From Beijing To Moscow, Trans-Siberian Railroad
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Apr 26, 2012 11:25 PM Last Post By: everbrite
Mar 22, 2012 6:42 PM
In Mid-June I am hoping to hop on the train in Beijing and ride it all the way to Moscow. But I am still unclear about the best way to get tickets and visas.
Does anyone have experience organizing this sort of trip from within China? It would seem like I have to spend a bit of time in Beijing to buy tickets and go to Russian Embassy, but I live in Yunnan, very far from Beijing.
Any other advice on when I should buy the tickets? I'm using American passport, is it harder or easier to get to get visas?
Mar 23, 2012 4:14 AM
1As far as I know you're more likely to be able to get a Russian visa at the Embassy in Hong Kong. Most Embassies offer same day Russian visa services. Some even insist on it. Get your letter of invitation sent to you by DHL or UPS in advance or get it sent by TELEX direct to the Embassy, although phone to check that they receive TELEX invitations first. I don't think getting the train tickets should take much time.
Mar 23, 2012 5:10 AM
2You don't have to spend any time in Beijing getting the train tickets. Those must be arranged through a travel agent as you cannot obtain tickets for the direct train at the train station yourself. I suggest taking a train or bus to Erlian and then crossing the border and catching the daily passenger train to Ulan Bator. Try searching the TT as there are lots of recent posts about this including one from earlier this week.
As far as the visa goes, be glad that you have residency in China otherwise your only option in Asia is Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur. You should be able to apply at the consulate in Shanghai or Beijing. It should take a week at the most. I don't know that you need original documents to get a tourist visa in China.
I am pretty sure that you would need to use DHL or the Telex method of obtaining the invitation only if you are applying for a business visa not a tourist visa.
Russia tourist visas are date specific and only valid for a maximum of 30 days. You can enter on or after the entry date but must depart on or before the exit date. If you dates are uncertain or you want more time in Russia then a 90 day business visa is the best option and that will likely require the original document which requires you use DHL or some other courier service.
Russian visas all cost the same for a US passport holder - 140 USD plus the invitation which has different costs based on what type and how quickly you need it and how it is delivered to you.
A US passport won't make it harder or easier - just expensive.
For more information, see the links in my signature line.
Mar 24, 2012 12:20 PM
Lots of good info on this at the man in seat 61 and
Trains in China
For the Russian visa you could deal with their UK office (I've used the agent for booking rail tickets in Moscow and they delivered on tickets as promised (they also register visas if your hotel won't/can't)).
Way to Russia also has some good stuff on Russian visas. People warn that you have to apply to get the visa in your country of residence (or show proof of residence in the country you apply in).
Way to Russia
Apr 8, 2012 1:26 PM
4Not to hijack the thread but quick question. Is the price estimate on the "the man in seat 61" site accurate? 500 pounds from Beijing to Moscow? Also how long is the ride with minimal stops from Beijing to Moscow? I'll be in Beijing this summer and need to get to Spain, given that I have a couple weeks to get there, II thought I might take the train with a friend for something a bit different than the usual airline flight.
Apr 8, 2012 2:41 PM
Through Manchuria - not Mongolian visa necessary (Currently March/April 2012 prices for trains within Russia are .8 of base)
#2 Train Moscow to Irkutsk
kupé 13512 RUB or 430 USD/315 €
platskartney 5278.8 RUB or 168 USD/124 €
Overnight one night in Irkutsk in a hostel about 20 USD/15 Euro
#322 Train Irkutsk to Zabaikalsk
kupé is 3595.2 RUB or 115 USD/84 €
platskartney 3553.0 RUB or 113 USD/83 €
Bus crossing Zabaikalsk to Manzhouli about 11 USD/8 Euro
Overnight one night in Manzhouli about 28 USD/12 Euro
Train from Manzhouli to Beijing
Soft Class about 627-675 Yuan or 99-107 USD/73-78 €
Hard Class about 395-415 Yuan or 62-66 USD /46-48 €
Total cost in kupé is 711 USD/522 €
Total cost in platskartney is 406 USD/298 €
Through Mongolia - Mongolian visa necessary for most travelers
Mongolian visa obtained in advance in the UK 40 GBR or 47 €
(Currently March/April 2012 prices for trains within Russia are .8 of base)
#44 Train Moscow to Ulan Ude (93+ hours)
kupé 10235.8 RUB or 326 USD/239 €
platskartney 3762.5 RUB or 120 USD/88 €
#02 Train Moscow to Ulan Ude (83+ hours)
kupé is 14336.9 RUB or 455 USD/334 €
platskartney 5593.0 RUB or 178 USD/131 €
Overnight one night in Ulan Ude in a hostel about 600 RUB or 20 USD/15 € for a dorm room
Bus UU to Ulan Bator 1200 RUB or 39 USD/28 € (12 hours)
Overnight one night in Ulan Bator in a hostel about 7 USD/5 € for a dorm room
Train Ulan Bator to Dzamyn Ude
soft sleeper on the fast train 39 200 MNT or 30 USD/22 €
hard seat on the daily slow train 15 600 MNT or 12 USD/10 €
Bus across the border 10 000 MNT plus an extra 1000 MNT at the border (total 9 USD/7 €)
Fee at the chinese side 5 yuan or 1 USD/<1 €
Overnight bus from Erlian to Beijing 200 yuan or 32 USD/25 €
Total cost in kupé is 464-593 USD/342-437 € plus the visa cost
Total cost in platskartney is 240-298 USD/181-224 € plus the visa cost
1. you cannot get a Russian tourist visa in Beijing and in most consulates throughout Asia so if you are thinking of doing this get your visa prior to leaving home.
2. You can stop in Mongolia for a couple of days but if you want to see the Gobi desert or Lake Khovsgul you need to stop at least a week.
3. If you only have 2 weeks, don't bother with stopping in Mongolia - you don't really have the time and it isn't worth getting the Mongolian visa.
4. Best stops, other than Mongolia, depend some on your interests but should include Irkutsk to see Lake Baikal, Moscow and St. Petersburg at a minimum. Others depend upon your time and interests.
Apr 8, 2012 6:38 PM
6Wow Ruth, thanks for the extensive and quick response. I've been reading the the sticky you posted on the TSR and it's been a wealth of knowledge. I have a U.S. Passport so that means no need for a Mongolian visa correct? I'm visiting family in Spain and don't have anything planned until the last two weeks in July and I leave Beijing June 12th as of now but I may stay later. So after June 12th would be right in the middle of summer prices and I'll adjust accordingly. Two questions, the two prices listed after each list, is one through an agency and the other without? If i book the tickets in the sections you explained can I do it all at once ahead of time or is there no need? If summer is the busy season I might be worried about traveling without reservations. Thanks again.
Apr 8, 2012 6:48 PM
Apr 8, 2012 6:53 PM
You can't book the Mongolian train in advance to the best of my knowledge nor the transport from Beijing to Erlian unless you decide to fly. As this is an internal Chinese flight, tickets are pretty cheap. The bus from Mongolia to Ulan Ude should be booked on arrival in Mongolia.
I would look at budget flights from Riga or Vilnius to wherever you need to go in Spain.
A month is a reasonable amount of time to make this trip. Much less time and you will be rushed and not able to spend much time in Mongolia.
Get your Russian visa prior to leaving home. Understand that it will cost you upwards of 200 USD - 140 USD for the visa, some fees for the processing by the visa service unless you live in metro Washington, DC and can drop it off. And then about 30 USD for the invitation/visa support documents.
And the application is a pain and will take you some time to complete so be sure to give yourself plenty of time.
Apr 8, 2012 7:07 PM
9Ok, so I only have to markup the legs that are wholly within Russia 50%. On the Mongolia route this means only the Moscow to Ulan Ude.
i was thinking about continuing to Madrid on train to save costs but I'll go ahead and compare costs. This started out as an idea to spend the an amount similar to the airfare but getting to Madrid in a more interesting way not necessarily an extensive and complete sight-seeing trip. I may have to turn it into a longer trip to see sights or else just see a few sights I guess. Sorry for asking so many questions.Thanks again!
Edited by: rivrod
Apr 8, 2012 8:06 PM
10Trains in Europe are expensive when traveling internationally. Plus Moscow to Madrid is 50+ hours and 4-5 changes. There is no way that you will save money by taking the train. In fact, flying from Beijing to Europe might cost less than taking the train to Moscow when you factor in the visa costs and other things.
Look at transaero from Moscow to Madrid, Air Baltic from Riga, Latvia to Barcelona, or Ryan Air from Tallinn, Estonia or Vilnius, Lithuania to Barcelona and then another budget airline flight from Barcelona to Madrid.
Apr 26, 2012 11:07 PM
11TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILROAD UPDATE: 4/27/12
I am currently in Beijing, I just applied for my Russian Visa at the Embassy in Beijing.
The documents they asked me for were;
-Visa Application (plus photo)
-Tourist Voucher (a copy was okay)
-Hotel Reservation (they just glanced at it then handed it back) I'm actually planning on using CouchSurfing.org while staying in Russia, so I went online real fast and made a hostel reservation for 1 night, paid a $4 USD deposit, then I plan on canceling it, OR using it as a backup if I can't find a CSer.
-Passport (I have US passport)
-1 COPY of Passport (I forgot this and had to walk around the corner to get a copy)
Overall it was very fast and easy. It cost me 873 RMB, for a 5-Day Pickup.
NOTE; I have a Chinese Residency Permit. At first the woman told me I would have to wait 2 weeks because I did not have a Permit, but then I pointed it out to her. So if you do not have a Permit, you probably have to wait longer. Also with the Residency Permit you can get the Visa same-day if you want, but it is more expensive.
ALSO if any just happens to be going to the Russian Embassy in Beijing soon (End of April-Beginning or May 2012) They will be closed many days because of a holiday, so call them to see if they are open. (sorry I did not note which days)
I went to the Beijing International Hotel, where CITS has an office in the western wing, but they would not sell me the ticket because I am not planning on leaving until June and they said they could not sell the ticket that early. BUT they said they could sell it to me in May, the month before I depart. So keep that in mind, the CITS office will only sell you a ticket the month before you plan on leaving. Good thing for me its May in three days, so I can go back and get it then.
Hope this helps somewhat.
Cheers and Safe Travels.
Apr 26, 2012 11:25 PM
12The Russian embassies and consulates usually close for most of the period from May 1-9.
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