Frequently Asked Questions
Planning a Trans-Siberian rail tour can be quite a complex affair covering different countries with varying bureaucratic requirements. Inevitably, and particularly in the planning stage, you are likely to have a whole host of questions as you decide on your travel itinerary. Below you will find a list of the most frequently asked questions with answers from our travel experts based on real Trans-Siberian experience.
Of course, this is a far from exhaustive listing so please do not hesitate to contact us with any additional questions you may have as we are always delighted to share our knowledge of this extraordinary rail trip.
How Far in Advance Do I Need to Book?
The Trans-Siberian can be quite a complex trip with a definite peak season when tickets and good hotel rooms can become scarce so we recommend booking as far in advance as possible is you are travelling from June to the end of September. Outside of this period we still recommend booking at least 2 months in advance to allow plenty of time to obtain the visas.
Can You Obtain the Visas for Us?
We have an partnership with the excellent visa agents CIBT Visa Central who will guide you through the visa application process. As you are likely to be obtaining more than one visa for a Trans-Siberian trip it makes sense to make use of a specialised visa agent who will do the leg work running between the various embassies. We provide full details of their service on booking with us or you can view our partner page by clicking here.
Can You Book International Flights?
Yes, as we hold an ATOL license 10287 we are able to book both internal flights in Russia, Mongolia and China as well as any international flight requirements you might have. We are also a British Airways Appointed Operator so have access to good rates.
Is It Safe to Book With You?
In a word, Yes! We members of ABTA and ATOL Bonded so any payments made to us are fully protected in the unlikely event of our financial failure. Our ABTA membership number is Y1699 and our ATOL license number is 10287. You can check these on their websites or by clicking the logos to the right.
Can You Book Services Beyond the Trans-Siberian?
What Is the Best Time of Year to Travel?
The summer months from June to the end of August are generally considered the best and are certainly the busiest. However, catching the Autumn colours from early September is probably our favourite time to visit Russia although Mongolia can already be quite cold. China tends to be best in September and October although do try and avoid the week long National Day holiday during the 1st week of October. We are also partial to winter trips when Siberia looks stunning and if you can combine this with the amazing Harbin Snow and Ice Festival held each January, well, that’s another favourite of ours!
Is It Worth Travelling in Winter?
Oh Yes! As mentioned above, a favourite time of ours. Siberia looks amazing, a ger stay in Mongolia is the definition of cosy and Beijing is cold but dry and sunny. All three countries are very used to dealing with winter making the experience more comfortable than you might think.
What Happens Once We Make a Booking?
On taking a booking we will confirm as many of the services as can be at that point and then ask you for a £250 per person deposit with the final balance payment due 60 days before your trip start date with us. On booking we will also offer advice about obtaining the visas if this has not been covered before and about 1 month before your trip with us starts we will send you our comprehensive Trip Guidebook tailored to your specific trip with us.
Is Trans-Siberian Travel Safe?
Yes! In recent years we hear of very few problems either on the stops or the trains and there is no reason why you should not feel as safe if not safer than if travelling in your home country. This applies to men or women traveling alone or with others and exercising reasonable common sense.
How Much Money Will I Need to Take With Me?
The bulk of your costs are taken care of when booking with us so you will only be spending on day to day expenses such as additional meals, drinks, souvenirs and any entrance fees on free days. Russia is the most expensive and it is easy to go through £50 a day in Moscow and St Petersburg although less elsewhere. Mongolia is likely to be cheapest as there isn’t that much to spend money on in the countryside. China is between the two with spending from about £30 a day upwards as an approximate guide. On the train it would be difficult to spend more than £20 a day.
Do the Trains Have Plugs for Recharging?
As a rule, yes although if there are 4 of you in a cabin you will need to take turns. You can also ask your provodnitsa nicely if you can use her plugs but that will depend on the individual and they may expect a tip for this.
What Is the Difference Between First and Second Class?
First and second class cabins are the same size an tend to have similar facilities with the only real but big difference being that 2nd class cabins have 4 berths and first class 2 berths. So a couple get privacy and space in first class. A first class carriage will also have less competition for bathroom although this is not usually a big issue or a particular reason to go first class. Second class is arguable more social.
Why Should We Book a Trip With You?
We took our first Trans-Siberian trip in 1997 and between us have taken many trips since with the last fact finding trip in September 2012. We have been to all destinations we offer, often many times, and are passionate about sharing our knowledge and providing you with the best possible travel experience of these destinations which we love to visit ourselves. Add to this the back up we offer from financial protection of your payments to us to the 24 hour emergency numbers we give you before your trip and we think we are the full package for quality, service and reliability.
Is There Anything Else I Should Be Asking?
By Phil Stanley