htm" rel="nofollow noopener">Seat 61</a></em></p>

1. The Belgrade to Bar Railway

Country : Serbia, Montenegro

Duration of trip : Approximately 10 hours

Description: The Belgrade to Bar railway takes passengers over 435 bridges and through 254 tunnels from Serbia's capital to the shores of the Adriatic in Montenegro. 

Cost:  Approximately €24 

Source:  Seat 61

<p><strong>Country</strong>: USA</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 51 hours</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>There's no better way to see the heartland of America than the California Zephyr, a railway that climbs the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada before descending to the Pacific Coast.</p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Approximately $150 - $300 </p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.amtrak.com/california-zephyr-train" rel="nofollow noopener">Amtrak</a></em></p>

2. The California Zephyr

Country : USA

Duration of trip : 51 hours

Description: There's no better way to see the heartland of America than the California Zephyr, a railway that climbs the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada before descending to the Pacific Coast.

Cost:  Approximately $150 - $300 

Source:  Amtrak

<p><strong>Country</strong>: Canada</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 86 hours</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>Passengers of the Canadian spend four days watching golden prairie fields, rugged lake country, and picturesque towns pass by their dome cars from Toronto to Vancouver.</p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Approximately $500</p><p><em>Source: <a href="http://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/trains/rockies-and-pacific/toronto-vancouver-canadian" rel="nofollow noopener">VIA Rail Canada</a></em></p>

3. The Canadian

Country : Canada

Duration of trip : 86 hours

Description: Passengers of the Canadian spend four days watching golden prairie fields, rugged lake country, and picturesque towns pass by their dome cars from Toronto to Vancouver.

Cost:  Approximately $500

Source:  VIA Rail Canada

<p><strong>Country</strong>: India</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 7 nights, 8 days</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>Palace on Wheels is a luxury resort aboard a train — complete with a spa — that takes riders past India's temples, forts, and Taj Mahal on a seven-night passage.</p><p><strong>Cost:</strong> Between $665 and $2,391 per night</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.palacesonwheels.com/the-train.html" rel="noopener">Palace on Wheels</a></em></p>

4. Palace on Wheels

Country : India

Duration of trip : 7 nights, 8 days

Description: Palace on Wheels is a luxury resort aboard a train — complete with a spa — that takes riders past India's temples, forts, and Taj Mahal on a seven-night passage.

Cost: Between $665 and $2,391 per night

Source: Palace on Wheels

<p><strong>Country</strong>: Switzerland</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 7.5 hours</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>The Glacier Express connects two major mountain resorts in the Swiss Alps, giving riders a whirlwind tour of Switzerland's snowy peaks, mountain meadows, and storybook villages.</p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Approximately $80 to $300, plus fees</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.glacierexpress.ch/en/" rel="nofollow noopener">The Glacier Express</a></em></p>

5. The Glacier Express

Country : Switzerland

Duration of trip : 7.5 hours

Description: The Glacier Express connects two major mountain resorts in the Swiss Alps, giving riders a whirlwind tour of Switzerland's snowy peaks, mountain meadows, and storybook villages.

Cost:  Approximately $80 to $300, plus fees

Source:  The Glacier Express

<p><strong>Country</strong>: Argentina</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 15 hours</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>The "Tren a las Nubes" follows zig-zag tracks across the rugged Andes on its way from Salta, Argentina, to the Chilean border. It's one of the highest train rides in the world. Read more <a href="https://www.insider.com/taking-train-to-the-clouds-what-its-like-tren-las-nubes-argentina">about what the journey is actually like here</a>. </p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Approximately $84</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://trenalasnubes.com.ar/inicio-en/" rel="nofollow noopener">Train to the Clouds</a></em></p>

6. The Train to the Clouds

Country : Argentina

Duration of trip : 15 hours

Description: The "Tren a las Nubes" follows zig-zag tracks across the rugged Andes on its way from Salta, Argentina, to the Chilean border. It's one of the highest train rides in the world. Read more about what the journey is actually like here . 

Cost:  Approximately $84

Source:  Train to the Clouds

<p><strong>Country</strong>: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 12 to 15 days</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>Explore Southern Africa onboard the Shongololo Express, which includes excursions and pit stops in wildlife reserves and craft markets across Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.</p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Approximately $<em>6,500 to $13,000</em></p><p><em>Source</em>: <em><a href="https://shongololo.com/" rel="nofollow noopener">The Shongololo Express</a></em></p>

7. The Shongololo Express

Country : Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Duration of trip : 12 to 15 days

Description: Explore Southern Africa onboard the Shongololo Express, which includes excursions and pit stops in wildlife reserves and craft markets across Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Cost:  Approximately $ 6,500 to $13,000

Source : The Shongololo Express

<p><strong>Country</strong>: Russia</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 14 days</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway line in the world. There are several trains to choose from, like the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, which offers 14-day excursions through Russia. Traveling between Vladivostok and Moscow, the luxury train passes by endless grasslands and Lake Baikal, the deepest lake on Earth.</p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Varied </p><p><em>Source: <a href="http://www.goldeneagleluxurytrains.com/journeys/trans-siberian-express/eastbound/" rel="nofollow noopener">Golden Eagle Luxury Trains</a></em></p>

8. The Trans-Siberian Railway

Country : Russia

Duration of trip : 14 days

Description: The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway line in the world. There are several trains to choose from, like the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, which offers 14-day excursions through Russia. Traveling between Vladivostok and Moscow, the luxury train passes by endless grasslands and Lake Baikal, the deepest lake on Earth.

Cost:  Varied 

Source:  Golden Eagle Luxury Trains

<p><strong>Country</strong>: Australia</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 54 hours</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>The Ghan takes riders through the fiery red center of Australia, offering access to the dramatic scenery and indigenous sites that are off-limits by other modes of transit.</p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Packages start at approximately $2,050</p><p><em>Source: <a href="http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the-ghan" rel="nofollow noopener">Great Southern Rail</a></em></p>

9. The Ghan

Country : Australia

Duration of trip : 54 hours

Description: The Ghan takes riders through the fiery red center of Australia, offering access to the dramatic scenery and indigenous sites that are off-limits by other modes of transit.

Cost: Packages start at approximately $2,050

Source:  Great Southern Rail

<p><strong>Country</strong>: Multiple, including the UK and Italy</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 1 to 5 nights</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>The revived Orient Express transports riders to the golden age of rail travel, with its four-course dinners and black-tie glamour. It offers a variety of overnight trips to over a dozen European cities, including Paris, London, Vienna, Venice, and Istanbul. </p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Between $6,800 and $48,000, approximately</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.belmond.com/venice-simplon-orient-express/journeys/4_169373?cabinsAdults=2&date=14+Sep+2017" rel="nofollow noopener">Belmond</a></em></p>

10. Venice Simplon-Orient Express

Country : Multiple, including the UK and Italy

Duration of trip : 1 to 5 nights

Description: The revived Orient Express transports riders to the golden age of rail travel, with its four-course dinners and black-tie glamour. It offers a variety of overnight trips to over a dozen European cities, including Paris, London, Vienna, Venice, and Istanbul. 

Cost: Between $6,800 and $48,000, approximately

Source:  Belmond

<p><strong>Country</strong>: New Zealand</p><p><strong>Duration of trip</strong>: 5 hours</p><p><strong>Description: </strong>In New Zealand, the TranzAlpine lets riders take in the epic vistas and awe-inspiring plains between Christchurch and Greymouth. It covers 139 miles in just under five hours.</p><p><strong>Cost: </strong>Approximately $120</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/tranzalpine/" rel="nofollow noopener">Great Journeys of New Zealand</a></em></p>

11. The TranzAlpine

Country : New Zealand

Duration of trip : 5 hours

Description: In New Zealand, the TranzAlpine lets riders take in the epic vistas and awe-inspiring plains between Christchurch and Greymouth. It covers 139 miles in just under five hours.

Cost: Approximately $120

Source:  Great Journeys of New Zealand

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cost to travel trans siberian railroad


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  1. How to Travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway (Updated 2024)

    cost to travel trans siberian railroad

  2. The complete guide to the Trans-Siberian Railway

    cost to travel trans siberian railroad

  3. Trans Siberian Railway Network: Everything You Need To Know

    cost to travel trans siberian railroad

  4. Trans-Siberian Railway Travel Tips

    cost to travel trans siberian railroad

  5. The longest train journey

    cost to travel trans siberian railroad

  6. Everything you need to know about Trans-Siberian Railway!

    cost to travel trans siberian railroad


  1. Mongolia / China border

  2. The Best Way to Travel the Trans Siberian

  3. दुनिया का सबसे लंबा रेलमार्ग! Trans-Siberian Railway #shorts

  4. Russian goods trains in 4K going to Trans Siberian Railway

  5. Trans Siberian Railroad 2

  6. Travel


  1. How Much Does A Trip On The Trans Siberian Railway Cost?

    Transport // ₽29,233 // €365 // $397. Train Tickets // ₽21,279 // €266 // $289. The journey between Vladivostok and Moscow involved six train trips in a combination of third class, second class and premium second class. This cost also includes cancellation fees for two tickets which were rebooked (₽200 / €2.50 / $2.70 each).

  2. Trans Siberian Railway Trains, Map and Tickets Cost

    The whole journey takes about 6 days and a bed in the 2nd class compartment costs about €450-€500. If you take a Trans Siberian train from Moscow to Vladivostok, the trip will take about 6 days and will cost about €150 3rd class and €300 2nd class. If you choose to make stopovers, you could take a train along the Trans Siberian railway ...

  3. How to Travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway (Updated 2024)

    Step One: Planning Your Route. The traditional Trans-Siberian route stretches 9,288 kilometers between Moscow and Vladivostok. Two variations are also popular: the Trans-Mongolian (between Moscow and Beijing via Mongolia) and the Trans-Manchurian (between Moscow and Beijing, bypassing Mongolia). All three routes take 6-7 days if going non-stop.

  4. How to plan & book a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway

    A beginner's guide to planning & booking a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, from London via Moscow to Ulan Bator in Mongolia, Beijing in China & Japan via Shanghai or Vladivostok. Trans-Siberian train times, fares & travel tips, the best ways to buy Trans-Siberian train tickets, ferry & train connections, route map & recommended guidebooks.

  5. Travel the Trans-Siberian Railroad

    The Trans-Siberian Railway uniquely combines romantic ideas about traveling with absolutely incomparable landscapes and unique impressions; all this makes the trip once-in-a-lifetime adventure. ... the cost of the whole trip starts from about 40 000 rubles for all the train tickets and may reach 400 000 rubles in case of the all-inclusive ...

  6. Trans-Siberian Railway tickets

    Although the main Trans-Siberian line runs from Moscow to Vladivostok, most tourists head for China on one of two branches, the Trans-Mongolian or the Trans-Manchurian route. There are two direct trains each week connecting Moscow and Beijing, train 3/4 via Mongolia using Chinese coaches and train 19/20 Vostok via Manchuria using Russian coaches.

  7. Trans-Siberian Railway Prices Calculation

    Before starting on your Trans-Siberian Railway adventure you naturally want to know what the entire trip will cost. Although this sounds like a simple question, it is pretty difficult to answer. The Trans-Siberian Railway price of travel depends on the following factors:

  8. Trans-Siberian Railway First Class Cabins Cost & Second Class Cost

    Classes: Russian & Mongolian Run Trains. There are two cabins classes we use on our trips. Most carriage son any train are Trans Siberian second class in 4-berth cabins known as "kupés" which have 2 upper and 2 lower berths, plenty of luggage storage space and a small table. There are also 2 berth Trans Siberian railroad first class cabins ...

  9. Total Guide to plan & book a great Trans-Siberian Railway Trip

    2. Best time to travel the Trans-Siberian Railway. If there is one best time to travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway or not, is really up to you and what you prefer. The train runs all year round, and each season has something to offer. Some periods are busy or warm while others are freezing cold. Trans-Siberian in summer

  10. Trans-Siberian Railway: The Ultimate Guide

    The Trans-Siberian Railway reaches nearly every major city and spans over 6,000 miles. Traveling the route cross-country, one can imagine living in a Tolstoy novel. It's thrilling, accessible, and even a little romantic. Image by Robert Pastryk from Pixabay. Country: Russia.

  11. A Complete Guide to the Trans-Siberian Railway

    Food on the Trans-Siberian railway is provided by local Russian, Mongolian and Chinese cars, changing three times on Train 4 and twice on Train 19, with all meals at an additional cost. In the Russian car, meals like soup (£7.50), steak or fish with rice and potatoes (£11) and pancakes with salmon and schnitzel are on offer, with Russian wine ...

  12. Trans-Siberian Railway Travel Guide: Safety, Budget + Experiences!

    Russia has a lot to offer! • Plan in advance - I recommend Real Russia to book your tickets. • Travel 3rd class in the Trans-Siberian Railway to save money and have the true local experience. • Get used to the weird time specifications (Moscow time!) • Bring food and entertainment (food, laptop,…) inside the train.

  13. Trans-Siberian Railroad Route & Railway Map

    There are daily flights though to link Mongolia and China. The shortest of the 3 rail routes on our Trans Siberian railroad map is the Trans-Mongolian at 7,621 km (4,735 miles) and runs from Moscow to Beijing. Most people want to at least pass through Mongolia and normally stop there making this the most popular route by far.

  14. How to travel the Trans Siberian Railway (Trans Mongolia route)

    See how much our 2 weeks on the Trans Mongolian Railway cost (includes everything on & off the train!) Trans Siberian Railway tickets cost. If you do the Trans Siberian Railway in one go on the Moscow to Vladivostok train it'll cost around $850 USD in a second class compartment. The Trans Siberian Railway 1st class ticket price is roughly $1330.

  15. Trans-Siberian Railway Tours & Trips

    The Trans-Siberian Trip Packages. The Trans-Siberian journey is a unique destination for people with a flame in the heart and desire to discover new uncovered cultures, to see the best world's heritages, and feel life in full. The challenging travel provides comfortable accommodation onboard the train for at least two weeks.

  16. All aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway: the world's longest ...

    To travel on the Trans-Siberian train, from Vladivostok to Moscow, it costs around $1,600 in a first class sleeper compartment, and $820 in a second class sleeper compartment. You can also find third class open-plan dormitory cars on some trains.

  17. Trans Siberian Railway Tours & Siberian Express Holidays

    The Trans-Siberian Travel Company (TSTC) is a well established, independent and family owned and operated company offering well thought out, high quality and tried and tested by us Trans-Siberian rail tours and holidays.The epic Trans Siberian railway trip spans across three countries and crosses the two continents of Europe and Asia bringing some of the most remote parts of the planet in ...

  18. Trans-Siberian Railway

    The Trans-Siberian Railway, historically known as the Great Siberian Route and often shortened to Transsib, is a large railway system that connects European Russia to the Russian Far East. Spanning a length of over 9,289 kilometers (5,772 miles), it is the longest railway line in the world. It runs from the city of Moscow in the west to the city of Vladivostok in the east.

  19. Moscow to Vladivostok Trains: price, tickets, booking online

    In fact, there's no such train called "The Trans-Siberian Express". Trans-Siberian is the name of the train route from Moscow to Vladivostok the longest train route in the world. At the moment there are 2 trains covering the entire distance: the famous branded train #001/002 Rossiya and a regular passenger train #061/062

  20. The Zarengold Private Train

    16-Day Private Train Journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Moscow to Beijing. Experience one of the last great travel adventures. Your journey along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, one of the world's most fascinating and safest train routes, is even more interesting, comfortable, and entertaining with our privately chartered train. next dates.

  21. The Trans-Siberian Railway: A Historical Trip Across Russia!

    The cost of travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway varies greatly depending on factors such as the ticket class, the time of year, and the specific route taken. Prices can range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds.

  22. Golden Eagle Train

    Experience impeccable comfort, traveling onboard a Golden Eagle train along the renowned Trans-Siberian Railway. This premium-class train is a perfect solution for those who appreciate flawless service and unparalleled style. The luxurious Golden Eagle train guarantees well-fitted cabins, excellent dining opportunities, and elegant interiors. If you don't believe that one train can provide it ...

  23. These Are The Cheapest Scenic Trains In The World

    Out of all the things to know about the Trans Siberian Railway, perhaps the most impressive is that it is the longest railroad in the world, so those who love traveling via trains will enjoy this ...

  24. 11 beautiful train trips around the world

    Duration of trip: 14 days. Description: The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway line in the world. There are several trains to choose from, like the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express ...

  25. Tsars Gold Private Trans-Siberian Train

    Travel the Trans-Siberian railway in luxury on the Tsars Gold private train with routes from Moscow to Beijing and back. Group tours on selected dates - book now! Call us on +44 020 8816 8925 to speak to a consultant who has travelled the Trans-Siberian