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The raw beauty of the Trans Siberian Express

JThere are train journeys and there are train journeys. You have the neat NS that will (usually) guide you through the well-known Dutch polder landscape moved and you have the godfather of all train travel that takes you through miles of snowfields and past indestructible mountain ranges. A trail that runs through a blind spot on the world map. A world trip for which you have to save up and what you really need to prepare for. We are, of course, talking about the Trans Siberian Express, the longest domestic railway in the world.

This 9288 km journey is a real challenge for a world traveler like you. Within seven days and seven nights you race through no less than seven time zones, from Moscow to the easternmost tip of Russia, Vladivostok. On this memorable journey back through time, you'll see vast expanses of snow, tundra and taigas, gigantic forests and Russian locals who welcome you with a happy smile. While you sit back and enjoy the view, the train hurtles through a world like you've never seen it before.

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City trip Saint Petersburg as the start of your trip

Now that you have to arrange a visa to enter Russia, we recommend that you start in Saint Petersburg. Not because the train to Siberia starts here, because that route only starts in Moscow, but because Saint Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world to visit.

Sint-petersburg
Sint-petersburg

Also read: Plan a world trip in 10 steps | Full manual & step-by-step plan

Saint Petersburg is the second most important city in Russia after Moscow. It is a nice 'entry-level city' for the novice Russia visitor because it feels quite European compared to other cities in Russia. Saint Petersburg is the city of Peter the Great. With a short but rich past. It is the city that shows the wealth of the tsars, but here you can also see the extravagant architectural style of the Russian Orthodox church. With famous museums such as the Hermitage and the Russian Museum. Do you want to know more about this beautiful city and what you can do there? Then read the extensive blog city ​​trip St Petersburg with lots of tips and information from our neighbors.

Moscow, the starting point of the Trans Siberian Express

From Saint Petersburg you take the train to Moscow, this is where your Trans Siberian Express route really starts. The first rails of the Trans Siberian Express were laid in 1891 by order of Tsar Alexander III, the last piece of track at Vladivostok was completed in 1916. Today there are four major routes that take you from Moscow to different terminuses. Besides the well-known Trans Siberian Express, you can take the Trans Mongolia Express, the Trans Manchuria Express and the Baikal-Amur Express. In any case, the starting point is always Moscow, city of the Red Square and the glorious Kremlin. If you have a few days before you have to get on the train, take some time to explore Moscow!

Also read: 2 days in Moscow | Sightseeing & Transportation

Moscow
Moscow

Make use of the metro, because it takes you everywhere in this Russian metropolis, for very little money. Be sure to get off at Park Pobedy subway station and gaze into the depths of Europe's longest escalator. Exactly 176 meters! Don't forget to visit Lenin's Mausoleum. Other must-sees: Park Of The Fallen Heroes (a thriving park with 700 statues), the Tsar's Clock, the Armory (packed with glittering crown jewels) and St. Basils Cathedral.

The route through Siberia

Route through Siberia

Time to step up! The Russian trains are absurdly long. So make sure you are at the Yaroslavski station on time so that you have all the time to look for the right wagon. Each carriage has its own provodnik or provodnitsa. This person is responsible for the ins and outs during the trip. Are you a die-hard smoker? Then you are lucky. The carriages are equipped with smoking areas. Of course, a bottle of real Russian vodka should not be missing in your luggage! Once you have left Moscow, you will soon leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind to find yourself in the vast landscape of the interior of Russia.

The Ural Mountains in winter
The Ural Mountains in winter

After almost 2000 km you will pass the Ural Mountains, a mighty landscape that will not let you go quickly. After the Urals, the scenery flattens out and you pass Omsk and Novosibirsk to continue to Irkutsk. Here, near Lake Baikal, the Trans Mongolia Express heads south while our Siberia Line heads further east. The stopover in Irkutsk is a good time to get to know Russian locals and their way of life. From Irkutsk you travel on to Khabarovsk to eventually arrive in the port city of Vladivostok, located on the Japanse Sea.

lonely beauty

There are plenty of opportunities along the way to get out and feel and breathe the Russian air. Nature is constantly changing. Flat meadows, barren tundras, rugged rocks and of course Siberian ice and snow. Try to get on the train especially in winter time. Especially in this season, the untamed Siberia is a wild fairytale. The journey takes you to a deserted corner of a crowded world. It is precisely this loneliness that you see passing by behind your window in the train compartment that makes you realize that there are still pure and unblemished pieces of the planet. For a world traveler, these special places are the icing on the cake.

Prepare yourself for a trip without too much luxury and opulence. The old-fashioned trains are equipped with the necessary facilities, but do not have an extensive bar with caviar and expensive champagne. The Express is a trip that takes you back to the basics of life. Natural beauty, simple food and above all complete freedom in a deserted world.

Also read: The Roof of the World | The mighty Himalayas in Nepal and Tibet

Trans Mongolia Express

By the way, many people confuse the Trans Siberian Express with the Trans Mongolia Express and think that the Siberia route via Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia ends in Beijing, China. Not so. If you prefer this trip, take the Trans Mongolia Express. You then follow the same route to Irkutsk. Once here you turn right to the south to travel on to Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia. An excellent opportunity to spend the night in a 'Ger', a traditional Mongolian tent. You will spend the night with Mongolian nomads and will drink yak milk for the first time in your life.

Trans Mongolia Express
Trans Mongolia Express

After Mongolia you travel to China to end in Beijing† Here you will of course find the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the ancient Hutong neighborhoods. Tickets for the Mongolia Express and the Siberia Express are not much of a difference in price, for both routes you will spend around 900 euros for a single journey to Vladivostok or Beijing.

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