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Russia: how much does it cost to travel on the Tran Siberian

Russia: how much does it cost to travel on the Tran Siberian

Russia was the second country we visited on our travels from 6 June to 2 July 2014, where we started our Trans Siberian railway adventure into Asia.

  • we spent 27 days and each spent £1,125 / $1,742
  • this works out to a per person daily average of:  £42 / $64
  • the exchange rate was:  £1 = 60 rubles / $1 = 34 rubles

This is the breakdown of our Russia travel costs:

Travel costs Russia breakdown

The Russia travel costs shown here include all our Trans Siberian related travel including our train from beautiful St Petersburg and our final bus from Ulan Ude to Ulan Bator in Mongolia.

The transport out of Russia to Mongolia is included, but the transport in is in our Latvia costs.

Seb waiting patiently at Moscow's platform to board the train

Seb waiting patiently at Moscow’s platform to board the train

Accommodation costs in Russia

  • we spent £329.27 for 21 nights
  • our per person average was £15 per day
  • we stayed in guesthouses or private hostels rooms, but expensive Moscow was the only place we stayed in a dorm (at the well located Faro Hostel) because it was the cheapest option
  • most expensive night: St Petersburg cost £16/$24 each a night
  • cheapest night: Yekateringburg cost £12/$18 each a night
  • our favourite place: Nikita’s homestead on Olkhon island at Lake Baikal.
Lake Baikal was our favourite destination in Russia

Lake Baikal was our favourite destination in Russia, particular the beautiful train ride from Irkutsk to Ulan Ude

Transport costs including the Trans Siberian

We split up the Trans Siberian to break down the long journey and travelled in 3rd class (“platskart”). We booked our train tickets ourselves online on the Russian Railways website avoiding expensive agency commissions.

We took the bus from Ulan Ude to Ulan Bator instead of the train because it is a lot cheaper and quicker then the train.

This is a full breakdown of our transport costs in Russia, including Trans Siberian related travel:

  • train (over night) St Petersburg to Moscow (8 hours): £37 / $56
  • train Moscow to Yekaterinburg (26 hours): £41 / $62
  • train Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk (48 hours): £75 / $114
  • train Irkutsk to Ulan Ude (8 hours): £19 / $28
  • bus Ulan Ude to Ulan Bator (12 hours): £23 / $35
  • other costs (Taxi, Metro, public buses): £27/ $49
  • total travel costs per person:  £222 / $344
  • average travel costs per day: £8.20 / $12.80
On the train from St Petersburg to Moscow

Stefan on the train from St Petersburg to Moscow

Food and drinks costs in Russia

  • we each spent a total £369 / $568 in our 27 days in Russia
  • we spent an average of £13.50 per person per day
  • we always eat healthy and avoid all cheap junk food and instant noodles, which sometimes increased the food budget (especially for Stefan who eats more than Sebastien)
  • we bought our own food whenever we could to cook in hostel kitchens and we rarely drank a lot of alcohol
Russian vareniki dumplings

Our largest spending in Russia was on food!

Activities and sightseeing costs in Russia

Our activities in Russia mainly included cooking classes, museum entrances and entrance fees to sites like the Kremlin as well as outdoor activities like bike rentals.

  • most expensive activity: entrance fee to Peterhof palace per person = £12 / $18
  • cheapest activity: cooking class on Olkhon island per person = £6 / $9
Close up of the fountains of the Grand Cascade at Peterhof

Our day trip to the Peterhof Palace from St Petersburg was our most expensive activity in Russia

Other expenses in Russia

This is our catch all heading for items like laundry, SIM cards and ATM commission charges.

This heading also includes adding unused Rubles to Stefan’s currency collection and Stefan losing some money on the Moscow metro (twice!).

Stefan trying a Russian sausage

“Rubles? What rubles” said a hungry nonplused Stefan


What we did not include

In our Russia travel costs, we did not include our journey in from the UK because this will inevitably vary per person:

  • we initially flew from London to Riga with Ryanair, paying £58 each
  • we then took the over night Eurolines bus from Riga to St Petersburg, which cost £18 each

Life lessons learnt with hindsight

  • Travelling on the Trans Siberian is not as expensive as you might think if you book all tickets yourself online (cutting out all agency commissions).
  • Stefan should not be in charge of the wallet after losing former wallet in the Moscow metro (twice!).
Live Russian folk music in Lake Baikal

Fond memories in Russia: live folk music on Olkhon island in Lake Baikal

For more budget inspiration, check out The World Pursuit’s excellent post about how much it costs to travel the world.


Watch our Trans Siberian travel video and enjoy our time in Riga and train travels through Russia:

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  1. As usual. Loving your blogs. So informative and interesting.

    • Thanks Penny 🙂

  2. WOW!! Great information!!! i always wanted to travel on this adventure- you are both so lucky!!

    • Awww thanks Jim 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing this very useful information for those who’d want to follow your footsteps :). I think it’s time to write/produce that Nomadic Boys travel book 🙂 Safe travels always, Stefan and Sebastien!

    • Thanks for the awesome comment Bem 🙂

  4. Just stumbled on this article and I love it! I can’t wait to explore the site!

    • Thanks Simon

  5. Well done guys!

    Very, very cost effective. The only thing killing me about travelling through Russia is the visa. I’m British, so the cost is crippling!
    I did hear about a 72 hour visa-free way via St. Petersburg but you have to go by ship. I was in Estonia when I heard about it but I was actually on my way to Finland, so I couldn’t do it!
    Next time ay!

    • Think that’s bad – check out the visa for China…or the cost for the visa for India!

  6. Thanks for the tips, very interesting post! I am curious about doing this trip myself sometime.

    • Cheers

  7. Hi guys!
    I am excited reading your blog about the TSR!

    Could you please explain to me the best way from the Irkutsk Station to Khuzhir Island? thanks!

    • Thanks Ryan. We took a transfer from Irkutsk to Olkhon island arranged by our hotel.


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