Stunning views that change across the steppe out of the windows, cozy cabins, and dining cars passing by while you’re in a train that takes you to one of the world’s greatest adventures. The Trans-Mongolian Railway journey is one that you should definitely take if you’re either a train-travel lover or an adventure lover, besides of being one of the largest trains in the world, it also communicates three countries. Therefore, you will see and experience three different cultures during this trip.
Commonly referred as the Trans-Siberian Railway, the trans-Mongolian line is one of the three options available, the other two are the Trans-Manchurian, which goes from Moscow to Beijing but takes another route, it skirts through Manchurian in China instead of Mongolia; and the Trans-Siberian itself, which takes you from Moscow to Vladivostok.
These three routes are real rail journeys rather than luxury trips, so you better be ready to stay inside for a whole week because stops are only made to pick or settle down passengers. If you want to stay at any of the places en route, you will have to leave and wait for the other train. Also, we highly recommend you to plan this journey carefully if you decide to go independently, but don’t forget that there are companies which can help you organize this adventure.
Once you board the Trans-Mongolian train at the Yaroslavski station, you will receive some greets from the smartly uniformed staff that works there. Depending on how you want to travel, you can choose a first-class cabin or a second-class cabin. Also, every train has its own restaurant car that changes depending on which country you are in.
This journey starts the moment you leave Moscow behind and head forward to Yekaterinburg. In the beginning, what happens inside the train will be more interesting than what happens outside; therefore, you will have a good time getting to know people from different cultures like Russians, Siberians, Chinese, and some Europeans among other travelers.
Days later, after going through scarcely populated lands with spruce forests, you will be reaching the first major highlight of this adventure, the incredible city of Irkutsk. Then, later on, you will be heading to the east towards Ulan Ude. Once you arrive there, it’s just a matter of 12 hours to reach the border between Russia and Mongolia at Naushki.
The landscapes in Mongolian might seem the same as you pass by but eventually, you will get to see a group of gers, which are traditional round tents. When you reach Ulaan Baatar, your body will probably be asking for a break from the train already, in fact, many travelers choose this stop to spend a few days or more outside of the train. In there, you’re able to do some tours around the place.
By the end of the sixth day, you will be reaching the border between Mongolia and China at Erlyan. The railway in China is completely different to the one you have seen so far in Russia and in Mongolia. Once you’re in China, you will get a closer look at the Great Wall before the train rolls into Beijing.
This journey is a unique and unforgettable one, probably you will end up telling stories about how amazing it was.
Just for you to know
It is possible to buy tickets in Moscow or Beijing if you decide to do the journey in reverse, but we highly recommend you to book before you leave home, especially if you want to travel in first-class. Also, many European and North American tour companies offer itineraries based on the train journey, they include stops at major cities en route if you want to rest. Additionally, it’s worth taking snacks on board just in case that the food doesn’t agree with you or leaves you feeling hungry.
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