The Trans-Siberian Railway from Omsk to Beijing

The world’s longest and most famous train journey.  Crossing all of Russia, the route takes you through a landscape that was previously so impenetrable that it used to be quicker to cross the Atlantic, America and the Pacific than it was to make the overland from Moscow to Vladivostok.  Considering there are unlikely to be any other ways you will get to see this vast expanse of territory, this feels like a must for an adventurous traveler


But two things to bear in mind – firstly, the route is not one single train / journey, rather it is a series of trains and with various stops.  Secondly, there are three final destinations – Vladivostok, Beijing or Zabaikalsk.   This provides a series of combination from where you could go, and the journey I took was from Omsk to Beijing, via Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk & Lake Baikal, Ulan Ude, Ulan Bator & its surrounding national parks.  Its a great adventure and one that can easily be combined with a trip around Central Asia


I’ve written below some Travel Tips for this journey, but my main two tips are: #1. Prioritise Lake Baikal – it is the highlight stop of the journey, and far more fun than the grey city stops of the likes of Omsk and Krasnoyarsk; #2. Finish in Beijing – the Trans-Siberian is know for Moscow-Vladivostok, but it is a no-brainer to travel to Beijing instead.  Vladivostok vs Mongolia and Beijing?  No comparison

Hiking, horse-riding and staying in yurts in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park

You don’t have to head that far out of Ulan Bator to get a real feeling for the wilderness of Mongolia.  Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is only 55km / 35miles from the busy, polluted city, yet feels light years away.  Once you’re there, there is some fantastic hiking, traditional Buddhist temples nestled in the hills, and the opportunity to stay overnight in the Mongolian Gers (felt yurt huts).  Whilst not as remote as some destinations in Mongolia, there are various spots that give you those giant views across the seemingly endless steppes and allow you to spend time with people that are still living the subsistence lifestyle much the same as hundreds of years before.  A must if either staying in Ulan Bator or passing through on the Trans-Siberian Railway


I’ve listed some travel tips below, but the main tip I would give is to make sure you spend your evening(s) in one of the Mongolian Gers.  Not one that is surrounded by village infrastructure, but one that is isolated and with no other gers in sight – it gives you a feel of what it must be like to live in the isolation here and was our highlight of the trip

A day in Ulan Bator

Not a big fan of Ulan Bator – busy, polluted and at times felt a bit menacing / unsafe.  Chances are that if you’re visiting Ulan Bator it is for access to the wilderness of Mongolia or maybe as a stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway, in which case if you have a spare few hours its worth checking out the views from the Zaisan Memorial or the wrestling at the Wrestling Palace.  No more time needed


For details on a 3 day trip just outside of Ulan Bator see this travel entry for Hiking, horse-riding and staying in yurts in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park


For tips on the overall trans-Siberian Railway experience, including which stops to take, see the travel entry The Trans-Siberian Railway from Omsk to Beijing