At Young Pioneer Tours are huge advocates of the Trans-Siberian Railway and all the other great train routes that go across Russia and beyond. Every October, we take the train from Beijing to Moscow on the Trans-Mongolian (6 days), as well as once a year taking the mammoth Moscow – Pyongyang (via Rason) Railway, which takes eight days!
Many people balk at the thought of spending 6-8 days stuck on a train, but in our mind, there really is no better way to waste away a week.
But what do you pack for the Trans-Siberian Railway?
A Variety of Clothes
Yes, we get it clothes seems like an obvious thing to put on the list, but we are specifically saying a wide selection. If you take the Trans-Siberian anytime other than the height of summer, it can get bitterly cold outside. Inside the train, though it is more like a sauna, you will need shorts and t-shirts to remain comfortable when staying in your room.
Does the trans-Siberian railway have showers? No, it does not. There is hot water and a bathroom. The best way to wash will incorporate using warm water and towel. It is not all that comfortable, but hey, what are you going to do?
If you are taking the Trans-Mongolian railway, for example, it will mean visiting three different countries. Despite what you read, it is not at all easy to change money. Even if you are only going through Russia, do not throw all your faith into spending US dollars on the Trans-Siberian. It is a myth!
Many people get scared of spending a week on a train because they think they will get bored, but you would be amazed just how quickly the journey passes. Bring books, something to write with and a decent selection of movies. Movie nights on a train can be pretty cool. There’s actually a called called “Trans-Siberian Railway.” You guessed it I watched it on the train!
Internet on the Trans-Siberian Railway
Is there wifi on the Trans-Siberian Railway? No, there is not. Your best chance for internet access on the Trans-Siberian Railway is to either get a sim-card from home with decent roaming such as T-Mobile in America, or Three from the UK. Of course, the best option is to buy a Russian SIM-Card. You can buy Russian SIM-Card from the stations, or before your journey. It is good to get help from a Russian friend with this as different regions in Russia constitute roaming.
Chinese sim cards cannot be purchased from the train station. You can buy a sim at Ulan-Bator railways station.
You will not be able to buy a sim card in North Korea. If you have joined a YPT tour, your guide will have an internet-enabled sim card.
You are going to be sharing a cabin, potentially with very lively Russians. Do not underestimate earplugs on a train.
Do not underestimate just how peoples along your journey speak little English. Learning a few words always goes down well.
Lastly, and most importantly, bring an open mind with you! Accept that you are going to spend a week on a train, be ready to relax, and soak up the fantastic scenery that the Trans-Siberian presents you and have fun. How much you enjoy this incredible journey really is all about you and your attitude to things..