Experience the feeling of eternity and glory while passing through the endless birch forests and vast steppes at all times of the year. Travelling by train gives you the opportunity to feel the atmosphere of the places you are passing by. This is the classic route from Moscow through the boundless Siberia and the wild Mongolia to the exiting and densely populated megalopolis of Beijing. Besides staying in Russia's and China's pulsing capitals, we make trips to the countryside in Siberia and Mongolia. First stop on the train journey is the old caravan city Irkutsk, which has a reputation as Siberia's most beautiful city. We drive to the 600 km long Baikal - the world's deepest lake, housing several animals only found here such as the freshwater seal. We sail out on the lake and visit villages with authentic Russian village life and the unique Siberian nature. In Mongolia, we get off from the train in the capital, Ulan Bator, and from here we head off to the Mongolian steppes in Terelj National Park, where the folklore comes into your skin when we feel the true nomadic style staying in the traditional round felt tents. The journey continues to the east towards the Chinese capital Beijing. Just before arriving we see through the window of the train The Great Chinese Wall – one of the new seven world wonders. We are spending several days in Beijing and see the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs and other interesting places. Of course, climbing of the Chinese wall is a must. This 20-day tour gives you plenty of both big city culture and unique nature experiences in landscape of plains and steppes. Unique nature and culture of two continents. City life, rural urbanization and nomadism.
Day 1. Moscow
Arrival in Moscow. Transportation to the hotel and accommodation. In the evening sightseeing in Moscow's famous subway with beautiful marble columns, crystal chandeliers and ornate ceilings. (dinner)
Day 2. Moscow
City tour including the Red Square, Saint Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin, where we see the Armoury with one of the world's largest treasure chambers. (breakfast)
Day 3. Moscow
Free day. Optional tours in Moscow are available upon request, advance booking is required.
In the evening transportation to Yaroslavskaya train station, where we get on the train and are introduced to our compartments where we stay for the next four days. (breakfast)
Day 4. Travel by train.
We pass through the Ural Mountains with million cities Perm and Ekaterinburg. Further east we come through the large Siberian cities such as Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk. The landscape in this part of the railway switches between coniferous and birch forests and small villages, where development is still far behind the big cities.
Day 5. On the train.
Day 6. On the train.
Day 7. Irkutsk
Arrival in Irkutsk in the evening. Pick up at the train station and transfer to the hotel. Dinner and overnight. (dinner)
Day 8. Irkutsk - Lake Baikal
In the morning city tour with visit to the Decembrists’ Museum. Transport to the village of Listvyanka on the shore of Baikal. On the way we stop and take lift to Tchersky view point to admire the beautiful panorama to Baikal. After lunch at a local restaurant we visit the wooden church, the market and Baikal museum. In the late afternoon, we sail north on Lake Baikal to the small village of Bolshie Koty which is beautifully situated on the lake's western shore. Accommodation in wooden house. Possibility of genuine Russian Banya (sauna). (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Day 9. Lake Baikal
Whole day to admire the splendid nature on the shores of Baikal – possibility for hiking along the shores, sun-bathing, swimming, Russian banya, etc. (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Day 10. Lake Baikal - Irkutsk
Departure in the morning by boat back to Listvjanka and from there drive back to Irkutsk. On the way we visit Taltsi Ethnographic Museum (open-air museum) with unique Russian wooden architecture. Arrival in Irkutsk, free time in the afternoon. (breakfast)
Day 11. Irkutsk - Ulan Bator
Early in the morning, departure by train to the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator (approx. 25 hours). We pass through the Buddhist provincial capital of Buryatia Ulan Ude. The train winds its way along the shores of Baikal giving oportunities for awesome photographs. (breakfast)
Day 12. Ulan Bator
Arrival in Ulan Bator in the morning. Pick-up at the train station and drive to local restaurant for breakfast. Then city tour with visit to Gandan Khiid Buddhist Monastery and the Museum of National History telling about the glorious time of Chenghiz Khan and the Mongolian empire. After lunch, time is at your own disposal. (breakfast, lunch)
Day 13. Ulan Bator - Terelj Park
After breakfast we drive from Ulan Bator up to Terelj National park (approx. 75 km) occupying wide territory amidst the vast Mongolian steppes. Here we visit the imposing Turtle Rock and the spiritual centre Aryabal. We will be guests in nomad family and have the oportunity to taste local food and drinks. Stay overnight in gers - the traditional round white felt tents. (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Day 14. Terelj Park - Ulan Bator
Free time in Terelj. Possibility for hiking and horse-riding in the beautiful countriside. At noon, drive back to Ulan Bator with visit on the way of Chenghiz Khan Memorial Complex with a 40-meter high monument of Chenghiz Khan on a horse. Lunch in the restaurant and proceed back to Ulan Bator. Evening folklore show with Mongolian throat singing and traditional music. (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Day 15. Ulan Bator - Beijing
In the morning morning departure by train to China's capital Beijing (approx. 30 hours). In the evening we arrive at the border where train cars must have their wheels replaced because of the different track width in China. (breakfast)
Day 16. Beijing
Arrival in Beijing in the afternoon. Transportation to the hotel for accommodation. In the evening there is entertainment with world-renowned Chinese acrobatics. (dinner)
Day 17. Beijing
Today we make excursions to the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City situated at the end of Tiananmen Square. From here that the Ming and Qing dynasties have ruled. Here we are shown around and see a selection of 800 spectacular buildings, which is said to contain 9,999 rooms. The evening is free. (breakfast)
Day 18. Beijing
Program in Beijing continues with a trip to the summit of any trip to China: the Great Wall. It is an unforgettable experience to stand on this impressive building, which stretches more than 6000 km across the country. Afterwards we head to one of Beijing's historical sites: Ming Tombs. Afternoon and evening at your own disposal in Beijing. (breakfast)
Day 19. Beijing
All day at leisure. Optional tours in Beijing are available upon request, advance booking is required. (breakfast)
Day 20. Beijing - departure
Transportation to the airport according to the return flight. (breakfast)
Life on the Train
The Trans-Siberian is not a railway especially arranged for tourists; it’s just a means of public transportation. You will spend your days in the train meeting new people, chatting, eating, playing games, reading and enjoying the changing landscape through the window. You will be able to get off and stretch your legs at the train stations, where the train stops for 5-20 minutes. Getting to know the locals is guaranteed. You might find yourself drinking vodka with a Russian soldier, discussing politics with a Chinese academic or sharing a bottle of Russian champagne with a Mongolian businessman.
Types of trains and classes
You can choose between first (soft) class and second (hard) class.
A first-class compartment is shared by two passengers – there are two lower berths one oposite the other with a table between them. A second-class compartment is shared by four (there's quite plenty of space, comparing to European trains). The beds are two by two one above the other. There is a small table next to the window and enough space for luggage. There are bedcovers and pillows, and at the beginning of the journey, you get bedclothes. Each wagon is being kept in order by two train attendants. They will make sure your journey passes smoothly, exit at every station and remind you to get on the train before it has left, and offer you hot water for coffee or tea.
There is a restaurant on the train where both the staff and the menu change depending on the country the train is crossing, so the quality is difficult to predict. It is a good idea to bring along some supplies, but you will be able to buy very cheap, fresh and tasty food at the stops. You can buy everything: from a bottle of beer or water to home made boiled potatoes, eggs, cakes, chicken breast, vodka, smoked fish and fresh vegetables. The train-attendants also sell some not expensive snacks and drinks, so you won’t get hungry.
Hygiene, toilets and showers
Each carriage has its own train-attendants who does the daily cleaning. At each end of the carriage there is a toilet with a WC and a small sink. Most of the times the toilets are quite dirty, so you’d better have liquid soap and soft wet pads with you. There are no showers in 2nd class carriages (showers are provided in every compartment only in the 1st class, train #3 and #4, and in a separate carriage in some trains for extra payment - about 30 rubli ($1).
The best time for the journey is from April to October. The winter is bitterly cold but, if you are not afraid of the frost, you’ll experience Siberia covered with snow. Only the locals travel in winter – there are virtually no tourists. And it is quite warm on the train.
Accommodation and food: 3-star hotels (10 nights); felt tents-gers (1 nights); private accommodation (2 nights); overnights on the train (6 nights). In private accommodation and in gers up to 4 people sleep together. Included meals as mentioned in the itinerary.
Luggage: You should carry your own luggage. That's why we recommend you to bring racksack with you instead of a suitecase. It is far more comfortabe mainly when climbing up and down the stairs at the train stations.
Included in the price: 10 nights double/twin accommodation at 3-star hotels with breakfast included; 1 night accommodation in ger camp and 2 nights private accommodation in wooden house up to 4 people per room; train ticket Moscow-Irkutsk-Ulan Bator-Beijing for 2-nd class (4 persons in compartment); all excursions including transport according to the program above; group airport transfers upon arrival and departure; all entrance fees; English-speaking tour-leader from Penguin Travel from arrival in Moscow till departure from Beijing; local English-speaking guides on all trips.
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