Tell me about the Trans-Asia Express
October 22, 2010 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Some friends and I are planning on taking the Trans-Asia Express from Istanbul to Van (not continuing on to Tehran) next month. Could anyone who has taken this trip answer a few questions for me?

Yes, there are plenty of threads on the Thorn Tree forum on the Trans-Asia express but I have a few specific questions that I cant find answers to there.

1) Is there bedding in the sleeper cars on this particular train?

2) Are there electrical outlets available anywhere on the train?

3)Do we need to make reservations for the trans-asia or can we just go to the station in Istanbul an hour before scheduled departure time (i know it has a tendency to not be on time).

4)Is this train trip as worthwhile and interesting as everyone says it is? The scenery sounds great but we are also really looking forward to getting to know other people on the train, especially those headed home to Iran.

Bonus question! What is the best way to get from Van to Silopi in order to cross the border into Iraqi Kurdistan?
posted by minicloud to Travel & Transportation (2 answers total)

My wife and I took this train earlier this year, but we got off in Malatya and then bussed it to Van after visiting Nemrut Dagi, and then crossed into Iran by bus as well.

1) Yes, there were sheets and a thin blanket on each bunk in our compartment.

2) Yes indeed. There was an outlet in the compartment as well as running water (not potable).

3) I would think this depends wildly on the time of year you are going. We didn't need reservations and there was lots of empty compartments. This was early summer. I think Turkey gets a bigger tourist influx int he winter, so reservations are a good idea.

4) We loved it, but it was long and could be a bit boring, and that was just to Malatya. A lot of good scenery disappears overnight, but overall the scenery alone was worth the price of admission. As for meeting others: the sleeper compartments are all separate. You may have to go out of your way. We didn't meet anybody at all.

Bonus question) I would guess by bus. But that's just a guess. The bus system in Turkey is excellent, mostly.

Bonus tip: Bring food! (and booze if you're into that sort of thing) Also, I think when we were going through there was some maintenance and the full train to Van wasn't operating. Can't remember the details, but check ahead.
posted by hamandcheese at 11:38 AM on October 22, 2010

Agree that the bus system in Turkey is fantastic - the quality rivals anything you'd find in western Europe. Starting from Ankara I looped all the way around eastern Turkey (including Van) using buses and it was great.
posted by MillMan at 12:05 PM on October 22, 2010

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