Thinking about taking the greatest train ride in the world? The Trans-Mongolian Railway with Topdeck is just what you’re looking for.

Spanning over 7,000 kilometres from truly epic Moscow, through the heart of Siberia, onwards through the plains of Mongolia and finishing in the mega city of Beijing, the Trans-Mongolian Railway offers a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Come get the lowdown on what to expect and don’t forget to check out the Topdeck Trans-Mongolian Railway itineraries for details of departures.

Trans-Mongolian railway

1. How do the trains work?

The Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian routes form a massive rail network across three countries. Our journey uses four trains and includes a mixture of Russian, Mongolian and Chinese trains.

There are three classes on the train:

  • First Class: Twin-share
  • Second Class: Quad-share
  • Third Class: Open-plan dormitory on the train carriage with 54 beds

When travelling with Topdeck, you’ll be in Second Class so you can share the journey with your new travel mates. There are four bunk beds in each cabin with reading lights and a small foldable table in the middle of the cabin.

Trans-Mongolian Railway

In Second Class, each carriage has around nine cabins and has an attendant called the Provodnitsa. There are two toilets in each carriage but there are no showers on board so remember to bring some wet wipes!

There are also power sockets near the toilets and in the hall of the carriage.

Trans Mongolian car diagram

2. How does the train timetable work?

Trans-Mongolian Railway

The train will make scheduled stops along the route. The length of these stops range from a couple of minutes to over an hour.

Look for the train timetable in the carriage corridor and ask the Provodnitsa if you need a little help identifying the station names.

Trans-Mongolian Railway

You can jump on to the platform if time permits to stretch your legs during stops or venture a little further to explore.

Pro tip: try and learn a bit of the Cyrillic alphabet so you can recognise signs and stations on your journey through Russia.

Trans-Mongolian railway

3. What’s the deal with the food?

Trans-Mongolian Railway

Some trains have a restaurant car. The prices of food and drink can be a little steep by local standards but it’s usually tasty and there’s a variety of local dishes on the menu (ideal for you foodies out there).

During the train’s scheduled stops, the platforms will usually have a kiosk selling various items. You’ll also see locals on the platforms selling homemade and packaged food. It’s a great idea to pick up some snacks, such as noodles, lots of water and some drinks to satisfy those cravings.

Trans-Mongolian Railway

Each carriage has a hot water boiler that you can use for tea, coffee and making noodles (yes!).

4. What should I pack?

Trans-Mongolian railway

  • Suitable bags: The cabins aren’t the biggest space in the world and the train corridors are very narrow so be conscious of space when packing. A small day bag will come in handy too.
  • Books: Now’s the time to tackle that novel that’s been sitting on your coffee table for the last year.
  • Gadgets, tablets, cameras: Something to keep you entertained during the longer days and nights. A noise cancelling pair of headphones is also key. A torch can be useful for finding things at night. There’s no Wi-Fi on the train so be prepared and pre-download any movies etc.
  • Notepad: To keep a journal, note down memories and to capture idle thoughts. Or, you know, for when you need to communicate you want the chicken option in the restaurant car.

Trans-Mongolian Railway

  • Power board: Share the love.
  • Portable charger: For when the love can’t be shared.
  • Mug, spoon, spork: Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Toilet roll and wet wipes: Your portable shower!
  • Snacks and drinks: Bring some food that isn’t going to go off easily like noodles and biscuits. There are no fridges on the train, but don’t let that stop you from sharing a few drinks! You can bring alcohol on to the train with no worries – you just can’t drink your own supply of alcohol in the restaurant car.

Trans-Mongolian Railway

  • Cards, games: Gather a group of #Topdeckers or some new found railway travellers for a game of cards in your cabin. Add vodka on the colder nights.
  • Clothing: Depending on the time of year, your clothes may need to cater for a wide range of temperatures. Colder months will require a big coat for sure. It’s also good to pack clothes that can be layered. The cabins can get pretty warm, so its good to have the option to peel off when you get too hot. Again depending on the weather, a good pair of shoes/boots are a must. Some flip flops or sneakers are fine for the train. Gloves, scarves and warm hats are essential if travelling in colder months.

And that’s pretty much it! Excited yet? 😉

Gear up for a journey like no other and come and check out what the Trans-Mongolian Railway is all about. Find out more about Topdeck’s Trans-Mongolian Railway trip.

Saul Burrows
Saul is the Head of Global Product for Topdeck Travel. When he’s not looking at travel destinations, he enjoys discovering new music and eating BBQ food. Lots of BBQ food.