Russia is one immense country. As far as railway experiences go, the trans siberian railway tour is unrivaled when it comes to taking in the landscapes of the world’s largest country. Not only so, but being the longest railway in the world, you can drink in the Russian, Mongolian and Chinese culture along the way. You can see the imposing Urals, breathtaking Lake Baikal, inimitable Ulaanbaatar, and ancient Chinese provinces. You get to to enjoy spectacular Russian nature, ranging from beautiful lakes and rivers to thriving green forest and grand mountains, as well as the entire Eurasian beauty in one astounding trip!
The taiga is mesmerizing. Looking out at the panorama of larch, silver fir, pine and birch induces the kind of reverie that is one of the pleasures of train travel, a random stream of thoughts and images that drifts on like the forest. In clearings, villages that could have come from a Levitan or Shishkin painting break the spell and make one wonder what life must be like in such remote fastnesses.
To enjoy the longest hours of daylight and the chance of fine weather, it’s best to go between May and September, though it’s cheaper during winter. The upmarket option is pampered comfort in the hotel-train style of Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, which operates a variety of itineraries each year.
Moscow to Vladivostok (9,258km/6,152 miles). The longest and least popular with western travellers, taking seven nights. It runs every other day, with first-class (spalny vagon), second-class (kupé) and very basic third-class (platskartny) coaches and a restaurant car.
Moscow to Beijing via Harbin, Manchuria (8,986km/5,623 miles). The older of the two routes that reach Beijing, this was completed in the 1900s and is served by one train a week taking six nights, using Russian first – and second-class coaches. Both routes to the Chinese capital require the bogies under the coaches to be changed at the Russian/Chinese and Mongolian/Chinese borders, where the track gauge changes from 1,520mm (4ft 11 5⁄6in) to 1,435 mm (4ft 8 1⁄2in).
Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia (7,621km/4,735 miles). This is considered by many to be the most interesting of the routes, yet there is only one train a week, taking six nights. Leaving Siberia, the train of Chinese coaches, with first and second class only, crosses Mongolia via the Gobi Desert to enter China.
For something really unusual, a more northerly route across Siberia from Tayshet to Sovetskaya Gavan on the Pacific coast known as the BAM (Baikal-Amur-Maestral railway) was completed in 1991, but few western travelers take this option.
All three train routes share the same track between Moscow and Ulan Ude.
The Tsar’s Gold private train is the safest and most comfortable way to travel the world’s most famous train route — the 100-year-old Trans-Siberian Railroad. The Tsar’s Gold private train is the safest and most comfortable way to travel on this fascinating railroad built more than 100 years ago. Benefit from 30 plus years of experience on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
The Trans-Siberian Railway reaches right across Asia, connecting Moscow with the Far East, cutting through the fascinating lands in between. Crossing a third of the globe, the Trans-Siberian Railway heads through the natural wonders of the Gobi Desert, the Ural Mountains and the grassy steppe of Mongolia.
Russians will often bring from home most of what they intend to eat and drink on the trip. I’ve seen travelers unwrap vast smorgasbords of meat, cheese, pickles, bread, salads and cookies, with two kinds of beer and a bottle of vodka, within minutes of boarding. On the flip side, I’ve also seen passengers (usually men) eat almost nothing for three days, surviving on what appears to be a diet of alcohol and sleep.
You can eat in the dining cars, which tend to vary wildly in quality, or you can purchase food from the crowd of vendors at each stop — mostly older women selling homemade meat pies and pastries. For those with hardy gastrointestinal tracts, these home-cooked treats can be a delicious way to sample the local culture. For others, I recommend stocking up on the ever-present Styrofoam cups of noodle soup that can be bought at any train station food kiosk.
Another benefit to bringing food with you is that it’s great way to meet people. The Trans-Siberian can be an extremely collegial undertaking for those who are willing: There’s no better way to meet and chat with real Russian people than by sharing your food with your train-mates — and they will not hesitate to share with you.
Some say that the Trans Siberian Railway Tour is the journey of a lifetime.