Russian to Beijing
Twice the size of Eastern Europe, but the least populous country in the world. Ice creams are sold in cardboard boxes on the street. Sheep outnumber people 35 to one. And there’s dinosaur fossils scattered around like rocks. Yep, we think you’re gonna like Mongolia.
Day 1 - St Petersburg
Your trip starts today with your arrival in St Petersburg. No activities are planned, so arrive early if you can, as there is plenty to see. There will be a pre-departure briefing with your local tour guide late this afternoon. There is no sightseeing time in St Petersburg included in this itinerary. First time visitors should allow at least one night prior to the tour in St Petersburg, as there is so much to see and do in this great city.
If you arrive early, we recommend you visit St Isaac's Cathedral and climb to the colonnade from where you will have magnificent views over the city. Why not walk along Nevsky Prospekt - St Petersburg's main thoroughfare - maybe popping into one of the many bakeries or pancake shops along the way, or head down to Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra where Russia's great musicians and writers like Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky are laid to rest in the cemetery. Truly one of Europe's finest cities, built of baroque European architecture combined with the opulent palaces of Russian royalty, St Petersburg was built by the Russian tsar Peter the Great and his legacy will clearly be felt as you explore its enigmatic streets and visit its showcase cathedrals and museums.
Day 2-3 - Overnight train - Moscow
An overnight train takes you on to Moscow. Founded as a wooden fortress by Yuri Dolgoruky in 1156, Moscow has grown to become the spiritual and political capital of the Russian people and is now one of the largest cities in the world. Take a walk to Red Square, which is flanked by St Basil’s Cathedral (with its famous multi-coloured onion domes), Lenin’s Mausoleum, the tombs of famous Soviet figures along the Kremlin walls, the History Museum and the massive GUM Department Store. We have the option of going inside the grounds of the Kremlin, the country’s famous bastion of power and site of several beautiful cathedrals. Please note that not all entrance fees are included – there are many different levels of tickets, our give us entry to the Kremlin grounds and two cathedrals. Another area within the Kremlin is the Armoury, a magnificent collection of the treasures of the tsars that include the exquisite Faberge Eggs, made by the renowned St Petersburg jeweller for the Tsar’s family. The city’s foremost art collections are at the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery, whilst the Moscow Metro (underground railway) contains ornate and elaborate stations and are virtually museums of sorts. The Arbat pedestrian mall and Gorky Park are great places for people watching, and the massive market in Izmailovsky Park is one of the best places to shop for souvenirs and artefacts. Up on Sparrow Hill (formerly known as Lenin Hill), in front of Moscow State University, you enjoy a panoramic view over the city with the 1980 Olympic complex in the foreground. Optional activities in the evenings may include the famous circus, or a ballet or opera performance at the Bolshoi Theatre.
Day 4-7 - Trans Siberian Railway
We pull out of Moscow’s Yaroslavskiy Station and and settle in for our long journey ahead. Along the way we cross the Volga River, the longest in Europe. There is plenty of time to relax, read or play cards, as we traverse across this vast land. We pass by the taiga forests, which consist of many types of trees, including birch, pine and cedar. We also travel through the cities of Yekaterinburg, Omsk and Novosibirsk. Yekaterinburg was named after Catherine the Great, who established this outpost town as Russia’s ‘Window to the East’. Later, it achieved notoriety as the place where Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were murdered. We also cross the Ural Mountains (if you even notice them!), which divide Europe from Asia.
Day 8-9 - Lake Baikal - Ulan-Ude
We arrive in the morning in Ulan-Ude, capital of the Russian Republic of Buryatia located 100 km south-east of Lake Baikal. We then travel to Lake Baikal, which contains the greatest volume of fresh water in the world. In the villages by the lake we can see remnants of the old Siberia with many small wooden cottages, some with beautiful wooden carvings, that give the place much of its character. At Lake Baikal we are hosted by our friends in their guest house and home. Slough away the grit of your long train journey in the family's traditional backyard '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 a 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.
We return to Ulan-Ude on the afternoon of Day 9.
Day 10 - Trans Mongolian Railway
We farewell our hosts and head back to Ulan Ude to board the train for the journey to Mongolia. Crossing the Mongolian border point at the town of Sukhbaatar and changing to a Mongolian locomotive, we continue by rail to Ulaanbaatar.
Day 11-12 - Hustai National Park - Ulaanbaatar
We arrive in Ulaanbaatar in the afternoon and after the long rail journey drive for a few hours to our ger camp in Hustai National Park. This park is famous as home for a herd of Przewalski's horses. These Mongolian wild horses became extinct in the wild, but some animals existed in zoos in Europe. These were bred successfully and consequently the horses were reintroduced to Mongolia. This is an amazing conservation success story.
We enjoy the night in a ger (the Mongolian version of a ‘yurt’), the nomadic home on the steppe, yet it is as portable as any tent. Our gers are furnished, each with three to four beds, complete with linen, blankets and pillows. There are small stools, a table and a fire stove. Three quarters of the Mongolian population still live in gers throughout the year, despite sub-zero temperatures for many months.
We return to Ulaanbaatar - the capital of Mongolia and also its largest city, with over one-quarter of its population in residence. The name means ‘Red Hero’ and it is indeed shaped by the influences of the former Soviet Union in that most of the city is full of Russian-style apartment buildings. Sukhbaatar Square is the central point in town and is dominated by the Parliament building and a statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar (on horseback), the man who confirmed Mongolian independence from China.
Day 13-15 - Beijing
We undertake our final rail journey to Beijing. We formally leave Mongolia at Zamyn-Uud and move on to the Chinese border post at Erlian. Patience is required whilst the border procedures are completed as this may take a fair bit of time.
Our final destination is Beijing where there is much to discover. As well as the Great Wall, there is also the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace to discover. As there is no sightseeing time in Beijing included in this itinerary, first-time visitors here should plans on staying on at least a few nights after the tour at least one night after the tours in Beijing, as there is so much to see and do in this great city.
What to Know
Transport and accommodation are included. You have an expert local guide at each stop, but will not be escorted on the trains.
- International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, entrance fees, meals, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
Trip Dates and Prices
Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price 11 May 2014 - 25 May 2014 7+ Available US $2,785 On Sale Sale: US $2,396 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 25 May 2014 - 08 Jun 2014 7+ Available US $2,785 On Sale Sale: US $2,396 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 08 Jun 2014 - 22 Jun 2014 7+ Available US $2,870 On Sale Sale: US $2,469 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 22 Jun 2014 - 06 Jul 2014 7+ Available US $2,870 On Sale Sale: US $2,469 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 06 Jul 2014 - 20 Jul 2014 7+ Available US $2,950 On Sale Sale: US $2,537 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 20 Jul 2014 - 03 Aug 2014 7+ Available US $2,950 On Sale Sale: US $2,537 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 03 Aug 2014 - 17 Aug 2014 7+ Available US $2,785 On Sale Sale: US $2,396 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 17 Aug 2014 - 31 Aug 2014 7+ Available US $2,785 On Sale Sale: US $2,396 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 31 Aug 2014 - 14 Sep 2014 7+ Available US $2,785 On Sale Sale: US $2,396 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 14 Sep 2014 - 28 Sep 2014 7+ Available US $2,695 On Sale Sale: US $2,318 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 28 Sep 2014 - 12 Oct 2014 7+ Available US $2,695 On Sale Sale: US $2,318 Promo code: 1493 Book Now 12 Oct 2014 - 26 Oct 2014 7+ Available US $2,785 Book Now 10 May 2015 - 24 May 2015 7+ Available US $2,785 Book Now 24 May 2015 - 07 Jun 2015 7+ Available US $2,870 Book Now 07 Jun 2015 - 21 Jun 2015 7+ Available US $2,870 Book Now 21 Jun 2015 - 05 Jul 2015 7+ Available US $2,870 Book Now 05 Jul 2015 - 19 Jul 2015 7+ Available US $2,950 Book Now 19 Jul 2015 - 02 Aug 2015 7+ Available US $2,950 Book Now 02 Aug 2015 - 16 Aug 2015 7+ Available US $2,785 Book Now 16 Aug 2015 - 30 Aug 2015 7+ Available US $2,785 Book Now 30 Aug 2015 - 13 Sep 2015 7+ Available US $2,785 Book Now 13 Sep 2015 - 27 Sep 2015 7+ Available US $2,695 Book Now 27 Sep 2015 - 11 Oct 2015 7+ Available US $2,695 Book Now 11 Oct 2015 - 25 Oct 2015 7+ Available US $2,785 Book Now
Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments
There’s no feedback available on this trip yet. If you’ve been on this trip and would like to contribute a review, rating or simply make a comment then please get in touch.
What to know
You have an expert local guide at each stop, but will not be escorted on the trains.