The Trans-Mongolian Railway connects Russia with China via Mongolia. The railway operates clean and comfortable Chinese trains,with a range of accommodation options.
There is a buffet car onboard, and each train has its own security patrol to make sure everyone is safe and secure. The trains are generally kept pretty warm, so you will need to bring clothing suitable for the cold outdoors, as well as the toasty interior. Plug sockets (220V - European-style) are sometimes available in the corridors, but you will have to compete with other passengers to use them. Sometimes the power doesn't work. Occasionally, conductors will offer to charge your devices for you in their own compartments (for a price!).
On the direct service between Moscow and Beijing, there are four accommodation options; Deluxe 2-berth Compartments, First Class 4-berth Compartments, Second Class 4-berth Compartments. Kupe compartments have fold up upper bunks, which are stowed during the day. Passengers sit on the lower bunks which are used as standard seats.
First Class (Deluxe):
On Train 4 (direct service between Moscow and Beijing), First Class passengers can travel in Deluxe 2-berth cabins. In these carriages, passengers benefit from shared use of a shower (one between each two compartments). Shared toilets and wash-basins are still found at either end of the carriage. Meals are not included within the price of a ticket.
First Class (Kupe):
A middle-ground option is the First Class Kupe, which is essentially the same layout as Second Class, but a little bit more modern. Each compartment has four berths in a bunk-bed arrangement. The compartment is shared with other travellers (unless you are travelling in a party of four). Passengers share bathrooms and wash-basins with everyone else in the carriage; they can be found at either end of the carriage. Passengers receive beeding and a blanket. Passengers also have free use of a hot water boiler at the end of the carriage (useful for making food, hot drinks etc).
Second Class (Kupe):
Each Second Class compartment has four berths in a bunk-bed arrangement. The compartment is shared with other travellers (unless you are travelling in a party of four). Second Class passengers share bathrooms and wash-basins with everyone else in the carriage; they can be found at either end of the carriage. Passengers receive beeding and a blanket. Passengers also have free use of a hot water boiler at the end of the carriage (useful for making food, hot drinks etc). Second Class passengers are generally very sociable, with compartment doors left open during the day.
Travel Tip: If you are travelling in Second Class, choose a bottom bunk, as you get additional secure storage space underneath your bed.
Luggage & Facilities
Luggage is stored underneath the bottom bunks or by the door. As space is limited, don't bring too much with you. Bicycles may be brought with you, but they need to be disassembled, put in an appropriate bag, and transported in your own cabin.
Food & Drink:
Travelling from Moscow, a Russian buffet car is present for the first four days. After crossing the border, a Mongolian buffet car is available for the penultimate day, replaced by a Chinese car on the final day. Food and drink onboard is generally moderately, and not of the highest quality. Depending on whereabouts you are, US Dollars or Roubles are accepted.
At each station, the train generally stops for around 15mins (in Russia, in Mongolia and China, stops are quicker), which gives you the opportunity to head out into the station to stock up. Make sure you check the timetable before you do this however, as the trains try to stick to their timetables quite closely (whilst in Russia at least). At most stations you will be able to find small stands selling snacks and noodles, with some even offering pre-prepared meals, meat and alcohol. Major stations en route have small supermarkets.
If you are going to be spending several days and nights on-board this service, make sure you bring some of your own entertainment. If you are going to be sharing a cabin with other travellers, bring a sociable games, a pack of cards or similar. There are no high-tech gadgets on-board, so you will have to entertain yourself the old fashioned way!