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Trans-Siberian And Mongolia Tour, Westbound

Forget the morning commute, this is a train journey that is ambitious, exciting and thoroughly out of the ordinary. This 16-day journey will cross continents and time zones, beginning in Beijing, then travelling through the wild, untamed wildernesses of Mongolia, to meet its historically nomadic people. Leave Asia behind as you cross into Siberia for some traditional hospitality and extraordinary natural landscapes in Lake Baikal and then on into Russia, ending your journey in its capital Moscow.

Travelling out of Beijing, watch the scenery change from urban to rocky desert, and then rolling green meadows as you enter the relative time warp of Mongolia. Discover the capital Ulaanbaatar, where you’ll find elderly Mongolians in traditional dress, business suit-clad entrepreneurs and young monks. Explore the city before discovering the unique Mongolian countryside in Terelj National Park. Think rolling meadows dotted with munching yaks, forested hills and imposing rock formations. Sleep in a ger camp here, and learn to cook buuz – traditional Mongolian dumplings! 

Ulan Ude is another highlight, surrounded by vast, boundless steppes and alpine forests. The city is an ethnic and spiritual mix of Euro-Russian, Mongolian, and Buryat cultures. At the Old Believers Village here, established by orthodox Christians who fled European Russia centuries ago, you’ll discover a way of life that has changed very little since the 18th century. From here you drive to Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world and a new destination on the tourist map, where you can hike, swim or take a boat trip.

Obviously, you need to be ready for long days of travelling, both on and off the train, since you’re covering a vast landscape. You’ll spend three nights on the Trans-Siberian Railway, from Ulan Ude to Kungur, a pretty, provincial Russian town with lovely architecture. Simply settle into the rhythm and enjoy the ever-changing scenery, your book, or chatting with your fellow travellers. You travel in 2nd class carriages, where conditions are simple but comfortable, providing an authentic experience and a chance to meet, and travel like, the locals. On overnight trains, four people from your group share compartments, and there is a bathroom in every carriage with a sink and cold water. Off the train, accommodation is basic, staying in ger camps, local guesthouses and homestays with simple facilities. This is a real and authentic adventure, crossing continents and revealing vast, unchanged landscapes and fascinating history.

Type: Small Group Tours
Duration: 16 days

Itinerary Hide all details

Day 1: Beijing

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places that give an insight into the nation's ancient past, as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm today, where your insurance and next of kin details will be collected. This evening maybe seek out some famous Peking Duck.

Day 2: Overnight Train

This morning board a train out of China and travel into Mongolia - the first leg of this epic train journey that will take you 6,000 kilometres to Moscow. This is an overnight journey (approximately 30 hours) that includes a long border crossing during the night where your passports are processed. It's here that the bogies (train wheels) have to be changed because of the differing rail gauges used in China and Mongolia. Say goodbye to the built-up modernity of the city and get comfortable as you watch the scenery change from urban to rocky desert, and on to rolling green meadows as you enter the relative time warp of Mongolia. Trains on this journey are simple but comfortable. You’ll travel 2nd class on this trip. There's a toilet/bathroom at the end of each carriage with a small sink and cold water. An attendant is assigned to every carriage to look after your comfort and safety (although service standards can vary greatly). Each compartment has four bunks with luggage storage space inside. Bedding is provided, although some travellers still prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. There's hot water available for making drinks or instant meals, tea and coffee. Sometimes snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board and most trains also have a dining car, although with a limited menu. Trains are generally heated but most do not offer air conditioning. The train can become very hot even in winter and the train attendants will not allow the windows to be opened, please pack clothing appropriate for the warmer conditions on these train journeys.

Day 3: Ulaanbaatar

Crammed between the superpowers of Russia and China, the independent nation of Mongolia is a truly adventurous destination. The capital, Ulaanbaatar (affectionately known as UB), is a city where you’ll find elderly Mongolians in traditional dress, business suit-clad entrepreneurs and young monks. After checking in to our hotel, venture out into the city, where the close relationship with the USSR is evident in the Soviet style architecture. Perhaps explore one of the city's many museums to learn about the country's turbulent history, including the reign of the most famous of Mongolian historical figures – the feared and respected Genghis Khan. For your free time in UB you can explore the city, maybe visiting the Museum of Natural History, which has an excellent dinosaur display, or any other of the city’s fascinating museums. At the Intellectual Museum you can learn about the history and culture of this intriguing country through puzzles, toys and magic tricks. Tonight perhaps experience Mongolia's rich artistic culture at a performance of traditional throat and ‘long song’ singers, musicians, dancers and contortionists.

Day 4: Terelj National Park - Ger Camp

Travel to Terelj National Park by private van (approximately 90 minutes). With rolling meadows dotted with munching yaks, forested hills, and imposing rock formations, this is the perfect place to take in Mongolia's natural beauty. A local guide will share some insight into Mongolian customs and culture with you, as well as lead you on a hike to a local Buddhist retreat. In Terelj, you’ll stay in a holiday ger camp (multi-share) with full board. Vegetarians can be catered for, although choices may be limited – please let us know if you have any specific dietary requirements at time of booking. The gers sleep up to four people with comfy beds and plenty of blankets. In the colder months you might want to stoke up the stove in the centre of the ger – you'll be toasty warm in no time! You’ll share meals together in the dining quarters. Bathroom facilities here are basic with no showers, but there are toilets and basins with cold water in a support building outside. Please note in the colder months when plumbing is no longer functional there will be no running water and an outdoor pit toilet will be used. Tonight, get involved in making your own dinner by learning to cook buuz – traditional Mongolian dumplings! Then take in the wonderful views across the gers and rocky escarpment as you experience a memorable Mongolian sunset.

Day 5: Ulaanbaatar

Return to the hotel in Ulaanbaatar today (approximately 1.5 hours). On the way back to UB, stop and visit the huge Chinggis (Genghis) Khan Monument. Chinggis Khan, the legendary horseman who conquered half the known world in the 13th century, can be viewed from miles away. You can climb up the structure and see the view from atop the horse, maybe a little tacky but also pretty amazing. When back in the city, do some shopping to stock up on supplies for tomorrow’s overnight train ride. You can also search out some local handicrafts such as cashmere and felt products. Relax in your hotel or in a local restaurant this evening.

Day 6: Ulaanbaatar - Overnight Train

Today you’ll enjoy a tour of Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding area. Look out across the city from the top of Zaisan Hill, and then visit Mongolia’s largest and most important active monastery, the lively Gandan Khiid, to learn about the main religion of Mongolia – Tibetan Buddhism. You will also explore the range of fascinating artefacts housed in the Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan. Later today you will leave Mongolia aboard the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which takes you across the border into Russia and on to Siberia (approximately 26 hours).

Day 7: Ulan Ude

Arrive in Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Republic of Buryatia and homeland of the Buryat people, who are closely related to Mongolians. After years of repression during the Soviet era, Buryat traditions and religions (shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism) are now seeing something of a revival. You’ll notice how the city is an ethnic and spiritual mix of Euro-Russian, Mongolian, and Buryat cultures. The future of Buryatia is directly connected with development of the Lake Baikal area as a tourism zone. By coming here with our groups, respecting environmental issues and with rational use of the area's rich cultural and historic legacy, we aim to contribute to the development of sustainable tourism in Eastern Siberia. The area is fabulously beautiful, Ulan Ude is surrounded by vast, wild nature, boundless steppes, alpine and taiga forests. You’ll arrive in the town in the evening and settle into your hotel tonight before we head out to the lake tomorrow.

Day 8: Ulan Ude - Lake Baikal

Ulan Ude has a unique cultural mix of local and Russian traditions – it's the site of numerous flourishing Buddhist Datsans and its main square is home to a large and highly unusual head of Lenin, the world's biggest! Today you’ll visit an Old Believers Village. The Old Believers are Orthodox Christians who were exiled or fled from European Russia during the church reforms that took place in the 17th century. This visit will take you to a place that has changed little since the 18th century. Visit the local church and ethnography museum, attend a concert of folk songs and games, and enjoy a meal of timelessly tasty home-cooked dishes. Then you will drive approximately 2.5 hours to Lake Baikal. This is the deepest lake in the world, amazingly holding over 20% of the world's fresh water. There are plenty of optional activities to choose from during your stay in a comfortable local guesthouse here, including hiking, swimming and boat trips. Full board is included here, with plenty of tasty Russian staples like salads, soups, black bread, pancakes and pies. You'll also get a chance to try the local fish from Baikal – omul – which definitely tastes even more delicious when roasted over a camp fire on the lake shore. Accommodation here is on a multishare basis.

Day 9: Lake Baikal

Today is a free day to enjoy your surroundings. This part of the lake has long, beautiful sandy beaches and some smaller and warmer lakes, where you can relax, play games and enjoy the sun and magnificent scenery. Don't miss out on experiencing a banya, the Russian version of a sauna. Locals swear by the cleansing, healing and meditative properties of having a steam and a wash in the banya, and it can also be quite the social occasion! Make sure to avail yourself of some birch twigs and slap yourself (and others!) over the shoulders for a traditional Siberian 'massage' to get the true banya experience. The banya here gives you a chance to cool off from the steam by jumping straight into the lake, before you go back in and do it all again! Make the most of the all the local food today, as tomorrow you will by taking your three-night train and the culinary offerings may not be so great!

Day 10: Trans-Siberian Railway

Return to Ulan Ude (approximately 2.5 hours) and head to the train station. This is the longest journey of the trip, three-nights on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway to Kungur. There are limited trains from Ulan-Ude to Kungur, with two different time schedules. Due to the schedule, you may need to leave Ulan-Ude earlier and arrive during the very early morning in Kungur.

Day 11: Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the world's most famous train line. It's also the longest, extending from Moscow across Siberia to the far-flung town of Vladivostok. You’ll experience part of this celebrated train odyssey from Ulan Ude to the Ural town of Kungur (3 nights total). Travelling through three time zones, you’ll wind your way through forests, small Siberian villages and big industrial Russian cities, to reach the bustling European part of this vast and varied nation. It might seem like a long journey but the majority of travellers are actually surprised how quickly it goes! Life on the train will pretty much consist of eating, drinking, talking, reading, sleeping and gazing out the window. Settle into the rhythm and enjoy the simplicity of having very little to do. Pro tip: buy dill and mint from the station sellers along the way to freshen up your soups and other meals There's plenty to keep you busy and enjoying this relaxing part of the journey, and you may even be reluctant to get off when you reach the next destination.

Day 12: Trans-Siberian Railway
Day 13: Kungur

Break up the journey with a stop in tranquil Kungur, a pretty provincial Russian town well known for its traditional architecture. When Siberia first opened up for settlement, a new major road turned Kungur into a trade centre. Foreigners seldom visit here, and our aim is that by stopping here, we can have a positive impact on the development of tourism. On a walking tour with a local guide, see the buildings’ interesting mix of architectural styles – architects from all over European Russia were invited to make Kungur into one of the region’s most beautiful towns. We have the first English-speaking guides in the area, students training to work in tourism in the future. The Kungur area also has a unique karst landscape, with its Ice Caves some of the most extensive in the world. Of the 6 kilometres of passages, 1.5 kilometres are open to the public, and there’s a chance to visit them today. The first two caves contain permanently frozen ice formations, waterfalls and underground lakes. Watch out for the mythical monster mammoth that is said to inhabit the caves! Please note that English speaking guides are not usually available. While here you’ll discover more about the people, their customs, culture and cuisine with a visit to a local family to make traditional gingerbread and enjoy plenty of cups of tea!

Day 14: Perm - Overnight Train

Today is a long day of travelling. Depart Kungur in a private bus and travel to Perm train station (approximately 4 hours with stops). Perm (whose name comes from the term ‘Far-away-land’) is the most Eastern city in Europe, and is a major rail junction connecting Siberia and the Far East with the European part of the country. Depending on arrival time, there may have some free time to explore the city, which is home to two of Russia’s largest art museums. Perm was infamously known as the ‘Gateway to the Gulag’, a closed city that was hidden from Soviet maps and not opened until 1990. 100 kilometres outside of the city is Perm-36, which was once a notorious forced labour camp and wasn’t closed until 1987. In the afternoon, you’ll board your overnight train to Moscow (approximately 25 hours), which departs at approximately 5pm.

Day 15: Moscow

The great city of Moscow has survived centuries of revolution and seen Russia through some of its most turbulent years, from the days of the tsars through the communist era to the growing pains of democracy. Beneath its modern veneer, a sign of Russia's recent embrace of capitalism, Moscow is a fascinating, historic city with a wealth of sights to see. You’ll arrive into the capital around 5pm and take the metro to your centrally located hotel. You can celebrate the end of your epic cross-continental journey here in Moscow with a wander around the famous Red Square by night and a final optional dinner with your group.

Day 16: Moscow

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is plenty to see and do, staying a few extra days to enjoy everything Moscow has to offer is highly recommended. You could explore the Kremlin and witness its huge collection of imperial riches, walk among the cathedrals and museums, and maybe get a glimpse of Lenin in his eternal resting state. There are endless cultural treasures on offer – perhaps join an Urban Adventure tour to help you get to grips with this vast city.

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Visa

Russian visa support (Russian visa invitation letter) is included.

Sights included in program

Moscow : The Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin, the beautiful and ancient ensemble stands high on the hill towering over the left bank of the Moskva river. The Kremlin has always been perceived as a symbol of power and might of the Russian state, the national idea expressed in stone. It is the oldest part of the city, its political, historic and cultural centre, and the seat of the country's highest bodies of power. The Kremlin contains unique specimens of Russian metal cas... Read more
Moscow : Red Square
The famous Red Square is located in the heart of Moscow. Of course, no trip to Russia would be complete without a visit to Red Square, perhaps Russia's most well known place, and possibly the most famous city square in the world. It is Russia’s most recognizable landmark and is usually tourists first stop in Moscow. It is surrounded by Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the State History Museum, Lenin’s Mausoleum and the Kremlin. Visitors... Read more
1/7th of the World : Baikal
Lake Baikal in Siberia is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site and was also voted as one of Russia's Seven Wonders. It's not hard to see why. Baikal is one of those rare spots on the earth where nature has still remained genuine and untouched. The magnificent landscapes – the lake is surrounded by high mountain chains - and the unique clarity of the crystal-clear water, which runs into a darkness teeming with fish. Siberians believe that ... Read more
1/7th of the World : Perm
The city of Perm is one of the largest economic and cultural centers of Russia. It combines provincial quiet of the Russian countryside, its historic and cultural heritage, and modern science and infrastructure. The city is located at the bottom of the Ural Mountains, which divide Europe and Asia, on the two banks of the Kama, the largest inflow of the Volga. Perm is famous for its Opera and Ballet Theatre, its Art Gallery with a unique collecti... Read more
1/7th of the World : Beijing
Beijing, formerly romanized as Peking, is the capital of the People's Republic of China, the world's second most populous city proper, and most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a direct-controlled municipality under the national government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southea... Read more
1/7th of the World : Ulan Bator
If Mongolia's yin is its pristine countryside, then Ulan Bator conforms nicely to its yang. Located in north central Mongolia, fabulous Ulan Bator is the cultural, industrial, and financial heart of the country. The city was founded in 1639 as a movable (nomadic) Buddhist monastic centre, and in the twentieth century, Ulan Bator grew into a major manufacturing centre. Mostly described, as sunny, peaceful and open, Ulan Bator is a city of contrast... Read more
1/7th of the World : Ulan Ude
Ulan-Ude is the amazing capital city of republic Buryatia in Russia, situated in the east of fabulous Siberia. The name means "red Uda" or "red gate" in Buryat reflecting the communist ideology of the Soviet Union to which it belonged. Closed to foreigners until 1991, Ulan Ude is surrounded by vast, wild nature, boundless steppes, alpine and taiga forests, the landscapes are truly breathtaking and offer a plethora of opportunity for fans of the o... Read more
Explore : Moscow
Moscow can be an overwhelming experience for visitors - there's just so much to see in this vast and vibrant city, from the truly sublime to the ever-so-slightly ridiculous. Moscow has been one of the world's ballet capitals for almost two centuries. It is home to the Bolshoi Ballet, founded in the late 18th century and based at the Bolshoi Theatre. It is called the "world capital of museums". It's no surprise, considering that there are over a ... Read more
It is a unique monument of nature. Also, it is the finalist of the All-Russian competition “Seven Wonders of Russia”. The Kungur Ice Cave is a symbol of Kungur city and a peculiar calling card of the Perm Region. It is situated on the north-eastern outskirts of the Kungur city, on the right bank of the Sylva River.  Read more
The  Winter Palace of Bogd Khaan - one of the first museums in Mongolia - was built in 1924. It used to be a winter residence of the last Bogd Khaan of Mongolia, Javzandamba. The palace compound was built between 1893 and 1903, and is well known for it's Gate of Peace, Temple and personal library of Bogd Khaan. Among the museum's exhibits are sculptures by Mongolia's first Bogd Khaan Zanabazar, the famous Taras. The museum has 21 invaluable ... Read more
The Gandantegchinlen Monastery is a Mongolian Buddhist monastery in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar that has been restored and revitalized since 1990. The Tibetan name translates to the "Great Place of Complete Joy". It currently has over 150 monks in residence. It features a 26.5-meter-high statue of Avalokiteśvara. It came under state protection in 1994. Read more
In 2008, a gigantic statue of Genghis Khan riding on horseback was erected on the bank of the Tuul River at Tsonjin Boldog, 54 km east of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, where according to legend, he found a golden whip. The statue is 40 meters tall and wrapped in 250 tons of gleaming stainless steel. It stands on top of the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, a visitor center that itself is 10 meters tall, with 36 columns representing the 36 khans f... Read more
Terelj National Park is the most popular destination and the third biggest protected area in Mongolia . Visitors can take leisurely strolls on meadows carpeted with edelweiss and a dazzling variety of other wild flowers, view fascinating rock formations against a backdrop of pine covered mountains and wander along the wooded banks of a mountain stream. The park is located 80 km away from Ulaanbaatar and is one of the most beautiful places in Mong... Read more
Ulan Bator : Zaisan Memorial
A huge communist-era propaganda monument and mural that offers stunning views of the Mongolian capital. Read more
The Old Believers – Russian people, who still live traditionally in a small community in the Buryat Republic. Read more
US$ 3558
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Price for persons:

Our flexible payment options allow you to pay 20% of a deposit first and the remaining 80% in 14 days prior to your tour date - payment can be done both online or over the phone. This gives you the peace of mind knowing your spaces are booked on the tours and that you do not miss out on making the most of your time in Russia.

Also you get the best, top-rated and most experienced and knowledgeable hand-picked tour guide appointed on a priority basis.
In our experience, exceptional travel experiences are almost always delivered by exceptional people. With that in mind, we utilize a comprehensive approach to select and employ the best tour guides only. Multilingual and well travelled, each possesses deep insight into the diverse attractions and cultural patterns throughout the region. With us guides undergo a rigorous selection process, achieving outstanding knowledge of local culture and language. Rest assured that the best tour guides only will be working on the tours to give you excellent opportunity to explore the best of the sights during both short and long-term stay in Russia.

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