Trip to Mongolia via Trans-Siberian Railway
Mongolia is one of the world’s most remote and intriguing travel destinations sandwiched between China & Russia. Many travelers dream of traveling through trans- Mongolian tour connecting China and Russia. The tour may give you once in a lifetime chance to explore 3 different countries on the same trip. The trip is not just called trans-Mongolian, because the train is crossing Mongolia, it’s also called this way, because you just have to stop in Mongolia.
Do I have to travel only by railway?
It would be your choice. You can take flight right to Beijing or Moscow from where you are in and may choose flight again to Mongolia. It is up to you. And after tour in Mongolia, you may go to your next destinations of west or east by train, plane and even by bus or car.
Of course it is best to start your trans-Mongolian tour choosing one direction through and not just directly come to Mongolia. But you may choose traditional way of travel – trans-Mongolian railway tour. Your Trans –Mongolian tour will not be limited only by one transportation.
Journey to Mongolia via Trans-Mongolian railway
While you travel the Trans Mongolian Railway, you will pass 6 time zones, transverse taiga and tundra in Russia, glass lands, highland and desert in Mongolia and you will cross the Great Wall of China multiple times. The weekly Trans-Mongolian train leaves Moscow for Beijing every Tuesday night. The 7,621 km (4,735 mile) journey takes 6 nights. This train crosses Siberia, cuts across Mongolia and the Gobi desert, then enters China. Westbound, it leaves Beijing every Wednesday morning.
If you're trying to do the Trans-Mongolian train route flexibly, buying tickets as you go, this is relatively easy between Moscow & Ulaanbaatar and Beijing to Ulaanbaatar as there are a whole range of domestic trains every day. You can organize your Trans-Mongolian tour by days you spent and places to visit in your destinations.
What to explore through Trans-Mongolian tour?
By the way, these 3 countries are not regular. You can explore 3 different countries’ culture together with one trip including histories such as the wars, the Kremlin, the ballets, vodka, and the horses, nomadic life, the throat singing, the Ger, the Gobi, the Forbidden City, the temples and much more.
Chances are you will need a visa to travel to one or more of Russia, Mongolia, and China, so that may factor into which route makes the most sense for you. Rules of visa vary by nationality, you better check and visit the consulate website for your home country several months in advance to learn what is required.
Khongor Sand Dunes in Mongolia Gobi
Camels in the desert of Mongolia
Photographers during the Train Photography tour
Why have to choose Trans-Mongolian tour than Trans-Siberian?
The Trans-Siberian railways is much more famous than Trans-Mongolian, but trip via Mongolia has much more offer to you.
Although many people use the phrase Trans-Siberian Railway for all trains travelling in Russia, there is a difference. The Train Siberian Railway starts in Moscow and crosses Lake Baikal to continue to Vladivostok. You will not leave Russia if you travel this route. So only Trans-Mongolian railway gives you chance of discovering 3 countries. And that train travels through three countries along the way?” And that’s how you made up on your mind.
Stop in Ulaanbaatar is a “must to do” on Trans-Mongolian railway
The Trans Mongolian Railway is not like hop-on hop off system which means you do not buy 1 ticket and then hop off at free will. If you want to stop in Ulaanbaatar, you need to carefully plan this and buy different tickets for the separate sections. For example, you should buy tickets of Irkutsk or Ulan-Ude to Ulaanbaatar or ticket from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar. You need to time and plan this accurate, because the train doesn’t stop at each place and doesn’t run every day. If you want to get off in Ulaanbaatar, you have 3 days to explore, before the next train comes again. After all this time arrangement, you can have huge opportunity to stop in Ulaanbaatar and experience history and culture of home country of legendary Chinggis Khaan. When you will have chance to explore country like Mongolia on your train again, you must stop in and hop off Ulaanbaatar.
Train at Ulaanbaatar train station, capital city of Mongolia
Short stay in Mongolia via Trans-Siberian railway Tour
Once you have 3 days until the next train, you can have time of discovering Ulaanbaatar city and near UB hottest travel destinations. First you should visit famous places in city including Gandan monastery, Zaisan memorial and Chinggis Khaan square which can leave you evidence of travel in UB city.
On second day of travel in Mongolia, you can have short tip to Terelj national park and Chinggis khan’s statue complex near city. This trip will give you a chance of discovery of nature beauty and history of the country and its nomadic people. You can take horse-riding and visiting the Ger, Mongolian traditional dwelling.
This short stay will give you some introduction of Mongolia within time of waiting your next train.
Sukhbaatar square in the center of UB
Long stay in Mongolia via Trans-Siberian railway Tour
After your visiting near UB tour attractions, you may want to travel more of Mongolia and real nomadic life in the countryside.
You can extend your short stay by week which means you have another one more week until next train comes.
It will be great decision making, if you won’t regret a chance of you having more experience in tour Mongolia. If you think that you might regret later, follow your heart and explore more of Mongolia and take the next trans-Mongolian railway. Keep continue your tour in Mongolia.
Within this time, you may go to Mongolian Gobi desert and trekking camel, visiting national parks, real nomadic herders and their way of living and historical and cultural must see places in beautiful land of Mongolia in region or near Gobi desert. Also you can take a trip for train photography in Mongolia. Photographing trains and mongolian landscape is one of the interesting trip ideas in Mongolia. You will never forget your tours in Mongolia and stop in this country via on your trans- sib journey.
Train Photography Tour in Mongolia
Photographers and travelers climbing on Khongor sand dunes
Where Trans-Mongolian tour does ends?
The original route goes from Moscow to Beijing. Or from Beijing to Moscow. If you want to stop in Ulaanbaatar and continue by plane or car, this is all possible. But your Trans Mongolian tour adventure can end where you want it to end. Once you decided to travel, you must finish your travel destinations.
Where you can buy Trans-Mongolian railway ticket?
You can book online ticket www.eticket.ubtmz.mn and can buy tickets in Ulaanbaatar at the international booking office next to the station and the office is open 08:00-20:00 Monday-Friday and at weekends use the normal booking windows.
International trains to Irkutsk, Moscow and Beijing can be booked up to 30 days in advance, except for Moscow-Beijing and Beijing-Moscow trains which joining at UB are only sold 24 hours before departure. Also you can take daily overnight train from Ulaanbaatar to Zamin Uud on the Chinese border from where you can easily reach Beijing any day of the week.
Some tips on Trans-Mongolian railway tours
- Long tip on train may be boring but you can make it interesting. Chat and play with others, listen stories of various people, looking out window, discover every little details in landscape, making new friends and so on. You can work, blog and take pictures of places passing by.
- Spring to autumn will be the best time to travel Trans-Mongolian railway. It is not too hot and too cold. You can feel and see nature change through the window in 3 different countries.
- Russia, Mongolia and China all require visas for most nationalities. Check with your local embassy if you’d need one and what the requirements are. And you can use some visa application services for you. The Mongolian visa is valid for 30 days and you can stay for 90 days with the Chinese visa.
- Do not forget to take some instant noodles and instant soup, snacks and crackers with you. Also some beverages too. Make sure to pack enough healthy snacks from home. Staying healthy is, eating healthy.
- Always take some local currency with you. You cannot pay by debit or credit card, but Rubles, Tugrik and Yen are always accepted. You can buy food and drinks in the restaurant wagon and there are always local people popping up to sell their goods at every stop.
- Make sure to walk back and forth when you can, exercise is important. Although you’re not going anywhere, get off the train at every change you get, because you might not know when the next stop will be. Stretch your legs, so get off when you can.
- Wear comfortable clothes and take small useful items to clean yourself up. Choose tour agent which can provide good tour Mongolia service
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