The longest train ride in the world
If you want the world to slow down in 2019, take the longest train ride in the world. The incredible Trans-Siberian Railway line that helps to connect North Korea’s Pyongyang with Russia’s Moscow, is for those who seek epic adventures. Traveling 10,214 km and taking 6 whole days, the journey will astonish you beyond comparison.
Moving at a relatively slow pace, the train ride is going to test your patience for sure, but if you are open to exploring the unseen, then this is a ride of a lifetime.
This extraordinary train ride takes you through a single train line which crosses the length of Russia. On your journey, you will come across some of the most astonishing sceneries, and the landscape of the Russian Far East. The Trans-Siberian Railway first started in 1916 and remains operating to this day. It starts in Moscow and ends at a place called Vladivostok.
The North Korean State Railway currently offers this journey that involves a single train car travelling to Vladivostok, and here it attaches to the train that embarks on the astonishing Trans-Siberian Railway journey. It takes 210 hours and 30 minutes and runs twice a month from North Korea. However, on the other hand, four trains run from Moscow to Pyongyang, but can only go as far as the first border of North Korea, which is at Tumangan. Then the journey continues further to reach Pyongyang.
The length of this journey can be comprehended by the fact that the journey covers 16 major rivers, all of which are probably unheard of by most people. You will also cross the world’s seventh longest river, called, River Ob. Also, there is the Yenisei, which is the largest river flowing into the Arctic Ocean.
Tayshet is the mid-point of your journey in Russia, so you can get your hopes back up when your train reaches this station.
A journey for those who like to take their travels slowly, you could be in for this once-in-a-lifetime experience here.
The first proposal for a railway across Siberia came in the 1850s from an English engineer, Thomas Duff, who, noting the preponderance of wild horses on his journeys in the region, put forward a scheme for trains that were literally driven by horsepower. With the equine angle dropped, work on the line finally began under Tsar Alexander III in 1891. The 6,000-mile track between Moscow and Vladivostok was completed in 1904. A branch south from the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude across Mongolia followed. The full route between Moscow and Beijing was opened in 1956.
The standard passenger trains along these ultra-long-haul tracks today are a good deal less sumptuous than that of the original Great Siberian Railway, with its smoking car, music room, library, private bathrooms and even a Russian Orthodox chapel. So you can choose to take a private train, Tsar’s Gold, which offered greater comfort, as well as guided visits of the key Chinese, Mongolian and Russian sites along the way.
The tour began with three days in Beijing and its environs, comprising trips to the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Temple of Heaven and Ming Tombs. The first surprise was how little of China’s imperial heritage remained in the city. Eroded building materials, foreign invasions and Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution have all taken their toll. With Chiang Kai-Shek having transported to Taiwan the treasures that the British and French left behind, the Forbidden City is as much a mausoleum as Chairman Mao’s tomb in nearby Tiananmen Square.
Beijing, like every Chinese city, is in the grip of a construction boom. The cranes that fill the sky are now machines rather than birds. While the feng shui belief in clean angular lines means China has been spared the worst excesses of modern architecture, the downside is a dull uniformity. Moreover, just as few structures have survived from the imperial era, so jerry-building is blighting contemporary development. Our guide joked about “an office block so ashamed of itself that it collapsed and left the government to make excuses”.
The highlight of the journey at the Yungang Grottoes, an extraordinary series of caves containing 51,000 carved Buddhas ranging in size from less than an inch to nearly 60ft high, the finest of which are exquisitely coloured and carved.
This vast region not only constitutes 77 per cent of Russian territory, but it also makes up about one -10th of the Earth’s entire land mass. The distances between big cities are immense; Irkutsk to Novosibirsk, for instance, covers about 1,150 miles and takes 31 hours, with a seemingly unchanging view over forests of silver fir and birch trees.
Train Booking Options
A range of options is available for travelling on the Trans-Siberian, from local journeys aboard rattly old trains that need no advance booking to private trains such as the Tsar’s Gold. Railbookers, offers the Trans-Siberian journey from Beijing to Moscow, on board the Tsar’s Gold, for £5,999pp. The 14-night trip includes hotel accommodation in Beijing, Ulan Bator, Irkutsk and Moscow, and a “Superior Plus” cabin aboard the train. The price also includes off-train excursions, all meals and a “generous drink allowance”.