Trans-Mongolian Railway: The World’s Longest Ride

The long route of the Trans Siberian railway.
The long route of the Trans-Siberian railway.

By James Clark

Moscow to Beijing by train is 8,961 kilometers and takes 5 days on the Trans-Mongolian Railway and 6 days on the Trans-Manchurian Railway. The Trans-Siberian Railway also runs along the route but doesn’t go as far as Beijing.

There are many places along the routes and some interesting locations to stop, explore and break up the journey. You can book a sleeper cabin and a restaurant is available on board.

Kazan
Kazan
Moscow
Moscow

Moscow a First Class City

Known by some as the most expensive city in the world Russia has undoubtedly gone through vast changes in the last twenty years. Former dilapidated buildings and warehouses are now home to art galleries, nightclubs, and restaurants that have exploded onto the scene in Moscow. It’s safe to say that whatever you’re into you’ll find it in Moscow.

Moscow has enough buildings and monuments to keep you going if you appreciate history and there are monuments to the fallen all over Moscow.
In fact the city is changing so fast that they are even coming up with new ways to show the cities history and taboo subjects from Russia’s past are being represented in museums.

Kazan – A Fast Moving and Award Winning City

Kazan has received an inspiring catalogue of awards. It has been declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO and named the best city in Russia in 2004 by becoming winner of the Russian National Olympus award. One year later in 2005 Kazan celebrated its one thousandth birthday, putting Kazan firmly on the tourist map.

For some color head for the Kremlin (Kremlin Street) a must see cultural site. It’s well preserved and cared for with Bulgar, Golden Horde, Medieval Kazan-Tatar, Italian and Russian cultures all on one site, within the Kremlin are five mosques and Khan’s Palace.

Novosibirsk – The Industrial Heart of Siberia

Novosibirskk, Siberia.Novosibirsk is a new city with few buildings of historical interest, but well worth a visit to see the size of the center, it’s built large to impress and its main street Krasny Prospekt is 10 km long!

In the center of the city is the statue of Lenin, more creative than most as it shows his coat blowing in the wind. What stands out most is the tremendous Opera and Ballet Theatre with its enormous silver dome. Really cheap tickets are available and if higher priced seats are sitting empty it is customary to move to them for no extra charge. What better place to see Opera than one of the largest theatres in the world.

The square is centre of activity in the summer with a promenade type feel to it and in winter the ice sculptures move in. With temperatures falling as low as -35 degrees snow is abundant.

Internationally Acclaimed Performances in Perm

One of the first things you’ll notice is that unlike other large cities Perm has been virtually untouched by glass skyscrapers and other modern looking buildings. The cities center is made up of three-story buildings in various colors, giving Perm a relaxed and warm feel.

The city is currently being renovated, but in the same 17th-century style that it was built in.
The Chaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theater has been home to many internationally known productions such as Rome and Juliet and Cleopatra as well as most of Tchaikovsky’s productions. If you’re staying overnight then get yourself tickets.

Historic Carved Wooden Houses in Omsk

Perm
Perm Russia, in Siberia.

The historic part of Omsk is near the river and its Lyubinsky prospekt is full of designer shops and home to some fantastic nightclubs and bars. The area once housed merchant houses, residential homes belonging to the church and government officials. It has gone through a process of redevelopment, modernization, and change.
Not far from the Cossacks’ Cathedral are some historic wooden carved houses, which will transport you back in time. At the time of writing

they are not protected by cultural heritage and could be pulled down, which is sad as they should be seen.

Tobolsk: Worth a Visit

Not on the Trans–Siberian route, 250 km in fact from Tyumen where you’ll depart, but well worth diverting for the Kremlin and historic old town. Tobolsk is a small city with 120,000 citizens living around the north of the city in large Soviet housing blocks, near the petrochemical plant where most of them work in one capacity or another. Locals are proud people taking pride in their city and its history and bone carving is popular here and craftsmen specializing in the art are never far away.

KrasnoyarskOpen Air Concerts in Krasnoyarsk

Krasnoyarsk is a beautiful and enjoyable city to walk around and weekends in the summer months of June to September are a wonderful time to visit.

The open air concerts last for (on average) twenty hours over the weekend featuring creative groups and singles from countries like Azerbaijan. During the summer months, the Theatre Square has so much to offer.

The Dalai Lama and Ulan-Ude

Not known to the outside world until the fall of the Soviet Union is Ulan Ude. The Ivolginsky Datsan is the center of Buddhism in Russia. Its citizens are friendly, and the city has a relaxing feel to it, it’s a fascinating and small city. Buddhism was withdrawn during communism and its people are reveling in reconnecting with the cities Buddhist past. It’s such an important place that the Dalai Lama has visited the city five times since its freedom adding to its real spiritual feel.

Mongolians Love their Capital Ulan Bator

It’s not a beautiful city, but Mongolians love it because of its history and culture. It may look imposing when you first arrive, but after wandering around and chatting to people you’ll soon realize that it’s a welcoming and friendly city.

It’s actually known as the world’s coldest place with an average temperature of -1.3 degrees and pollution and poverty is a massive problem, but well worth a visit to experience something a little different, now that’s what traveling is all about.

Ulan-Bator, Mongolia's capital city.
Ulan-Bator, Mongolia’s capital city.

Ulan-Bator, Mongolia’s capital city.

Beijing
Beijing, China.


Beijing Metropolis

Beijing has successfully re-created itself over the past decade. It has increased into a metropolis on an impressive scale and rivals many other cities across the world with its astounding built up skyline and buzzing modern energy that doesn’t look out of place with the cities older alleyways from hundreds of years ago.

It’s a city of temples, palaces, gardens, shopping malls, restaurants for all tastes and wallets, cocktail bars and just a little distance away is the Great Wall of China.

It’s a city under constant change and it’s impossible to get bored in Beijing. Like the city the weather is also affected by the change, the summer is hot and the winter’s freezing, the climate is best in autumn (September and October) when the sky is blue and the temperature is cooling down.

Not a trip for those in hurry, but a great way to explore at leisure and take in thousands of kilometers of the world. Every place that you decide to depart will be very different from the one before or the one that comes after.

James Clark
Love Rail Travel? Get our Rail Travel Reader for dozens of stories like this on your Kindle, iPad or Nook.


James Clark, from Norfolk, UK, is a railroad devotee who publishes a website about rail travel. For further information take a look at www.seat61.com

The following two tabs change content below.
GoNomad
If you like the articles we publish, maybe you can be one of our writers too! Make travel plans, then write a story for us! Click here to read our writer's guidelines.