Russia and Central Asia, whose countries once comprised the former Soviet Union, offers a wide variety of overland travel options with varying degrees of comfort and prices. Of course Russia is known for the Trans-Siberian Railway, one of the most popular train journeys in the world, while travel in the developing and always changing ‘Stans of Central Asia is quite different in each country travelers enter.
Overland Travel In Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world, so getting around overland takes time if you plan on visiting a large portion of the country. Most travelers think Russia is synonymous with train travel because of the Trans Siberian Railway, and while train travel is rather extensive, it’s bus travel that’s more popular in Russia. It’s cheaper to travel by bus, and on many routes, it’s faster. For RTW travelers who like to think and plan on the fly, buses are better since advance reservations are rarely required. If traveling by train, it’s usually advisable to book at least one day in advance.
Overland Travel In Central Asia
Central Asia was closed off to travelers for many, many years, so traveling in this ever-changing landscape is very interesting. Since things change so often around here, it’s important to research the latest happenings in the region and stay up to date on everything from visa situations to safety. Overland travel options vary quite a bit from country to country, so if you plan on traveling here, there’s a good chance that you’ll be utilizing a variety of different methods to get yourself around, from train to bus to shared taxi.
Train travel is the best option in many of the countries, including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan , where it’s both safest and most comfortable. Train travel can be slow going, and there are many different types and classes of train. Sleeper cars are available for longer, overnight journeys, which may be a better option than a regular seat.
Buses may be faster in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan , but rarely are they safer, more comfortable, or cheaper. If traveling in Kyrgyzstan, which is still rather unstable at the moment (July 2011), buses and shared taxis are the most popular modes of transport as opposed to trains. Hiring drivers or sharing a taxi with other travelers is also the way to go in Tajikistan.
Don’t forget to check out the FAQ’s on the same subject, which asks all the right questions and offers tons of great information for getting around the world on the ground (or in some cases, over water).
For specific information on overland travel in each region of the world, be sure to check out the following guides, with resources and sample pricing for various overland journeys:
Overland Travel In The Americas
Overland Travel In Africa And The Middle East
Overland Travel In Europe
Overland Travel In India
Overland Travel In China And Southeast Asia
Overland Travel In Australia And New Zealand