Top Tips For Traveling On The Trans-Mongolian Express
When it comes to travelling to the far east, taking a train from Moscow is one of the most interesting and exciting ways of doing so. Whether you choose to take one of the tourist trains that are particularly luxurious and offer top of the range travel, or you choose to use the service trains that travel along the same route, it is an epic journey that will take you through some of the most beautiful areas of Russia and Asia. There are plenty of different things to bear in mind when planning your journey, and often there will be a few social differences to overcome during the trip, but this is a once in a lifetime journey that really can be a fantastic way to explore the region.
Booking Your Journey
There are two main types of trip that you can take on the Trans-Mongolian route, and this will either be on a tourist train or on one of the service trains that covers the route from Moscow, through Ulan Bataar to Beijing. In terms of the tourist train, it will give you a few more scheduled sightseeing stops, and will offer a higher quality of food and accommodation, but will usually be several times as expensive as taking the journey on the normal service trains. There are several sleeper trains that serve the route, with the different class levels offering accommodation from comfortable two-berth cabins down to the open plan bunks of third class. It is also worth noting that if you do want to stop at a particular location, you will need to book two tickets as there aren’t any tickets that offer hop on and off options.
Food And Drink Along The Route
For those on the tourist trains the food and drink is normally paid for in advance, while those travelling on the service trains will often need to plan ahead. There is a restaurant car on the trains, although the food can be a little bland, while those who are travelling on a real budget can bring their own food such as pot noodles or soups that can be made using hot water from the communal urn provided on the train. If you are looking for a more authentic touch, look out for the stops made along the route, where you can find the ‘babushka’ ladies on the station, offering peroshki, pies filled with vegetables or potatoes, and vareniki, a type of Ukrainian dumpling.
Choose When You Want To Take The Journey
When it comes to planning your trip on the Trans-Mongolian, it is worth considering when you are thinking of travelling along the route. The train is usually at its busiest during the summer months, when the long days mean you can see the most of the surroundings, but winter provides the alternative benefit of travelling through a landscape that is often covered in snow. The shorter days may reduce the amount of gazing out of the window that you can do, but the warm interior of the train doesn’t allow the winter weather to get inside.
Health And Safety
The main thing to remember when travelling on the route is that the water available from the taps isn’t really safe to drink, so it is best to stick to the boiled water you can get from the urn on the train. Travel on the train is usually quite social, but beware of getting too involved in a celebration and a series of toasts with your new Russian friends, as this can see the vodka going down in copious measures, which is likely to leave you with a headache or worse!
Petty Crime On The Route
Although it is not a major issue, it is worth bearing in mind that particularly on the service trains, you can sometimes find people who will try and take advantage of tourists to steal money or goods. In order to avoid this kind of problem, try to keep any money on you at all time, preferably in the inside pocket of a jacket or coat. It is also worth making sure your cabin is locked if you are leaving anything in there, and to make sure you take any valuables with you.