In Russia, those efficient machines that scan your card, take your booking reference and then spit-out your tickets in seconds are not a luxury you’ll benefit from. Jumping on a train and buying a last-minute ticket is just not possible and if you leave it until the last minute, you’ll end up on a very short trans-not-so-express journey! In fact, you probably won’t make it out of Moscow!
Planning is key here. Grab yourself a coffee, some new stationary and take a seat in front of your laptop and prepare to get organised. Our main Tip here is how to book your train-tickets because as you’ve probably already gathered, they aren’t easy to obtain. First stop? The Real Russia Trains Website which you’ll need to visit before you leave. Trust me, this Website is a life-saver! Select the Trans-Mongolian route, and choose your stop-off destinations and number of days you want to hop off for, using the sites easy-to-use route planner (as seen in the screen-shot below).
There are a number of beautiful villages to stop and see along the way, so choose wisely. Tiplr suggest visiting Yekaterinburg, a rich Russian heritage spot and spending 4-5 nights in Irkutsk to explore the Baikal lake, as we’ve written a great tip about this destination! We also suggest staying in the Mongolian capital Ulan-Bator to explore the Gorkhi Terelj National Park and Gobi Dessert.
The rest is up to you! Be warned though, once you become relaxed and comfortable on the train you might not want to get off at every stop! Once you’ve made your selections, a number of different train options appear but be sure to research the train names and find the best one – some are glistening and new and others are old and much less-luxurious!
But it isn’t all so straightforward… You then have to ‘request’ your chosen tickets and wait for an approval-email before you book and pay! What’s more, they don’t send you the tickets in the post, nor can you print them, your only option is collection from the departure city, Moscow. Details of the collection-office location aren’t released until the final booking, so ensure you allow yourselves a few days in Moscow before departure – if it’s not to soak in Moscow, you’ll ensure you have time to pick-up the golden tickets!
Photos Credit: Carmine Savarese
Map Credit: Japan Times