Things You Need to Know Before Riding an Overnight Train in Russia

The Russian rail system is one of the safest, comfortable and developed rail systems in the world. A lot of high – speed rail trains operate on it such as the Moscow, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Nizhny Novgorod and the most popular, the Trans-Siberian Railway. This railway is the longest of the world since it covers from Moscow, the very heart of Russia, Mongolia and Beijing. To experience travelling in this famous railway is one guaranteed magical worthwhile trip. You get to view the breathtaking urban state of the nation with its golden domes, glass & steel balustrades, extensive breadth of wildlife and awesome landscape of rural Russia. And as if this is not enough, the trip takes you to the desert of Mongolia and China’s most famous great wall.

So, after that daylight journey in this vibrant and busy metropolis, try to skip the nightlife and take your down time on an overnight treat to one of the world’s most profound, awe – inspiring and captivating country.

Plan ahead

Planning is Essential

Planning is the most essential tip that helps you in every excursion you take. No matter how much spontaneity you have there, having a backup plan saves the day you wanted to seize.

First off is to know what class you’re going to use. You can opt for a budget friendly or for a leisure one with all its perks and convenience. It depends on you but rest assured that a Russian rail experience always offer a level of comfort & coziness that won’t get you disappointed. There are “standard” trains and trains that are privately serviced called ‘firmenny” that tend to be more clean and expensive. There are also the ‘lux’ cabin compartments equipped with modern technology and superior features.

Another is the “1st class” or “spalny vagon” (SV) as what it’s called is a “sleeper carriage” which usually have two beds and television with DVD. It also gives a higher level of comfort like the lux cabin. Another is the 2nd class called “kupe” cheaper than the first two but can vary in quality. In in this class, you get to have a 4 – bunk bed with locks for the compartments still with comfort as well. Next, the “platzcart”, which is a 3rd class common carriage where you share it with other people. Yes, you do have your own bed still, you just meet more people in here compared to other classes which makes it more fun and exciting.

A typical 1st class

Food & Drinks

Buy foods or drinks before the ride if you’re not up for the local food. Make sure your meals are enough to cover your all through the night. However, foods being served in a Russian train trip are pretty worthwhile to take in, so you might as well enjoy the Russian treats.

Pack lightly and be comfortable

Bring the Essentials

Just limit your carry baggage to your travel essentials such as the tickets, health/medical items, phone, wallet, charger, camera and toiletries. Given that this is an overnight stay, you can bring your fluffy easy pillows and sleepwear with your book or journal. Stuffs like earphones, deck of cards or personal stuff you like to do in accompanying and keeping you sane in your trip. And of course, do wear comfortable clothes that make you move easily and make sure the clothes you bring are geared with outfits that are in tune with the season of your destination.

Most importantly, security in Russian trains are always kept at maximum level. You do not have to worry on this aspect since this type of security of theirs is at its best all throughout the trip. Apart from the normal lock of compartment doors, there are still security locks latched that cannot be released from outside but still safe on emergencies. Luggages are safe in this overnight trip as well since there can be metal boxes underneath the bunks you have. Thus, if anyone catches an interest on your belongings, he/she must lift the bunk first. Moreover, access doors at each corridor are locked to prevent unsolicited guests. Lastly, if you want to trade seats you find uncomfortable, just politely ask your attendant to help you out on this one. Just be certain that you are well-relaxed and comfortable because this is what you deserve in this rewarding overnight trip.

Travelling with Pets

You and Your Pets

Travelling with your pets such as small cats and dogs are allowed. Primarily, you need to obtain veterinary certificates (or “animal passports”) from veterinary clinics for them to be able to travel in Russian trains. Then, you can purchase a special ticket for pets since they are usually transported to 2nd / 3rd class cabins that can sometimes be kept in cages.


Generally, train stations in Russia operate on a complete smoke-free rule. However, regular overnight trains can allow smoking in specially designated areas. You just have to consult your train attendant once you are aboard to know where they are, preferably one closest to your cabin.

All throughout this overnight trip will leave you fulfilled and imbued with all the breathtaking sceneries of the main Slav & Asia. Couple this with meeting locals and experiencing the raw nature of other culture makes this trip a sheer bliss you would keep and cherish for life.

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