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.
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.
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.
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.
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!