Ever wanted to travel the Trans-Siberian, but been unsure of how or where to start? There is certainly plenty to think about from the trains and hotels you need to book to what you should do when you have a bit of time and reach your city of choice. Our tours have been designed for those of you thinking ‘where do I begin?’ Created by travel-lovers for travellers from all walks of life, whether solo backpacker, couple or group.
Everyone is different when it comes to holidays, and we understand that this means you may want more or less help along the way. With this, we have categorised out tours based on the level of involvement you want from us with our Explore, Discover and Experience packages.
Our Explore tour packages allow travellers total control over their own tour and is perfect for backpackers who like to go it alone or visit places away from the usual tourist hotspots. We will arrange transfers to and from the train station and arrange 2* to 3* accommodation for you. We will also be there to advise you on the best places to eat, stay and visit on your journey.
Our Discover tour packages are designed for tourists who want a balance between self-directed exploration and those that need some help choosing the best places to visit. These tours include 3* or 4*accommodation, transfers to and from the train station and a selection of half-day excursions.
Our Experience tour packages provide tourists with a complete personal service tailored to you, with the option of having as little to arrange as possible. Aside from arranging 4* accommodation, transfers to and from the train station, and any trains you need, we will curtate an itinerary of places to eat and visit for you based on the things you like. Allowing you to sit back, relax and enjoy your trip!
With over 15 years’ experience in Russian and Trans-Siberian travel, we are confident that we can offer a tour to suit your needs and budget. All our tours have been tried and tested to ensure that they maintain the quality and level of enjoyment we expect.
Visit our Trans-Siberian tours page to learn more or book a tour with us today!.
Some journeys just stand out as something different, something special. For many people, such as Real Russia customer Paul, the Trans-Siberian railway is one such journey. The ‘Trans-Sib’ crosses both Europe and Asia, taking in many cultures and locations that have helped shape global history, as well as some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Real Russia aim to make taking this journey as easy as possible, from working with you to create an itinerary, to ensuring that fantastic accommodation, excursions and rail travel is included. Here Paul tells us about his experience.
We had a wonderful time on this trip, it really was the trip of a lifetime. That’s a lot to say for us, as we have been all over the globe, and have ridden many trains. Trains in the USA, Europe, Asia, Japan, all over the place, and none will compare with this trip. Here are a few notes about the trip.
Provodnistas awaiting travellers on the Trans-Siberian railway
Modern, clean, well maintained, and vastly underrated. Ok, we travelled 1st Class, but in the end, it isn’t that expensive. Russian trains have chemical toilets, so that they are available at all times. The dining cars are clean, have a good menu, and if you like soups, salads and such, you can find a good meal. Each carriage has two attendants, and they keep the place clean, vacuum the floor, the carpet, and clean the WC’s two or three times a day. They also keep track of who gets on and off, and help maintain security.
Each compartment has its own air-con, so that you can regulate the temperate as you wish. Also, you can stand in the corridor, and open the window.
We rode on some iconic trains:
Get on these trains, and the attendant will come by and ask you what you want to eat for dinner. You have a choice of two mains, and several other minor dishes. Order a nice soup with your meal, and you will have plenty. The attendant will deliver your meal on chinaware, and come back later and pick up the dishes.
Dining on the Trans-Siberian
The tickets are issued as E-Tickets, and are registered. You just show the ticket and your passport to the attendant, and you are ushered on to the train. This all works very smooth, without drama.
This was a semi-guided tour. In other words, we were on our own on the train, and for parts of the excursions. Having said that, I have to add that we had ‘door to door’ service. We were met at the airport in Beijing, and taken to our hotel. We were then taken to the train station, escorted through the station, and out to the platform and into the carriage!
But there were no busses with 40 other tourist to contend with! No busses! No 40 other passengers to have to wait for while they got lost shopping. No hearing about someone’s grandkids back in Nebraska. It was just the 2 of us, with a guide, and driver, in a nice motorcar.
The beautiful Lake Baikal
We toured Beijing, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. The guides knew what they were talking about, knew the history, knew the art, the architecture, and all the little things. All were fluent English speakers, had worked for the Russian Foreign Ministry, or even one had worked for the KGB. All were ardent Russian patriots! Even the Chinese guide in Beijing had been trained in Russia, spoke Russian, (and Mandarin) and knew her history.
They did a great job, from start to finish. They help with visas, with tickets, and throughout the journey, they checked on how things were going. We worked with Alla. And she is brilliant. She kept up with us all the way, and she was in Volgograd (Stalingrad) and was there to offer assistance if needed. She even organised a free guide of the Moscow Metro Stations. You can’t go past Real Russia for this kind of thing, and they even organised good hotels, usually located in the heart of the city. I would use them again.
Russia is prosperous! Everything is freshly painted, clean, and kept up. Stores are well stocked, supplies are easy to get. Streets are cleaned, washed, and rooms also clean and fresh. Russians are helpful. There isn’t a lot of English being spoken, so it was a good thing that I had taken the time to learn to speak a few words, and read Russian as well. But Russians are helpful, and kind people. They will go out of their way to assist you even when they don’t really know what it is you’re after!
Ah Russia: if you go there looking for the good, you will easily find it. If you go there looking for the bad, you can find that too, but it isn’t as easy as finding the good. Don’t trust what you read in the western press and media. It’s all self-serving nonsense.
We had a great time. A genuine ‘Trip of a Lifetime’.
Paul relaxing on his travels
Trains run along the length of the Trans-Siberian all year round, so whether you want to bask in the sun along the shores of Lake Baikal, or gaze at a Siberian winter wonderland, Real Russia can help you get there.
The end of this epic journey approaches, as Helen and Charles near the end of their Trans-Siberian adventure.
Having started in Moscow in part one, travelled to Irkutsk and Baikal in part two, they now find themselves heading onwards to Beijing, before exploring one of the most incredible cities in the world.
It was good to be active in Irkutsk ahead of our next 3 days on the train again. A chance to catch our breath and reminisce and relax and mingle. It transpired we were the only people in the whole carriage, which not as plush looking as our first train, functioned much better, the beds were more comfortable and were cleaned daily. A Chinese family boarded later on who were really nice neighbours.
The dining car not as nice as the first one, but we had stocked up in Irkutsk and actually did not get that hungry as we were stationery most of the time. We followed the stations along the way and liked anticipating where we would be stopping next and for how long. Very few vendors on the stations, but the few which did have, we shopped at, mostly ice cream and airtime! I was intrigued by the female voice making the announcements at ALL the stations en route and the number of female railway workers in overalls or uniforms. In our country it is strictly male dominated. This train was a steam train we realized, which was interesting in itself, and much smoother than the first train. The female Russian conductors were efficient and quite friendly, which made a change for our first train which was manned by Chinese men, rather gruff and not terribly friendly. We did get the odd smile out of one of them!
The second train (Vostok) quite different to the first, as I may already have mentioned. Definitely cleaner and more comfortable. I considered what it would have been like had we booked on the Golden Eagle (which I think is your top train and very expensive). And I realized we would not necessarily have enjoyed it more. The basis of the train trip was that we would have passed the same scenery, stopped at the same stations, and not had much to do on the train other than what one had brought with one and mingling with other travellers. I felt sure it would not have been as easy striking up friendships on the Golden Eagle. Our neighbours were down to earth types and easy to chat to. The awe of knowing one is crossing 7 time lines and the famous Russian/Siberian countryside was constantly in my mind. It was meaningful to me.
I do think the first train (Chinese train 4) should have been cleaner and that the water should have worked in the shower, definitely.
I was astonished at the 6 hour stop in Zabaykalsk and then another 6 hours at the very next station! I visualized we could have used that time in Beijing! The Russian officials were more concerned at our leaving their country than the Chinese our entering theirs. A part of the trip we will never forget and an exercise in crossing borders.
And then our arrival in Beijing. Lilly spotted us straight away, no waiting involved and walked us to her driver. When we got to the hotel it was established that we could not go straight up to our room as it was not 8.30 and also that we could not have breakfast as it had been booked for the following morning! An awkward moment which we made the best of. We definitely wanted to shower and get our cases up to our room and prepare for the long day ahead. So, we arranged with Lilly that she would leave us and come back at 9. Whilst waiting for our room to become available we strolled out of the hotel and found a place to have breakfast. Eventually we were allowed into our room and a quick shower – then off to first the Jade factory and then The Great Wall. We realized we were not going to fit in the silk factory, taking into account traffic in Beijing that day ahead of a special day in China the very next day. Lilly was friendly and accommodating and gave us some interesting background to Beijing and Jade, and The Great Wall.
Once at the Great Wall, Lilly led us to the starting point of The Wall and left us to climb as we wished, which we thought was appropriate. Because we were several hours on the Great Wall there was not enough time for lunch. I think, had the travel time in rush traffic been taken into account it could have been established, at the time of preparing the itinerary, that we would not fit all of the places in!
We had a couple of hours back in our room to collect ourselves before Lilly returned to walk us to the chosen restaurant. Because time was of the essence, we were a little alarmed at the long walk we took to get there. Lilly explained she did not know exactly where it was, just a vague idea. It transpired that we could have taken a much shorter route as she realized after the meal we had taken the long way round. I was a little on edge as we had to be at the airport by 8. Meal was very nice and we loved the Peking Duck. Once again traffic was an issue and we got to the airport an hour later than advised but it did not seem to matter.
And, we headed for home … With sights and sounds dancing around in our heads.
A real adventure of a tour Alla, I loved all of it. 14 days was the right length. I am impressed at the way the tour flowed, all our guides were punctual, friendly and accommodating and well informed.
I believe the slight hitches we experienced were due to the language and in fact, in my opinion added just that bit of surprise, thereby enhancing the tour.
Thank you Helen and Charles for your fantastic tale and feedback.
Anyone else feeling inspired to hop on the Trans-Siberian now?
Fancy sharing your Trans-Siberian tale? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To continue our series of customer tales from the Trans-Siberian over the summer of 2015, we have a three part tale taking us from Moscow, via Irkutsk and Lake Baikal to Beijing on a tailored version of our Discovery range Siberian Eye tour!
Read part one below to find out their thoughts on arriving in Russia and exploring Moscow, and then keep your eyes peeled to our social media channels and our blog page to read parts two and three over the next couple of weeks!
Good Morning Alla
I wanted to mail you once I had fully settled back here and could think clearly as I am sure you will be interested to hear about every detail of our trip.
My head is half full of Russia as I go about my daily things, visiting another country give one an opportunity for adopting a different perspective and a better understanding of oneself and another culture. Just love it. We have taken so much from this trip. The Russian language, whilst I cannot fully read it I feel familiar with it when I see a Russian word. Charles was good about learning quite a few phrases and words which came in useful on many occasions. I liked the way we communicated and eventually managed to get the other person to understand what we were saying. I think the few hitches we had were mainly because of the language difference and looking back actually enhanced the trip.
Our arrival in Moscow was a little disappointing as any airport might be, the officials were extremely unfriendly and when we arrived in the main entrance hall and got to the Academ desk, the little girl behind it could not understand what I was trying to explain to her even after taking out my Russian itinerary, and it seemed we were not going to get through to her, but eventually she called a gentleman over and he seemed to understand and said because it was a Sunday they would not be able to organize a taxi. However, I persisted and eventually we got a taxi – and a long ride into Moscow.
The receptionists in the Maxima were very nice and helped us always, although once again not all of them could speak good English. The Maxima was perfect from a location point of view Alla, thanks for that, right next to the Metro, which we took twice, after asking a kind receptionist to put in English the station names next to the Russian ones so that we could recognize which station to get out at! We found a supermarket right there as well, with the prices very comparable to ours, and an Exchange Bureau which was very handy.
Our boat cruise was a lovely introduction to Moscow and our guide Olga, although a little quiet, was suitable actually, as she was quite right, we did want to take a lot of photos and she did not interfere, but made herself available to any questions we asked. We realized the following day that we would be covering most of what we saw on the boat trip, again, with Rita, which on reflection was very good, as it helped us retain some of the facts given out. Rita was the complete opposite to Olga, brisk and very knowledgeable, we walked our feet off that day but felt exhilarated nevertheless.
Once we had recovered in our hotel room that night we felt keen to visit Red Square again and go into the Kremlin and get to Arbat Street, which is exactly what we did. This time we could take it a little slower and savour and re-inforce what we had learnt with Rita. The weather was perfect the whole time in Moscow and in fact the while trip through, we were lucky. Charles was very keen to visit the Armory in the Kremlin and disappointed we could not take photos in there! I had no idea how many cathedrals there would be in there – full of Byzantine art, and oozing with history, really beautiful. We had thought we would be allowed into the Kremlin itself and would have appreciated if the lady we booked the ticket with had been able to convey to us that that would not be possible, but once again the language was a barrier. Charles was disappointed!
We loved wandering the streets in the area around our hotel and explored almost every single shop, and especially a delightful bakery across the road. I liked listening to the Russian accents and watching their mannerisms. They all walked very briskly and upright, almost as though marching, very unlike our pace of life over here! Very few smiles, but a feeling of serenity on the faces of passers-by, as though they all live a good life.
We noticed how clean the streets were and even street cleaning machines. And we noticed stray dogs crossing busy streets, Charles had heard that there were packs of wild dogs that roamed the streets, but Olga denied this.
…to be continued…
What did you think to part one? Come back over the next couple of weeks to continue reading about this fantastic journey.
And while you wait, why not take a look at our Trans-Siberian tours?
Alternatively, why not tell us all about your Trans-Siberian tales in the comments below, or via email to email@example.com.
Customers living in the north of England will soon have easier access to Russia, as Easyjet recently gained approval to operate a service between Manchester and St Petersburg.
There are hopes the service could start as early as summer 2013, although a spokes person for Easyjet commented there are no current plans for when the flights will commence; “We have started this process to enable us to fly there at some point, but this is a longer-term ambition.” This announcement follows the opening of the March 2013 routes from Manchester and London to Moscow, and will be welcomed by a large number of people. Easyjet have estimated that the existing service from Manchester to Moscow will carry over 60,000 customers within the first year alone, and so it is hoped the St Petersburg link will be just as popular.
Known as the Venice of the North, due to its network of canals and bridges, St Petersburg is a must see destination. Steeped in history and rich culture, why not take one of our
We also have a great range of Trans-Siberian train tours for you to venture deep into the heart of Russia, Mongolia and China. As the dedicated experts, allow us to take care of all your travel needs including: all
If you have planned, or are planning, a visit to Russia and beyond and would like any further information or guidance, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who are happy to help.
Ahead of Russia’s Victory Day (9th May), which marks the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in 1945, let’s take a step back in time. A great example of Stalin’s power and influence can be found at his secret underground bunker, an equivalent to a twelve-story building underground!
The bunker is located south east of Moscow in Samara, which was intended to be the capital of the USSR, if Moscow fell during the Second World War. In 1941 under the threat to Moscow to be taken over by the Nazis the Soviet government made a decision to make Samara (Kuibyshev back then) the USSR’s second capital. That’s why Stalin’s bunker was built here to become a special shelter for the Chief of State.
Constructed 37 meters deep, it is thought to have taken 2,900 people nine months to build with a team of over 800 engineers. It’s amazing to think that the local people didn’t notice anything unusual in 1942, as it remained a mystery to the public until 1991 when it was finally discovered, declassified, and opened as a museum.
It should be mentioned that the depth of Hitler’s bunker in Berlin is 16 meters, Churchill’s shelter (as well as Roosevelt’s bunker) has only two floors. Moreover, Stalin’s bunker is considered to be the deepest structure created during the Second World War.
It’s amazing to think that the local people didn’t notice anything unusual in 1942, as it remained a mystery to the public until 1991 when it was finally discovered, declassified, and opened as a museum.
All the people involved in the process of building the bunker were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement, thus even the residents of neighboring houses were unaware of what kind of facility was being built behind the high fence. The removed soil was taken away at night and the workers seldom (if ever) left the underground construction site, eating and sleeping there.
The stand-alone air regeneration system of the bunker even nowadays can provide its autonomy for five days. There is a meeting room on the lowest floor of the shelter that was designed for 115 people (stenographers, Stalin’s bodyguards and his personal secretary). Next to the meeting room you can see the recreation room of Stalin. It has parquet flooring, oak paneling on the walls, a massive table with green cloth, four false doors and two portraits of Suvorov and Kutuzov on the walls (Stalin’s most revered commanders). On the upper floors of the bunker there are the rooms for security guards and different life-support machines and warehouses. That’s incredible, but the bunker itself could withstand a direct hit by the largest aviation bombs of that time.
Located under the Academy of Culture and Skill in the centre of the city, it is open to public willing to explore the secrets of the site, equivalent to a twelve-story building underground.
Samara, a host city of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is a vibrant city with a unique history, beautiful nature on the bank of the river Volga and magnificent wooden and art-nouveau historical centre. If this destination sounds interesting, why not get in touch with our travel team for more details?
Allow us to introduce our improved tour ranges, inspired and designed around you. Now with unbeatable choice and flexibility, you’re free to customise your trip exactly how you want. Combining our years of practice and unparalleled expertise, it’s time to book your truly life-changing experience.
With a choice of Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian or Trans-Manchurian routes, you’ll have the opportunity to witness some of the World’s most breathtaking scenery. Depending on your choice, you might pass amazing destinations such as Moscow, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ulan-Bator, Yekaterinburg and Beijing.
The Trans-Continental tour routes are arranged into three exciting options taking into account your individual needs:
The Explore Range is ideal for independent travellers who love getting off the beaten track. You can explore what you want, and when, without losing time booking complicated routes and transfers; accommodation is also arranged.
The Discover Range works well if you like the best of both worlds. You will be taken straight to the heart of the action with introductions to destinations in the comfort of professional guides, but also enjoying the flexibility of your own time to explore. The Discover tours are structured with routes and transfers, again with accommodation provided.
The Experience Range is the premium choice. If you always wanted a life-changing experience but didn’t know where to start, you can explore in comfort with quality transport and the finest accommodation. You will receive a truly unique and in-depth adventure with as little planning as possible. Relax safe in the knowledge that your entire trip is taken care of for you.
For everything you need to make your trip as easy and enjoyable as possible, look no further. We can also arrange all visas, train tickets, upgrades and extensions to suit your individual tour requirements.
Through multiple time zones and nations, your adventure will bring memories that you will never forget. We hope the new product ranges will encourage you to explore, discover and experience the real Russia.
To see our Trans-Siberian tours click here