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The Trans-Siberian / Trans-Mongolian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the greatest train journeys in the world and has to be the most magical way to enter Mongolia, either eastbound from Russia or westbound from Beijing, China.

The Trans-Siberian Railway is part of the Russian railway network connecting the European rail network with either Vladivostok at one end or the Chinese rail network at the other. Although there are several routes, the most interesting (we are not biased!) is the Trans-Mongolian route that crosses Siberia, cuts across Mongolia and the Gobi desert, then enters China, finishing in Beijing.

For those who do not have five days spare to travel all the way from Moscow, we would recommend the shorter trans-Siberian experience of just 30 hours onboard as the train travels from Beijing, up through northern China and then across the Gobi Desert, into Mongolia and to the capital city Ulaanbataar. It's long enough to feel like an epic journey, but short enough to not get cabin fever!

If you have never been to Beijing before, you could also tack on a couple of days before you board the train to take in the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and/or Summer Palace, stay in one of the cities traditional hutong (courtyard) hotels and of course try the famous Peking Duck.

The Trans-Mongolian train route begins early in the morning in Beijing. Travel through the high rises of the capital, seemingly endless suburbs, then market gardens and orchards, past the Great Wall of China (blink and you'll miss it) and into the more sparsely populated areas of the country through a wide variety of terrain before reaching the Mongolian border. Here, immigration come to you to check visas and the rail bogies (the wheels) are changed (your whole carriage is lifted in a huge warehouse) to match the Russian-built rail gauge of Mongolia's railways.

In the morning, as it becomes light, you will wake to the train crossing the vast expanse of the Gobi desert. With endless gravel plains stretching out to the horizon and just the occasional herd of camels or nomads beside their gers (felt tents) breaking the view. Depending on the train you are on, you may stop at a couple of small stations where locals will sell you steamed dumplings or fermented mares milk if you fancy a break from the buffet car! As you travel northwards, the landscapes transform into the open green steppe of the country's heartland.

Our travel designer Kath claims that this has to be the best section of the epic Trans-Siberian route and the best way to arrive in Mongolia; giving you an appreciation of the scale of the landscape and the sparsity of the population. There is nothing quite like waking to sunrise over the Gobi desert from your comfortable two berth compartment.

There are 2 or 3 International Trans-Siberian trains a week that depart Beijing and arrive in Ulaanbaatar the next day. There is a summer and winter timetable, and the days that the train runs changes from year to year with seemingly no rhyme or reason! It's best to ask us for the most up-to-date information.

According to the ticketing office, the trains currently running are:

Train K23 : Every TUESDAY (Beijing to Ulaanbaatar)

Departs Beijing at 07.27 : Arrives Ulaanbaatar next day at 14.35

Train K3 : Every WEDNESDAY (Beijing to Moscow via Ulaanbaatar)

Departs Beijing at 07.27 : Arrives Ulaanbaatar next day at 14.35

Please contact us if you are interested in arriving in Mongolia by train, as the timetable is subject to change, and tickets are only issued up to 30 days before travel (sometimes only 14 days) so there is a large element of risk and tickets are not a certainty until we physically have them!




Speak to Kath our Travel Designer

Whether it's to ask a quick question or to start planning the journey of a lifetime, we'd love to hear from you.

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