Train: Russia, China, Mongolia

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I've been reading much about Russia these past few days and became highly interested in the Trans-Siberian/Trans-Mongolian/Tran-Manchurian Railway adventure. Imagine being able to cross China-Mongolia-Russia in 6-8days, across 7 timezones, over 9000 kilometers using as little money as possible is completely fascinating! Well, you still have to indulge as the prices don't come in cheap but compared to sitting in a plane for 24hours, looking outside the window and seeing nothing but clouds, cramped up in your seat with little walking area...i think i'd rather take the more extreme ride even if it means living off of noodles and little biscuits, seeing nothing but snow outside, freezing in a cramped quarters shared with other people and taking a bath once due to the freezing waters.

Visit www.monkeyshrine.com to see the interactive route map of this:

If i'm really gonna do this tipid-budget trip, i would probably start off with:

1. Manila and buy a Piso (P1) fare or a really discounted fare like P999 (approx. USD23) from Cebu Pacific Air to Macau. This flight would take about 1.5hours. A P1499 fare to Beijing would be cost-friendly too and would take about 3.5hours but if I had the time, I'd take the longer route. You can check out the website http://www.cebupacificair.com for flight details. I am not an endorser, just a really avid fan of the discount fares.

2. From Macau, travel by bus to the Guangzhou border. Cross the border and from there take a train to Beijing. Talk about cross country travelling...China-style! This would cost about P2800 for the RMB428 Hard Sleeper.

http://www.beijingchina.net.cn/transportation/train/train-from-guangzhou.html

3. From Beijing, take the ultimate train ride!
The ideal way to travel and experience all. http://www.seat61.com
There are 2 options here:
a. Take the Trans-Mongolian Train 3/4 via Mongolia using Chinese rolling stock
b. Take the Trans-Manchurian Train 19/20 via Manchuria using Russia rolling stock

Wondering where the Trans-Siberian option is? Well the that train is from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, Russia. This is the gateway to Japan. So for Europeans, they usually take this option as they would want to visit Japan. I believe this is the pricier option since Moscow and Tokyo/Osaka are the priciest cities in the world. See also http://blog.koldcast.tv/2010/koldcast-news/the-fifteen-most-expensive-cities-on-the-planet/
http://www.citymayors.com/features/cost_survey.html
Either way, it's about time to get ready to Russia and travel via the Trans-Manchurian way. Usually tickets are pre-sold to agencies so the only way to get them is to buy from the agencies. You can visit www.cits.net or China-train Ticket or China Travel Center or China Train Tickets for this. Usual cost would be about USD711-1000 or P31500-45k.


From the blogs I read, they greatly suggest to cut the trip into pieces. Instead of buying a direct ticket to Moscow, buy just the next town then go forward from there to avoid exhaustion or in case you meet some friends and they want to stop over somewhere along the way. I think this would be great but since I'm going for the ultimate cheap adventure, I'd rather go with the non-stop route, starve, stink and be cold. It's an adventure in itself.

After burning approximately P45k-60k/person, which includes Visa for China, Mongolia and Russia (for Filipinos), train tickets, airport fees, other transportation fares; almost 8-10 days of travel, you would've crossed a great part of the Earth already. As compared to taking a P60k-27-hour-flight direct to Moscow, this adventure would be legendary. Add another P10k-20k for food, souvenirs, warm clothing, and hotel-stay while waiting for the scheduled train rides. This seems to cost a lot but i'm pretty sure the experience would be unforgettable. 

This may not end in Moscow, you know? Travel to St. Petersburg then take the train all throughout Europe to end up in London. Whew!

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