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 Davydov 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 info, read our article exploring if Russia is safe for gay travellers. For more practical travel advice check out these blog posts we used for our planning: Russia travel tips and 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:

OUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL TIPS

⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.

⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.

⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.

⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.

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17 thoughts on “Russia: how much does it cost to travel on the Tran Siberian”

  1. Thanks for your informative posts! How safe did you two feel as a gay people doing this trip? I imagine things have gotten worse since 2014 but I’d love to hear if you like booked double bed rooms or always made sure you had separate beds? As women I’d guess my girlfriend and I would get more of a pass than 2 men but still.

    • To be honest, despite what we read, in reality, Russia is no different than any other Eastern European society – which is still bad of course. Put it this way, we don’t advise parading the streets waving rainbow flags etc, but maintaining some discretion you’ll be fine. At worst they’ll think you’re sisters – we got that a lot.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

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