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Tuesday
Feb112014

Experience the Whole of Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Russia is the largest country in the world, with 9 different time zones, and as a result there is a lot to see because of its vastness and history. So, how is it possible to see everything that this country has to offer? The answer is simple: take the longest train journey in the world on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Image courtesy of Boccaccio1

What it covers

The Trans-Siberian route covers 6, 152 miles and stretches from the nation’s capital of Moscow, all the way to the east coast city of Vladivostok – taking seven days to navigate. However, to experience the breadth of Russia in its entirety, and not just the breath-taking vistas that you would encounter on the train journey alone, there is the opportunity to stay at many different points of interest along the way.

However, if you want to experience a taste of Mongolia and China along the way, there are two other routes that are available to travel on. These variations are the Trans-Mongolian route, which runs between Moscow and Beijing via Mongolia, and the Trans-Manchurian route, which runs between Moscow and Beijing, but which bypasses Mongolia.

The highlights

Amongst the highlights of this adventure across Russia are: a detour to the 1000-year-old city of Kazan, of which the UNESCO World Heritage site of the city’s Kremlin stands; Yekaterinburg, the place where the murder of the last Russian royal family took place; and Irkutsk, known as the ‘Paris of Siberia’, where the scenic climax of Lake Baikal is nearby.  These are only a few examples of the wealth of historical landmarks and scenic locations that can be visited.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

What does travelling on the Trans-Siberian consist of?

There are many different options for travellers on the Trans-Siberian. These cater to what your budget is and the level of privacy that you desire. They range from the more spacious and private 1st class berths to the more communal standard berths where 2-4 people share. The nature of being in close quarters with fellow travellers makes the trip on the Trans-Siberian a collective experience; adding to the atmosphere on board.

The carriages are kept clean by often taciturn attendants and the toilets are kept in good condition, especially so considering the length of the journey. And despite the menus being limited, food on board is adequate; however there is always the option to buy from vendors or shops when the train stops. Although you should not expect the food to be to the standard of a Michelin Star restaurant, it is worth noting that nor is the food on a National Rail Service to London Euston!

A unique way of seeing a country

With the range of tickets and options available, the price of travelling on the Trans-Siberian railway can be quite a bargain – considering how much you will see. These decrease further in the winter months, but with trains running regularly all year round, it allows for flexibility, whilst also catering for those hard-nosed planners out there.

A trip on the Trans-Siberian railway is the perfect opportunity to get your gap year into full swing and to take in what Russia has to offer. When will you be booking your journey?

By Manny Mahoon

If you are interested in travelling the various routes of the Trans Siberian then check out Frontier's various volunteering projects throughout Asia, join from 2 weeks to 1 year. 

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