Whenever we get asked about favourite experiences from our travels the fabulous Trans-Siberian comes up. Like always!
There is something about this iconic train journey that makes people dream about distant, exotic places, packing their bags and never looking back. Of course in reality it doesn’t happen exactly that way as when you finish the train journey you simply go home or move to another place of interest, in our case it was the rest of our round the world trip.
We knew it was going to be long and we knew it was going to be epic. And it did not fail to amaze us all the way. Of course, there are some practicalities you have to take care of such as research, bookings (if you are a control freak type of traveler) and making plans where to stop and go, but after that it is just a journey and you.
So here it is the TOP things, we think you should know about the Trans-Siberian to help you make up your mind:
1. You can fly cheaper and more comfortably but it won’t be as much fun!
Nowadays, you can fly the distance for couple of hundred dollars if you find a good deal, so why bother spending all the money (yeah the journey is not cheap) and one week (at least!) of your life doing this? Well, for the experience I would say. Simon Calder in his article for the independent lists pros and cons but we would say it was full of cons. You should make as many stops as you can and spend as many days off the train as you do on it and then it will be worthwhile, we assure you!
2. You probably won’t have a chance to wake up in a different time zone everyday again!
But of course you experience the time zone change before. This feels somehow different as you sit in your compartment as if it was a little capsule, not doing much, reading and socialising, sleeping and everything around you just change. The longest train journey without leaving the train was from Moscow to Novosibirsk. That took 3.5 days and 4 time zone changes. The landscape was equally variable every day from forests, mountains to steppes and taiga. We absolutely loved staring through the window.
3. You will feel at world’s end…literally!
Every time the train stops you will be amazed that people live there. Apart from the major towns like Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg or Irkutsk, there is not much of a modern town feel. Yet people who greet you at the station to sell their home-cooked food are the most welcoming you may encounter in your life. When we took the journey down to Altai Republic we could not believe how much in the past their residents lived in. Amazingly beautiful and welcoming place that took us by surprise. Also how often do you have a change to take that journey to the past?
4. You will always remember this beautiful landscape and its people!
Yes, the people I already mentioned, who went out of their way to help us go around and make our stay memorable. It did not feel like being in Russia at all. To us there is Moscow and there is the rest of Russia. Two different worlds. And let’s not forget Mongolia as that was part of our journey as well. And the landscape – just have a look at the photos and decide.
5. You won’t be able to take a longer train ride than this ever! Cause it does not exist!
This will probably appeal to those who similarly to us, like to do things that are out of the ordinary, one of the kind type of activity. We can cross it of the list of the longest train journeys we took although we did not go all the way without stopping. Most of the time we either relaxed or got to know other travellers and local people. Since it was approaching winter, there were no tourists on board of any of the trains we took. You can read about the practicalities of taking this journey i.e types of trains, costs and what to do on board in our blog here.
Have you decided yet?