5 Ways to Travel the Legendary Trans-Siberian by Private Train
There’s a reason the Trans-Siberian Railway has been called one of the greatest journeys on earth. Rolling briskly across seven time zones and 5,772 miles of taiga, steppe, and mountain, it’s the longest railway line in the world, and after more than a century of revolution, wars, and environmental calamities continues to be a vital lifeline for millions of Russians living and traveling across the world’s largest country.
As triumphant a feat of engineering it may be, what makes it truly worthy of a prominent place on your bucket list is the chance to experience the real Russia, to see for yourself a country that’s captured the imaginations of countless writers, artists, and explorers who’ve ridden along its legendary iron tracks.
Few other journeys allow you to come face to face with as many fascinating environments and diverse cultures, and perhaps fewer still can provide as comprehensive an introduction to the country’s enigmatic history and people.
Traveling across Siberia’s unforgiving landscapes was once a hardship in old days, but today you can ride the rails in relaxation and old-world style aboard a chic and comfortable rail journey by private train. There are numerous ways to experience the Trans-Siberian, whether you want to savor the classic route, glide across a frozen Zhivago-esque Siberia, or explore the imperial treasures of Beijing.
What experiences do you want to have on the Trans-Siberian Railway?
- Embark on the classic Trans-Siberian route between magnificent Moscow and the edge of the Pacific in Vladivostok.
- See a phenomenal cross-section of Russia and Mongolia, and witness the best of Mongolia’s unique nomadic culture at the celebrated Naadam Festival.
- Experience the magic of a Russian winter across seven time zones.
- Hit many of the highlights of the classic Trans-Siberian route on a more compact journey.
- Travel the Trans-Siberian in a more down-to-earth setting on a three-country adventure through Russia, Mongolia, and China.
The Classic Route: Between Moscow and Vladivostok
Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway in the summer or fall on the iconic classic route, connecting Russia’s booming capital city to the little villages and miles of wilderness across Siberia.
- Tour the classic sights of 870-year-old Moscow, including expansive Red Square and the venerable Kremlin.
- Enjoy a private concert at the Decembrist House Museum in Irkutsk.
- Spend some time admiring UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal on the fabulous Circumbaikal Old Railway, one of the most complicated and beautiful rail routes in the world.
- Pay a visit to a village of Old Believers for a traditional meal and a concert featuring local singers and musicians.
The Mongolian Route: Between Ulaanbaatar and Moscow
From the Moscow Kremlin to the Mongolian steppe, this rail journey celebrates three different cultures: that of the modern Muscovite, the Baikal Siberian and the Mongolian nomad. The highlight of the journey is Ulaanbaatar’s famed Naadam Festival, where you can join local crowds singing the praises of the country’s best in wrestling, archery and horse racing.
- Savor a home-cooked meal at a village of Orthodox Old Believers, and hear their marvelous chants, lyric songs, and folk prayers, transmitted intact from the 16th and 17th centuries.
- Cheer on the dignified wrestlers, young jockeys and eagle-eyed archers at the Naadam Festival.
- Enjoy lunch and a performance of otherworldly Mongolian throat-singing in a nomadic ger.
The Winter Wonderland Route: Between Moscow and Vladivostok
In the winter, Western Russia is aglow with festive lights while Siberia is a wild and wooded place of unimaginable beauty whose cities glow with warmth. Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway on this winter exploration and choose from a variety of adventures on a frozen Lake Baikal.
- Wander the snow-dusted bricks of historic UNESCO-listed Red Square in the shadow of St. Basil’s fanciful onion domes.
- Visit UNESCO-listed Vladimir and Suzdal to admire the snow-tipped onion domes crowning some of the first churches and monasteries in Kievan Rus; then set out on an exhilarating sleigh ride.
- Board a hovercraft that crosses frozen Lake Baikal to a spot where you can join in with locals ice-fishing, smoking freshly caught fish, riding snowmobiles and running dogsleds.
The Trans-Siberian Baikal Express Route
This compact version of the Trans-Siberian Classic Route allows travelers to experience many of the highlights of a full Trans-Siberian rail journey in roughly half the time. Join fellow passengers in magnificent Moscow, exploring UNESCO-listed Red Square before departing for the serene shores of Siberia’s Lake Baikal.
- Admire the synthesis of the Tatar and Russian cultures at the UNESCO-listed Kazan Kremlin, originally a fortress of the Golden Horde.
- Enter the Ekaterinburg’s Church on the Blood, standing over the spot where Czar Nicholas II and his family were killed in July of 1918.
- Skirt the shore of UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal for spectacular views, and disembark for a barbecue at the lake’s edge.
The Trans-Siberian Express Between Moscow & Beijing
The Tsar’s Gold is a pleasant and comfortable, though not luxurious, private train that ties together two of the world’s biggest countries, China and Russia, as well as Mongolia. Glide from the metropolis of Moscow, where Red Square and St. Basil’s have become the symbols of Russia, all the way to China’s capital, Beijing. This route also operates in reverse from Beijing to Moscow.
- Enjoy a Russian tea party, with hot drinks, baked goods and zakuskie, or appetizers.
- Traverse Mongolia from the endless steppe to the Gobi Desert, stopping en route for a picnic lunch in a rural ger and a display of Mongolian horsemanship and Mongolian-style wrestling.
- Compare imperial Russia’s Kremlin with imperial China’s Forbidden City.
Travel on the Trans-Siberian with MIR
MIR has more than 30 years of Trans-Siberian Railway travel experience, with affiliate offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Irkutsk and Ulan Ude offering on-the-ground support. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”
You can discover the Trans-Siberian Railway with MIR in a number of ways, from a deluxe or luxury rail journey by private train, to an adventurous small group tour or an independent trip put together just the way you want it.
Our menu of rail journeys by private train also extends far beyond the Trans-Siberian Railway. We offer an array of classic rail journeys along the Silk Route, into the heart of Iran, around Central and East Europe, and through the Balkans.
Chat with one of our destination specialists by email or by phone at 1-800-424-7289 to start planning your travels today.
(Top photo: The Tsar’s Gold private train winds its way around Lake Baikal on one of the most scenic legs of the Trans-Siberian route.)
PUBLISHED: October 19, 2016