The Trans-Siberian route is the mother or all journeys. A journey through time, crossing five time zones in three different countries. A cultural ride, where you’ll see different beliefs – from Buddhism to Shamanism. Different costumes, people speaking different languages from pasts apart. Dive in lake Baikal, the largest sweet water lake in the World, and enjoy horseback riding Mongolian wild horses on Mongolian steppes. You’ll be in close contact with people, whether through the intimate life in the train, or through the experience of living as a nomad in gers. At last, walking the Great Wall of China, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, will leave you on a high note at the end of this trip on the rails. Discover Moscow and Beijing, two huge metropolis and populated cities, but so contrasty on each other.
Come on board on the journey of a lifetime, on the most iconic railway of the World!
- Almost 8000kms on the most iconic railways in the world
- Three different countries in one single trip
- Explore lake Baikal, the World’s largest lake
- Live the ultimate nomad lifestyle, with Mongol families
- Walk the Great Wall of China.
Day 1 - Arriving in Moscowsee
Welcome to Moscow!
Moscow is one of the World’s largest capitals. However, despite its 12 million inhabitants within a 40kms radius, the feeling we get is one from a clean, organized and airy city. 40% of the urban area is made of green areas, the streets are wide, and the architecture is stunning.
Day 2 - Moscowsee
Free day in Moscow, and we will enjoy the best of our time here.
In the morning, after breakfast, we return to some of the most important parts of the city: from the beautiful Cathedral of Christ the Saviour to the mythical Red Square, with St. Basil's Cathedral and Lenin's mausoleum; we strolled in the brand new Zaryadye Park. We might had lunch at GUM, the oldest market in Moscow today converted into a luxury shopping center. In the afternoon, take a short tour of Moscow's most incredible Metro stations, which are authentic Museums and chapters filled with history!
Day 3 - Onboardsee
The match is scheduled for around midnight. The provodnitsa, responsible for the proper functioning of each carriage, indicates us our beds. Let's settle in. In the next 51 hours, this is our new home.
The final destination of this train is Vladivostok, in the extreme East Russian. The passengers are accommodated and prepare themselves: slowly, each compartment begins to take the same contours of their houses. Here he cooks, he reads, he dreams. Settle yourself, for you are about to begin the journey of a lifetime!
Day 4 - Onboardsee
Well explore our train amongst its turns and shaky ride. The bar-carriage is open everyday from 9am til 12am, local time. Local time however, is always uncertain, because whilst we travel along the lines, we’ll be travelling across different time zones as well. When we reach our destination (by tomorrow), we would have crossed four time zones.
Along the route, there will be a couple stops where we can leave the train and explore the surrounding areas: Druzhinino and Yekaterinburg. Yekaterinburg it the Easter-nest city in the Ural Mountains, and marks the beginning of Asia: welcome to your next continent!
Day 5 - Novosibirsksee
We arrive in Novosibirsk during the morning. We’ve already crossed four time zones, and our journey has barely started!
Our hotel is conveniently located close to the station and amongst the cities main attractions. We jump in the well-deserved showers, lay down on those comfortable non-shaking beds, and lastly, we have dinner in a restaurant of our choice, here in the capital of Siberia, and perhaps we’ll even have time to try out the popular Russian banya (sauna).
Day 6 - Novosibirsksee
Another free day, today completely of your choice. Our train is departing after midnight. So, just like Cinderella, we’ll enjoy the “ball” while we can. Museums, parks, libraries… Novosibirsk is a city were we will conveniently shake off the hardness of 48h inside a train. Together, or each one to their own, we’ll cease the day. Later, we meet back at the gigantic train station, already by night, where we can share stories under the huge palace-worthy chandeliers in the waiting lounges.
Train departs at 1.05am sharp.
Day 7 - Onboardsee
Another full day in the train. During morning time, we can exit the train at Ilanskaya. Here we can visit a little train museum, inside the train station. We do however recommend you to leave your cameras behind, since photography is not allowed here. Rumour has it a Lonely Planer photographer was arrested here a few years ago, and we’d love you to complete de journey with us, preferably all the way until Beijing!
Day 8 - Olkhon Islandsee
We will arrive during the morning at Irkutsk train station, and we’ll jump on the first bus to Olkhon Island.
When we arrive to our guesthouse, we’ll take some well-deserved showers, we’ll have dinner and then just relax. In the island, there isn’t much network coverage, there’s no wifi, no ATM, hardly any electricity. But there are billions of stars above us and new experiences awaiting at each turn.
Day 9 - Olkhon Islandsee
Today we’ll drive on a UAZ, a 4x4 Russian van, to the Northernness point of the island, Cape Khoboi, which is also the holiest shaman place in Baikal. It’s quite an impressive landscape, with steep sharp rocks plumbing into this water that reminds us of the ocean, but it’s sweet, like a lake.
We’ll have the traditional fish soup for lunch, with omul, the Baikal fish, and a tea made from local herbs. Both prepared to us by our driver, while we walk around the area.
Meals: breakfast and lunch
Day 10 - Irkutsksee
Early morning, we get on our mini-bus that will take us to Irkutsk. We’ll be sleeping in a central hostel, a place that was completely renovated by two young locals that have never left Irkust, but have stories about the whole world! Today we take the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Irkutsk, walking through the 130 Kvartal neighbourhoods, where we’ll understand better why Irkutsk is nicknamed the “Paris of Siberia”. We’ll keep our walk alongside the river, before heading back to our hostel in the evening.
Day 11 - Ulan Udesee
We said goodbye to Tony and Artem, and we prepare to get our train after lunch - then get ready for the most beautiful part of the whole trip! Between the 5185km and 5321km it is time to make good use of the cameras: the tight corners and slope of the line (the steepest of the whole trip) make this the photogenic pinnacle of the trip. Get to the left side of the train, and stick to the windows: admire Lake Baikal in all its fullness, almost skimming the line, while the convoy encircles, enchanted, towards Ulan Ude, our last stop before Mongolia.
Day 12 - Ulan Udesee
Today we spend the day in the peculiar Ulan Ude, capital of Buryatia, a city that until 1991 was closed to tourists. One of its main attractions is the gigantic head of Lenin in the main square which, with its stunning 42 tons and almost 8m high, makes it not only Lenin's biggest head but also the largest monument to Lenin throughout world. We’ll then visit a buddhist temple with a spectacular sunset view over the Selenge, a river that springs in Mongolia, where we will be travelling to tomorrow.
Day 13 - Onboardsee
Today we bid farewell to Russia and Siberia, and head towards Mongolia. We will cross the border at Naushki, 5902Kms from Moscow, and 0km from Mongolia. This small village, which is just a border post, with one foot in Russia and another in Mongolia, is our interregnum for passport verification and other customs affairs. We stand still here for about 1h50, and then we will do anther 1h45 stop in Sukhbaatar, where we repeated the process, this time with the Mongolian officers.
By night, look through the windows: this is most likely, one of the starriest sky on the planet!
Day 14 - UlaanBaatarsee
We arrive in UlaanBaatar at 6.50am. We can have something to eat near the train station, and then we will walk to our hotel. It’s early to check-in, so we can just drop our backpacks and walk to the centre, go for a walk, have lunch, and observe this city which is still torn between a large Asian capital and an old rumbled Asian city.
Later in de day, we will watch the Tumen Ekh Ensemble, a live show featuring the best of Mongolian culture and traditional performative arts: the incredible throat singing and swirly dances, as well as theatre and acrobatics.
Day 15 - Khogno Khansee
Today we’ll commence our nomad lifestyle experience. Early morning, our private van will come to pick us up, to take us across the Mongolian steppes. Our destination for today is the Mount Khohno Khan Natural Reserve, home to several species of birds, deers and gazelles. Here, we’ll walk up to Elsen Tasarkhai, also known as “middle gobi”, in a reference to the great Gobi desert down South.
At night, we’ll stay with a nomadic family in their gers, while we keep absorbing this lifestyle so different from ours.
Accommodation: family ger
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 16 - Gorkhi-Terelj National Parksee
From sand-dunes to the forest, today we head to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, where we will also see the famous “Turtle Rock”, a granitic formation that emerges out of the landscape, just like if it has been sculpted by nature itself.
A new location, a new family, the same nomadic lifestyle: by night we’ll go back to our gers and spend the night Mongolian style, under the starry sky.
Accommodation: family ger
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 17 - Gorkhi-Terelj National Parksee
Before heading back to UlaanBaatar we still get to go horseback riding around the area. Later, we’ll also visit the Ghenghiis Khaan Complex, which is said to be the world’s highest equestrian statue. We’ll get up to his head for the view, and come back down to his feet for the museum collection, that features items from times as distance as the Bronze Era.
Soaked in so much History, it’s time to go back to the city, where we’ll check back in to our hotel.
Day 18 - UlaanBaatarsee
Free day today, to use wisely: we’ll split between launderettes, museums, temples and markets. Mongolia is a nice place for souvenirs, and the post office is conveniently located in the city centre. Time to send some post to our family and friends!
Day 19 - Onboardsee
One more train ride, the last from our transmongolian journey.
The most exquisite part of the actual train ride is probably the border between Mongolia and China. The train rail has different sizes, so the compositions must change their wheels. All carriages are taken apart in a huge factory-like facility, where they also change the locomotive and bar carriages. Then, the bottom parts of the carriages are taken out, and the roll in the new wheels. The interesting fact, is that all this happens whilst we sit still in our private compartments
Day 20 - Beijingsee
China - Beijing. The land where there’s no Google, no Facebook, no Twitter. Chinese people have strange habits, they love “selfying” with tourists, eating fried scorpions and smoking everywhere. Beijing is a long distance away from the chique Moscow we seen eight time zones ago.
We stay in a hotel that oozes Chinese culture, right in the heart of Beijing. We still have time to walk around the streets, and I suggest at night you try the famous Beijing Duck!
Day 21 - Great Wall of China and return from Beijingsee
Early morning, we start our long way to the Great Wall of China, where we’ll spend the entire day. It’s a long ride (around 2h), but it’s well worth it! Waving through the mountains, these millennial and overpowering fortifications were built to protect the Chinese people against the Mongol invaders.
Nowadays, this is still a challenging wall. The section I’ve chosen is extremely challenging, as the wall is still in its original state. If you’d like to take it easy, you can take a cable car that will drop you off in the middle of the wall (price is not included on our tour). However, if you like challenges, you can climb up the 2kms to the wall, where you can face the 10kms of wall cut with just under 70 watchtowers and 5 mountains passes and breathtaking views that will make you feel completely overwhelmed with joy!
By the end of the day, when we go back to Beijing, we’ll still have time to enjoy some food on the hutongs, before we get on the metro to the airport, where we’ll catch our overnight flights back home.
What is included?
- Days: 21
- 20 nights accommodation: 8x hotels, 6x train, 2x guesthouses, 2x hostel, 2x nomadic gers
- Transportation: all train tickets, overland transportation mentioned on the programme
- Meals: 11 breakfasts, 3 lunches e 2 dinners
- Activities: all activities mentioned on the programme
- Insurance during the days of the programme
- Local guide/translator in Mongolia
- Monitoring and guidance throughout the journey by Tânia Neves
- Groups: 5 - 12
What is not included?
- International airfare (+/-600€)
- Airport transfers
- Single supplement: 160€* (not available for trains nor gers)
- Non specified meals (20€/day)
- Exrta activities
- Non specified visits
- Personal expenses
- Tips and gratitudes