Why Travel the Trans-Siberian, and Why Now?
“Dramatic.” “Epic journey.” “Dream of a lifetime.”
They all describe the Trans-Siberian Railway, one of the world’s longest train routes and certainly among the world’s most famous, transporting passengers and their rail dreams for more than a century between Moscow and Vladivostok, Beijing, and Ulaanbaatar and stops in between.
- Trans-Siberian Classic Route: Moscow to Vladivostok, and reverse. This is what comes to mind for many dreaming of “riding the Russian rails.”
This nearly 6,000-mile journey condenses cultures, peoples and landscapes into a six-day nonstop journey, unlike any other on the planet. But it would be a shame to simply sit for six days and not get off along the way, taking in the sights, sounds, and history of these places. A more satisfying itinerary is at least 15 days aboard a private train that includes visits to fascinating cities like Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Kazan, Ulan Ude and Irkutsk, in addition to exploring another superlative stop, Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest and deepest lake.
- Better sooner than later to view for yourself the vast landscape of Russia, Mongolia and China, some of the most varied and ancient places on the planet.
- Seeing Siberia firsthand will squash your stereotypes and misconceptions about this region. No, it doesn’t always snow here. No, people don’t wear fur hats year-round. No, it’s not a forlorn place for exiles, stuck in another century.
- UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal is ready to impress: At 25 million years old, the deepest lake in the world is awash in vanishing stories – from the endemic fish and seals who make their home in its waters to the locals on its shores with their traditions and tales of the “sacred sea,” as they’ve named it.
- If you want to unplug from the world, this is the train to take: cell phone coverage and Internet access are limited. You have a rare opportunity to actually relax, and strike up face-to-face conversations with others on the journey, meeting new people and experiencing the romance of old-world train travel.
- The Trans-Siberian is simply a fascinating way to get between Asia and Europe. Imagine missing all this scenery and history because you traveled by air.
- Booking early – even a year in advance – is a plus for locking in cheaper rates, since Trans-Siberian Railway tours typically increase in price each season. It’s also reassurance that you won’t miss out on your preferred dates, since tours fill up fast.
(Top photo credit: Helge Pedersen)
PUBLISHED: January 20, 2014