Russia on Rails

The Trans-Siberia Railway


7 days in motion, 8 time zones and over 9200 kilometres, the legendary Trans Siberia Railway has long captured the bucket lister’s imagination. Running between Vladivostok and Moscow (or linking up with the equally incredible Trans Mongolian or Trans Manchurian), experiencing the world’s largest country by train is a cultural, social and logistical adventure. Settle into a world of motion blur as the endless Siberian taiga passes you by.

Length of Trip : 1-3 weeks, depending on how long your stopovers are. The train from Moscow to Vladivostok takes 6 days.

Cost :
A single ticket in a 4-berth cabin from Vladivostok to Moscow costs around US$450, but there are various classes that can be more expensive. Budget for food, visas, accommodation during stopovers, flights, activities etc, and you're looking at about $1500 - $2000 per person, or more through a tour operator. Navigating the ticketing system is a bit of a minefield so a tour operator may help cut the red tape, although you will naturally pay for their services. Beijing to Moscow on the Trans Mongolian costs around the same. Prices are cheaper in winter.

Best time to go : May to September

Wheelchair friendly : Best to discuss with an operator beforehand

Family friendly : If your kids can sit still for, oh, 3 weeks!

Where to eat :
Meals are served on board but lower your low expectations. Many travellers load up on instant noodles, snacks, anything that can work with boiled water (freely provided on board). Vendors sell fruits, chocolates, biscuits and other snacks on the platforms. Best piece of advice I can give you: bring a bottle or two of hot sauce.

Official Site :
Enjoy the world's most famous railway trip across Asia with World Expeditions
There's no official site of much help, but you can find out plenty of more information by visiting Way to Russia and The Man in Seat 61. 18-35 travellers can look into the Vodkatrain which provides excellent value and heaps of fun.

Where to Stay :
On the train! Sheets and bedding are provided. The 4-berth compartment is small but comfortable.
When staying in Moscow, we recommend the Swissotel Moscow.

Getting There :
You can either fly into Vladivostok and conclude in Moscow, or vice versa. Alternatively, you can start in Beijing on the Trans Mongolian and join up with the Trans Siberian farther along.

Note from Robin :
If you don't own an e-reader, this is the trip to invest in one. Load it up with, oh, 20 books you've always wanted to read. Lake Baikal is a definite highlight, well worth spending a few days. This trip is perfectly safe for solo travellers, couples or families, and mingling with fellow passengers is a key part of it. There is an insane amount of red tape, and a labyrinthine ticketing system, so you'll want to do as much research beforehand as you can. If that intimidates you, definitely consider a tour operator to remove the logistical headaches.


All aboard


Waiting at the station


An author and his travel companion


Dried fish at a market in Irkutsk


Lake Baikal


Remember, everything runs on Moscow Time


Station in Siberia


Wares at the market


A fine place to write



New 2017 Ford Escape

It’s a rare occasion when the name of a car aligns so perfectly with what I’ve used it for. Whether rocketing along the notorious Trans-Labrador Highway, or cruising among the mountainous candy of one of the world’s most beautiful drives, the Ford Escape has indeed lived up to its name. It has stood up to some pretty epic challenges, and that includes taking a 6-month baby on a 30-day cross-country book tour. Compact yet spacious, powerful yet fuel efficient, and loaded with features you’ll soon wonder how you did without, the Ford Escape more than lives up to its moniker. – Robin Esrock