Knowing that I wanted to take the Transsiberian train throughout Russia, I had contacted a lot of travel agencies in order to plan my trip and reduce the costs. Nevertheless, all the prices given were extremely high. For a two-week-long trip with some stopovers in big cities of which I had never even heard of, there was a price tag from 350 – 500 euro attached.
I was kind of shocked, because I had no idea that it was this expensive. Convinced that this was the average price, I calculated it in my budget. Thanks to the fact that I am not much of a planner and a pro in missing trains, I never booked it and decided to go and see in the station myself.
Luckily I did, because it turned out to be way much cheaper than expected.
I took a ClablaCar to Kazan, that's why my route doesn't start from Moscow.
This was my itinerary:
Kazan – Jekaterineburg – Irkutsk – Lystvyanka – Baikalsk - Ulan-Ude – Novosibirsk
Price: 150 euro. BOOYA.
From Irkutsk I took a shared taxi to Listvyanka. And, after enjoying the beautiful nature around the Baikal Lake, I took a very alternative route to Ulan-Ude. During low season there are no ferries that cross the lake. This was very frustrating, since Ulan-Ude literally is on the other side. I took a ferry from Listvyanka to Port Baikal followed by the Baikalsky Trakt to Baikalsk where I took another train to finally arrive in Ulan-Ude. The whole route took me about two days, but for less than 30 euro I arrived on my destination. The route had been an adventure on its own and included two nights (of crappy sleep on a seat) and cheap meals.
In general, if your train is only a couple of hours, even though it is at night, just book yourself a seat. They are incredibly cheap and most of the time there is a little spot to have a nap to be found.
Besides that, you can always sleep later - or when you're dead - , so I chose to put some comfort aside in order to save up money and catch up the damage in a real bed.
Of course, if you are doing a ride for more than 12 hours, than it is very recommendable to get yourself more than a hard seat.
My favourite bed is the upper lateral.
It’s the cheapest and the most comfortable! You have your own private window through which you can stare for hours, there is not really someone sleeping next to you and the people passing in the hallways don’t touch your feet all the time. Tall people better avoid the laterals, since they are limited by the neighbouring ones.
I took two longer routes, one of 55 hours (Ekaterineburg to Irkutsk) and one of 39 hours (from Ulan-Ude to Novosibirsk) on a lateral bed.
The first one had cost me 35 euro and the other one only 26 euro, two nights included. Tada!
Booking the train can be very difficult of you don't speak Russian. Try to get a Russian person to come with you to the station, if not: good luck!
No, I mean, I never had the luxury of having a local waiting with me in the hour long line to talk to a frustrated clerk, but I still managed.
I made myself an account on the Russian railway website and took a print screen of the train that I wanted to book. By simply showing the desk staff the picture, they mostly understood.
In some stations there are international travel desks with English speaking staff as well, but you have to be really lucky. If you wanna take the ride, just take in consideration that you will be wandering around in the station for some hours before leaving with the right ticket in your hand.
And never ever forget to bring your passport. Yea, of course I did.
This is a list of things that will make your life on the train a lot easier:
- stock up on goodies that make you happy, life on the Transsiberian is all about munching the time away
- sleeping mask
- neck pillow
- music and books
Ready to roll?