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STA Travel Blog

When’s the best time to take the Trans Siberian Railway?

Embarking on an adventure across the wild, untouched terrain of Russia, Mongolia and China is one of the most exhilarating travel experiences there is.

Days spent huddling with new friends, as you breathe in the crisp air of the Siberian wilderness and travel by train across unique landscapes and through secluded townships, where you can mingle with people whose lifestyles are about as different to our own as you can possibly get. It’s the kind of experience most travellers dream of as they plan their next steps towards exploring the world.

The Tans-Siberian journies are some of the best travel experiences out there

There are a huge number of routes to choose from on the Trans-Siberian Railway each one unique and special in its own way. It’s not hard to face the choices of location – you just jump across to our website and check out our route options. Easy peasy. But what’s a little harder to decide, is when is best to go.

Do you freeze your metaphorical (or actual) nuts off and opt for the ultimate winter adventure? Or do you choose the less chilly, action packed summer months?

What do the experts think?

I’ve picked the brains of a collection of our most knowledgeable Travel Experts (and Trans-Siberian veterans) to get their opinion on when they think is the best time of the year to head off on that epic journey, here’s what they had to say…

Saxon Yuen – Marketing Executive, London

I took the route from Moscow to Beijing in November 2009. It was amazing. Bunking down with the locals in shared train cabins was awesome. Every leg of the 8,000km journey was a roll of the dice in terms of who’d be sat right up in your personal space for the next 37 hours. Whether it was Yuri the moustachioed woodsman showing me pictures of his rifle and pet wolf or draining bottles of vodka with a local women’s volleyball team, communication across cultures is always a buzz and I loved discovering the differences as well as the surprising similarities in our lives.

So when do you think is the best time to take the trip?

If you travel in July, you might pass through Mongolia during Naadam festival and experience the epitome of Mongolian steppes culture. Horse riding, wrestling, archery, gratuitous bravado and exceptional hospitality are all on display.

For me the true flavour of this journey is best savoured in the middle of bitter winter. Feel the thrill of minus 30 degree winds on your face, see the landscape dressed in virgin white snow, the locals cloaked in furs and feel the warming glow of Russian vodka – the very purpose for which it was invented.

Saxon prefers the -30 degree chill of the winter - each to their own....

James Fisher – Travel Expert, Norwich

I love taking the experience so much I did it twice! Once way back in October 2007 and then again in November 2011.

First time it was part of a bigger trip – Norwich to Bangkok overland (so Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Mongolia, China, Lao, Thailand), solo, 5 months in total (before I worked for STA Travel). Second time was a trip on the Vodkatrain from Moscow-Beijing.

Watching the vast scenery change as you travel over a third of the globe is truly humbling and with all the Russian, Kazakh, Ukrainian, Mongolian and Chinese people you meet and socialise with along the way, the cultural experience is just as varied and revealing as the geographical one.

When would you recommend starting a similar trip?

The best time is Autumn in my opinion, the sight of the leaves as they are changing in the Taiga is absolutely spectacular, it’s getting cold with snow falling once you get further into Siberia and Mongolia, but not the -30 degrees you get in the height of Winter. Summer is too hot, and you have to be a bit chilly when you go to Siberia!

James chilling in the deserted wilderness of the Mongolian countryside

James Mullins – Travel Expert, Southampton

I did the The Vodkatrain, a 21 day journey from Beijing to St Petersburg and I loved every minute of it. The Terelj National Park in Mongolia is so stunning, we visited a Nomadic family, slept in a Ger camp and went horse riding through the middle of nowhere.

Russia, more than anywhere else, really surprised me; the mix of modern and the old Tsar and Soviet styles are so engaging. Plus there is the Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin and the Hermitage. There’s so much to see!

When would you recommend starting a similar trip?

There is no bad time of year to experience this journey at all; it just depends on what you want from your trip. The summer months would be really fun because in July Mongolia have Naadam festival, which is like a summer games, consisting of wrestling, horse riding and archery.

James took to his horse and sampled life like a native

Shahid Khan, B2B Exec, Manchester

I took the Vodkatrain from Beijing to St. Petersburg in September 2012. This trip was one of my favourite ever travel experiences, with Mongolia being the definite highlight. It exceeded my expectations in every aspect; the landscapes, the food, the people, the overall experience. A beautiful country with lovely people.

What is the best time of the year to take the trip?

From my experience, Sept – Nov is very good time to travel as you can actually see the countries moving from Autumn to winter. Along with the beautiful scenery, you can also experience how different the temperatures can be between neighbouring countries.

Travelling very late in November or during the extreme winter months might just take a bit of the fun away as all you would see while on train is a white snow blanket all day/everyday so would miss the actual beauty of the landscape.

So there you have it, a few different opinions but with one common denominator – this is one experience not to be missed! Have you taken a Trans-Siberian journey yourself? What advice would you give those thinking of heading off on their own trip about the best time to visit? Leave your answers in the comments box below.

A journey on the Trans-Siberian railway is one of those ‘must do’ adventures. If you want to tick it off your bucket list check out our selection of routes and get your travel plans moving.
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Showing 4 Comments

  1. chloe

    How much roughly did the train cost you. And how much spending money do you need. Thanks.

    1898 days ago
    • Lisa Crowther

      Hi Chloe, you can see the variety of different trips you can do here (including the prices): As for how much you’ll spend it’s hard to say as it differs for everyone. But I do know this it is considerably less than you would spend in Europe, especially once you are out of Moscow/St Petersburg. If you want to keep your costs down as much as possible maybe don’t hang around for too long before your trip starts. With the Vodkatrain, accomm and travel are included and once you’re in Mongolia the price of a beer (for example) goes down to less than £1 – bargain!

      1888 days ago
  2. Sabina Sheikh

    Please provide me details of the travel company which provides complete packages to trans siberian railway

    1528 days ago
  3. Great advice. Thanks a million. It clears up a long running debate I’v been having about doing the vodkatrain

    1255 days ago