The Trans-Siberian Railway is the greatest train journey in the world and one of the quintessential travel experiences. Travelling for days across thousands of kilometres and several time zones, you’ll get to see the gradual change in landscape, peoples and cultures as you go from the edge of Europe to the heart of Asia. There are three main routes on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The original railway, started in the late 19th century under Tsar Alexander III, runs across Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok on its eastern Pacific coast. The Trans-Manchurian turns south before Vladivostok into north-eastern China on its way to Beijing via Harbin. However, the most interesting and popular route for travellers is the Trans-Mongolian Railway (often confusingly called the ‘Trans-Siberian’). This route, opened in 1956, diverts south at Ulan Ude just east of Lake Baikal and journeys through Mongolia and into China, finishing at Beijing. The Trans-Mongolian takes six days to travel the 8,000km from Moscow to Beijing but stopping to explore some of the main attractions on route is recommended (you will need a confirmed sleeping berth reservation for each section). The three capital cities – Moscow, Ulaan Bataar and Beijing, are each fascinating and totally distinct destinations, steeped in the long history of their respective countries and each adapting differently to the 21st century. However it’s the stopovers at Lake Baikal and at a ger camp in the Mongolian countryside that are the true highlights of the trip – a chance to escape the confines of the train and appreciate their glorious scenery and isolation.

St Petersburg Moscow Irkutsk Lake Baikal Ger Camp in the Mongolian steppe Beijing

Map for Trans-Siberian Railway

Countries Visited


Routes for Trans-Siberian Railway

Trans-Mongolian Railway

The most popular and interesting of the Trans-Siberian Railway routes travels from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia, where you can stop to explore its unique capital Ulaan Bataar and spent time in a ger camp in the Mongolian wilderness.

Tours: 3 available View highlights of this route

Trans-Manchurian Railway

The less travelled route between Moscow and Beijing travels north of Mongolia and heads south into Manchuria in China and stopping in the city of Harbin before finishing in the Chinese capital.

Tours: 0 available View highlights of this route

Trans-Siberian Express

The original Trans-Siberian route extends all along the vast length of Russia, covering 8,000km and 8 time zones to connect Moscow with Vladivostok on its eastern coast.

Tours: 2 available View highlights of this route

Guidebooks for Trans-Siberian Railway

Guidebooks for this journey from all the major travel publishers are listed below. Links to Amazon (UK, US and Canadian stores), Waterstones (UK) and selected publisher websites allow you to purchase the guidebooks online at best value with one simple click (individual chapter downloads are also available for selected Lonely Planet titles).

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Trailblazer Trans-Siberian Handbook

Rail Journeys

Trans-Siberian Handbook

May 2014 (9th ed.)
528 pages

Author(s): Bryn Thomas & Anna Kaminski

Lonely_Planet Trans-Siberian Railway

Multi-country Guides

Trans-Siberian Railway

Apr 2015 (5th ed.)
432 pages

Author(s): Simon Richmond, Michael Kohn et al.

Trailblazer The Trans-Siberian Railway: a traveller's anthology

Rail Journeys

The Trans-Siberian Railway: a traveller's anthology

2nd ed.
312 pages

Author(s): Deborah Manley