The Trans-Siberian Railway, linking Moscow to Beijing, is not only one of the classic train journeys, it is also the longest continuous rail line on earth. Spanning six time zones, this epic journey covers almost 5,000 miles (or about 9,000 km), or over one third of the globe.
The Russian railway system is one of the country's proudest achievements, a network of 53,000 miles (85,000 km) of track which criss-crosses the country, linking major city to rural town, from the might and splendour of European Russia to the country's mysterious Far East.
The most famous of these routes, the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian have historically drawn travelers from around the world keen to experience one of the world's longest train journeys.
Traveling out from Moscow, crossing the Urals into European Russia and through the immense wooded expanses of Siberia this is one of the world's oldest and most epic journeys.
Covering the forested expanses of Siberia between Moscow and Beijing the 'classic' Trans-Siberian journey continues for approximately 9,300 kilometres before reaching the Pacific coast and can be enjoyed in both directions: Moscow to Beijing or Beijing to Moscow.
The diversity of this journey is comparable to none, from the grandeur of mighty Moscow to the unparalleled tranquillity of Lake Baikal and further into the nomadic communities of Mongolia. Experience a land long hidden behind an Iron Curtain and watch as the landscape evolves from desert to forest, mountain to metropolis before your very eyes.
One thing to note about this epic journey is its flexibility. It is essential to allow yourself enough time to stop and enjoy a number of the sights along the way in order make the most of traveling such a substantial distance, as well as avoiding the inevitable feeling of 'Cabin Fever'.
When to go
May to September is the best time of year to travel the Trans-Siberian, when the weather in all countries is not too cold. Traveling between mid-August and mid-September should ensure that your journey isn't too hot either, and this should also give you the benefit of clearer weather in Beijing.
Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian train
Entertainment in the bar car, GW Trans-Siberian Express
Audley can offer a variety of options for traversing this vast country by train, from the luxury of the GW Golden Eagle to an enjoyable trip shared with ordinary Russian people aboard a scheduled public service.
The GW Golden Eagle
Run by enthusiasts of rail, this private train is equipped with a high level of facilities, boasting excellent dining and sleeping arrangements as well as en suite bathrooms or wet rooms in each cabin. Traveling along the original route from Moscow to Vladivostok (or vice versa), dipping into Mongolia for a taste of this vast unexplored country. The GW train is very comfortable, with en suite cabins available, and all meals provided on board being of a very good standard. There is a bar car, and lectures and entertainment are provided on board. The train stops at points of interest along the way, whilst you are taken with the rest of the passengers, to see the local sights. Later in the day you re-board the train and continue on your journey. Your fellow passengers on board will be other tourists, mostly from the UK, US or Australia. We can arrange extensions to the trip, such as to St Petersburg.
The public trains
The public trains are the ones used by Russian people to get about. Very few have any en-suite facilities, with carriages having a toilet and washroom at each end. This is kept clean on the journey by a carriage attendant who also provides tea and coffee and checks tickets etc. There is a restaurant car on most trains, which serves food of a reasonable standard. First class compartments have two berths in them, while second class compartments are the same size, with two additional upper berths. The public trains stop at each station for a limited amount of time, so to see anything of the stops on the way, you need to get off the train, stay a night or two in a hotel before continuing on a different train. The two most popular routes are from Moscow to Vladivostok (or vice versa), or Moscow to Beijing (or vice versa) via Mongolia. Moscow to Beijing is the more popular route. It crosses the Gobi desert and is more scenically varied; passing through three different countries it is also more culturally varied. It is also possible to add on St Petersburg to the start or end of your trip.
The Tsar's Gold private train
The Tsar's Gold is a privately operated train offering a range of cabins along the classic route from Moscow to Beijing (and vice versa). Traveling via Mongolia and crossing the Gobi desert, this route sees the most varied scenery. There are excellent dining arrangements with cabins ranging from shared four person cabins with shared shower facilities to spacious cabins with full ensuite bathrooms. You essentially live on the train for the duration of the trip, with the train stopping at points of interest along the way. The train then waits for you whilst you are taken in small groups of around 20 people to see the local sights. Your fellow passengers on board will be other tourists, mostly from Western Europe, who have come to enjoy one of the greatest rail journeys in the world in style. We can arrange extensions to see more of China as well as to St Petersburg.