When it comes to a pace at which we want to travel, we’re in no hurry. Sure, we want to get to Bejing but why take an 11 hour flight when we can take a 144 hour+ train journey across 2 continents and 7 time zones with the opportunity to stop off at some amazing places along the way?!
I appreciate that long distance train travel might not appeal to everyone but for us there’s something amazing, intriguing and slightly romantic about the idea of crossing such a vast land mass by train. For anyone unsure of what I’m talking about, the Trans Siberian & Trans Mongolian railways run east from Moscow across Russia, Mongolia and China ending nearly 8000kms away in Bejing. Contrary to popular belief the Trans Siberian railway does not end in Bejing but at the far east of Russia in Vladivostok. Anyone wishing to travel from Moscow to Bejing must travel as far as Ulan Ude then branch off south on the Trans Mongolian railway passing through Mongolia then into China, finally terminating in Bejing.
Over the past couple of months we’ve been researching and planning the first leg of our trip from London to Bejing. We’ll be flying from London to St Petersburg then on to Moscow by train before boarding the Trans Siberian. We plan to take 2 weeks to complete the trip with stops in Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Ulan Ude and Ulaan Baatar finally arriving in Bejing. We’re deliberately making short stops just to break up the journey and get a taster of life in Russia & Mongolia. Some people prefer to take months to do the trip some will stay on the train for a solid 6 days but hey, each to there own and if we find somewhere we love we can always go back for a long stay at some point in the future!
The following are some resources that we found useful when planning our trip so you might find them useful too?!…
- The Man in Seat 61 – The definitive resource for train travel around the world. This is a great starting point for planning a trip with info on routes, the trains, costs, visa and more.
- Lonely Planet: Trans Siberian Railway – A free PDF download containing loads of useful info
- Way to Russia: Trans Siberian Guide – Way to Russia is a great resource for all things Russian! Start with this guide then take a look at the rest of the site for info on visas, destinations and loads more.
- Real Russia – Russian travel agency with offices in London and very helpful English-speaking staff! We booked our tickets with them and would highly recommend them for both ticket & visa services (and no, they haven’t paid us to say nice things!!).
- Everbrite’s travel pages – Excellent resource from frequent Lonely Planet Thorn tree poster, Ruth (Everbrite).
And here are a few blogs or posts with details of all aspects of Trans Siberian railway life…
- Nomadic Matt – How to travel the Trans Siberian railway
- Girls Travel Blog – Trans Siberian train from Ulaanbataar to Bejing
- Get Rid of Me – Tall tales from the Trans Siberian railway
- To China and Beyond – Trans Siberian Railway (numerous posts)
- Matador Trips – How to break your train ride
- Trans Siberian Experience – Various posts on Trans Siberian life
Ever wondered what life on board the train is like?!
Here’s a video tour of a carriage and a quick look around a 2nd class cabin. This is where we’ll be staying…
And for those who really want to mingle with the locals, here’s a quick look around 3rd class!…
We’re both really excited about this leg of the trip and can’t wait to experience the train journey for ourselves (something we rarely say in London!). I hope this post has given you a little insight into what we’ve got to look forward to and hope you find the info useful.
If you have anything we could add to this post, have any thoughts or comments or have details of your own adventures that you’d like us to link to, we’d love to hear from you so leave a comment or drop us a message via the contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we get an internet connection!
And finally, if you’re planning on buying a guide book to take on your trip we bought the latest edition of Lonely Planet – Trans-Siberian Railway and can highly recommend it!