How to travel overland between Europe & China or Japan...

A journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway should be on everyone's bucket list.  It's safe, comfortable & affordable.  On this page I'll explain the routes, trains, classes, prices, answer your questions, and help you plan & book your trip.  Page last updated March 2022

IMPORTANT UPDATE 2022-2023:  All international Trans-Siberian trains between Russia & China have been suspended since February 2020 due to Coronavirus and remain suspended until further notice, although by late 2022 a weekly Irkutsk-Ulan Bator train has reportedly resumed.  Russian domestic trains are running including the Moscow-Vladivostok Rossiya.  All international trains between western Europe & Russia remain suspended because of sanctions.  The Foreign Office now advises against all travel to Russia because of the war between Russia & Ukraine, see www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/russia.  China remains more or less closed because of their 'zero Covid' policy.  I have left this page as was pre-pandemic, but various companies including Real Russia may no longer be trading.

  Carriage side, train 4 from Moscow to Beijing
 

Train 4, the Moscow to Beijing Trans-Mongolian Express.  4,735 miles, 3 countries, 6 days...

  Train 2 Rossiya from Moscow to Vladivostok
 

Train 2 Rossiya, on its 7-day 5,752-mile journey from Moscow to Vladivostok.  The cars are now in RZD Russian Railways corporate red & grey, no longer red, white & blue.  Photo courtesy of Nicholas Stone.

Trans-Siberian trains, fares, tickets...

small bullet point  Route map: Where does the Trans-Siberian go?

small bullet point  An overview of the 3 routes

small bullet point  Planning & booking a trip, a step-by-step guide

small bullet point  What are the trains like?

small bullet point  Trans-Siberian timetable - eastbound

small bullet point  Trans-Siberian timetable - westbound

small bullet point  How much does it cost?

small bullet point  Check Trans-Siberian times & fares online

small bullet point  How to buy tickets

small bullet point  Visas and how to get them...

small bullet point  Tips & FAQ: Security, food, bikes, stopovers...

small bullet point  A journey in pictures from Moscow to Beijing

small bullet point  A brief history of the Trans-Siberian Railway

small bullet point  The luxury option: Trans-Siberian by private train

small bullet point  Recommended Trans-Siberian guidebooks

small bullet point  Travel insurance & VPN

Connecting trains & ferries...

small bullet point  Trains between London, Paris, Berlin & Moscow

small bullet point  Trains between Beijing & other Chinese cities

small bullet point  Trains between Beijing & Hong Kong

small bullet point  Trains between Beijing & Hanoi, Vietnam

small bullet point  Connections to/from Bangkok & Thailand

small bullet point  Ferry between Vladivostok, South Korea & Japan

small bullet point  Ferries between China & Japan

small bullet point  Ferries between China & Taiwan

What is the Trans-Siberian Railway?

The Trans-Siberian Railway is just one part of the massive Russian railway network, transporting passengers and freight safely at affordable prices.  It connects the European rail network at one end with either Vladivostok or the Chinese rail network at the other.  Take a look at the route map below to see where the Trans-Siberian Railway goes.  You can use it to travel overland in either direction between London, Paris or anywhere in Europe and China, Japan, Korea or even Southeast Asia...

Interactive map: Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian, Trans-Manchurian...

Showing connecting trains & ferries.  Click on a route to see train times, fares & information.

Trans-Siberian Railway route map Trains from Beijing to Guangzhou Trains Bangkok - Penang - KL - Singapore Buses Saigon - Phnom Penh - Siem Reap - Bangkok Trains from Hanoi to Saigon Beijing to Guilin & Nanning Beijing to Guilin & Nanning Beijing to Guilin & Nanning Beijing to Hanoi by train Trains in China Train from Beijing to Hong Kong Train from Beijing to Lhasa & Tibet Train Beijing to Xian Train Beijing to Shanghai Ferries Shanghai to Japan Ferry Tianjon to Korea Ferry Vladivostok-Korea-Japan Trans-Siberian Railway St Petersburg to Moscow by train London, Paris, Amsterdam to St Petersburg London, Paris, Amsteram to Moscow

There's also a less well-travelled route to China via Kazakhstan, sometimes known as the Silk Route, for details click here.

An overview of the 3 routes...

Moscow to Vladivostok:  Every day, the Rossiya (the Russia, train number 2 eastbound, train 1 westbound) leaves Moscow on its 9,259 km (5,752 mile) journey to Vladivostok, taking 8 nights/7 days.  In addition, 3 times a week you'll also find un-named train 61 westbound & 62 eastbound which link Moscow with Vladivostok with fewer stops in just 7 nights/6 days.  This is almost the longest train ride of them all, 9,259 km or 5,752 miles.  Trains 1/2 & 61/62 have 2nd class 4-berth compartments called kupé, open-plan bunks called platskartny & a restaurant car, see the photos below.  There are no longer any 2-berth spalny vagon sleepers on these trains, at least not at the moment, but if you like you can pay for 4 tickets to get sole occupancy of a 4-berth sleeper for one, two or three people.  These trains now have dynamic pricing, one-way fares from Moscow to Vladivostok start at around 11,500 rubles ($170 or £140) in kupé with a bed in a 4-berth sleeper, more if booked through an agency.  See a brief account of the journey.  There is a weekly ferry from Vladivostok to South Korea & Japan taking 2 nights & 1 day, although this was discontinued in February 2020, it has been resurrected by another company using the same ship, and should start taking passengers when borders reopen after the pandemic.

Two routes to China:  Although the main Trans-Siberian line runs from Moscow to Vladivostok, most western travellers head for China on one of two branches, the Trans-Mongolian line (completed in the 1950s) or the Trans-Manchurian line (built around 1900), see the route map.  There are two direct trains each week between Moscow & Beijing, train 3/4 via Mongolia using Chinese coaches and train 19/20 Vostok via Manchuria using Russian coaches.

Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia:  This is arguably the most interesting Trans-Siberian route to take.  The weekly Trans-Mongolian train (train 4 eastbound, train 3 westbound) leaves Moscow for Beijing every Tuesday night.  The 7,621 km (4,735 mile) journey takes 6 nights.  This train crosses Siberia, cuts across Mongolia and the Gobi desert, then enters China.  Westbound, it leaves Beijing every Wednesday morning.  This train uses Chinese rolling stock and has deluxe 2-berth compartments (with shared shower), 1st class 4-berth compartments & 2nd class 4-berth compartments.  Booked through a local Russian agency, journey costs around $805 or £555 one-way in 2nd class 4-berth or $1130 or £780 in 1st class 2-berth.  See an illustrated account of the journey.

Moscow to Beijing via Manchuria: The weekly Trans-Manchurian train (the Vostok, train 20 eastbound, train 19 westbound, using Russian rolling stock) leaves Moscow on Saturday nights for Beijing via Manchuria, taking just over six days to cover the 8,986km (5,623 miles).  Westbound, it leaves Beijing every Saturday night.  There are 2-berth 1st class compartments (spalny vagon) and 4-berth 2nd class compartments (kupé).  Prices are similar to the Chinese train.

Other Trans-Siberian trains:  These aren't the only Trans-Siberian trains.  Far from it!  Many other trains run over parts of these routes.  There's even a slightly slower Moscow-Vladivostok train, train 100 taking 7 nights instead of 6...  See the Trans-Siberian timetable below.

Train 2, the Rossiya, from Moscow to Vladivostok

Train 2, the Rossiya from Moscow to Vladivostok,  6,152 miles in 8 nights.  Courtesy of Hubert Horan

 
Train 4, the Trans-Mongolian train from Moscow to Beijing

Train 4 from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia. Courtesy of Tony Willis

Train 20, the Vostok, from Moscow to Beijing

Train 20, the Vostok from Moscow to Beijing the weekly Russian Trans-Manchurian train, at Ulan Ude.  Each carriage proudly carries the lettering 'MOSKVA-PEKIN'.  Or did.  This train too is now appearing in corporate RZD grey and red! 6 days, 5,623 miles... Photo courtesy of David Smith

Recommended guidebooks...

The kilometre-by-kilometre guide in Bryn Thomas' Trans-Siberian Handbook makes it particularly useful...

Buy online at AmazonBuy the 'Trans-Siberian Handbook' online at Amazon


Planning your trip...

  Train 2, the Rossiya, from Moscow to Vladivostok
 

Train 2, the Rossiya from Moscow to Vladivostok,  6,152 miles in 8 nights Train 62 does the same run in 7 nights  Photo courtesy of Hubert Horan

  Train 4, the Trans-Mongolian train from Moscow to Beijing
 

Train 4 from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia. Courtesy of Tony Willis

  Train 20, the Vostok, from Moscow to Beijing
 

Train 20, the Vostok from Moscow to Beijing the weekly Russian Trans-Manchurian train.  This train too is now appearing in corporate RZD grey and red! 6 days, 5,623 miles... Photo courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

  Train 5 from Ulan Bator to Moscow
 

Train 6 from Moscow to Ulan Bator, freshly re-equipped with modern air-conditioned Mongolian Railways cars in 2017, similar to the cars now used on the Rossiya.  Note the galloping horses logo!  The thrice-weekly Irkutsk-Ulan Bator version of train 6 uses modern Russian Railways cars.  Photo courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

 

Buy online at AmazonBuy the 'Trans-Siberian Handbook' online at AmazonRecommended

guidebooks...

The kilometre-by-kilometre guide in Bryn Thomas' Trans-Siberian Handbook makes it particularly useful...

1.  When to go? Eastbound or westbound? Is it safe?

Yes, the Trans-Siberian is perfectly safe, even for families or solo females.  It's the way Russian families and women travel, after all.

You can go at any time of year as the Trans-Siberian Railway operates all year round.  Naturally, the summer months from May to September have the best weather and the longest daylight hours so are the most popular.  In winter it's easier to get tickets, the trains are warmly heated and the Siberian landscape beautiful in the snow, but the hours of daylight will be shorter and stretching your legs at stations or visiting the cities will be chillier.  In many ways it's the slushy thaw around April that's least attractive. 

On board the trains, Kupé 4-berth sleepers (2nd class) is the usual comfortable choice for most westerners.  2-berth Spalny Vagon (1st class) is now quite rare, but you can pay for 4 tickets in kupé to get sole occupancy or a 4-berth compartment if you like.

You can travel the Trans-Siberian Railway either eastbound or westbound, it's up to you, although eastbound tends to be more popular with westerners, perhaps because going out by rail from your local station and flying back is more romantic than starting your trip with a flight.  On this page I cover both directions, remember that any comments written from an eastbound perspective usually apply westbound too!

See the Trans-Siberian travel tips for more advice & answering all your FAQs.

2.  Decide on your route & final destination...

The Trans-Siberian Railway doesn't just go to Vladivostok.  It links Europe with China, Japan, Korea, even Vietnam and South East Asia.  How about  going to Beijing?  Shanghai?  Hong Kong?  Tokyo?  Tibet?  See the Trans-Siberian route map to open your mind to all the possibilities which the Trans-Siberian Railway offers.  You can even reach Hanoi, Saigon, Bangkok or Singapore overland from London.

Vladivostok is an interesting place for a day or two if you're passing through before catching the ferry to Japan or Korea, but probably not worth a 7 day journey from Moscow just for its own sake.  Beijing is a far better choice of destination as it's an absolutely amazing city that's well worth the overland trip from Europe.

The Trans-Mongolian is easily the most interesting of the three routes, even though it means an extra visa, there are superb views of the Gobi desert and a chance to stop off in Mongolia on the way. 

But why end your trip in Beijing?  Shanghai or Xian are just a few hours high-speed train ride away.  There are trains from Beijing to Hong Kong. How about Japan?  There are ferries from Shanghai to Osaka.  There's even a twice-weekly direct train from Beijing to Hanoi in Vietnam taking 2 nights, 1 day (see the Vietnam page), then you can take daily trains to Saigon, a bus to Phnom Penh and on to Bangkok, then a train to Malaysia & Singapore, see the Cambodia & Thailand pages.

3.  Do you want to stop off?

You cannot buy an open ticket and hop on and off, as the Trans-Siberian is an all-reserved long-distance railway where everyone gets their own sleeping-berth and every ticket comes printed with a specific date, train number, car & berth number.  However, you can easily arrange stopovers along the way using a separate ticket for each train, easily pre-booked especially if you use the Trans-Siberian Trip Planner.

The varied scenery and camaraderie on board the direct Moscow-Beijing trains makes non-stop travel on these trains an enjoyable option and maximises your time in China.  On the other hand, travelling to Vladivostok non-stop in 7 days can be tedious (I should know) and it's better the break up the journey and see something of Siberia.  And even if you're heading for China, there's lots worth stopping off for on the way if you have time.

The obvious stopovers are Irkutsk in Siberia for Lake Baikal and Ulan Bator in Mongolia, for a side trip into the Gobi desert.  If you have more time, Ekaterinberg & Ulan Ude are also worth a stop.

To help decide where to stop off, buy a copy of Bryn Thomas' excellent Trans-Siberian Handbook, with journey planning information, town guides, the history of the line, and best of all, a mile-by-mile guide to the sights you can see from the train, which really helps you get the most from the trip. The Lonely Planet Trans-Siberian Railways guide is also good.

Most western travellers pre-book all their tickets, but if you have lots of time and are determined to stay flexible and buy tickets at stations as you go, read this section about buying tickets at the station.

4.  Plan your Trans-Siberian trains...

There is no such train as the Trans-Siberian Express but a whole range of trains across Siberia, including countless Russian domestic trains plus a handful of direct international trains to Mongolia and China.  Plan your trains using the Trans-Siberian timetable below or the Trans-Siberian trip planner.  Within Russia, there are both faster quality trains & slower cheaper trains, it's your call which you take.

So for example, if you chose to travel from Moscow to Beijing straight through without stopovers, you'd obviously book one of the weekly direct Moscow-Beijing trains, trains 4 or 20.  But if, say, you wanted to go from Moscow to Beijing with stopovers at Irkutsk and Ulan Bator, you might first take any regular daily Russian domestic train from Moscow to Irkutsk, and it might be nice to ride the Moscow-Vladivostok Rossiya for this bit unless a cheaper ticket for a slower lower-quality train better suited your budget.  Then you might take train 6 from Irkutsk to Ulan Bator 4 times a week, as this is easier to get berths on and more frequent than waiting for weekly train 4.  Then you might pick up trains 4 or 24 from Ulan Bator to Beijing.  Browse the Trans-Siberian timetable or use the Trans-Siberian trip planner.

 

5.  How much will it cost?  How long does it take?

To give you a rough idea, the cheapest trip put together yourself would include a Moscow-Beijing 2nd class train ticket from around £442 or $590, plus a London-Moscow train ticket for around £200.  You'll also need at least 1 night in a hotel in Moscow, and of course you need to budget for visas for Russia, China and possibly Mongolia and Belarus, plus travel insurance.  But it all depends on what you want to do, and how economically or luxuriously you want to travel.

Fares are shown in the fares section below, although what you actually pay depends on how you buy your tickets as the various booking agencies add differing mark-ups.  You can use the Real Russia Trans-Siberian trip planner to get a good idea of cost including stopovers.

In terms of time, London to Beijing with a one day stopover in Moscow takes around 10 days, London to Beijing with 2-days in Irkutsk and 3 days in Ulan Bator in Mongolia would take 15 days.  London to Tokyo or Hanoi with stopovers in Moscow and Vladivostok takes about 14 days.  You could reach Bangkok in around 20 days.  But where and how long you stop off is up to you.  I suggest sketching out an itinerary and budget using the method explained on the How to plan an itinerary & budget page.

Expert personal trip planning & advice:  DiscoverByRail.com...

If you want to pay an expert to put an itinerary together for you and advise you on how to book it, Andy at DiscoverByRail.com provides a 'travel architect' service, with suggestions for routes, trains, stopovers, hotels to your own specification, and advice on getting visas.  He charges a fee of around £45 per trip.

Back to top


 

Booking your trip...

Step 1.  Buy your Trans-Siberian train tickets.

Step 2.  Book connecting trains, ferries & flights.

Step 3.  Book your hotels.

Step 4.  Arrange your visas. 

Step 5.  Book your train from London to Moscow: 

Step 6.  Don't forget insurance... 

Don't fly to Moscow!

Flying to Moscow to pick up the Trans-Siberian Railway is like entering a marathon and then accepting a lift in someone's car for the first hundred yards...  Don't cheat!  If you're going to go overland to the Far East, do it properly, starting at London St Pancras and staying firmly on the ground.  It's easy to travel from London to Moscow by train, click here for train times, fares & how to buy ticketsHow about starting your Trans-Siberian trip with Eurostar from London to Paris and then a ride on the excellent Paris-Moscow Express? 

The Paris to Moscow Express at Paris Gare de l'Est

The Paris to Moscow express about to leave Paris Gare de l'Est, see the Paris-Moscow Express pageRussian Railways run direct trains to Moscow from Paris weekly, from Berlin 3 weekly, and from Warsaw, Prague, Helsinki every day...

Back to top


What are the trains like?

The Trans-Siberian Railway is a regular railway, a means of transport vital to the people living along it.  It's not run for tourists, so you won't find bar cars with pianos or deluxe suites with en suite showers (although one or two tourist cruise trains now operate on the Trans-Siberian from time to time, details here).  However, all passengers get a proper flat berth to sleep in, provided with all necessary bedding, convertible to a seat for day use.  There are washrooms and toilets along the corridor, and a restaurant car for meals.  Whichever train you take, the Trans-Siberian is a safe and comfortable way to reach China and the Far East.  You'll find more details about food, showers & toilets in the Travel tips & FAQ section.

A request:  If you get any good current interior or exterior photos to illustrate trains 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 56, 61/62, 305/306, 23/24, please let me know!

Trains 1 & 2, the Moscow to Vladivostok Rossiya...

The famous Rossiya (the Russia) runs from Moscow to Vladivostok every day all year round, 9,259 km (5,752 miles) in 8 nights.  It has 2nd class 4-berth 2nd sleepers (called kupé), 3rd class open-plan sleeper bunks (called platskartny) and a restaurant car.  There are no longer any 1st class 2-berth sleepers (called SV or spalny vagon), at least not at the moment, but you can pay for 4 tickets in kupé to get sole occupancy of a 4-berth compartment for 1, 2 or 3 people.

It's a very comfortable train, re-equipped with the latest air-conditioned sleeping-cars in July 2020 featuring power sockets & USB ports for every passenger, a mini-combination safe for valuables for each passenger and a hot shower in each car.  The bunks convert to seats for daytime use.  There are toilets & washrooms at the end of the corridor, room for luggage under the lower berths and above the door to the corridor.  Compartment doors lock securely from the inside.  The new cars are shown here:  www.tvz.ru/catalog/passenger/item_detail.php?ELEMENT_ID=1374.

Changes in July 2020:  Train 1/2 Rossiya has always been the fastest train between Moscow & Vladivostok, taking 7 nights.  Until July 2020 it only ran every two days and there was a second slower train between Moscow & Vladivostok, train 99/100 leaving every day, making around 70 more station stops than the Rossiya and taking 8 nights.  Train 99/100 was gradually re-equipped with the very latest cars, and from 9 July 2020 this slower train 99/100 was renumbered 1/2 and became the Rossiya, whilst the former faster train 1/2 was renumbered 61/62.

So travellers now have a choice between riding the famous Rossiya, train 1 westbound & train 2 eastbound with daily departures and the latest rolling stock, but taking 8 nights, or riding nameless train 61/62 running only 3 days a week with slightly older rolling stock, but with 70 fewer stops, taking only 7 nights from Moscow to Vladivostok and saving a whole day & night.  Personally, I'd take the Rossiya, for the name as well as the hot shower in every car!

The photos below show the Rossiya pre-July 2020, courtesy of Yves Goovaerts, David Smith, Nicholas Stone & Hilary Onno.  It's possible that this rolling stock is now used on train 61/62, whilst even newer stock is used on train 1/2 Rossiya.

The Rossiya train from Moscow to Vladivostok

The Rossiya on its journey from Moscow to Vladivostok.  After years in a special red, white and blue colour scheme, in 2017 even the famous Rossiya is now in RZD (Russian Railways) corporate red and grey.  Photo courtesy of Hubert Horan.

Exterior of Moscow-Vladivostok Train 2, the Rossiya   4-berth sleeper on train 2, the Rossiya   Restaurant car on train 2, the Rossiya

The Rossiya.  An air-conditioned sleeping-car...

 

2nd class 4-berth, known in Russia as kupéLarger photo.

 

The restaurant car on the Rossiya serving meals, drinks & snacks...

Sound system on the Rossiya   There are power sockets in each compartment on train 1/2   Trans-Siberian restaurant car food...

Sound system...

 

There's a power socket under the table...

 

A typical restaurant meal...

The Rossiya train at Vladivostok

The Rossiya at Vladivostok station.  Photo courtesy of Hubert Horan...

What's the journey to Vladivostok like?

The Man in Seat 61 says:  "A journey from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Rossiya was a totally different experience from a previous journey from Moscow to Beijing on train 4.  Travelling to Japan via Vladivostok, my 1st class 2-berth car was comfortable, spotlessly clean and even air-conditioned.  I usually ate in the restaurant car, and by the end of the trip Mischa in the kitchen would have my ham & eggs in the frying pan for breakfast as soon as I appeared in the restaurant.  In contrast to the vibrant international community on board train 4 to Beijing, on train 2 I was the sole Westerner aboard until Irkutsk.  And also unlike the Moscow-Beijing train where almost everyone is making the complete journey, very few passengers on the Rossiya are going all the way to Vladivostok.  The Rossiya is used for all sorts of shorter intermediate journeys, with Russians getting on and off at every station.  I had a compartment all to myself on leaving Moscow, then shared it with a professional Russian ice hockey player from Yaroslavl to Perm, on his way to trial for the team there.  His place was taken by a Russian lady from Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk who said very little.  In Irkutsk two professors from Alabama joined the train and became my meal companions in the restaurant.  The train stops several times a day, usually only for 10-20 minutes, but you can stretch your legs and take photographs.  Arrival in Vladivostok was a full two minutes ahead of schedule, seven days after leaving Moscow. The ocean terminal is adjacent to the station, but you may need to spend a night in Vladivostok to be sure of a safe connection.  Vladivostok is an interesting city, and a day or two spent there will not be wasted.  Overall, the Moscow-Vladivostok route is 7 days of Siberia on a train with few fellow westerners and indeed few Russians making the whole trip.  This makes for a much less interesting journey that the Moscow-Mongolia-Beijing train, and one that it would be good to break up with stopovers rather than make in one go."

Trains 3 & 4, the Moscow to Beijing Trans-Mongolian Express...

Trains 3 (westbound) and 4 (eastbound) link Moscow & Beijing once a week all year round, taking the shorter and most interesting route via Mongolia and the Gobi desert, 4,735 miles in 6 nights.  The train is Chinese, and has Chinese carriage attendants.  Using the correct Chinese terminology it has deluxe soft sleepers (2-berth), soft sleepers (4-berth) and hard sleepers (also 4-berth).  Most westerners are content to use the fairly comfortable & economical 4-berth hard sleepers, which are essentially the equivalent of 4-berth kupé on the Russian trains.  The 4-berth soft sleepers are not worth the extra money as they are virtually identical to the 4-berth hard sleepers, just slightly larger, though not so as you'd notice without getting your tape measure out.  However, the 2-berth deluxe soft sleepers are definitely worth the extra cash if you can get one, as they have upper & lower berths and an armchair in one corner, a small table and access to a compact en suite washroom with shower head shared with the adjacent compartment, see the deluxe sleeper photo here.  Don't expect too much of the shower head though!  There are both western and squat toilets at the end of each car, along with washrooms.  A Russian restaurant car is attached whilst the train is in Russia, a Mongolian one in Mongolia and a Chinese one whilst it is in China, see food details here.

What's a journey to Beijing like?  Click here for an illustrated account...

How to avoid confusion over classes...  Remember that this train is Chinese, not Russian.  Deluxe soft sleeper, soft sleeper & hard sleeper are usually translated for westerners as 1st class 2-berth, 1st class 4-berth & 2nd class 4-berth, certainly by agencies at the Chinese end.  In my opinion that's an appropriate translation as the Chinese 4-berth hard sleepers are equivalent to 4-berth kupé sleepers on Russian trains, and so can safely be thought of as 2nd class, not 3rd.  However, some Russian agencies including the reliable Real Russia booking system translate the deluxe soft sleeper, soft sleeper & hard sleeper on this Chinese train as 1st, 2nd and 3rd class, where 2nd class means a 1st class 4-berth soft sleeper that's not worth the extra money and 3rd class means a comfortable 4-berth hard sleeper which is more accurately thought of as 2nd class and which I would recommend for most budget travellers.  I hope that's clear!  Oh, and train 4, train 004, train 004Z (or in Cyrillic, what is often mistaken for 0043) are all the same train, train 4...

Chinese restaurant car attached to train 4 in China   Train 4 from Moscow to Beijing in Mongolia

The Chinese restaurant car on train 4, attached between Erlan & Beijing.  A Russian restaurant car is attached whilst in Russia, a Mongolian one in Mongolia.  Courtesy of Peter & Janet Jackson.

 

Train 4 crossing Mongolia...  The train calls at Ulan Bator, then sweeps across the wide open spaces of the Gobi desert.  Courtesy of Tony Willis.

Carriage side, train 4 from Moscow to Beijing   4-berth sleeper on train 4 from Moscow to Beijing   Corridor in a first class deluxe 2-berth car on train 4 to Beijing

Each carriage of trains 3 & 4 proudly carries a 'Beijing - Ulan Bator - Moscow' destination board in Russian & Chinese.  Courtesy of Tony Willis.

 

4-berth hard sleeper. Soft sleeper 4-berth is virtually identical. Courtesy Tony Willis.

 

2-berth deluxe soft sleeper with shared en suite washroomPhoto courtesy of Richard Kirk

Train 5 & 6 Moscow - Ulan Bator...

Train 5 westbound, train 6 eastbound, uses modern air-conditioned Mongolian Railways (MTZ) sleeping-cars, newly-delivered in 2017.  It has 4-berth kupé (2nd class) compartments and spalny vagon (1st class) 2-berth compartments.  These new Mongolian cars have similar interiors to the cars on train 1 & 2 Rossiya.  A Russian restaurant car is attached whilst in Russia.

Train 6 from Moscow to Ulan Bator

Mongolian cars on train 6 from Moscow to Ulan Bator.  Photos courtesy of Keith Finger.

Staff greet passengers at the door of Trans-Siberian train 6   Bar section of restaurant on Trans-Siberian train 6

Staff on train 6...

 

Russian bar-restaurant car on train 6...

Trains 19 & 20 Vostok, the Trans-Manchurian train between Moscow & Beijing...

Train 19 westbound, train 20 eastbound, the Vostok is the Russian train linking Moscow and Beijing once a week.  It by-passes Mongolia, crossing directly from Russia into China via the older and slightly longer route through Manchuria, 8,986km (5,623 miles) in 7 nights.  The name Vostok simply means 'East'.  The Vostok was given a makeover in 2012-2013, and the photos below show the new red and grey colour scheme and smart refurbished interior.  The train has Russian-style 2-berth & 4-berth sleepers, and a restaurant car - a Russian restaurant when in Russia and a Chinese one when in China.  There are power sockets for laptops, cameras or mobiles in every compartment.  Unlike the Chinese 2-berth sleepers on train 3/4, the Russian 1st class 2-berths on this train are of the Russian spalny vagon type with two lower berths, think of it as a 4-berth with the upper berths removed, but no washbasin or adjacent washroom, as in the 4-berth sleepers there are toilets and washrooms at the end of the corridor.  For an account of this journey, see Angie Bradshaw's blog here.

Train 19 from Beijing to Moscow, in Siberia   4-berth sleeper on train 19 from Beijing to Moscow

Train 19 from Beijing to Moscow, about to leave Beijing station.  This train is now in corporate RZD red & grey.  Courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

4-berth sleeper on train 19 from Beijing to Moscow. Courtesy of Angie Bradshaw, see her blog here Larger photo.

Russian restaurant car attached to train 19   Trans-Siberian train 19 from Beijing to Moscow

The Russian restaurant car attached to this train whilst in Russia.  Photo courtesy of David Smith.

 

Another shot of train 19 whilst in Russia.  Photo courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

Chinese locomotive on train 19 leaving Beijing   Chinese restaurant car on train 19 whilst in China

Train 19 rolls into Beijing station to begin its 6-night journey to Moscow.  Photo courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

The Chinese restaurant attached to this train whilst in China.  Photo courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.  Larger photo.

Back to top


Trans-Siberian train times

Here is a summary of all the most important trains on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  Make sure you read the notes!  The times shown are departure times unless it says otherwise, at most stations you can assume the arrival time will be 5 to 15 minutes before departure.  There are other slower trains not shown here, simply use the Real Russia online system here to find train times for all possible trains, or to confirm these times.

All times shown below are local time...  Russian trains used to run to Moscow time whilst in Russia, even if local time was 7 hours ahead of Moscow.  However, but RZD Russian Railways ended this century-old practice from August 2018 and now use local time in all their timetables and booking systems.

Fun with time zones...  Russia made Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanent in 2011 making Moscow GMT+4 all year round but in 2014 they changed their minds and abolished it altogether, so Moscow is now GMT+3 all year round.  So China is now permanently 5 hours ahead of Moscow as they too have no DST.  Mongolia was also permanently 5 hours ahead of Moscow and on the same time as Beijing, until the Mongolians changed their minds and reintroduced DST in March 2015 making them GMT+8 (Moscow +5, Beijing+0) in winter but GMT+9 (Moscow+6, Beijing+1) in summer.  But in 2017 they've changed their minds again and have once more abolished DST so Mongolia is now GMT+8 or Moscow time +5 all year round.  Until someone changes their mind again, of course.

IMPORTANT UPDATE 2022-2023:  The timetable below is the pre-pandemic, pre-war-in-Ukraine timetable, for information only.

Eastbound timetable...

 Moscow ► Ulan Bator, Beijing & Vladivostok

 Dist-

 ance

 (Km)

Hours

ahead

of

Moscow

Train number & name:

72

 62  

4

6

306

20 Vostok

2 Rossiya

24

Days of running:

Daily

Mon, Thur, Sat

Every Tuesday

Most

Wednesdays

Mon, Wed,

Fri

Every Saturday

Daily

1 or 2 per week

Notes:

See note E

See note F

See note B

See note C

See note G

See note D

See note A

See note H

 0

0

 Moscow Yaroslavski station

-

23:45  day 1

23:55  Tue

 23:55  Wed

 

23:45  Sat

 00:35 day 1

 461

0

 Nizhni Novgorod

-

05:49  day 2

 06:00  Wed

 06:00  Thur

 

 05:50  Sun

|

 

 -

0

 St Petersburg Ladozhki station

17:09 day 1

 |

 |

 |

 

 |

|

 1,397

+2

 Perm 2

00:45 day 3

 22:02  day 2

 22:14  Wed

 22:14  Thur

 

22:06  Sun

 06:17 day 2

 1,778

+2

 Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk)

06:12 day 3

 03:40  day 3

 03:44  Thur

 03:44  Fri

 

 03:34  Mon

 12:15 day 2

 2,676

+3

 Omsk

 

 17:00  day 3

 16:52  Thur

 16:52  Fri

 

 17:02  Mon

 02:31 day 3

 3,303

+4

 Novosibirsk

 

 01:46  day 4

01:23  Fri

 01:23  Sat

 

 01:41  Tue

 12:53 day 3

 4,065

+4

 Krasnoyarsk

 

 13:38  day 4

13:01  Fri

 13:01  Sat

 

13:23  Tue

 02:06 day 4

 5,152

+5

 Irkutsk 

arrive

 

 07:43  day 5

07:13  Sat

 07:13  Sun

 

 07:35  Wed

 21:15 day 4

 5,152

+5

depart

 

 08:06  day 5

08:08  Sat

 08:08  Sun

08:08  day 1

 07:58  Wed

 21:55 day 4

 5,608

+5

 Ulan Ude

 

 15:19  day 5

15:45  Sat

 15:45  Sun

15:45  day 1

 14:51  Wed

 06:12 day 5

 5,864

+5

 Naushki (Russian border)

arrive

 

|

19:57  Sat

 19:57  Sun

19:57  day 1

|

|

 5,864

+5

depart

 

|

21:47  Sat

 21:47  Sun

21:47  day 1

|

|

 5,887

+5

 Suhe Bator (Mongolian border)

 

|

22:29* Sat

 22:29* Sun

 22:29* day 1

|

|

 6,265

+5

 Ulan Bator

arrive

 

|

  06:50* Sun

 06:50* Mon

 06:50* day 2

|

|

 6,265

+5

depart

 

|

  07:30* Sun

 

|

|

  07:15*  day 1

 6,770

+5

 Dzamin Uud (Mongolian border)

 

|

  18:50* Sun

 

|

|

  18:50*  day 1

 6,780

+5

 Erlian (Chinese border)

arrive

 

|

 21:00  Sun

 

|

|

 21:00  day 1

 6,780

+5

depart

 

|

  02:00  Mon

 

|

|

 02:00  day 2

 6,626

+5

 Zabaikalsk (Russian border) arr

 

|

|

 

  12:30 Thur

|

|

 6,638

+5

 Manzhouli (Chinese border) dep

 

|

|

 

  23:59 Thur

|

|

 7,574

+5

 Harbin (local time)

 

|

|

 

12:50  Fri

|

|

 7,622**

+5

 Beijing main station

 

|

  14:35  Mon

 

 05:49  Sat

|

 14:35  day 2

 8,492

+7

 Khabarovsk

 

 19:31  day 7

 

 

16:40 day 7

 9,258

+7

 Vladivostok

 

 07:07  day 8

 

 

06:06 day 8

* Mongolia reintroduced Daylight Saving Time in March 2015.  The times with an asterisk will therefore be approx one hour later from late March to late September.

** Moscow-Beijing is 7,622 km (4,735 miles) via Ulan Bator or 8,986 km (5,623 miles) via Harbin.    Map of Moscow showing Yaroslavsky station

Time zones:  Moscow time is GMT+3 all year.  Mongolia is GMT+8 from late September to late March or GMT+9 from late March to late September.  China is GMT+8 all year.  Mongolia re-introduced daylight saving time in 2015, whilst Russia made DST permanent in 2011 then abolished it in 2014.  Do keep up!

Trains stop for only 1 or 2 minutes at small stations, but 15-50 minutes at major stations, long enough to stretch your legs.

Note A:  Rossiya.  High-quality train, see here for photos & more information.  Runs daily (increased from running every 2 days from 9 July 2020).  Uses the latest air-conditioned cars with a hot shower in every car, 2nd class 4-berth kupé sleepers, 3rd class platskartny berths & restaurant car.  There are now no 1st class 2-berth spalny vagon sleepers, but you can pay for 4 tickets to have sole occupancy of a 4-berth compartment for 1-3 passengers.

Note B:  Moscow-Beijing Trans-Mongolian express, see here for photos & information & see here for an illustrated account of the journey.  Leaves Moscow every Tuesday eastbound, leaves Beijing every Wednesday westbound.  Operated with Chinese coaches & staff.  1st class 2-berth, 1st class 4-berth, 2nd class 4-berth.  Russian restaurant car whilst in Russia, Mongolian restaurant in Mongolia, Chinese restaurant in China.  Note that if you're trying to buy a ticket from Ulan Bator to Beijing, berths on train 4 can only be booked within 24h of departure from Ulan Bator, so you'll find it much easier to use train 24 instead.  Train 4 can be shown online variously as train 4, train 004, train 004Z or with a Russian letter Z as a suffix so it looks like train 0043.  They all mean train 4.  And similarly for train 3.

Note C:  Train 6 runs from Moscow on most Wednesdays, train 5 runs from Ulan Bator on most Fridays.  It has modern Mongolian Railways spalny vagon (1st class) 2-berth   sleepers and kupé (2nd class) 4-berth sleepers.  A restaurant car is attached in Mongolia & in Russia.  It runs every week between late May & late September, but only on alternate weeks off-season, check departure dates using the Real Russia online systemSee here for photos & more information

Note D:  Vostok.  Moscow-Beijing trans-Manchurian express.  Leaves Moscow every Saturday.  Westbound, leaves Beijing every Saturday.  Operates with Russian coaches & staff.  2-berth spalny vagon, 4-berth kupé.  There is a Russian restaurant car whilst in Russia and a Chinese restaurant car in China.  From December 2017 it runs in the similar timings to the Rossiya between Moscow & Ulan Ude and when running days of both trains coincide it will be coupled to the Rossiya.

Note E:  Runs daily.  Fast high-quality train with spalny vagon 2-berth sleepers, kupé  4-berth sleepers, platskartny (open-plan bunks) between St Petersburg & Ekaterinberg.  The St Petersburg-Irkutsk Baikal was discontinued in 2013.  Train 71/72 is now the principal direct link between St Petersburg & Siberia unless you go via Moscow.

Note F:  Train 61/62 is a faster, but un-named alternative to the Rossiya, taking 7 nights rather than the Rossiya's 8, but only running 3 times a week and using slightly older rolling sock, probably that formerly used by the Rossiya pre-2020.  The carriages are still modern and air-conditioned, but without a shower in every car, for example.  Train 61/62 has 2-berth spalny vagon, 4-berth kupé, open-plan platskartny bunks and a restaurant car.

Note G:  Train 305/306 runs 3 times a week, check dates using the online system.  It has 4-berth kupé sleepers on all departures, but only the Monday & Friday departures from Irkutsk have 2-berth spalny vagon sleepers.  The Mongolians claim all 3 departures per week have spalny vagon in the other direction, but I suspect the Monday departure from UB may not have 2-berth spalny vagon if the Wednesday departure in the other direction doesn't.  The Mon & Fri departures from Irkutsk and the Tues & Sat departures from UB use older non-air-con Russian cars, the Wednesday departure from Irkutsk & the Monday departure from UB use Mongolian cars.  All together, trains 3/4, 5/6 & 305/306 link Irkutsk & Ulan Bator 4 or 5 times a week.  There's no restaurant car so bring your own provisions.

Note H:  Runs once a week all year, twice a week in summer.  This train is operated by the Mongolian Railways one year and Chinese Railways the next year, switching over each year at the end of May when the days of operation also change.  Assuming the pattern continues, this is how it should work...

From May 2017 to May 2018 and from May 2019 to May 2020, Chinese Railways run the main all-year-round service with train 23 from Beijing to Ulan Bator running every Tuesday, train 24 from Ulan Bator to Beijing running every Thursday.  The Mongolians then run an additional weekly departure in summer from late June to early September, train 24 Ulan Bator to Beijing also running on Saturdays, train 23 Beijing to Ulan Bator also running on Mondays. 

From May 2018 to May 2019, Mongolian Railways run the main all-year-round service with train 23 from Beijing to Ulan Bator running every Saturday, train 24 from Ulan Bator to Beijing running every Thursday.  The Chinese then run an additional weekly departure in summer from late June to early September, train 24 Ulan Bator to Beijing running additionally on Fridays, train 23 Beijing to Ulan Bator running additionally on Tuesdays.

The Chinese train has deluxe soft sleeper (2-berth), soft sleeper (4-berth) & hard sleeper (4-berth).  The Mongolian train has spalny vagon (1st class 2-berth) & kupé (2nd class 4-berth). 

Note that's it's much easier to buy a ticket from Ulan Bator to Beijing on train 24 than to get a berth on train 4 coming through from Moscow.  There are alternative, less convenient but more frequent ways to get from Ulan Bator to Beijing, with changes of train, click here for details.

Trains 3/4, 5/6 & 19/20 between Moscow, Ulan Bator & Beijing are mainly for passengers making international journeys e.g. Moscow to Beijing, Irkutsk to Beijing or Moscow to Ulan Bator) although they may offer berths for domestic Russian journeys.  But if you want to stop off at Ekaterinberg or Irkutsk for example, you would normally take a Russian internal train between Moscow, Ekaterinberg & Irkutsk such as the Rossiya or train 100 as these run more frequently.

Westbound timetable...

 Vladivostok, Beijing & Ulan Bator Moscow

Hours

ahead

of

Moscow

 Train number & name:

61

3

5

305

19 Vostok

23

1 Rossiya

71

 Days of running:

Mon, Thur, Sat

Every

Wednesday

Most

Fridays

Mon, Tue, Sat

Every

Saturday

1 or 2 per week

Daily

Daily

 Notes:

See note A

See note B

See note C

See note G

See note D

See note H

See note F

See note E

+7

 Vladivostok

 19:10  day 1

 

  

 

 

 

  00:33 day 1

 

+7

 Khabarovsk

 08:20  day 2

  

 

 

 

 

  14:56 day 2

 

+5

 Beijing main station

|

 07:27  Wed

 

 

 23:00  Sat

 07:27  day 1

|

 

+5

 Harbin

|

|

 

 

 15:44  Sun

|

|

 

+5

 Manzhouli (Chinese border) arrive

|

|

 

 

 04:17  Mon

|

|

 

+5

 Zabaikalsk (Russian border) depart

|

|

 

 

 08:17  Mon

|

|

 

+5

 Erlian  (Chinese border)

arrive

|

 20:15  Wed

 

 

|

 20:15  day 1

|

 

+5

depart

|

 00:59  Thur

 

 

|

 00:59  day 2

|

 

+5

 Dzamin Uud (Mongolian border)

|

 01:25* Thur

 

 

|

 01:25* day 2

|

 

+5

 Ulan Bator

arrive

|

 14:35* Thur

 

 

|

 14:20* day 2

|

 

+5

depart

|

 15:22* Thur

 15:22* Fri

 15:22* day 1

|

 

|

 

+5

 Suche Bator (Mongolian border)

|

 21:50* Thur

 21:50* Fri

 21:50* day 1

|

 

|

 

+5

 Naushki (Russian border)

arrive

|

 00:20  Fri

 00:20  Sat

 00:20  day 2

|

 

|

 

+5

depart

|

 02:10  Fri

 02:10  Sat

 02:10  day 2

|

 

|

 

+5

 Ulan Ude

 08:36  day 4

 07:08  Fri

 07:08  Sat

 07:08  day 2

 09:08  Tue

 

 19:34  day 4

 

+5

 Irkutsk

arrive

 15:23  day 4

 15:17  Fri

 15:17  Sat

 15:17  day 2

 15:51  Tue

 

 03:06  day 5

 

+5

depart

 15:47  day 4

 16:05  Fri

 16:05  Sat

 

 16:14  Tue

 

 03:46  day 5

 

+4

 Krasnoyarsk

 08:19  day 5

 08:19  Sat

 08:19  Sun

 

 08:25  Wed

 

 21:15  day 5

 

+4

 Novosibirsk

 19:57  day 5

 20:01  Sat

 20:01  Sun

 

 19:59  Wed

 

 10:31  day 6

 

+3

 Omsk

 02:45  day 6

 02:45  Sun

 02:45  Mon

 

 02:46  Thur

 

 17:45  day 6

 

+2

 Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk)

 14:04  day 6

 14:00  Sun

 14:00  Mon

 

 14:07  Thur

 

 05:32  day 7

23:03 day 1

+2

 Perm 2

 19:48  day 6

 19:36  Sun

 19:36  Mon

 

 19:50  Thur

 

 11:43  day 7

04:50 day 2

0

 St Petersburg Ladozhski station

 |

 |

 |

 

 |

 

 |

08:38 day 3

0

 Nizhni Novgorod

 07:00  day 7

06:50  Mon

06:50  Tue

 

07:34  Fri  

 

 |

 

0

 Moscow Yaroslavski station

 13:58  day 7

 13:58  Mon

 13:58  Tue

 

 14:13  Fri   

 

 11:13  day 8

-

Connecting trains & ferries...

Alternative transport between Ulan Bator & Beijing, if you can't get a berth on trains 3/4 or 23/24...

If you're trying to do the Trans-Mongolian route flexibly, buying tickets as you go, this is relatively easy between Moscow & Ulan Bator as there are a whole range of domestic trains every day between Moscow, Irkutsk & Ulan Ude and you'll usually find places available even on the day of travel, even if not always on your first choice of class or train.  There's then a daily train between Irkutsk or Ulan Ude and Ulan Bator, although only one carriage of this train goes through to/from Ulan Bator, but there's often places available at short notice.

The real pinch-point is between Ulan Bator and Beijing where there are just two or three direct trains per week.  And one of those is train 4 coming through from Moscow on which only limited berths are available for passengers joining at UB and these are only released for sale 24 hours before departure from UB.  However, there are alternative Mongolian domestic trains between Ulan Bator and the Chinese border, so you're very unlikely to be stranded.  Here are the alternative trains, which are not shown in the timetable above:

You can check current times for all these Mongolian trains - international and domestic - using the Mongolian Railways website ubtz.mn - English button top right.  If you have more information on these alternative UB-Beijing journey, please e-mail me!

Back to top


How much does it cost?

In a nutshell...

The full story...

Prices if you buy tickets at the ticket office in Moscow...

Prices if you buy tickets from Real Russia or other Russian agency...

Prices if you buy tickets from a western travel agency...

Prices if you buy at the ticket office in Ulan Bator...

Prices if you buy tickets in Beijing or from www.chinahighlights.com...

Children...

Back to top


Check Trans-Siberian train times & prices online

Use www.realrussia.co.uk/Trains to check train times & prices and buy tickets for any individual train on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Buy Trans-Siberian tickets

Planning a trip with stopovers?

Click the image above to book trains, one at a time.  To plan a trip between Moscow and Beijing or Vladivostok with stopovers, use the multi-leg Trans-Siberian trip planner.  This will book all your trains at once with stopovers wherever you want for however long you want.

 

www.trains.realrussia.co.uk is a reliable UK-Russian agency selling Trans-Siberian train tickets online using data direct from the RZD (Russian Railways) database.  It's a good way to check Trans-Siberian train times & fares and indeed buy your tickets.  Real Russia can also arrange your visas for Russia, Belarus, Mongolia & China.

Is this the cheapest way to buy tickets?  Real Russia is an agency, and the fares shown include a mark-up  on RZD ticket prices.  They also make a 2.5% charge for credit card payments, but you can avoid this if you call at their UK office to pay by debit card when your tickets are confirmed.  Real Russia are a reliable agency which gets good reports, so I recommend them and seat61 gets some commission if you buy through them.  I suggest comparing prices with the other Russian agencies shown here, and of course you can buy tickets at the station without any mark-up or buy online from RZD, at least for domestic Russian routes.  The full story on all the possible ways to buy Trans-Siberian train tickets is explained in the following sections.

What tickets can this system sell?  www.trains.realrussia.co.uk can sell tickets for any mainline train journey within Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan and the other ex-Soviet states, including the Trans-Siberian Railway.  It can also sell tickets starting in those countries heading outwards, for example Moscow to Beijing or Irkutsk to Ulan Bator.  Reservations officially open 60 days before departure, but with Real Russia you can request tickets up to 180 days ahead and they will contact you for payment when the price is confirmed.

Can anyone buy tickets using this system?  Yes, you can buy tickets online with a credit card whether you live in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore or wherever.

How are tickets delivered?  Tickets are collected free of charge at Real Russia's offices in Moscow or St Petersburg, or an e-ticket can be emailed to you so you can collect the ticket from most main stations in Russia.  Tickets can be sent to UK or EU addresses for a £12-£15 fee, or couriered to any address worldwide, also for an extra charge.

Booking tips:  'Firmeny' trains marked 'firm' are the best trains, with modern coaches and good on-board service.  'TBC' means the system cannot provide an online price for that particular train, but they'll call or email you with the cost.  Note that in Russia, even babies & infants need to have a ticket booked for them, even though they travel for free.

Back to top


How to buy tickets

There are several ways to book a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, each with advantages & disadvantages:

Option 1: Buy tickets at the station...

Is buying tickets at the station a practical proposition?

How to buy tickets in Moscow & Russia...

How to buy tickets in Ulan Bator...

  Beijing International Hotel   CITS office to buy Trans-Siberian tickets in Beijing
 

Buying Trans-Siberian tickets in Beijing:  Go to the CITS office on the ground floor of the Beijing International Hotel, open 09:00-12:00 & 13:30-17:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-12:00 weekends & holidays.  See location map.

How to buy tickets in Beijing...

Option 2: Buy tickets using the Real Russia Trans-Siberian planner...

Trans-Siberian multi-leg trip planner

How the trip planner works:  Go to trains.realrussia.co.uk/transsib and choose your route (Trans-Siberian to/from Vladivostok, Trans-Mongolian or Trans-Manchurian to/from Beijing), pick your end points (Moscow, Beijing, Vladivostok, eastbound or westbound) & enter your date of departure. 

On the next page you can choose where you want to stop off, and select how many days to spend in each place. 

Then it'll give you a choice of trains & prices for each leg of your trip, and let you order all the tickets in one go.

How are tickets delivered?  Tickets are collected free of charge at Real Russia's offices in Moscow or St Petersburg, or sent to UK or EU addresses for a £12-£15 fee, or couriered to any address worldwide, also for an extra charge.

 

◄  Book a Trans-Siberian journey with stopovers online... 

  • Go to trains.realrussia.co.uk/transsib

  • On the train results pages, 1st class = 2-berth.  2nd class = 4-berth, the recommended option for most travellers. 3rd class = platskartny open-plan bunks.

  • However, just to confuse you, when booking train 3 from Beijing to Moscow, 3rd class means 2nd class 4-berth, and  2nd class means the 1st class 4-berth unique to this train.

  • Trains marked Firm are Firmeny high-quality trains, with higher fares than other trains. Firmeny trains are recommended unless you're on a tight budget.

  • To book just one specific Trans-Siberian train (without stopovers) use this online tickets system instead.

About this system...

Who runs this service & are they reliable?  It's provided by Real Russia, a reliable UK-Russian company which gets many positive reports from users.  So much so that Real Russia has become RZD's (Russian Railways') biggest single customer.

Can anyone buy tickets using this system?  Yes, you can buy tickets online with a credit card whether you live in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, or wherever.

Is this the cheapest way to buy tickets?  Real Russia charge the Russian Railways fare with a mark-up to cover their costs.  There's a 2.5% charge for credit card payments, but you can avoid this by calling their UK office to pay by debit card when your tickets are confirmed.  By all means shop around other agencies.  Seat61 gets some commission if you book through this system.

Don't forget your visas:  Real Russia can also arrange your visas for Russia, Belarus, Mongolia & China.

How to buy train tickets from London to Moscow      Book your hotels here...

Option 3:  Other agencies who can arrange Trans-Siberian tickets...

For journeys within or starting in Russia, use a Russian agency...

For journeys starting in Beijing, use www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains...

...or China International Travel Service (CITS)...

...or Monkeyshrine.

For journeys starting in Ulan Bator, use a Mongolian agency...

Option 4:  Buy online at www.rzd.ru

Option 5:  Let a specialist western agency arrange your whole trip...

How to arrange tickets for connecting trains & ferries...

Train tickets London - Moscow...

Train tickets Beijing - Shanghai, Xian, Hong Kong, Vietnam...

Ferry tickets Vladivostok - Korea - Japan...

Ferry tickets between China & Korea or Japan...

If you want a one-way flight...

skyscanner generic 728x90

Back to top


How to arrange visas...

After sorting out your Trans-Siberian tickets, you need to get your visas.

How to arrange a Russian visa...

You will need a Russian visa.  Always check the latest visa information, as it changes from time to time.  But here's a quick run-down of the arrangements:

How to arrange a Belarus transit visa...

How to arrange a Mongolian visa...

How to arrange a Chinese visa...

Back to top


Travel tips & FAQ

When should you go?

  The 'Baikal' train from St Petersburg to Irkutsk, in winter

Trans-Siberian in winter:    This is the old Baikal to Irkutsk in November.  You can travel all year-round.  Courtesy of Sascha & Manuela Dubach

  Departure indicator at Moscow Yaroslavski station, showing the Rossiya to Vladivostok and train 6 to Ulan Bator about to depart

Worried about finding your train if you don't speak Russian?  Here's the departure board at Moscow Yaroslavski station.  Learn the alphabet and you can easily read the destinations.  You can see that train 318 to Archangel leaving at 19:35 will depart from platform 3.  The platforms for train 2 to Vladivostok (the Rossiya) departing 21:25 and train 6 to Ulan Bator departing 21:35 are not yet shown as they are not ready for boarding.  Learn the Russian alphabet here. Photo courtesy of Daniel Brewster.

The Trans-Siberian Railway runs all year round, so you can go at any time of year.  May to September are the peak months for foreign tourists, with the warmest weather and the longest hours of daylight.  This makes booking a specific date more difficult (you need to book well ahead) but you might like the party atmosphere amongst like-minded travellers on Moscow-Beijing trains 4 and 20.  On the other hand, Siberia in winter is a sight to see - the trains are well heated, warm and cosy, you'll just need to wrap up well when you get off for a stroll at station stops!  Traveller Rebecca Day reports from a February trip from Ulan Bator to Moscow:  "The train was really warm and comfortable.  For the outside I had snow boots, a jumper and a long wool coat, and this was fine most of the time. The temperature drops significantly once the sun goes down, but as long as I was wearing a hat and gloves I felt warm. I also brought a North Face down filled body warmer which was like a heater in itself! I ended up not wearing this most of the time, but it packs up really small and I'd probably bring it again if I were travelling in winter."

Should you travel 1st or 2nd class?

On the Russian internal trains there are normally 3 classes:  Spalny vagon 2-berth compartments, often described as 1st class (and sometimes called myagky or lyux);  kupé 4-berth compartments, usually described as 2nd class;  and platskartny open-plan dormitory cars, sometimes described as 3rd class.  The Russian Trans-Manchurian train (trains 19 & 20) only has spalny vagon 2-berth and kupé 4-berth, there's no platskartny.  Kupé is the way most travellers go, and can be considered the normal class of travel.  Spalny vagon gives you much more privacy, with 2 people instead of 4 in the same size compartment, but it costs twice as much.  The choice is yours.  Platskartny is a bit rough for most western travellers, but some budget-minded backpackers enjoy it.  The Chinese Trans-Mongolian train (trains 3 & 4) has 1st class deluxe 2-berth, 1st class 4-berth and 2nd class 4-berth.  1st class deluxe 2-berth is expensive but worth the extra if you can afford it as it has two beds, an armchair, and a private washroom with showerhead shared with the next door compartment.  It gets booked out very quickly!  However, 1st class 4-berth on train 3/4 is virtually identical to 2nd class 4-berth (see for yourself in the photo gallery!) and is probably not worth the extra.

What do you do on a train for 6 or 7 days?

This is the question most people ask.  Well, you put your feet up and relax.  You read, watch the scenery, look out for the sights listed on your Trans-Siberian Handbook, go to meals in the restaurant car, sleep in your own comfortable bed at night, meet people, talk, play chess, drink tea, drink vodka, get off at station stops and take photographs....  The Moscow-Mongolia-Beijing route is arguably the most interesting because of both the people on board and the sights and scenery on the way.  You are unlikely to be bored - the time just goes!

Is not speaking Russian a problem?

No, it isn't.  Very few western travellers on the Trans-Siberian Railway can speak Russian or for that matter, Chinese or Mongolian.  I certainly can't, and everybody manages just fine.  However, even if you don't speak Russian, it is definitely worth learning the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet as you will then be able to read place names and understand many Russian words.  For example, 'PECTOPAH' is pronounced 'restoran' and means (surprise surprise) 'restaurant'.  'ABTOБYC' is pronounced 'avtobus' and means 'bus'.  You'll also realise that 'CCCP', the old acronym for the Soviet Union, is not 'see see see pee' but 'SSSR'.  You can learn the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet here.

What about food?

  Typical meal in a Russian dining-car
 

Typical meal in a Russian dining-car, this one on train 19 en route from Beijing to Moscow...  Courtesy David Smith

See sample menu.

  A typical meal in a Mongolian dining-car
 

 Typical meal in a Mongolian dining-car.  You'd better like rice and mutton! Photo courtesy of Tom Woods

See sample menu.

  A typical meal in Chinese restaurant car
 

 Typical meal in a Chinese dining-car, this one on train 23 from Beijing to Ulan Bator...  Photo courtesy of Tom Woods.

All the main Trans-Siberian trains have a restaurant car, a Russian one when in Russia, a Mongolian one in Mongolia and a Chinese one in China.  Few people go to Russia for the cuisine, but contrary to what you might have heard, Russian restaurant car food is quite edible and not expensive.  The prices shown here are from 2013, further feedback is always appreciated.

What about security?  Is it safe for families or women travelling alone?

The Trans-Siberian is a very safe way to travel, even for families and women travelling alone.  After all, the train is full of Russian families and women travelling alone, it's how the Russians themselves get around!  Just use common sense as you would anywhere else, lock the compartment door at night and don't leave your wallet or camera lying unattended in your compartment while you go to the toilet or the restaurant car.  In addition to the normal lock on the compartment door, Russian 'Spalny Wagon' and 'kupé' compartments have a security latch which stops the door opening more than an inch or two, and which cannot be released from outside even with a staff key.  There's also a safe place for your bags at night - if you have a bottom bunk, there is a metal box underneath the bunk which you can only get to by lifting up the bunk.  In other words, for anyone to get to your bags, they will have to shift you off your bunk first!  Your carriage attendants may also lock the access doors at each end of the corridor at night to prevent intruders.  So don't worry, you'll be safe and snug.  Men and women share the same compartments, but on some routes you can now ask for a ladies-only compartment.  If you're a woman travelling alone and do happen to find yourself sharing with men who make you uncomfortable, ask the carriage attendants if they can move you to another compartment and they normally will, without too much problem.

Do the trains have power sockets & WiFi?

Suddenly, no westerner can travel anywhere without a whole array of electrical gadgets, cameras, PDAs, iPods and mobile phones that need charging.  The situation varies by train.  All Russian, Mongolian & Chinese trains have shaver sockets in the corridor and washrooms which can be used to recharge things with the right adaptor.  Some trains have one or two similar sockets in the corridor that can be used to recharge things if you keep an eye on them.  The very latest Russian trains including train 1/2 Rossiya and Trans-Manchurian train 19/20 have a power socket in each compartment for charging laptops, mobile phones or digital cameras, although train 3/4 doesn't.  Your carriage attendant may be willing to charge items using the socket in their own compartment, for a small tip.

Your default assumption should be that there's no WiFi on Trans-Siberian trains, although you'll find WiFi in hotels and other public places along the route.  If you plan to use WiFi, consider getting a VPN.  There's data reception along much of the route, so contact your mobile network provider about data packages for Russia, Mongolia and China.

  A clean western toilet on the 'Rossiya' train to Vladivostok

Just to reassure you!  This is a clean & modern toilet in a 2nd class 4-berth car on a trains 1 & 2, the Rossiya Courtesy of Hilary Onno.

  Private washroom with shower head in deluxe 2-berth sleeper on train 3 & 4.

En suite washroom with shower hose attached to a deluxe 2-berth sleeper on Moscow-Beijing trains 3 & 4.  It's shared with the 2-berth compartment next door.  The photo is taken standing in the doorway from one compartment, looking towards the door to the compartment next door.  The frosted window is between the washroom and the corridor. Water pressure in the shower head is minimal, you may have to kneel to get any sort of shower, but the washroom is useful for washing plates! Courtesy of Alan Wilson

Toilets & showers...

Each sleeping-car has at least two western-style toilets and a washroom with sinks.  The carriage attendants (provodniks) will keep the toilet clean during the journey.  How clean depends on both the provodniks and the passengers in your car(!), but there's normally no problem, especially on high-quality 'firmeny' trains like the Rossiya, see the photo on the right.  There are no showers on Trans-Siberian trains, with two exceptions:  On the Trans-Mongolian Moscow-Beijing train (train 3/4), there's a shower hose in the small private washroom shared between each adjacent pair of deluxe 1st class 2-berth compartments (see the photo below right), but don't expect much in terms of water pressure.  There may now be a shower in one of the cars on the Moscow-Vladivostok Rossiya (train 1/2), which you have to pay for.  Remember that the need to take a shower every single day is a relatively recent western social trend, not a human necessity.  Remember that not so many generations ago, Sunday night was bath night, whether you needed it or not!  Just lock yourself into the washroom half way across and make good use of the sink and a cup of water.

Smoking...

If you're a rabid anti-smoker, don't worry.  There isn't a problem in the compartments, corridor or restaurants which are all non-smoking.  But if you're a smoker, don't worry either.  You can grab a smoke in the vestibules between the cars or on station platforms.

Do Trans-Siberian trains run on time?

Within Russia, the trains are remarkably punctual.  My train from Moscow arrived in Vladivostok two minutes ahead of schedule.  However, on international trains you should expect an hour or two delay when crossing frontiers.  For example, on the Trans-Mongolian route it is not unusual to arrive in Ulan Bator perhaps 1 or 2 hours late and in Beijing 2 to 5 hours late.  Allow for this when planning any connections.

Can you stop off on the way?

All Trans-Siberian trains stop at stations every few hours for between 5 and 20 minutes, enough time to get off the train, stretch your legs, take photos and buy something from the vendors on the platform.  But not enough time for a tour of the town!

Many people travel all the way from Moscow to Beijing or Vladivostok all in one go on one of the direct trains.  Other people prefer to stop off along the way, breaking up the long journey and seeing something of Siberia or Mongolia.  Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk (for Lake Baikal) and Ulan Bator (Mongolia) are the most usual stop-overs.

On the direct Moscow-Beijing trains, the varied scenery and friendly atmosphere on board make travelling straight through without stopovers perfectly bearable and indeed, fun.  There are usually lots of westerners on board as well as Russians, Chinese and Mongolians, almost all of them making the whole trip, like yourself.  However, on a Moscow-Vladivostok train, you might be the only westerner on board for much of the journey, the whole trip is made within Russia, and relatively few of your fellow-travellers will be making the whole journey to Vladivostok.  It may be better to break up this trip with one or two stopovers, perhaps at Yekaterinburg or Irkutsk.

Remember that Trans-Siberian trains are 'reservation obligatory'.  Every time you step on board a train you must have a confirmed sleeping-berth reservation for that specific journey on that specific train on that specific date - you cannot hop on and off trains spontaneously without a reservation.  So if you want to travel from, say, Moscow to Beijing stopping off at Irkutsk you need a ticket/reservation from Moscow to Irkutsk and a second separate ticket/reservation for the train you want to take from Irkutsk to Beijing.  Think of these as two separate journeys, not one.  You can arrange all the tickets and reservations before you go.

If you are stopping off, remember that the weekly direct international trains 4 & 20 from Moscow to Beijing are primarily for passengers making international journeys from Moscow to Mongolia or China, although it is possible to use them for domestic trips within Russia if you can get a berth.  In practice, a typical trip from Moscow to Beijing with stopovers at Irkutsk and Ulan Bator is best made using the Rossiya or another Russian domestic train such as train 100 from Moscow to Irkutsk, then the 4 times-a-week train 6 from Irkutsk to Ulan Bator and then the weekly Ulan Bator-Beijing train, see the Trans-Siberian timetable section for train times.

In theory, the Russian railways have a system whereby if you hold a ticket/reservation from A to C, and get off the train at B, you can get the ticket endorsed by the station manager, then make a second reservation and pay a small reservation charge when you want to resume your journey.  However, this does not work with international tickets.  The Russians themselves don't often use this facility, so Russian railway staff may not be familiar with it.  I recommend buying separate tickets/reservations for each leg of your journey before you go, but if you want to try this, you had better practice your Russian language skills!

Can you take a car, bike or motorcycle?

Believe it or not, this gets asked from time to time.  Trans-Siberian passenger trains do not carry cars or motorbikes, full stop.  However, you can take bicycles with you, zipped up in a bike bag with pedals removed and the handlebars turned, free of charge as hand luggage.  Bear in mind that it will take up space in your sleeping compartment, so it may be less anti-social to book a berth in a more spacious 2-berth compartment than to inflict your bike on three fellow travellers in a 4-berth compartment.

Is this the longest train ride in the world?  No.  Well...  Sort of...

You'll sometimes hear Moscow-Vladivostok in 7 days on the Rossiya referred to as the longest train ride of them all.  It isn't.  Nor is going Moscow-Vladivostok on the on the slightly slower daily train 100.  Once a week or so the Rossiya conveys two through sleepers from Moscow to the North Korean border.  This is detached at Ussuryisk just an hour or so before Vladivostok, then it heads south all the way to Korea, making this a longer continuous train ride than Moscow-Vladivostok.  But this isn't the longest train ride either.  There is a through train from Donetsk and Kharkov in Ukraine to Vladivostok, and this appears to be the longest scheduled continuous train ride of them all.  Unless you know differently, of course!

Back to top


A brief history of the Trans-Siberian Railway

  The Europe/Asia border obelisk
 

The Europe-Asia obelisk:  Approaching Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) at the kilometre post exactly 1,777 km from Moscow, the Rossiya passes the obelisk marking the boundary between Europe & Asia, right by the track.  Some trains pass this in darkness, including Moscow-Beijing train 4.  Courtesy of David Smith.

In the late 19th century, Japan, Britain and America all managed to gain footholds on the Chinese coast as bases for their trade with China and the Orient.  Russia too needed to secure her foothold on the east as well as securing the vast expanses of Siberia, so in 1891 Tsar Alexander III approved a plan for a trans-continental line linking Moscow and St Petersburg with Vladivostok on the Pacific coast, as this was the only year-round ice-free port on Russian territory.  

A railway had been built as far as Ekaterinberg as early as 1878, and this was steadily extended Eastwards.  Omsk was reached in 1894, Irkutsk and Lake Baikal in 1898.  The Trans-Siberian Railway finally reached Vladivostok in 1901, but for several years passengers had to cross Lake Baikal by ice-breaking ferry to connect with a second train on the other side - only in 1904 was the line around Lake Baikal completed and the whole journey from Moscow to Vladivostok possible on a single train.  Until 1916, the eastern end of the journey involved cutting across China, over part of what is now the Trans-Manchurian route - you can see how the Trans-Manchurian line initially heads towards Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian route map above.  The Russians secured the right to build and maintain this route across China thanks to a treaty signed after they made a generous loan to China to help them pay off their debts to Japan.  From 1916, the complete journey could be made from Moscow to Vladivostok within Russia, taking the route followed by today's 'Rossiya' and skirting the Chinese border to the north via Khabarovsk.  The Trans-Mongolian line is a relatively recent addition to the Trans-Siberian network - construction started in 1940, it reached Ulan Bator in 1949, and it was completed into China by 1956.

The Trans-Siberian Railway today...

Today, the Trans-Siberian Railway is a key part of the massive Russian railway system.  It is not a tourist line - it is a real, working railway, carrying a huge amount of freight and passenger traffic.  It is double-track and electrified all the way from Moscow to Vladivostok, and on some parts of the line freight trains rumble past every few minutes.  It is not the only line in Russia - on the contrary, if you saw a map of Russian railways you would be hard-pressed to decide which of the many routes Trans-Siberian trains actually take for the first few thousand miles East of Moscow.  There is in fact now a second route across Siberia to the north of the Trans-Siberian to Sovetskaya Gavan on the Pacific coast, called the BAM (Baikal-Amur-Maestral railway).  Started in the 1930s, it was only completed in 1991.  However, this route is of little interest to most Western travellers.

The best resource for further information about the Trans-Siberian Railway is www.transsib.ru/Eng/.

The Europe/Asia border obelisk

The Europe-Asia obelisk:  Approaching Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) at the kilometre post exactly 1,777 km from Moscow, the Rossiya passes the obelisk marking the boundary between Europe & Asia, right by the track.  Some trains pass this in darkness, including Moscow-Beijing train 4.  Courtesy of David Smith.

Back to top


Trans-Siberian web resources

These sites are very useful in planning a Trans-Siberian train journey:

Back to top


Across Siberia by luxury train...

If cost isn't an issue, you can ride the Trans-Siberian Railway in luxury with deluxe accommodation and 3-course meals with stopovers & tours included, using one of these two of privately-run deluxe cruise trains.  Expect fares of quite a few thousand pounds per person!

Golden Eagle cruise train:  Moscow - Mongolia - Vladivostok in 15 days

The luxurious Golden Eagle links Moscow with Vladivostok roughly once a month May to August, with a side trip to Mongolia. 

Golden Eagle luxury train - silver compartment   The Golden Eagle luxury train across Siberia

The Golden Eagle is sold by a number of travel agencies who can put together accommodation and travel to and from Moscow by train or air.  Here are two reliable agencies well worth contacting:

Railbookers - for tripsRailbookers logo on the Golden eagle

Great Rail Journeys - for escorted tours on the Golden Eagle...Great Rail Journeys logo

Lernidee cruise train:  Moscow - Mongolia - Beijing in 15/16 days

The Lernidee private Trans-Siberian train   Category 2 superior sleeper on Trans-Siberian private train

The Lernidee private train across Siberia...  Photo courtesy of Lernidee.

 

Category 2 superior sleeper...  Photo courtesy of Lernidee.

Restaurant car on the Trans-Siberian private train   Bolshoi Platinum class sleeper

The restaurant car.  All meals are included...  Photo courtesy of Lernidee.

 

Bolshoi Platinum class sleeper with en suite shower & toilet...  Photo courtesy of Lernidee.

Back to top


Vladivostok to Korea & Japan by ferry...

Ferry m/v Eastern Dream...

 

The ferry from Vladivostok to Japan & South Korea

 

The m/v Eastern Dream at Vladivostok.  Photo courtesy of David Smith

 

   

Update late 2022:  The time-honoured weekly ferry run by Russia's Far East Shipping Company (FESCO) fell victim to the recession in late 2009.  A new company called DBS started a year-round weekly ferry from Vladivostok to South Korea & Japan that same year using a modern ship called the Eastern Dream.  Unfortunately, DBS suspended this ferry in November 2019 and discontinued it in February 2020.  A new company called Duwon Shipping then chartered the Eastern Dream and it started sailing again between Vladivostok, South Korea & Japan, although only carrying freight due to the pandemic.  The service was suspended again in February 2021, but in 2022 it's operating again, only between Vladivostok and South Korea, not Japan.  Please contact them to check the latest situation.

If you find you are unable to travel to Korea or Japan using this ferry from Vladivostok, you can of course take the Trans-Siberian Railway to Beijing and take a ferry from China to Japan or South Korea.

Eastbound: Vladivostok ► Pohang (South Korea) ► Maizuru (Japan)

If & when running, the ferry sails from Vladivostok on Tuesdays, arriving Pohang Port (South Korea, just north of Busan) on Wednesdays, and Maizuru Port (in Japan, on the north coast opposite Kyoto) on Thursdays.  Exact sailing times are not known.

When DBS ran this service there was a departure tax to pay from Vladivostok, around 560 roubles, which wasn't mentioned anywhere on their website, so don't let this come as a surprise.

Westbound: Maizuru (Japan) ► Pohang (South Korea) ► Vladivostok

If & when running, the ferry sails from Maizuru Port (in Japan, on the north coast opposite Kyoto) on Thursdays, sailing from Pohang Port (in South Korea, just north of Busan) Saturdays, arriving Vladivostok on Sundays.

How much does it cost?...

When DBS ran this service, the cheapest fare from Vladivostok to Japan or vice versa is US$235 one-way or $435 return, that's in economy class with a berth in a shared open-plan sleeping area.   Sharing a 2-berth cabin the fare rises to $485 one-way or $825.  Deluxe suites also available.  New fares under Duwon Shipping are not yet known.

How to buy ferry tickets...

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the ferry is not currently taking passengers.  However, their website is www.dwship.co.kr  and their email duwon@dwship.co.kr.

On board the m/v Eastern Dream...

There are a range of comfortable cabins on board, a restaurant, shop and bar.  You can spend Yen, Won, or US$ on board, but definitely not roubles.  The ship remains on Vladivostok time until 22:00, then the clocks are put back 2 hours to Korean/Japanese time.

The ferry from Vladivostok to Japan & South Korea

Reception aboard the Vladivostok to Japan ferry   Cabin en suite aboard the Vladivostok to Japan ferry   4-berth inside cabin aboard the Vladivostok to Japan ferry

The reception desk aboard the ferry m/v Eastern Dream...  Photos courtesy of David Smith.

 

4-berth inside cabin with shower & toilet.  Note the Japanese-style mats rather than western berths.

Entering Sakaiminato harbour   Sakaiminato, where the ferry arrives from Vladivostok

Arrival in Japan, all the way from London:  Sailing in to Sakaiminato.

Traveller's reports...

Traveller Matthew Woodward reports (from when the ferry was run by DBS):  "I travelled on the ship in December 2014, and at this time of the year the published timetable was quite different from normal. There was no crossing at all the week before (owing to Christmas), and on my dates the ship stopped overnight in Donghae, allowing a night to be spent in South Korea. The cabins on board are quite expensive for what they are. I would recommend the third class dormitories which seemed more comfortable than the more expensive but rather claustrophobic second class 8 berth cabins (very hot). The ship has a good bar which serves snack food and a restaurant that serves a Korean buffet (buy tickets from the Purser's office). Do try the Korean "pizza" and the local rice wine drink called "Makgeolli" served in the bar. The ferry terminals in Vladivostok and Donghae are good and have shops selling food, hard currency and souvenirs. Rules were enforced when leaving Donghae that prohibited carrying even pocket penknives onto the ship. The gangplank is a narrow and steep climb, but the ship's crew will happily carry your luggage up for you if you ask."  See Mathew's illustrated blog about the Eastern Dream at www.matthew-woodward.com/2014/12/kings-of-the-wild-frontier.html.

Back to top


Recommended guidebooks

Amazon logoTrans-Siberian Railway guides - buy at Amazon.co.uk...

Bryn Thomas' excellent Trans-Siberian Handbook has journey planning information, town guides, train information, the history of the line, and most importantly, a mile-by-mile guide to the sights you can see from the train, to help you get the most from your trip.  The Lonely Planet guide to the Trans-Siberian Railway is also highly recommended.  Buying one or both of these Trans-Siberian guidebooks is well worth it, both for planning your trip and on the go.

Buy online at Amazon   Buy the 'Trans-Siberian Handbook' online at Amazon

Or buy from Amazon.com in the USA.

General country guidebooks - click the images to buy online

You should also take a good general guidebook for the countries you are visiting, and perhaps a Russian phrasebook, too.  I think the Lonely Planets and Rough Guides are about the best ones out there for the serious independent traveller, with plenty of historical and cultural background as well as stacks of practical information on accommodation, places to eat, things to see, visas, transport, dangers and annoyances.  You won't regret buying any of these..!  If you buy anything at Amazon through these links, Seat61 gets a small commission which helps support the site.

Click to buy online   Click to buy online   Click to buy online   Lonely Planet Russia - click to buy online

Back to top


Hotels & accommodation

Book a hotel in Moscow, Siberian cities or Beijing...

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Tripadvisor hotel reviews...

www.tripadvisor.com is a good place to find independent travellers' reviews of the main hotels.  It also has the low-down on all the sights & attractions too.

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a budget, don't forget the backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld has online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most Indian cities at rock-bottom prices.

Back to top


Travel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I use an annual policy myself.  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flagwww.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com.

UK flagYou can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

 US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


Back to top