A trip on the Trans-Siberian railway is one of the most picturesque in the world. Stretching over two continents, this railway route links the frostbitten northern side of the Pacific to the Baltic Sea. Between these two points is the largest, the most amazing lengthiness of infinite land is unfolding in front of your eyes and includes the biggest natural lake in the world, the Forbidden City, Kremlin, the Mongolian steppe and taiga – whole kilometers so far untouched by human foot.
For those who plan a Trans-Siberian journey, the first step may be the most confusing. In the following paragraphs, you have a list of suggestions that will help you with the decisions that need to be taken before leaving.
The classic Trans-Siberian route begins Moscow and lasts for seven days. Finally, the train arrives in Vladivostok, a port city rather untidy, but nevertheless poetic and picturesque, placed at the Pacific Ocean. In Vladivostok you will find a cosmopolitan mix of Chinese immigrant and other Asian nations, and the feeling that dominates this city is very distinct. It doesn’t abound in tourist attractions, but it is worth roaming through it for a few days. If you continue your journey eastward from here you can take the ferry to Korea or Japan.
The Trans-Manchurian route crosses almost all of Russia in length before arriving to China. After you pass Lake Baikal and the city of Chita, the train is heading towards the southeast. This route can arouse the interest of tourists in wintertime, as the train stops the city of Harbin, where you can witness the spectacular annual festival of winter. The terminus of the trip is Beijing, where tourists can go on, or fly home from the international airport.
The Trans-Mongolian route crosses three countries, going south in Mongolia before ending in Beijing. This is the best route for those who want to experience different things. After thousands of kilometers across Russia by train you will pass through the wild and surreal beauty of the Mongol steppe. A stop in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, allows the tourists to spend some time in one of the least explored countries in Asia. The last stop is back in Beijing, and from here you have various options.
Decide when to begin your trip. Each season offers a different travel experience. If you are interested in the frozen landscape of Siberia, choose winter, but you should know that temperatures in January in Irkutsk can reach -26ºC. During summertime, the big cities can get really hot, but in smaller cities Siberian weather is pleasant and ideal for walks. Late spring and early fall are also two moments of the year, because they are less crowded.
Decide when to go forward and when to stop. There are people who have made a real passion for traveling on the Trans-Siberian routes. The most experienced travelers claim that a real traveling enthusiast hops on the train and takes it from Moscow to Vladivostok continuously, without getting down, admiring the scenery from the window. This unforgettable experience consists in the visual pleasure provided by the the path itself more than anything else (that’s only if you’re not a big fan of instant noodles).
But for many, such a test of resistance does not sound very tempting. Most tourists prefer to get off the train in certain cities and spend a few days there to somehow interrupt the monotony. Plus so you have access to some of the most spectacular sights in Russia. Among the most popular stops include Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude or Harbin (on the Trans-Manchurian route) and Ulan Bator (on the trans-Mongolian).
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