[AMA] I've Just Returned from a Trans-Siberian Railway Trip.

There are many ways to do this trip. We took 5 weeks to go from Beijing via Mongolia to St Petersburg then Moscow. We stopped off at Irkutsk and Ekaterinburg for 2-3 nights each, and spent a week in each of St P. and Moscow. If you'd like to do only some of this trip, as the train from Ulan Bataar to Ekaterinburg is not very eventful, then a circular trip from say Moscow to St P. then Ekaterinburg and back to Moscow via the 'Golden Ring' towns/cities not far from Moscow. Or just the St P. - Moscow return then the 'golden Ring'. Feel free to ask any questions.

closed Comments

  • can you rate your experience from 1-10?

    • -2

      What's 10 for reference?

      • 10 out of 10 would obviously be the best rating.

        • 10 for you might be 5 for someone else. What's a common reference point?

          • @ihbh: 10 being the highest number

  • +1

    Would it be worth doing again? Also, how much was the total cost?

  • How much did you spend?
    How cheap is the vodka in Russia?
    Did you find it difficult to get a visa for Russia?
    Did you notice any kind of vibe in China regarding the HK Protests?
    Where would you go back to?

  • I may be ignorant but I have never seen anything interesting to see/do in Russia. Care to enlighten me?

  • On the trainline to St Petersburg did you see any epileptic idiots claiming to be a prince of some sort? Very envious btw.

  • +1

    If you able to do it again what will you do differently?

  • Why do clocks run clockwise?

  • did you feel safe in Russia? did you visit the Hermitage? what did you do to on the train? are locals friendly?

  • How was the borsche?

  • +2

    Did you see the Russian mail order bride I've been sending money to every week?

    She stopped answering my emails when I said I've run out of cash.

  • Went to Russia during the World cup - great beer/Vodka terrible food

    interesting culture

    overall i'd say it is worth a visit if you have time - its relatively cheap too so you can get around for minimal cost

  • +17

    Will you be answering any questions?

    • +1

      Nyet!

    • +1

      Think he's still on the train

  • What is it with the different time zones? Is it different on the platform to that of being on the train, or something like that?

  • Did you spend anytime in Mongolia?
    What’s the conditions of the train like?
    What was the weather and busyness like this time of year?

  • Who did you book the trip with?

  • How much does a trip like that cost and how do you book hotels?

  • +1

    This is the worst AMA in history.

    • He has obviously just been arrested by the Russian police for reporting.

  • -3

    Sorry for the delayed response. The usual reasons…However:
    in response:
    fredfloresjr: 8/10, being very good, esp. for people who want a bit of adventure and something different.
    TRIPIN: It's not a 2-time experience, but see below for what we'd do if we went back to Russia.
    Snowdragon: 1. We spent a lot of our 34 days in 'train mode', though first and last few days (Beijing and Moscow) were about 6 days each of this. We got off at Ulan Bator, Ulan Ude (briefly), Irkutsk, Ekaterinburg then St Petersburg before Moscow. Most people go west to east. Total cost for all of this excl. most meals (except brekkie in all hotels, which we'd mostly not do again), air fares and purchases $7,300PP in a 'group of 2'.
    2. Vodka? about 1/3 of price here. 3. Russian visa quite unnecessarily quite tedious. They ask for 10 years int. travel info for example. Allow 2-3 weeks for it, and same for each of China and Mongolia.
    4. China and HK? We gently asked a few English-speaking locals in Beijing. They all said 'rich HK property owners are taking to the streets because China is going to build mass housing for poorer people and it will decrease the value of their properties'. We didn't comment. 5. If we return to Russia. We'd go back to St Petersburg and Moscow (tourist trick in Moscow: a LOT of restaurants have a 10% service charge for 'groups of more than 8', but charged it to us anyway, even though it's optional. It's called an 'allowance' in Cyrillic. We also had some very dubious costs on the bill, which were explained but reversed when we asked. , but Moscow mostly to visit the 'Golden Ring' towns. Worth reading about. We'd also certainly go to Georgia. A lot of the very good restaurants in St.P. and Moscow were Georgian, as is about 50% of the wine in Western Russia, though they have some quite good wine from Crimean region themselves.
    Knobbs: What you say is partly true, but if you've been to lots of the more exciting/interesting places in the world (to you), then St P., Ekaterinburg/Lake Baikal, the Golden Ring, the Hermitage and Peterhof (though prices here are a tourist gouge) plus the Bolshoi if remotely interested in ballet are all well worth visiting.
    OWLI: No, but Russians are very serious people - not unfriendly, just distant, though lots of them, even without English, responded very well to humour and lightened up a bit.
    SJ50: If I were to visit a 2nd time, it'd be to what I suggested to Snowdragon. If 1st time, I'd probably add Ekaterinburg/ Lake Baikal.
    Iforgotmysocks: sundials. check it out.
    Catear: We definitely felt safe, but happily didn't have any 'experiences' that would have put it to the test. (FYI internet, etc. all work in Mongolia and Russia if a bit average (like Australia!) even on some of the Russian trains, for free! though mostly not in China.) We learned the Cyrillic alphabet, which isn't too tough, as nearly everything, everywhere uses it exclusively (though a lot of St. P. and M. Restaurants have English on menus). Lots of words, though still in Russian, are pretty easy to work out when the letters are swapped for ours. Recommended, and fun!
    The Hermitage (and the Faberge museum, which is more than eggs) were really excellent. The Kremlin was a bureaucratic nightmare. I reckon without tour groups, it still would have taken 2 hours to get in! The Kremlin Armoury was better, and worthwhile. On the trains, even the 49-hour section, there was always something to do. I suggest downloading games, books etc. that don't need internet anyway. Just looking out the window was much more interesting than we'd imagined. We bought the very current 'Trans Siberian Train Guide' paper copy, and got heaps of good info etc. from it.
    DarthAntz: The Borscht was amazingly good, and varied, everywhere, even in the cheap cafes. Dumplings, to our surprise, were even more consistent and excellent, everywhere.
    Hithere: Was her name Sonia Putznitzinya? She had that operation you paid for, and is now a happy provodnista! Well done!
    Of Aquitaine: It's easily the widest country in the world. 7 time zones. All trains use Moscow time, though stations show local time. It seems food service etc. is based on local time, though they don't open the buffet car until 9AM, and want everyone to have dinner at 5PM, though can be changed. Showers on board need to be booked, and cost $5. They're good too but only every, say, 3rd car so prob. booked out in high season.
    Sahh: We spent a week in and around Ulan Bator. Visited nomadic herdsmen, which was surprisingly interesting. Stayed in a yurt (or ger) for 2 nights, though, unless it was just the one we visited, it felt touristy.
    The Chinese and Mongolian trains were both very good. The Mongolian buffet car was worth the whole trip just to see! We recommend paying what seems like a lot extra, as we did, for 2-berth only accommodation on ALL the trains except St P. to Moscow. All trains except one had a buffet car, and they had good food selection though, like lots of Russia, often don't have what's on the menu. Plenty of double-priced cold beer, though you can pick it up cold sometimes at some stations for street price. The hot water urn in each carriage is vital! The trains were very quiet, not crowded at all, except St.P - M., the weather was excellent - though getting cold in St. P. and Moscow by October (say 10 degrees during day). Strangely for us, the worst traffic was in UB, where they had, we were told, no plan and no idea that it would grow so fast. Good modern place, with good coffee though. It's gridlock all day, every day (exc. 'car free days' maybe once a week or so).
    We took most food with us (esp. water!), using the urn for soups etc. As we're big on coffee, we took our Aeropress, home coffee and a grinder too but provodnistas frequently have a side-line in quite good pod espresso, which is $5.
    smhto: if we're allowed to say, it was with Flowers Travel in Melbourne who do a lot of this organising(though we're in Sydney). We'd never heard of them before starting our detailed planning for this trip, but sent them our 'ideas' for a quote and to see if they had any suggestions for places we'd missed. Their quote was cheaper than we could do privately, with quite a few extras. So we went with them for about 90% of the trip. Very highly recommended!

    Myone888: I'd say allow 20,000 - 25,000AUD for 2, all in, 5 weeks for a 3.5-4.5 star trip, plus airfares. Like committed OzB'ers, we played the credit card game, and went to Beijing BC with SIA, and back from Moscow on points.
    gooddealmate: I hope all this info helps it get better as an 'AMA', though there may be a better 'category' or description for it. I'd love to see lots more of out-of-the-way or unusual travel Q&A's on OzB!

    • Did trump make you pay to build your own wall?

      • Wall of text lol

    • +1

      You still don't understand how AMAs work hey?

  • TL:DR

  • Sorry, I'll put your 'handle' in capitals next time. But don't try to read the preface to War and Peace either!

  • -2

    And, Mr Bear, you don't understand that I was trying to create a new form of AMA's, related to travel experiences.

    • And you don't understand how to reply to a comment on OzBargain either.

      I do understand you are delusional though.