This is a supplementary post to my video
1) All train stations are set to Moscow time
NOTE: This is not the case anymore! All times are set to local time. I actually think it’s a shame! As long as you have your smartphone with you (and get an internet connection), it should update automatically to local time.
2) Bring eating food utensils
Chances are you will be eating on the train and when travelling, you might as well do as the locals do and bring a picnic! Make sure you bring some utensils to make the experience more civilised.
3) The samovar is your friend
At the end of every carriage is a hot water dispenser, the samovar! Very handy for cups of tea and coffee. Another popular food on Tran Siberian is cup/bowl instant noodles. Cheap and tasty…At least the first couple of times!
4) Bring a phrasebook
Russians are often considered abrupt but actually, they are quite friendly. In my experience, they are often not so forthright with speaking English. I like to try to bridge the language barrier with a few phrases to get the conversation going. It can be quite a challenge otherwise using sign language.
5) Choosing the right level of comfort for you
There are 3 levels of travel on the train:
- 1st class (Spalny vagon) 2-berths
- 2nd class (Kupé) 4-berths *recommended
- 3rd class (Platskartny) A dorm-style bunk bed. You are in a very open space which is great for safety I guess but less for privacy!
6) Train tickets
Peak time is July and August. So make sure you book in advance else you might end up waiting a long time or booking at a level you weren’t expecting! At the same time, you can’t buy tickets more than 60 days in advance. That phrase book I mentioned earlier may come in useful for booking as well!
7) Baby wipes and tissues
Assume there are no showers on the Trans Siberian, this could pose particularly big hygiene problem even for the most hardened traveller. I recommend packing lots of baby wipes and tissues, even if you have a “short” 48-hour stint on the train. This will definitely make your trip a whole lot more comfortable!
8) Stop off often!
To do the whole Trans Siberian (from Moscow to Vladivostok) would take a week without stopping. I would recommend stopping a few times otherwise you might suffer cabin fever! There are some great stops along the route like Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude.
9) Don’t piss off the provodnita
Potentially dealing with big drunk Russians on a daily basis requires a certain toughness in a person. You can definitely sense it the first time when a train attendant first barks at you for putting a foot wrong in their carriage! The toughest (often) ladies managing trains on Earth for sure!
10) Limited storage space
There isn’t a separate storage carriage for larger luggage cases. I recommend that you try to stay away from bringing massive roller luggage cases. I brought an 80-litre backpack and book the lower bunk as often as I can. The lower bunk allows you to lift the bed for ease of storage!
- Karzan + trans Machurian line
- The BAM – Created as an alternative to getting to the east coast past Lake Baikal
For further research I bought these two books:
Loney Planet Trans-Siberian Railway book
A great book for a nice overview of the train journey, some great information on the main line.
Trans-Siberian Handbook: The Trailblazer Guide
Makes a good pairing to the Lonely Planet guide. Has good information on the alternative lines and also some of the lesser-known stops on the line. If you’re planning to visit every corner of the Trans Siberian line this is a good guide to bring along!
I have a few other videos worth checking out:
I also have a list of all the costs broken down on a handy Google spreadsheet https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1GO_sIE6erstc-40vgUIjZZgrHvcONFvZKQrHq4wWC8Q/edit#gid=0