Trans-Siberian Rail Routes
There are actually several routes you can take along the Trans-Siberian Railway. Here we refer to the main three that are used although there are also branches of these such as the Baikal Amur Mainline often referred to simply as the BAM. Here we concentrate on the routes that you are most likely to travel and which provide the most rewarding experiences along the way.
Trans-Mongolian Railway Route
The shortest of the 3 rail routes is the Trans-Mongolian at 7,621 km (4,735 miles) and runs from Moscow to Beijing. Most people want to at least pass through Mongolia and normally stop there making this the most popular route by far. It also has the most varied scenery. The route can be completed from start to finish in just over 5 days on the Chinese operated Train 3/4. The Russian / Mongolian border at Naushki / Sukhbaatar and the Mongolian / Chinese border at Zamyn-Uud / Erenhot must both be crossed on this route.
Trans-Manchurian Railway Route
At 8,986 km (5,623 miles) from Moscow to Beijing, the Trans-Manchurian route is the longest that ends in China. However as it misses out Mongolia it is a much less popular route to take than the Trans-Mongolian. It only crosses the one border, crossing from Russia into China or vice versa at Zabaikalsk / Manzhouli and continuing onto Harbin before ending in Beijing. The journey can be done directly in a little over 6 days on the Russian train 19/20. This route is perfect for those wishing to travel in winter as it gives the traveller the opportunity to stop at the spectacular Harbin Ice & Snow Festival.
Original Trans-Siberian Railway Route
Often thought of as the longest train journey in the world (it isn’t strictly but it’s tracks comprise a large amount of the longest) The Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Vladivostok stretches 9,258km (6,152 miles) and takes 7 days. Despite being the “true” Trans-Siberian it is the least popular of the routes as it misses out both Mongolia and China. This route runs the best scheduled train in Russia, the “Rossiya” (train number 2/1). From the home of the Russian Pacific Fleet you can change trains and head to Beijing or take a boat or fly to Japan.