Pros and Cons of Trans-Siberian Railroad in the winter?
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Aug 27, 2012 1:44 AM Last Post By: EddyV
Aug 22, 2012 11:21 AM
Pros and Cons of Trans-Siberian Railroad in the winter?Self-explanatory title, interested in reading from people's experiences. I'm considering the trip in December. While it may be cold, the prices would be cheaper and the solitude of the winter is appealing.
Additional Questions: Is Lake Baikal easily accessible from Ulan Ude and Irkutsk in the winter? Any winter or ice festivals going on?
Aug 22, 2012 3:40 PM
except for local holiday resorts as for instance Arshan, I woould expect prices for trains, hotels, restaurants etc not to be that different from in Summer. Keep in mind that there are no hydrofoils accross lake Baikal in winter, that even if the locals in Arshan still will be interested in renting out rooms in winter, it is probably virtually nothing going on there in the winter months etc. That said Siberia is by no means a like a beach or skiing resort that can only be visited during high seasn.
December means that you can expect -15 to -25 centigrades. I depends upon your clothing, how used you are to winter and how much and how long you plan to stay outdoors at a time of course, but these types of temperatures is something completely else than 0 to -5 winter temperature. From what I have read (I have only visited the region in Summer) it is typically not until late December you can walk or even drive on the Lake Baikal ice.
Short answer: Yes. It is difficult to cross the lake though as the boats will have stoped for the season and until you can walk on the ice. Keep in mind that lake Baikal is by far more accesible from Severobaikalsk than from Ulan Ude and Irkutsk. The BAM instead of the Transiberian from Krasnoyarsk, or a train from Irkutsk to Severobaikalsk will take you there. The Angora is probably free for ice year around, so it could be an idea to check if the boat from the river terminal i Irkutsk to Bratsk (from there you can take the train to Severobaikalsk) operates in December. Ulan Ude and Irkutsk have other advantages. It could be an idea to check out the opportunities in each region and pick your base on that basis.
Aug 22, 2012 4:14 PM
2This might be of interest, from a recent New York Times travel section:
Aug 23, 2012 12:35 AM
Aug 23, 2012 4:30 AM
5Prices aren't cheaper during winter except for the specials on the trains and some seasonal variations of train prices rzd.ru season prices in Russian. Basically prices are less until 20 December and then they are higher until 1 February.
Access to the lake is about the same. Roads are regularly cleared but accommodation options are fewer as places close so accommodation prices don't really decrease.
I don't know of any lake festivals in winter but that doesn't mean that there aren't any.
Biggest problem with winter travel (apart from the cold) is the lack of daylight. Shorter days will limit what you do outside as much as the temperatures. Hence I generally prefer February. Still cold. Still few travelers. No holiday closures to contend with schedule changes. More day light - like mid October.
Aug 23, 2012 7:54 AM
Aug 23, 2012 8:38 AM
7One more question. I am interested in a very quick trip to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from Ulan-Ude (obviously, this would not be possible if I did the BAM railway, still exploring my options). What would be the quickest possible amount of time I could do this, as I am short on time?
Day 1: Bus from Ulan-Ude to Ulaanbaatar (heard it is 12 hours)
Day 2: Ulaanbaatar (visit Gandan Khiid, museums, markets, etc...)
Day 3: Day trip to a national park (e.g. Khustain National Park, Terelj, etc...)
Day 4: Bus from Ulaanbaatar to Ulan-Ude.
Is this too short or an extra day in a national park or the capital is recommended? Thanks.
Aug 23, 2012 10:02 AM
8You could do this and in fact, many people do spend only 2 full days in UB. With more time, you can get further afield. Look at some of the posts on the Mongolia section of the NEAsia branch about Karakorum which takes a bit longer to get to/from.
Aug 27, 2012 1:44 AM
9Im a fan of winter travel in siberia. To make it worthwhile though you need to invest some serious money in clothing, especially if you want to spend any length of time outside exploring the baikal region. Layers are key plus a really good jacket, the best of whhch are the Marmot 8000 or if you want something more breathable the Northern Outfitters Arctic Maxx. With either of these cold won't be an issue
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
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