Stretching almost 7,000 miles from St Petersburg to Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian Highway is the name for a network of federal highways that span the width of Russia from the Baltic Sea of the Atlantic Ocean to the Japan Sea of the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of the longest roads in the world across some of the toughest environments and terrain around.
The road stretches over 11,000 kilometres (6,800 mi) from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. It was built by gulag inmates. It varies from pristine motorway in the west to bad paved roads in the east. For most of the year, conditions are excellent (if a little cold), but during the warm, wet summers, sections of the road have been transformed into an impassable quagmire. Throat singers, track suits, circus acts, Buddhist prophecies, and car shepherds—a trip across the newly opened Trans-Siberian highway is a glimpse at globalization gone wild.
Due its unique location and passing through remote areas, it is important when driving in these conditions to be prepared. It spans some 6,800 miles across some of the toughest environments and terrain around, along with arguably the longest national highway in the world, and if it’s a challenge you’re after, this should be close to the top of your list. Today, along the whole highway there is an asphalt-concrete pavement, but not always of good quality. The road crosses everything from forests to tundra to vast stretches of narcotizing nothingness. Much of the drive is uneventful, but there are sections that are deeply foreboding and dangerous.
Although some parts are fairly smooth, many parts of the highway are in terrible condition. Maintaining such a huge stretch of road is pretty much impossible, and so they don’t. Heavy rain and severe winters make it even more difficult to navigate. If you attempt to drive across from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, make sure you come prepared for the absolute worst. The best time to drive this road is between June and September. And remember: never travel this road alone. Some of the Siberian section is unpaved, and traverses remote stretches far from help or gasoline. Russia also has a high per-capita death rate of its drivers, due to bad roads and drinking.
Do not travel this pass in severe weather conditions. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards, and driving under these conditions, can be extremely challenging.