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Are There Power Outlets on the Trans-Mongolian Train?

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You can’t go on the Trans-Mongolian, Trans-Manchurian, Trans-Siberian, or any country-crossing train trip without snapping a couple photos, or maybe even a video or two.

Using the train as a remote office.

Using the train from Beijing to Ulaan Bator as a remote office.


But, when you’re traveling long-term with limited gear in your bags and won’t be getting off a train for several days, you probably want to know a thing or two about the setup along the way… perhaps whether or not there are power outlets for you to charge your gear.

This was a big question for my group and I, and the question came up again on Facebook, so I thought I’d share our findings on our very epic Trans-Mongolian railway trip:

We did have “access” to some form of power outlet on most of the trains. That doesn’t mean that using those outlets was recommended, or available.

train computer open

We just finished watching a movie on Pat’s computer. Pat sat in the hallway for an hour charging up his laptop for it. Now, enjoying the beautiful sunset!

On our first train ride from Beijing to Ulaan Bator, we rode in first class, and yes, we did have a power outlet in our individual cabins. This train was running the entire distance from Beijing to Moscow, so if you stayed on, you could have power outlet access for your entire journey.

After this point, we started to ride on some more local routes (not the big official Trans-Siberian trains), and access became sparse.

There was one train that was uber fancy and new, and yes, there was a power outlet in our cabin.

Other trains only had one power outlet in the middle of the hallway. Some well-traveled folks near this would also carry an extension cable and power strip and run that directly into their cabin. They might even run the cable underneath the hallway rug or duct tape it into a safe position! This was absolutely horrible for everyone else on the train wanting to watch movies on their laptops (us) because they didn’t have the power source to do so.

train hallway

Notice the cable running under the rug and into a cabin. So jealous.

And on other trains, you only had access to plugs that were meant for low voltage use, such as shavers and cell phones. These plugs were sometimes at the end of the hall by the bathrooms, and often occupied by a Russian guy frantically making phone calls for hours.

Yes, there are power outlets on the Trans-Mongolian train and Russian trains, but I wouldn’t rely on that idea, or expect them to be available. Just be sure to charge up your gear in advance and bring some books, cards, notebooks, and extra batteries to make your trip enjoyable no matter what.

Do you have questions about the trains that run through Russia? Leave it in the comments below!

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6 Responses to Are There Power Outlets on the Trans-Mongolian Train?

  1. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family September 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    Good to know Brooke! I plan on doing this journey in the future so good to know that we can set the little guy up with DVDs on the long stretches of the journey.

    What was the longest amount of time you spent on board?

    • Brooke September 3, 2012 at 10:04 am #

      I think our first leg was in the 32 hour range. We also had another stretch that was almost like 40 hours with a short layover in the middle.

  2. Ana | Mrs.O Around the World September 11, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    So if you’re planning a trip with a Mongolian train then you just need to pack some books as a back-up in case there is no power. But don’t you think that paying the controller some Mongolian money would have also gotten you an extension cable?

    • Brooke September 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

      I’m not sure what you mean by “controller” but no… the locals packed their OWN extension cable.

  3. Clark Norton March 31, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Hi Brooke,

    I am travelling Moscow-Beijing in the summer. Were you on train 4, and what were the facilities like in first class? Is it worth the extra money?

    Thanks!

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  1. Train Travel Resources- Her Packing List - June 22, 2015

    […] For long-distance journeys where you’ll be sharing a cabin with others wanting to use electrical devices, it may be wise for someone to bring a power strip, which is something that Brooke said was very useful on the Trans-Mongolian train journey. […]

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