If you have only a limited time, but really want to see every corner of Russia, then the Trans-Siberian Railways is the answer. Russia is a very big country that covers around 17 million square kilometers. It covers eleven time zones and over 5,700 miles of distance from west to east. It used to be so difficult to travel from end to end of Russia conveniently, but now that Trans-Siberian Railway is up and running, it is not a matter anymore.
What is Trans-Siberian?
The Trans-Siberian Railway (the old name is the Great Siberian Route) is the longest railway in the world (9,288.2 km), connects Moscow (the starting point is the Yaroslavsky Railway Station) and Vladivostok. It is an important part of the transport corridor between Europe and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, the route between Moscow and Vladivostok on the fastest passenger train takes 6 days and 1 hour.
The Trans-Siberian Railway passes through eight time zones, 21 subjects of the Russian Federation and 87 cities, including 14 regional centers. On its way, the road crosses 16 major rivers, including the Volga, Irtysh, Kama, Ob, Yenisei, Amur and others. The highest point on the line is the Yablonov pass in the Trans-Baikal Territory (1,040 m).
The first stop is Yekaterinburg. At the carriage in the twilight light you will be met by a conductor in an impeccable gray suit, to the tone of the ash-gray train itself. During the trip, this woman will ensure that everything is in order, as well as order in the car itself. She will ask you to show the tickets and documents. Once the papers are checked, you will be allowed to board the carriage.
The compartment is simple, clean, and air conditioned. There are two folding shelves and benches with a table where the passenger can enjoy the free mineral water, rolls and cookies. In the corner, bedding set is neatly folded. The price of a ticket for this type of travel is about 7 thousand rubles, which, given the distance and quality of service, is not that expensive. Of course, there are different types of trains, from the regular up to VIP ones – which would decide the price of the tour.
How to travel on the Siberian railway yourself
Traveling along the Trans-Siberian Railway is an amazing opportunity to see the most remote corners of Russia. No flight on a plane can give you the same vivid emotions as this trip by rail. After all, traveling by plane, you will not be able to see how climate and landscape change from region to region, you will not be able to visit all the most famous cities of Russia and enjoy the vast expanses of the country. That is why among many Russians and foreign travelers, traveling along the Trans-Siberian Railway is so popular. And, if you don’t feel like arranging a trip with a guide, you can easily organize such a trip yourself.
It is worth noting that a journey along the Siberian Railway is not just a trip from Moscow to Vladivostok. To truly enjoy such a trip, you will need to not just travel from point A to point B, but be sure to make stops for 1-2 days, leave the train car, and get acquainted with the most interesting cities of Russia.
Getting on the trains
Branded trains. The most comfortable and fastest trains on the Trans-Siberian Railway are branded trains number 1/2 “Russia” (Moscow – Vladivostok) , 5/6 “Ocean” (Khabarovsk – Vladivostok) , 9/10 “Baikal” (Moscow – Irkutsk) , 25/26 Sibiryak (Moscow – Novosibirsk) , 55/56 Yenisei (Moscow – Krasnoyarsk)and a few more trains of the same class. They go through the route with the least number of stops, sometimes 300-400 km non-stop. They have German-made cars, new, with air conditioning. But, of course, the prices of the tickets are much higher than the rest.
International trains – number 3/4 (Moscow – Beijing via Mongolia) , 5/6 (Moscow – Beijing via Ulan Bator), 19/20 (Moscow – Beijing via Manchuria). Further than that, there are also trains that go all the way to Mongolia and China, but not comfortable or recommended because these routes are commonly used to transport goods.
Solo or Arranged?
You can get the Transsib tickets online through several official websites that sell tickets where you can choose the type of the trains you want to ride on as well as the route. For a solo, independent travelling, you have to carefully check the stops and decide where you want to get off and spend a day or two before continuing the tour. At the cities you plan to make transits, it would be better to reserve places to stay beforehand and make a good itinerary.
However, if you decide that you want a laid-back, hassle-free tour from Moscow to Vladivostok, then it would be better for you to book a trip from a travel agency. They will take care of everything, including hotels at the towns the train passes, the meals, tourist attractions, and neat itinerary to make sure you get the best experience in the span of time given.
Why you should try riding on the Transsib
In general, this is how the trip goes: passengers get to see amazing and different views outside the window, ride in a warm comfortable train, try new things, talk with very friendly and sociable Russians (which breaks all the stereotypes about them), get off in different cities and take a look at the locals’ daily life, taste many kinds of local food, and many more. People say that such a trip can change the outlook on life, because getting to experience such a long journey on a train across a country through different heights, time zones, and climates will definitely be mind-blowing.