A trip on the Trans-Siberian railway is quite lengthy, so it won’t be long before the train starts to feel like a second home. Which ever of the various permutations of the Trans-Siberian trips you choose to take, not only will you spend a lot of time in your cabin and moving about the train, you will also get to spend time in the company of the other passengers and staff. In a previous post we featured a clip to give a virtual experience of the Trans-Siberian trip. Now we share some tips to prepare you for some of what you will experience while travelling on the train.
What will the train cabins be like?
Even before you have booked your trip, you may be wondering what your cabin will be like. The old Soviet Union used to pride itself on being a classless society. So if you are travelling second class you’ll be pleased to know that there is little difference between first and second class, other than the number of berths in the cabins. The second class cabins have four berths: two upper berths and two lower berths, under which you can safely store your luggage. The first class cabins have just two berths, both of them lower berths.
If you have booked a four-berth cabin and there are only two of you, you will have to share the cabin with whoever has also booked to travel in this cabin. This can be a case of pot luck as to who your co-habiters will be. You can always upgrade if you do end up being paired up with someone you don’t get along with.
What are the sleeping arrangements?
The beds or berths are full length and consist of a base, a mattress-pad and a large pillow and blanket. For a small fee each day you can hire a sealed laundry pack, which includes two fresh sheets, a pillowcase, a face-cloth and a hand-towel. The first class cabins have sofa beds that can be converted into beds for the night. In contrast the berths in the second class cabins are more like bunk beds, but are of equal size and comfort. Deciding on how many berths you require may well come down to how much privacy you want. If you are sharing the cabin with other travellers then you will have to accept that you will all be living and sleeping in close proximity to one another. If this doesn’t appeal to you, you have the option to “buy-out” the cabin when booking.
Are there any showers on the trains?
There are showers on the Russian trains but not the Mongolian or Chinese trains. On the trains that have showers, they can be found in the service wagon, which is adjoined to the restaurant car. It’s advised to take your soap, towel and flip flops. Alternatively you can have a wash in the toilets, which are located at each end of the wagon.
Is there anywhere to buy food?
There is a restaurant car usually located in the middle of the train. It is open all night. The menu is generally of Russian recipes, so you get to sample local cuisine. Of course you can always buy food along the way and eat it in your cabin. There is also a snacks trolley put on by the restaurant staff, and a bar where you’ll find some exceptional vodka!
Are the trains children friendly?
The straight answer is yes, but there is not a lot on board to keep them occupied. Therefore, make sure they have packed their IPod or brought along their favourite book to keep them happy – although the journey itself will give them an incredible experience of an array of foreign lands and their peoples.
Is the train journey safe?
Safety and security on the train is a real priority. Every wagon has one or two staff members (provodniks/provodnitsas), who check the tickets, do the cleaning, take care of boiling water, and so on. Also the cabins can be locked from the inside and can only be opened from the outside with a key, so your luggage is always safe when you do venture out to explore the train.
[Photo by Boccaccio1]