I was finally able to take my Trans-Mongolian Railway trip through China, Mongolia, and Russia! I’ve separated the budget for the train trip by category, so you can see what I spent, but then also figure out how to apply it back to yourself. I present to you.. my railway budget. Coming soon, specific budgets for China, Mongolia, and Russia.
Where did my money go in China, Mongolia, and Russia for a 16 night trip?
Here’s the quick rundown. Click and read below to get a deeper insight!
Total: $3688.82 for 16 days. Check each section below to see a breakdown!
Flights Also includes flights for pre and post tour
Accommodations Hotels, guesthouses, ger tents, and hostels
Transportation Subways, ubers, and drivers
Food On and off train
Alcohol On and off train
Activities Many things to do!
Souvenirs Slash Presents!
Fees Visas, man :/!
Could you do it cheaper? It all really depends on your Origin.
Keep in mind: Your Origin! Where you start your journey will definitely impact the price. Please read my post about how to score the best deals possible on Skyscanner.net. To get these cheaper fares, I also used my Southwest points to get to Canada and home from Cuba. I post good deals when I see them, so always keep an eye out on my FB account!
I was supposed to go on this trip last summer, but I wouldn’t have gotten my visas in time, so here I am!
After doing a lot of research and using my trusty Skyscanner Hacks that I taught you, I found that one of the cheapest ways to Beijing was through Toronto, and back was through Cuba! So that’s where I went by using my Southwest points. (Coming soon, budgets for Niagara Falls and Cuba).
Could you do it cheaper? In a few places.
Keep in mind: Some of the places I stayed at were included in the tour.
The Howard Johnson in Beijing was so nice. I decided to go with a hotel because I knew I was going to be sleeping on trains and be around a lot of people for the duration of the trip. A nice bit of luxury and privacy before I started!
The rest of the accommodations were included in the tour. I opted to add St. Petersburg to the end of my trip, so that’s why those were added.
Could you do it cheaper? There were a few times that I could have taken public transportation to and from the airport, for example.
Keep in mind: Most of my main transportation cost was in the tour.
Uber wasn’t available until Moscow and St. Pete, and the prices were so reasonable, I opted for it instead of the hassle and time of public transport. In Lake Baikal, taxis were easier than walking!
Could you do it cheaper? If you brought more food with you on the train.
Keep in mind: I did bring a fair bit of food with me. Mostly just noodles and pop tarts.
Water not being free in restaurants has confused me, but the prices of the bottles weren’t too bad. I mostly ate the noodles and such that I brought on the train, and when I was off the train, I’d treat myself. I got a pretty boss steak in Mongolia for only about $10!
Could you do it cheaper? Not drink on top of the wall!
Keep in mind: I mostly just got beer and obviously cocktails are more, but not much more.
The drinks weren’t too expensive on the train, but the real trick was finding them cold! You often have to mime being cold to try and find one! Not sure if it was always like that, but I think the fridge was out. She had some tucked away in the back though.
Could you do it cheaper? I’d do all of the activities again except for the boat portion of the Hop on Off trip in St. Pete.
Keep in mind: Some of these prices also include food!
All the of museums in all 3 countries were reasonably priced. The Great Wall Tour was about $30, but it included transportation for the whole day, lunch, and entrance to Tombs, Tea House, and a Jade Factory. The only thing that wasn’t included were the chair lifts to the top and the slide down. SO FUN.
Could you do it cheaper? Well sure if you don’t do souvenirs!
Keep in mind: A few were more expensive than I usually go for.
I collect small, decorative spoons from countries that I’ve visited (a collection I’ve inherited from my grandmother).
The ankle bone game is WAY fun! You can pick it up in Mongolia! You roll 4 different ankle bones and translate the outcomes into your fortune!
Could you do it cheaper? Countries without visa requirements would be great, but alas.
Keep in mind: I managed to get my Russian and Chinese visas slightly cheaper. Read below!
I managed to get my visas slightly cheaper by first mailing them to friends that lived in those cities. Since I live in Georgia, those cities were Houston and DC. The notary was because Russia wanted proof that I was allowing my friend to pick up my packet.
Could you do it cheaper? Laundry could be done cheaper
Keep in mind: Travel Insurance in mandatory for the tour I did, though not if you don’t use a tour.
Then there is the tour itself! Stay tuned for a detailed review of the tour. I chose Vodkatrain because it was by far the cheapest option I could find! Please let me know if you found cheaper, but I think this is it!
I picked the Budgeting Bolshevik because I wanted to go to Lake Baikal and I didn’t want to pay too much! It’s listed at just under $1,600, but I managed to pay $1448.82 because I bought mine on Black Friday at a discount 🙂