If your next holiday includes going to Russia and even further into Asia, the Trans-Siberian Railway should definitely end up on your itinerary. It is the second-longest railway line in the world, with a length of over 9.000 kilometers, so there will be plenty of beautiful things to see on the journey. But if you’re not sure where and how to start planning, this guide will help you and lead you on the way!
Get Your Visas
The first step of any planning is getting the correct documentation. Unfortunately, getting a visa is also one of the most frustrating parts of this whole process, and it tends to take some time, so do not procrastinate with this task and order the required paperwork as soon as you can.
There are different conditions, depending on the country you’re coming from. For example, if you are an American, before going on one of the Trans-Siberian railway trips you will need to acquire a Russian and Chinese visa, though not a Mongolian one. That being said, Mongolia requires residents of many European countries to have a Mongolian entry visa. Therefore, be attentive when you check the demands for your country and take care of them beforehand.
Pick a Route
There are several main destinations for you to choose from – everything depends on what you want to see along the way, where you wish to get off, and how luxurious you like your trips to be since there are many types of trains.
One of the two main routes for you to take is the original Trans-Siberian route, which will take you from Moscow to Vladivostok. The journey is quite long, up to 6 days, and this one’s for you if you enjoy spending a lot of time on the train. The landscapes along the way are a little less exciting and varied, but it crosses the cities of Yekaterinburg and Ulan Ude. This route is a lot less hassling visa-wise, but unfortunately, you get to visit neither China nor Mongolia.
The next one, however, is more exciting, and this is the Trans-Mongolian route – it will take you from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia. There is much more interesting scenery along the way as you get to go through more diverse cities, not to mention the opportunity to visit exotic Mongolia and eventually settle in the capital of China.
So, as we have mentioned, the main thing for you to do while choosing a route is to decide on what you would like to be doing and seeing while traveling to your desired location. The rest is quite easy!
Plan Your Itinerary
Once you decide on a route, check out all the possible stops – what to do and what to see? Sure, you can choose the Trans-Siberian route and make it a 6-day journey mostly on the train, but if your heart seeks exploration, we recommend taking full advantage of the possible cities to visit along the way. Here are some of the suggestions:
Get to Moscow Before Your Scheduled Train
If possible, try to get to Moscow a few days before the train so you can start a journey right, having already explored the capital of Russia. There are plenty of things to see regarding culture, music, history, and entertainment, so try to set some time aside just for that. One day in Moscow is a day well spent.
This is a great spot for people who enjoy hiking and skiing! We suggest spending at least a couple of days here, just so you can take a thorough walk across the Stolby National Park and spend a good amount of time in your ski gear.
Spend Some Time in Irkutsk
Yet another wonderful stop of the Trans-Siberian railway trip is the city of Irkutsk. Here, the biggest attraction of all is the famous Lake Baikal. Whether you come in the summertime, when the blue of the water is merging beautifully with the greenery, or in wintertime, when you get to see it frozen and all-white – spending time in Irkutsk is definitely worth it.
Book Your Tickets Online
After you decide on your final itinerary, there will probably be a lot of booking to be done. You will need to buy tickets to the location you want to visit, then buy them again from said location to another one, until you reach the last stop or the one you wish to stay at. Booking tickets online will also assure you of having a seat on the train, so do not leave it for the last minute.
We hope that now you are at least somewhat caught up on how to plan this glorious train trip! Spending time on the Trans-Siberian railway will make for a wonderful and educational holiday, so simply follow our guide and start checking all the boxes!
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.