The Trains-Siberian railway is one of the bucket-list experiences for a seasoned railfan. It is also home to the Trans-Siberian Express, the train that is known to have one of the longest routes in the world. So, there is a thing or two you must do to prepare for your trip and I’m here to give you a helping hand.
Planning the Trip
Apart from the essentials like preparing for the cold weather, you should also plan your route. Most people start off in Moscow and end their trip in Vladivostok. It’s a great experience for tourists, but if you want to shake things up and avoid the crowd, I would suggest going the other way. Fewer tourists take this route and it gives you ample opportunity to interact with the locals and improve your Russian.
Now, here is a question combo you want to ask yourself: How much time do I have and what do I want to see? The thing is the trip between Moscow and Vladivostok lasts about 7 days without stopping. Given into account that the train runs every two days, you can either take a single week and never leave the train, or extend your trip for a couple of days more to see the wonders Russia has to offer. I would recommend Irkutsk, Kazan, and St. Petersburg. Spending a couple of days in Moscow before or after your trip will not significantly affect your schedule.
You can be like some of my friends and roll the dice on whether or not you make the trip by appearing at the ticket office and asking ether there are any tickets left. Or you can book your tickets online. Bear in mind that the train tickets you seek may already be sold out for weeks in advance if you go in person and that the staff rarely speaks English. If you decide to book online, it is essential that you find a booking service that you can trust.
My friends and I, respectively, had very different experiences, so I will abstain from recommending any sites.
Ah, yes, one of the most important and controversial questions when it comes to traveling: how much money to bring and to budget for spending. It really depends on what kind of trip you had in mind. If you want to travel first-class, you will already be out of more than $1,500 not counting the stops along the way. A third-class ticket, again with no stops, goes for around $350. These prices depend on the booking site and the exchange rates, so these are just ballpark figures.