The longest train journey in the world, more vodka than you can imagine and the ultimate backpacking bragging point – the Trans Siberian is one of the most iconic trips any traveler can take. It just takes a little bit of effort to sort it out, but not quite as much as you’d think. Here’s the lowdown into organizing your Trans Siberian Trip:
First up, what is the Trans Siberian and where does it go?
The ‘real’ Trans Siberian runs from Moscow to Vladivostock, and that train still runs weekly now. However the majority of backpackers prefer to choose the Beijing to Moscow/St Petersburg trip, which is actually a section of the Trans Siberian followed by a section on the Trans Monglian.
You need to prepare visas in advance, here we go:
RUSSIA: Officially you need to apply for the visas in your home country, although reports from Hong Kong and Jakarta insist they’ll grant visas there. If possible though, do it in your home country!
You need a visa sponsorship and invitation in your application, buy this online from a 3rd party company (waytorussia.com for example). You can’t get the visa without this.
I posted my passport from Thailand to Ireland, got it stamped and posted back. Very stressful but the only full proof way to do it if you’re on the road at the time.
4 ad 5 day transit visas are easy to pick up in Beijing, if you want a 30 day visa just go to any Mongolian embassy worldwide with $40 and a passport photo, normally takes 3 days to grant (sometimes 5), but very easy.
They change rules faster than anyone, but currently you need confirmation of transport in and out of the country, plus a couple of nights in a hostel. If you need these things, book them in a refundable place, get your visa, and get a refund on your tickets. Visas for the US cost around $150, for everyone else it’s around $35. You can pay more and get them the next day, as opposed to the standard 3 day wait.
I went to Kazakhstan as part of my trip, again that’s an easy process but takes a week to process. Any embassy overseas can grant the visa, $30.
If it’s winter, Siberia gets to -40 so pack warm. Summer should be around 20 so that’s fine. You’ll definitely need a water bottle, flipflops, pen knife and shorts for when you’re sitting around. Cards and books to keep yourself occupied too!
How much does the Trans Siberian train ticket cost?
It actually depends. There are generally 3 classes, 1st, second and 3rd – the 3rd is an open plan carriage where 4 people sleep in bunks, then an aisle, and 2 people sleep next to the isle. You can see everyone. 2nd class is a cabin with 4 beds, 1st class is a cabin with 2 beds.
I traveled 3rd class and I spent around $700 total on my train tickets. Second class would be around $1200.
FOOD: You can buy food on the dining cart on the train, each dish is around $10. It’s much cheaper to buy bread and ham when you stop. Alcohol is the same, bring it with you and save a fortune.
That’s the majority of the information, if you need any more help just leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you asap. This really is the journey of a lifetime. Happy travels!