And now on to the most important question: How do I buy my train tickets? And, most importantly: what is the CHEAPEST way to do it?
There are many options to buy tickets, yet, like most things in life, the easiest ones do not happen to be the cheapest, on the contrary, if you are brave enough and determined enough to battle it up against the infamous Russian language and book as any Russian would do, you will end up sparing more than a few bucks!
There are indeed different agencies through which you can buy your ticket, all of which work in English, yet all of which apply commissions. They basically buy your ticket for you, and then they will either send it to you or they will set it up so you will be able to pick it up at the station. It depends. Here are two such websites:
Again, these are travel agencies, so it is really up to you and your budget, but, assuming you wanna go cheap, we suggest the following method, a.k.a. using the real Russian railways website: www.rzd.ru.
Warning: this rad website does not allow to buy tickets before 45 days from the day of the trip, so you can book as early as a month and a half before you plan on leaving. Also, the website is ALL in Russian, and the ONLY way to book tickets is to use the Russian version. I know, mission impossible? *** (UPDATE at the bottom of this page) ***
Maybe, but not if you follow our wonderful tutorial! Here is what you’ll have to do:
1: Gather all the patience you can find.
2: Follow the steps as shown in the screenshots below.
3: Should you have any problem, doubt or just need support: feel free to contact us! We will be happy to help you.
Okay. Ready? Here we go.
- Go to: www. rzd.ru
This window will open:
- The first thing you have to to is Register:
- Once you’ve done this, just login
- And now on to searching for trains.
- Go on google translate and get the names of the cities you want in Russian, then copy paste them in the apposite tab:
- Like this:
- A new window will open. If you scroll down, you’ll see a list of trains and relative details and prices. Important: the departure and arrival times all refer to Moscow time! So if you are looking at a train from Omsk to Krasnoyarsk, for instance, keep that in mind! Russia is huge, so check the time frames!
- Choose the train you want and tick on it, then continue.
- You will now have to choose your seat/berth/class. We strongly advise you to choose platzkarny: it’s third class, so it might not seem like the best option, but it actually is, for plenty of reasons: 1- way cheaper; 2- the quality difference from the kupe is not that big: instead of a 4-bed cabin, you’ll have 6-bed compartments along an open corridor, which in the summer it’s way airier which (definitely a plus); 3- you get to meet more people and for women who travel alone it is definitely safer, exactly because it is all open so you won’t risk ending up in a closed cabin with 3 weirdos.
You now have to insert your personal information:
- Here is an example:
Continue to check the details of your reservation:
- Proceed to payment:
And… done! What now? Print your ticket and you are all set! A window should open with it, but if for some reason this does not happen or you cannot find it, you can always go to your profile settings, each reservation gets automatically saved in there. Here how to do:
Click on your name (top right), and then down on orders:
It will take you to this window:
- Click where indicated and you’ll be able to see your ticket! This is what a ticket normally looks like:
- Print it and… congratulations! You now just need to show it before boarding the train!
See? Wasn’t so hard after all, was it? Yes it was, we know, but at least you got to experience the real Russian way to book tickets and probably saved lots of money that you can now use on a stash of beer for the train (Shhhhh, that’s forbidden, we said nothing about it).
*** UPDATE ***
Good news! So apparently the Russians FINALLY updated their website and created a somewhat functioning English version for reserving tickets. You can find it at this link! It should work relatively smoothly, and well, in case it doesn’t, you have the tutorial for the Russian version right above!