When can I book my tour?

You can request your tour anytime you want and confirm your place on it by paying the reservation fee. We will only take full payment 90 days before the tour starts, which is when the train tickets are released for purchasing.

I've seen the same tour cheaper from another company, why should I book with you?

There are many reasons why you should book your tour with Real Russia. It can be very difficult to compare prices for various Trans-Siberian tours, as they can seem very similar but can be often very different when compared like for like. When we developed our tours, the goal was to make sure that our clients would have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it was important to do right rather than cut corners.

For example, we use good quality accommodation and comfortable long distance passenger trains; we use our own in-house or professional expert guides, not students; and our tours include everything you need to get the best out of your experience like transfers and breakfast, all of which is included in the price, rather than low value (cheap) activities with everything else as an overpriced optional extra; many companies even charge for transfers and breakfast to keep the “headline” price down!

So of course this will cost a little more but the extra comfort, security and experience is well worth it.

When is the best time of year to make the journey?

Our tours have been designed ensuring that you can benefit from the Russian spring and summer. If you like it a little cooler, then it is recommended that you travel in April, May or September; whereas June, July and August are the hottest months.

What will the weather be like?

We can't promise good weather on your tour, but normally, the weather throughout our tour periods is pleasant with it getting quite warm during the summer season.

What is the difference between First and Second Class?

The main difference between first and second class is that first class is a private cabin for two people with two beds; while second class is a private cabin for four people with two sets of upper and lower beds. Both classes have a small window table, a luggage storage area, have a door that can be locked from the inside, and will be heated in the winter and have air conditioning in the summer.

Please note that first class cabins are in very limited supply on the trains and where it is not possible to obtain this for you we will book all four berths of a second class cabin for your sole use at no extra cost.

How safe / private are the trains?

Hundreds of millions of people travel safely every year on Russian railways and in many ways it can be claimed they are one of the safest railways in the world. Every carriage has one or two conductors, who look after it 24 hours a day. Every passenger gets their ticket checked upon entry and must present a passport to get on the train, and most trains have a police team on board. At every stop the train gets thoroughly checked to make sure there is no minor damage.

As to privacy, unless you have a first class cabin you are likely to be sharing your cabin with other people. Each cabin has a door that you can close and lock (from the inside only); if you wish to leave your cabin and lock it from the outside then you will need to ask the carriage attendant.

What sort of things should I take with me?

In terms of your belongings, you should aim to pack as lightly as possible, packing suitably for the countries you will visit and activities you expect to undertake. We have created a list (that is by no means exhaustive) of some things for you to consider:

  • Passport, visas, travel insurance policy and your trip confirmation with contact numbers. Also be sure to keep a copy of these documents separate from the originals “just in case”.
  • Money and credit/debit cards
  • Personal medications and simple medicines such as aspirin, plasters, and diarrhoea tablets (yes it happens).
  • Torch.
  • Mosquito repellent.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses and sun hat — it can get quite hot in Siberia!
  • Toilet paper (just one roll, no need for a six pack).
  • Personal hygiene products, razor, wet-wipes, deodorant.
  • Refillable water bottle, cutlery, mug and bowl — these can be useful on the train and if you are stopping overnight away from the hotel.
  • Flip flops or light footwear for the train as well as light clothes such as light joggers and t-shirts; it can get warm on the train and you might not want to wear your day clothes.
  • Even if you are not normally a light sleeper, you may want to consider ear plugs and an eye mask.
  • Swimwear.
  • Phrase book.
  • Light raincoat and travel umbrella.
  • Travel towel.
  • Bottled water, snacks such as noodles, bread, sausage, cheese and pickles which often go down well (especially with beer). Often you can share these with your travelling companions who will often seem to have brought half their kitchen with them!
  • International SIM card for your mobile.
  • Travel adaptor.
  • And … don't forget your toothbrush!

What sort of luggage should I bring?

When considering your luggage, there is not a vast amount of luggage space on the train – so don't bring the kitchen sink!

Under each of the lower bunks there is enough space for one or two medium sized suitcases or rucksacks and a carry bag. Over the door there is room for a rucksack or a couple of carry bags. We would recommend that you should not bring large suitcases and try to keep the weight below 20kg or 40lb due to space restrictions and as you will often be expected to carry your own luggage.

If you do bring a suitcase make sure it has wheels and a strong handle/straps for if you need to carry it up steps. We would also recommend a day bag for carrying drinks, your camera and other items you may need when out and about.

How much money should I take?

The amount of money you should take is very much dependent on your own trip and how much you like to eat, drink or the sort of souvenirs you like to buy. A budget could be £100 plus £75 per city per person as a “rule of thumb” to cover buying meals, souvenirs and incidentals while on the tour. If you’re not buying Roubles before travelling, US Dollars and Euros are the recommended currencies to take with you; and the notes should be clean and unmarked or you may have difficulty converting it. As hotels generally offer very poor rates, our guide will be able to assist you with exchanging money if you need it.

You can also safely get money n local currency using your credit or debit card from cash-points in all the major cities and often the rates are not so bad. It’s advisable to inform your bank/card-provider before you travel that you are due to be using your card abroad so they do not block these transactions.

On the train you will need a little local money for buying meals or snacks, however our guide will advise you of the expected amount during the orientation meeting.

What is the food like on the train?

On the long-distance passenger trains we use, there will be a restaurant car serving freshly cooked meals, salads, as well as snacks, drinks and cigarettes, etc. They are not open 24 hours, so do check the opening times which will be posted somewhere in the carriage. The food on each train varies, from very good to ordinary, and as with most Russian meals it is generally healthy.

You will find at the end of each carriage that there is a Samovar providing hot water for coffee, tea and hot drinks. You can also buy such drinks from the carriage attendant for 20 to 50 roubles, and before you set off our guide will help you to buy provisions for the train such as coffee, tea, noodles, bread, sausage, beer, bottled water … well you get the idea.

It is also possible to buy provisions and even home cooked meals from vendors at stations along the way, who either come onto the train or will be on the platform as you pull in.

Is it possible to arrange meals for special diets?

It is generally not an option to arrange meals for special diets on the train. If you have special dietary requirements then you may need to make arrangements to bring your own food for the journey. You can discuss this with our guides in the city with regards to what is available and where to eat/buy food.

What are the toilets like on the train?

he toilets on the train are quite basic but clean with a toilet and wash basin at each end of the carriage. On most trains the toilets will be closed 10 minutes before you arrive at or after you leave a station and when crossing the border, up to 45 minutes before. As a border crossing can take a couple of hours it is better to go before you arrive!

While the water is drinking water, we recommend that you do not use the water from the basin in the toilet for brushing your teeth and instead use bottled water.

Are there any showers on board?

On our tours, there is a pay-to-use shower available in the special services carriage, on many of the Russian (not Mongolian or Chinese) long-distance passenger trains. Where available, this is just for the shower and does not include soap or a towel. We would also recommend that you wear flip-flops!

Can I smoke on the train?

No. Smoking is banned on all suburban and long distance trains.

It is also banned inside, as well as within 15 metres of the entrance to, railway stations. This includes on the platform for suburban trains.

Smoking is still allowed on platforms used for passengers of long distance trains.

"No smoking" signage will be displayed in those areas where smoking is banned to avoid any confusion.

Can I get off the train?

You will often have the opportunity to get off the train when it stops, though don't wander too far as generally the trains can stop for between two minutes to half an hour. If you can get off, the conductor will open the doors and let the steps down; but if you do get off, we would recommend you stay in sight of the train at all times.

Do I need insurance or to get vaccinations?

Suitable travel insurance is compulsory for all of our trips and proof should be provided, showing that it covers medical expenses, emergency repatriation, cancellation or curtailment as a minimum. However, there are no special vaccinations required, though please check with your government travel advisory website or your doctor.

Emergency Assistance

If you’re in need of assistance whilst travelling we offer a dedicated 24 hour telephone support service.

For all emergencies you can call us on +44 (0) 207 100 7370 where our operators are available to provide help 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

If you experience problems whilst away, our team can offer guidance and support. If, for example, you have mislaid your passport, are experiencing difficulty boarding a train or any number of other travel issues, call our emergency helpline for immediate assistance.