If you’re looking for an epic journey which doesn’t involve the need to sit in a soulless flying tin can for hours on end, you certainly need to be turning your attention to the Trans-Siberian Railway, allowing you to travel from Asia to Europe, or the other way around, without setting foot into an airport.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is much more than a transport option, although it does that very handily indeed; no, the Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the world’s best ways to see passing landscapes, countries, destinations, and experience it all in comfort, meeting plenty of new, like-minded travellers all at the same time.
Basically, the Trans-Siberian Railway is part of the huge Russian railway network, but it doesn’t only cover Russia, because by planning your journey carefully, using connecting trains and occasionally the odd ferry, you can travel from London in Europe, to the bottom of South East Asia, without paying for one flight ticket. This railway connects the end of the European rail network, as it meets Russia, with the equally as huge Chinese rail network at the other end.
There are three main routes to the actual Trans-Siberian Railway, and the rest of your onward journey is made up by connections. Moscow to Vladivostok is the main route, which runs every second day, and covers a huge 5752 miles – that’s a lot of distance! On top of this you have two routes which head into China – Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia, and Moscow to Beijing via Manchuria. You can travel in either direction – east or west, at any time of the year, however if you’re wanting to see more then May to September is the best time to go, in order to make use of the most sunlight hours; having said that, the winter snow is breath-taking.
Planning your journey
It’s worth noting that you can’t use the Trans-Siberian Railway as a hop on and off kind of affair, because every ticket is numbered with a particular seat; if you want to arrange a few stop offs along the way you will need to buy separate tickets, so of course that means planning where you want to go and what you want to see beforehand, and arranging the cheapest and easiest way from there. You’ll find online trip planners to help you do this.
You will also need to think about visa requirements, because you are going to be crossing a lot of borders. As a basic need, you will require a visa for Russia and China, as well as looking at where else you’re going and which route you’re choosing – head to your embassy website for up to date information on this.
You then need to decide how luxuriously you want to travel, or whether you’re happy to go economy – the Trans-Siberian Railway in general is comfortable, so whichever option you’re going for, you’re in for a treat.
Once that is decided, you need to book your connecting train from wherever you’re travelling from, to Moscow.
It might seem like a needless amount of time to travel this huge distance by rail, but the sights and experiences you will get out of it are priceless.
Photo Credit: Chris Hill