A Travellerspoint blog

Russian train travel

Our experience and recommendations

semi-overcast 26 °C

This is our longest journey - two nights and a day. As we are sitting on the train all day there is not much to report. The scenery is changing a little. Up until now it has been hours and hours of uninhabited taiga (pine forest); today we are seeing some small towns and our first signs of agriculture. Late in the day we went through some beautiful mountainous country with hill side-villages that could have been in Switzerland. On dusk went through Krasnoyarsk a city of 1 million people.

I haven't talked yet of how we booked the trains and worked out the logisitcs.

Firstly we used the brilliant RZD (Russian Railways) web site and mobile app, both available in English. Using the official web site gives the cheapest possible prices (about half the price of going through a foreign booking agent). If needing an agent then Tutu.ru is the one to use. They only charge small commissions on top of official RZD fares. Two other web sites that I found very helpful:



When using the RZD web site to make a booking you choose from 1st, 2nd or 3rd class. 1st class is a private cabin with 2 beds. 2nd class is the same but has 4 beds (2 up 2 down). 3rd class is like a backpackers dorm; beds are in groups of 6 and all in an open carriage. We opted for the privacy of second class but discovered that it was possible to book all 4 beds to secure the entire cabin. this was significantly cheaper than taking a 1st class.

The prices vary enormously. Eg Vldivostok - Khabarovsk (1 nights) the fares are around $20 per bed for 3rd class up to $300 for the deluxe 1st class. As we booked all 4 beds in a 2nd class cabin, we payed around $50 per bed.




The price of the tickets are cheaper (usually) the earlier you book. You can only book 90 days in advance. Ticket prices are in blocks from 90 days, 60 days and 30 days, getting more expensive. Since Russia only issues 30 day visas and we wanted to see as much as possible we pre-booked everything 90 days prior and stuck to a tight intinery.

But not all trains are the same. Trains are all numbered. Single digit trains are modern, with aircon, bio-toilets, power points and USB charging. Two digit trains are older, three digit trains are very old. The older trains do not have bio-toilets, so toilets are closed at the larger towns and city. Local trains are typically four digit trains and cannot be pre-booked.

The other consideration for us was departure and arrival time. For most destinations we were travelling overnight but had multiple choices so we tried as much as possible to leave late in the evening to maximise the sightseeing. And we always tried to arrive at a reasonable (not too early) hour of the morning.

For the conventional Trans-Siberian route through the large cities, foreigners typically opt for the new single digit trains. Because we were doing the alternative BAM route and stopping at small towns we usually ended up with old three digit trains. So far we have not encounted any other foreigners and today I was dragged into a cabin to talk English with a group of Russians which they thought was a real novelty!

Everyone is really relaxed on the trains and they all get comfy in their pjs and tracksuits (see previous blog about tracksuits). Some typical travellers..






When boarding the train there was no need to show tickets. Just walk up to the correct carriage and present passports. After a very thorough check you are allowed on the train. The Provodnik/Provodnitsa (attendants) let you on the train and travel the entire journey. For the long journeys the rotate 12 hrs on duty then sleep for 6 hours. As we travelled in summer holidays many attendants were uni students.


We made use of the hot water available in every train and drunk a lot of tea, and ate cupa soups and noodle. We also carried cereal, milk andfresh fruit to keep us going.



Relaxing star.pngstar.pngstar.png 3 star day

Posted by MikeinCairns 09:20 Archived in Russia

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I see you had a great train journey...Well done! You are real Russians now...

by Vic_IV

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