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Travelled Moscow - Vladivostok?

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Has anyone reading this forum made this Trans Siberian journey?

 

We may be next March and I have a couple of questions for anyone who has knowledge of in particular Vladivostok arrival and moving on from there.

 

Thanks

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I don't personally. Flyertalk has forums for different parts of the world as well as each airline and hotel chain. There will be a section on Russia and that should help you with information on Vladivostok.

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Thanks for that.

 

We're trying not to have to fly out but use a train or bus to get into northern China (Harbin), it's proving difficult to work out how to do it. There is a ferry to S. Korea but we will be heading to Taiwan and would prefer to use rail through China to get there.

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I second the suggestions to review posts on Seat 61 and Flyertalk. There are likely to be entries on other English language travel forums such as Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor as well. Although it may not be obvious at first glance Youtube has become a travel blogging mecca and some blogs have become popular enough that their authors have managed to turn their experiences into a full time career.

 

Do keep in mind that while AU does a good job covering Amtrak questions many of us have only limited and/or intermittent experience with passenger rail beyond North America. Much of our shared knowledge is specific to US routes and a handful of Canadian trains. I'd imagine most of us know as much about riding Russian trains as a domestic Russian forum would know about the specifics of riding Amtrak trains.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Thanks both, I have already been into (and found good information) on Seat 61 but will try Flyertalk. I knew it was a long shot but also knew there are members here who travel outside the US and was hoping to get lucky with that small piece of information I'm missing, and I like this forum a lot so an opportunity to be here.

 

The problem is that there is a Chinese passenger train that crosses the border north of Harbin, but as I want to travel from Russia to China it is proving difficult to locate how to buy tickets outside China. Also thought that there may be another route relatively near to Vladivostok (within a day's travel) that I have missed completely (bus is possible but wanted to travel by train), ah well.

I did ask Russian Rail and they can only offer a 3 day return down the line in the Moscow direction before taking the train through Mongolia to China, but we hate going back over ground we have just travelled. They knew of the cross border train, that it existed but had no purposeful information on it including how to buy tickets.

 

I guess this is the challenge of being slightly off the beaten track, but I will pursue this using your suggestions.

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I travelled Helsinki-St Petersburg-Moscow-Vladivostok in 2010 and would be happy to answer any question.

Can't help you with getting to China by train as I believe the only rail connection goes via North Korea.

Another possibility is the ferry from Vladivostok to Japan.

 

There are many other aspects to this trip we could discuss.

 

Allen

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We're trying not to have to fly out but use a train or bus to get into northern China (Harbin), it's proving difficult to work out how to do it. There is a ferry to S. Korea but we will be heading to Taiwan and would prefer to use rail through China to get there.

Worst case if you wind up having to fly IIRC there's a flight from Vladivostok to Harbin or to Beijing. If you're heading through China to Taiwan by rail would you be thinking of ending up in Xiamen and taking the ferry to Kinmen (Taiwan) then the domestic hop from Kinmen into Taipei?

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Thanks again, but this is just the start of our planning so no detail in place apart from an approximate departure date from London or Paris of the second week of March. We may also be travelling with others so we are a little more circumspect of taking maybe a tough bus ride (in the Siberian winter). Having only just returned from the US we are still sorting out and catching up, but I did hear of this mystery train north of Vladivostok and it has fired the imagination. If it's difficult to do then it makes it even more interesting.

 

We are soon off on a business trip for 10 days and will only have erratic internet, but will follow all the recommendations on here over the next few days.

 

Allen, thank you for that kind offer, I'd like to ask questions of you as I get closer to the detail. Would you prefer I post here (so others can read) or pm you?

 

tp49, not sure but I think that's about the very rough plan. We are headed initially to Kaohsiung City to meet up with someone we met on the Californian Zephyr (knew I could get an Amtrak mention in here somewhere!) and then spent time together in San Francisco, after that we explore a little of Taiwan then fly back to Europe.

 

By the way, we are looking to travel as much as possible on a tight budget. We are not wealthy but do spend all our spare cash on travel as one day we wont have the energy, ability or will to travel so frequently.

 

Thanks

Edited by v v

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I did the Trans-Siberian twice and had GREAT results using Monkey Shrine to book the Tickets and hotels. I went through Beijing though so your results may differ.

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OK, we're back and have started booking parts of the journey. It is not going to be the journey we imagined in every detail but it does include Moscow to Vladivostok and then to Taiwan.

 

So far ~ London - Brussels - Cologne - Berlin - Warsaw - Kiev - Moscow - Vladivostok - Kaohsiung City - Taipei

 

We have friends joining us up until Moscow and then we travel on alone on the 002 Rossiya to Vladivostok . Have already booked from London to Berlin but can't book any trains after that as the tickets are not yet available, more available in 5 days time.

 

Have spent some time using Seat 61 to check on ticket sources, there are major differences from company to company for the same journey. From London as far as Warsaw all tickets have/will be bought directly via Deutsche Bahn via their English language website The savings compared to Rail Europe/SNCF/Polrail are enormous providing it is done soon after the tickets are available. Within Poland it's difficult not to use Polrail as the site works very well but is expensive.

From Kiev to Moscow we are using RZD which is Russian Railways which is not the same as Russian Rail, again Russian Rail and Real Russia are at least a third more expensive than RZD although the RZD website (also in English) is a bit quirky, but with some patience and time working out why certain things happen it works pretty good.

 

Sorry can't post links on this forum as there is a problem from both France and the UK with our computers, mentioned this in the past.

 

From Vladivostok we will now fly via Hong Kong to Taiwan and will fly out of Taipei. Intend to travel on the Taiwan high speed train between Kaohsiung City and Taipei. From Taipei we don't know which direction yet but should know within 2 weeks. Our hoped for direction is to Los Angeles, Sunset Limited to New Orleans then onto either Orlando or Miami with Greyhound to fly back to London, but we may fly west via Thailand for a short first look as have had friends rave about the people there, we'll see.

 

There are two smaller problems that have occurred in planning so far. UK (and other) passport holders have to have a transit visa for Belarus, a visitors visa for Russia and a visitors visa for China. If we had Real Russia arrange these for us it is quite a lot of money but worse we have to remain in the UK for up to 4 weeks as each visa must follow the other as our passports are required. At this time of year we are very busy with work and that takes us out of the UK for a few weeks at a time so can't afford 4 continuous weeks in the UK between now and the end of February when we start on this journey.

To overcome part of this we could fly London to Moscow but we want to train, so travelling via Ukraine is the answer to not applying for the Belarus visa as we don't need a Ukraine visa. We have read that Kiev is an interesting and beautiful city so worth the day stopover we will have there.

The Chinese visa is plain expensive and time consuming, and as this was not exactly the trip we had intended we are over flying China.

 

The second minor problem is transport to Vladivostok airport from Vladivostok city center. There are 3 options, train, bus and taxi but none are heavily recommended. Cab would be easiest but may not be the budget option, train is supposed to be good but also read somewhere that it stopped running and started again so maybe not reliable? The bus station is way outside the city so I've read.

These are small things to overcome so we'll see.

 

Have found out why there is confusion as to how long the Trans Siberian takes, 6 days or 7. It is 144 hours on the Rossiya but there is a 7 hour time difference between the two cities. So technically it's 6 days exactly but in travel time adjusting for time zones it's 6 days and 7 hours. It is a funny system as all Russian railways work on Moscow time only so the further east you go the more out of sync you are with daylight.

 

That's it so far and sure to have a few questions for the experienced Russian rail travellers here.

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I travelled Helsinki-St Petersburg-Moscow-Vladivostok in 2010 and would be happy to answer any question.

Can't help you with getting to China by train as I believe the only rail connection goes via North Korea.

Another possibility is the ferry from Vladivostok to Japan.

 

There are many other aspects to this trip we could discuss.

 

Allen

 

 

Rail travel via North Korea is a no go for someone traveling on an American Passport. Trust me I tried everything I could to go via Beijing to Pyongyang by rail, but it is a hard and fast rule. From all of the agencies I contacted before I ultimately visited North Korea it was very clear there was no chance I was going to do it by rail. When I was in Pyongyang they wouldn't even let me go inside the rail station there once I was on the ground. The compromise they cooked up was allowing us to drive slowly past it, but stopping and visiting was totally out of the question. If you have an EU passport then it is no problem at all to travel by rail into and through parts of the DPRK, but with an American passport the only rail you are riding inside of North Korea is a cog railway up a mountain outside of Pyongyang or a maximum of 5 stops on the Pyongyang Metro. I will note that no foreigners are allowed to ride Line 2 of the metro regardless of passport they say Line 2 goes through "sensitive areas".

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Have spent some time using Seat 61 to check on ticket sources, there are major differences from company to company for the same journey. From London as far as Warsaw all tickets have/will be bought directly via Deutsche Bahn via their English language website The savings compared to Rail Europe/SNCF/Polrail are enormous providing it is done soon after the tickets are available. Within Poland it's difficult not to use Polrail as the site works very well but is expensive.

From Kiev to Moscow we are using RZD which is Russian Railways which is not the same as Russian Rail, again Russian Rail and Real Russia are at least a third more expensive than RZD although the RZD website (also in English) is a bit quirky, but with some patience and time working out why certain things happen it works pretty good.

 

Ok, can you tell me how are you doing this? The only option on the RZD website I see for Kiev to Moscow train is online buying of a ticket which will have to be picked up in RUSSIA, which would be impossible for you. If that is not hte case, let me know, but I want to make sure you're good on this. If we confirm this to be true, I can point you to a different website which will be cheaper than English-based proxies.

 

Let me know and also let me know how much the Warsaw - Kiev ticket is. I may be able to point you to something different, depending on your preferences and time constraints as well as what you like. I think Lviv is a lot nicer to see than Kiev, and there could be an option to do that. :)

Edited by Barciur

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Warsaw to Kiev from PolRail comes out at 2072 PLN / Zloty for 4 people travelling in 2 x 2 berth compartments. There are 1, 2 and 3 berth compartments available. It's the 16:50 sleeper train that we will take, arriving in Kiev at 09:22. We'll be arriving in Warsaw at 15:00 from Berlin that same day. Our date of travel will be 28 February 2017.

 

Kiev to Moscow sleeper train when bought through RZD (when logged in) shows under 'passenger information' the possibility of buying E Tickets. I also read somewhere but can't find now that the trains with E Tickets available should have 3P under the train number, and the Kiev - Moscow sleeper doesn't.

 

Thanks for trying to help, hope others here can get something from this.

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Right, so this does not support electronic registration which is e-tickets. I tried booking a ticket for another day but I am not seeing any information about the possibility of buying e-tickets. But I did book trains inside Russia from the website and there should have been a box already ticked there at some point. So I am afraid this might not work and you might have to go through different channels.

 

As for your Warsaw - Kiev train - sounds good, as long as there is no major delay from Germany. I have taken this train once and it was pretty decent, although not as comfortable as Russian/Ukrainian older cars, as this one has beds on top of each other rather than next to each other. They used ot have 4-berth compartment wagons on those trains but they do not meet the EU standards for something so they can't travel inside the EU any more.

 

This definitely seems like the best way to go for you. You're also not really getting screwed as much on PolRail - 2 berth compartment for Kiev-Warsaw costs about €95-€100 per person, so with 2072 PLN you get €460 - that's €15 commission per ticket, something to live with for a train that you just CAN'T buy tickets elsewhere - they are not available online, even for Polish or Ukrainian customers.

 

 

The reason I asked is because there is a cheaper train albeit not from Warsaw and more interesting way of getting to Kiev, but this is just your way of trying to get there and you have a decent connection so no bother. I will be definitely looking forward to hearing about your trip and reading your travel report!

 

Also - good job on not choosing the Belarus train - it would be faster, but there might be problems, as the Russians are not allowing EU citizens to cross the Belarus-Russia border at this point, so you could run across serious issues if you elected to go that way.

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In truth compared to UK long distance or many UK train fares the Polrail prices are quite reasonable, but...

 

I initially ran a comparison between Deutsche Bahn and Polrail for the journey between Berlin and Warsaw, in GBP the prices were for the same train DB - £100 and Polrail - £208. I accept that DB have special offers at the opening of the ticket window and these offers may be very special, also that the Polrail website is very simple to use and in good English, plus the price for 4 adults in 2 x 2 berth sleepers on a 16 1/2 hour journey for 460 € is a good price, but my initial reaction to the Polrail price being more than double of the DB price for the same journey on the same day on the same train was how expensive they were as a company. Think I must not jump to too many conclusions in future and just research more.

 

Barciur, thank you for pointing out the issue with RZD and E Tickets, I hadn't picked that up as I started with RZD looking at their offerings on the Trans Siberian trains where E Tickets are the norm, and then went back to the Kiev - Moscow train as an after thought. I was hoping to use the Ukraine website to book Kiev - Moscow but found navigating around that not so straight forward. Again made an assumption that RZD had the same policy for international trains as for their domestic ones, more research needed.

 

Thanks to everybody for their input, will be back later with more questions.

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Right. I e-mailed PolRail out of curiousity and they quoted me for Kiev - Warsaw single ticket as the same as the official price + 16 PLN for shipping. BUt I did e-mail them in Polish, maybe there is a difference.

 

As for DB and Polish difference, yes, differences are large - DB has different promos than do DB and maybe PolRail are just quoting the full price which is exchangable and refundable, whereas the promo fares are not. And the Promo fares are only available through Deutsche Bahn if coming from Germany and not a round trip.

 

As for the Ukrainian train, here's what you will find useful.

 

https://e-kvytok.kiev.ua/en/gd

 

On this website you can buy a ticket from Kiev to Moscow. This site is in good English and will provide you with Ukrainian tickets. Once you buy them, you get an e-mail confirmation and you have to exchange the e-mail you receive for actual tickets at the train station. This is not a problem, however, or not a big one - you have up until 15 minutes before departure to exchange them, but I wouldn't wait that long ;) Usually takes me 30-45 minutes to do this because often the ticket agent windows aren't market well, some have a break, you get stuck in line etc. But I bought tickets for Ukrainian trains through this website and I can definitely recommend this.

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Barciur, you just beat me to it although with another company, UZ the national rail Co. Must thank you for taking the trouble, the Kvytok website is very easy to use and has some extra pieces of information too.

 

Earlier went back to Ukraine Rail (UZ), persevered but couldn't find a method of entering Moscow into the destination box even though I used 4 different spellings of Moscow. Contacted the email address given and after a bit of helpful to-ing and fro-ing got the correct spelling 'Moskva' for their website. It still didn't work as it needs either 4 letters to self fill the box or you type in the entire station name ' Moskva Kievskaia ' and then delete the last one or sometimes 2 letters and the self filling box will appear for you to click.

 

The UZ tried very hard to help and was very impressed, most but not all of the information shown on the Kvytok site is shown too and the tickets are just under 2€ cheaper so absolutely nothing in it. It appears that both companies need the tickets to be collected at Kiev Pass station but we have nearly 10 hours in Kiev so that is no problem at all.

 

Tickets for our departure date are available in 21 days time, can't wait.

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Great. Glad that you got this figured out now!

 

On a side note, this might be the last time to travel on the Warsaw - Kiev train, as there are talks of getting rid of those sleeper cars as early as June. So glad you're still getting into it - make sure you take some pictures ;)

 

You will also be passing through my home town, Lublin, which you may or may not recall from some of my trip reports that I have done in the past. Wave for me ;)

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Have now booked the Warszawa to Kyiv journey for the 28 February using Polrail, very simple but no e-tickets so having to courier them to us. I'll do my best with photos of the Kiev Express sleeper and have noted that we pass Lublin at 7:20 pm so all set.

Do you know if there are any food shops directly outside Warszawa Centralna station as the 16 1/2 hour sleeper journey has no catering at all.

 

Thanks for all your help, very much appreciated

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