The Trans-Siberian is the longest continuous rail line on earth, with a 6000 miles length, over one third of the globe. Basically, this journey consists of sitting down and admiring the view. There are many stops in many Russian cities, so that passengers can create their own tours. The Railway journey is set off from East to West, but it is not unusual to do that viceversa. The most common route chosen by travelers is Trans-Siberian line, which runs from Moscow to Vladivostok, passing through Yaroslavl on the Volga, Exaterinburg in the Urals, Irkutsk near Lake Baikal’s southern extremity, and then Khabarovsk. If you want to go on, you can choose traveling by ferry to Niigata, on the west coast of Japan.
A second route is Trans-Mongolian line which coincides with the Trans-Siberian as far as the Buddhist enclave of Ulan Ude on Baikal’s eastern shore. From Ulan-Ude the Trans- Mongolian heads south to Ulaan-Baatar before making its way southeast to Beijing.Another route is Trans-Manchurian line, it is almost the same with Trans-Siberian line as far as Tarskaya. From Tarskaya the Trans-Manchurian heads southeast into China and makes its way down to Beijing. The last route and the most recent one, the Baikal Amur Mainline, departs from the Trans-Siberian line several hundred miles west of Lake Baikal and passes the lake at its northernmost extremity. It reaches the Pacific to the northeast of Khabarovsk, at Imperatorskaya Gavan. There are several cities the Trans-Siberian passes along and stops such as: Yaroslavl (one of the oldest cities in Russia), Ekaterinburg (the first major stop of the Trans-Siberian, in Asian Russia, a great industrial city), Krasnoyarsk (one of the oldest cities in Siberia, outside which tourists can see Stolby Reserve, a preserved place where cliffs rise from the river’s edge inside its area), Irkutsk (who is in the neighbourhood of Lake Baikal), Ulan Ude (center of the Buddhist Buryat culture), Khabarovsk (a city with wide boulevards, a popular beach and museums), Vladivostok (reopened for visitors in 1992, a commercial harbour, headquarters of the Russian Pacific Flee).
As the train itself is concerned, there are three types of trains in Russia: 1st class – 2-berth compartment, 2nd class – 4-berth compartment, 3rd class – no compartments, just many berths in a car (“platzcart”). If you want to travel at 3rd class, take trains that go between Russian cities because those do not have carriages. If you want to travel in summer, it is quite a slim chance to getsome tickets as they have been already booked by travel agencies. There is no limit for the luggage, you have a lot of space where to put it, but it is advisable for you to keep it under your bed, not to be robbed that easy. Toilets are not very clean, unfortunately, so you’d better take some cleaning items. Showers are available only in first class in some trains for a 1$ charge. Food is quite expensive and low-quality, but, don’t worry, you can buy tasty food during the stops. There are many old Babushkas who make for example,‘Pirozhki’, cakes filled in with cottage cheese or meat, or vegetables, or fish. These kinds of food shouldn’t cost more than $1-$2. Tea is also traditional in these trains.
Money on board is used only in local currency, because exchanging dollars is made at a low rate. Anyway, don’t keep all your money in one place. In addition, tell the truth the customs officers because if you state that you have less money, you can be taken off the train, it is better and safer to keep your money on a credit card. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find ATMs in Mongolia.
There are many policemen inside these trains, so it is more secure to travel by it than wandering on the streets. Take a book with you, because it might become boring (only the journey from Moscow to Beijing lasts for 6 days). Pay attention to the stops time – they are from 5 to 20 minutes in general. Moreover, what’s important is to take a first aid set with you, because there is only one in the train and doctors can be seen only at the stations. Pay attention to what you drink and keep it with you because there were some people who were put something in their drink to fall asleep immediately and .. be robbed. For any vital problems, just shout “Pozhar!” (Fire!).