Things to do on the Trans Siberian Express

Activities for the Trans Siberian


The lakeside town of Listvyanka or the village of Khuzir, on Olkhon Island, both provide ample means of learning more about traditional Siberian lifestyles as you meet local people and indulge in some simple, but delicious, home-cooking. Mongolia’s Terelj National Park is all about the ger camps where you can enjoy a night under the stars as well as a steaming bowl of meatballs followed by a traditional rendition of Mongolian throat warbling.


Although traveling on the Trans Siberian Express is an experience in itself it would be a shame to miss out on some of the sights that you'll discover amongst the wilds of Siberia. Lake Baikal, for instance, provides several wonderful excursions away from the rhythm of the rails with visits to the Baikal Limnological Museum and St. Nicholas' Church adding to boat trips to Olkhon Island where you'll find Buryat villages, folklore museums and the sacred Shaman Rock.
Guided sightseeing tours in cities such as Irkutsk unveil further insight into life in Siberia with beautiful baroque architecture evident in churches, theatres and railway stations. Outside of Irkutsk the Taltsy Museum of Wooden Architecture provides an open-air example of Siberia's cultural heritage long before the Trans Siberian was a twinkle in a tsar's eye.


There are untold opportunities to meet fellow passengers and although you may not share the same language you will be sharing the same hot water tap, bathroom and carriage so it’s worth getting to know each other over a brew or bowl of noodles. Card games, language exchanges and nodding and smiling, a lot, are all ways to pass the time and often provide the most memorable moments of your time away. Make friends with your cabin mates and neighbours and always accept a chance to share food and drink, if offered, as this will get things off to a good start.


The Trans Siberian Express is one seriously photogenic route whatever time of year you choose to travel. There are several points - or bends – along the way where you'll get a good view of the front carriages of the train as it snakes around a corner.
Aside from what you'll find on the train a guided sightseeing tour in any one of the major cities will also conjure up myriad photo ops; just remember to ask first when photographing people, including passengers and provodnitsas. And a frozen Lake Baikal, in the half light of winter, has to be one of the most photogenic places on the planet.
Photo credits: [Take a night off: gardnergp] [Step into Siberia: Simon Matzinger] [Help desk: Boccaccio1] [Make friends, for life: Anthony Knuppel] [Go round the bend with photography: Stanley Wood]
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Boccaccio1]