So far as journeys of a lifetime are involved, nicely, I feel it’s potential to have lots of them to be trustworthy! However definitely certainly one of my most memorable journeys was taking the Trans-Mongolian train from Beijing to Moscow. To undergo three nations, by completely different climates, surrounds, encounter completely different delicacies, meet completely different folks, see Asia flip into Europe little by little, is a particular expertise, and to do it by practice is additional particular.
The practice invokes a way of neighborhood along with your cabin
mates, and people you meet. It’s like a small, lengthy, skinny city shifting its method
throughout the planet. You may marvel on the method it’s run, the best way they modify the
gauge on the Mongolian/Chinese language border, be impressed by the truth that folks
managed to put monitor alongside such a protracted path (and keep it!) and all whereas
you sit again, loosen up and take within the surroundings, a guide, or certainly a brand new TV collection
in your iPad if it so takes your fancy. Sure, it IS 2019!
Selecting Your Trans-Mongolian Route and Route
From Beijing to Moscow, or Moscow to Beijing there are two
important routes. Then there are alternatives that solely keep inside Russia, taking you
all the best way east to Vladivostok, in addition to another choice now potential that
takes you additional north in East Siberia. The Trans-Mongolian is the one one to
take you thru three nations. And that’s nice, but additionally presents
challenges since you’ll want three visas.
So that you’ve chosen to undergo Mongolia. The course is
the subsequent query. I’m Australian, and it appeared to make most sense as I used to be
heading to Europe to journey Beijing to Moscow, that’s east to west. Nonetheless,
both method requires a flight again residence, and in addition will in case you’re departing
Europe or the Americas.
Except after all you’re travelling all over the world and hold going in a single course, or plan the unlikely return journey by practice as nicely. From Europe you might need to practice all of it the best way to Beijing after which fly again. This has the benefit of beginning the journey in Russia, which can make visa formalities a contact simpler. I feel each vacationer on the practice was nervous crossing into Russia that there may be a visa challenge, and also you’d then be caught on the border for… the remainder of your life! Having stated that, I doubt many do have visa points.
A Trans-Mongolian Tour or Not a Tour, that’s the Query
Some firms will guide you in as a tour. This has a giant
benefit as a result of the whole lot might be – or ought to be – taken care of for you and
a variety of the planning might be eased out of your thoughts. Nonetheless, journey independently
and who is aware of what you may uncover, and you’ll definitely be capable to afford
your self extra flexibility. Which brings me to the subsequent matter –
To Cease or To not Cease?
And this may drastically rely upon the time you must take
this wonderful journey. And what you need out of it! Some folks really select
to take your entire journey – Beijing to Moscow or Moscow to Beijing, in a single
hit. This takes round six days in whole. As a way of feat and
survival, nicely you’ve definitely put your self by a problem. And you’ll
have most likely met others doing the identical factor and had an actual sense of comradery
on the finish of all of it.
Nonetheless, you may have missed the prospect to find among the
world’s extra distant and probably attention-grabbing locations alongside the best way. Once I
was planning there was no method I used to be going to overlook out on the prospect to cease in Mongolia
or make at the very least one or two stops in Russia east of the Ural Mountains.
Now what this implies, if like me you want to reduce the journey up
into legs, is that you simply’re not going to be on the identical practice the entire method
by. There’s a weekly practice that’s the official ‘Trans-Mongolian’. However
there are different trains that join you thru as nicely in case you get off And also you received’t be on the official
‘Trans-Mongolian’ practice in case you spend a couple of days in Ulaan Baatar after which transfer
on as a result of the subsequent Trans-Mongolian is a couple of days away but. I broke my journey
into 4 sections – Beijing to Ulaan Baatar, Ulaan Baatar to Irkutsk, Irkutsk
to Ekaterinburg and Ekaterinburg to Moscow. Two of the legs have been on the
‘Trans-Mongolian’, the opposite two on Russian trains.
Methods to Guide Particular person Trans-Mongolian Legs Independently
Then you must guide the person trains. In case you are
coming FROM Moscow to Beijing with stops alongside the best way, you’ll be able to most likely do it
all with one on-line Russian firm. I booked with an organization referred to as Actual Russia
who have been nice, however there are others on the market. In Russia you are taking a printed
voucher/receipt you may have emailed to you and trade it on the railway station
for a ticket. It is best to be capable to do all of your tickets inside Russia without delay.
In addition they offered my ticket from Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia.
On this case, I needed to decide the ticket up from a journey company within the Mongolian
As I used to be beginning in Beijing although, I had to purchase the primary
leg by a Chinese language firm, of which there are fewer. However it was comparatively
easy and so they despatched it to my lodge in Beijing three days earlier than the practice was
due. However you probably have no trains beginning in China, you received’t must guide
by the Chinese language system.
I like a problem and so I booked all of it myself. With the bookings I had made, Actual Russia may organise the invitation letter for the Russian visa. The opposite two have been comparatively easy to organise by consulates in Australia.
20-Day Trans-Mongolian Itinerary
So, in case you’re round 20 days/Three weeks Beijing to
Moscow, right here’s the itinerary I like to recommend. After all, in case you’re seeking to go
Moscow to Beijing, reverse it.
Days 1 & 2 – Beijing
Beijing is a large metropolis, for sure. If you wish to
actually discover Beijing, give your self per week. For the aim of a two-week
itinerary, lingering and exploring anyplace goes to be tough. The very best
a part of half of the fortnight goes to be spent on the rails.
Beijing has a few absolute should sees although, and if
you haven’t been there earlier than it could be a pity to go to the Chinese language capital
with out taking within the Forbidden Metropolis and the Nice Wall of China.
Days 3 & 4 – Beijing to Ulaan Baatar
And so it’s time to hop on board the Trans-Mongolian Specific! Effectively, it’s not fairly an categorical but it surely strikes nicely sufficient. It’s the practice entitled ‘K3’, and it leaves simply earlier than 1130am. You’re on a Chinese language practice in the intervening time, though some carriages make all of it the best way to Moscow. There are coupons or tokens for meals, lunch and dinner. There’s just one eating automobile, and so you might want to attend. It’s easy fare, noodle soup, some greens and the like. However that is the one time the meals is complimentary.
In any other case, little stalls on station platforms are your finest
guess, and that’s most likely going to imply noodles anyway in case you’re searching for scorching
meals. You could discover a place that serves scorching meals that you simply don’t must cook dinner, if
you’re fortunate, however all in all you’ll be heading to the samovar on the finish of the
carriage to refill your noodles cup loads of instances.
The Chinese language countryside whizzes previous you. It’s fairly
spectacular. It will get sparser and sparser as you get nearer to the border with
Mongolia at Erlian. You hit there in the midst of the evening. There are border
formalities to undergo, and the altering of the gauge. The Chinese language gauge is
barely thinner than the Mongolian gauge (the Russian gauge is similar because the
Mongolian). Gauge being the width of the tracks.
So the carriages are raised in a giant shed and one set of
wheels is changed by one other. It takes a little bit of time, and it’s not till after
2am and even later that the practice lastly rolls on into Mongolia. You wake
maybe a couple of hours later and it’s all desert both aspect of the desert. It’s
simply unbelievable – you’re in Mongolia!
You don’t see cities, the cities are fairly small. The eating
automobile has been changed with a Mongolian one. No extra free meals, and the décor
is sort of completely different. Extra ornamental, extra vibrant. Someplace round lunch
time or simply after you arrive in Ulaan Baatar, the Mongolian capital, and the
first cease on this Trans-Mongolian itinerary.
Here’s a quick video I compiled of the journey from
Beijing to Ulaan Baatar.
Days 5 to 7 – Ulaan Baatar and Mongolia
Taking a couple of days to get a bit of style of Mongolia was for
me the most important of many highlights on this unbelievable journey. In case you are
afforded extra time, take it as a result of I can solely think about the extra you uncover,
the extra fascinating Mongolia is.
The capital Ulaan Baatar is an odd place. Mongolia has
skilled the agricultural abandonment greater than most nations within the world, and
Ulaan Baatar is taking in hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, and it’s
struggling to maintain up with residence blocks going up in all places these
days. Its definitely an attention-grabbing
place, with a couple of worthwhile issues to see. The Palace of Bogd Khan for
instance, Ghandan Khiid Monastery can also be worthwhile, and the principle sq. is
You’re within the land of Ghengis Khan and so you will see
statues aplenty. Metropolis excursions normally embrace a drive out of town to this
large statue of him, which you’ll climb the within of and stroll out for a view
of the steppe.
Then there may be Terelj, a spot the place you’ll be able to keep in a ger, also called a yurt, and expertise a considerably conventional life on the steppe. You get fed by a neighborhood household, and there’s an attention-grabbing temple to go to too. Sure, they’ve been taking in vacationers for fairly some time now, however for an in a single day getaway from Ulaan Baatar it’s an excellent deal.
Days eight to 10 – Prepare Ulaan Baatar to Irkutsk and Irkutsk
It’s onto the practice, and one of the vital attention-grabbing journeys of the lot from Ulaan Baatar, Mongolian capital, to Irkutsk, Siberia (Russia). When you’re in Russia you’re performed with the borders, the passport checks and the formalities. Sure, in some ways they’re a problem and an annoyance, however they’re additionally an attention-grabbing expertise.
Following the route I took [Train 263 И], you allow
Ulaan Baatar at 2030 for the second longest journey of the journey – taking
two nights and arriving early within the morning on the third day. After dashing
off throughout Mongolia within the night, an evening of hopeful sleep awaits. Till you
hit the border that’s within the early morning. It’s a Russian practice, and the
compartments are far more comfy on this practice.
My expertise was a collection of individuals getting on and off the
practice, checking passports and visas. I feel some baggage right here and there have been
searched. Naushki is the city on the Russian aspect of the border the place all of us
bought off the practice, after the passport management and so forth was completed. You alight to
the shock to seek out you’re only a practice of 1 carriage.
Then you may have a couple of hours to kill on this little border
city. And there’s not a lot to do to maintain you entertained. The roads are all
dust bar one, and there may be one restaurant on the town, which is extra of a
café. The carriage is joined to a brand new practice (I consider the journey remains to be
often known as 263 И) and it speeds
off mid to later afternoon. The solar goes down. Evening has fallen while you pull
into Ulan-Ude for a cease. After which the subsequent morning, fairly early – round 7am.
Irkutsk is definitely fairly good. From right here take a day journey to Lake Baikal, Russia’s greatest lake. Loads of attention-grabbing cathedrals on the town, historic homes, an attention-grabbing ship-cum-museum as nicely, it was darned chilly however you can fill a few days.
Days 11 to 14 – Irkutsk to Ekaterinburg and Ekaterinburg
A bit of over two days on the practice makes this the longest journey of all of them, all throughout Russia. From Siberia we head eastwards to this attention-grabbing metropolis on practice 33. Ekaterinburg additionally has numerous church buildings price seeing, an Icon Museum (which once more is sort of church associated), and in addition has a excessive view on high of a tall constructing of town. However it’s most identified for the situation of the place the Romanovs – the final Tsarist household of Russia, have been taken an executed in 1917. There’s a museum to them right here. If you happen to’re on the ball and ready someday could also be sufficient to soak up all that’s worthwhile right here.
Days 15 to 20 – Ekaterinburg to Moscow
The final journey on Train 109MA is to the ultimate cease, the end of the journey, and the unbelievable Russian capital. You cross by the Ural Mountains on this closing leg which has you leaving within the early hours of the morning and arriving the subsequent day at 1030am. It’s a picturesque leg, though I feel the most effective views are most likely handed at evening.
The ultimate video of the journey:
The Russian Capital is deserving of so long as you can provide it.
Actually, it’s an excellent metropolis, with nice purchasing, sights and leisure.
You might have the Kremlin, Purple Sq. with St Basil’s Cathedral (you may have most likely
seen its picture earlier than and may need questioned what it was), you’ll be able to catch a
glimpse of a waxy Lenin too as his mausoleum is there at Purple Sq. too. There
are a number of museums in Moscow too price testing – the Gulag Museum is
one I extremely advocate. Then you may have well-known Gorky Park, the spectacular Moskva
River, the considerably ghoulish statue of Peter the Nice, and a lot extra. It’s
one of many world’s nice cities, and it doesn’t disappoint.
And now your journey is finished. You might have coated some 7,621
kilometres by three nations since departing Beijing, and little question had on
heck of an journey. And in case you’re like me, you’ll look again and it’ll really feel
prefer it all occurred so rapidly. No practice experience feels prefer it’s so long as the
time you really spent on the practice.
And also you’ve gone from the ‘Far East’ to Europe! It’s a journey that
is rewarding, thrilling, inspiring and the whole lot that goes together with these
phrases, and personally one of the vital satisfying journey skilled I’ve ever
Assets for Planning Trans-Siberian Itinerary
Some web sites I discovered to be invaluable –
This web site is extremely detailed and has a lot info on
trains all over the world, it’s normally my first cease for any info when
planning a rail journey in one other land!
So it is a journey company, and I’m not pimping for them or
something! However they have been useful and helpful and appeared to have an excellent reserving
system. Will handle tickets for journeys starting in Russia or Mongolia.
One firm in China really helpful to me, I booked my first leg
by them from Beijing to Ulaan Baatar. For reserving trains starting China.
You might also discover the Lonely Planet Web site and it’s Thorn Tree
Discussion board useful, and I travelled with the Lonely Planet information guide to the
Trans-Siberian (which covers all routes) which was useful every so often.
So, in case you love rail journey, if you are interested in Russia, Mongolia and even China, this may simply be the journey for you!