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Mongolia and Beyond

Departing: Beijing, China - 19 days
Countries visited: China, Mongolia, Russia

Experiences take on a different and sometimes quirky feel on this interesting journey along the famous Trans Mongolian Railway. Once you have shared a traditional Russian banya, learned about the building of a traditional Mongolian ger and seen the ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine, life back home may never be the same again...

  

 

Itinerary

This journey is one of our ‘Experience’ tours offering you an alternative to conventional touring. It includes local guides in each city but no appointed ‘Tour Leader’ and no Local Payment. The sightseeing program will also include a range of alternate activities and sights not found on other tours, and is designed to give you greater contact with local people and their daily lives while still allowing for time to visit other highlights in each city.


Days 1-2. Beijing
Beijing will prove unforgettable, all senses assailed - colour and sound, smell and taste - leaving indelible memories of continual contrast, history and tradition alongside 20th century technology. Over our three days here the 'Scheduled Sightseeing' will include visits to local markets, morning Tai-chi and an insight into the art of kite making from the experts. In our spare time we can visit some of the city's more well known highlights: the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and traditional hutong areas. 
     

Day 3. Trans Mongolian Railway
As we leave the big cities behind we reach the Mongolian border where rail enthusiasts won't want to miss the changing of the bogies.  

Days 4-8. Ulaanbaatar & the Mongolian Steppe
We arrive in the Mongolian capital ready to explore this interesting city. Take in the views from the Zaisan Memorial, built to honour Soviet soldiers killed in WWII. We visit Gandan Khiid Monastery to mingle with monks as they go about their daily prayers. 

Although 40% of Mongolia's population live in the capital, a great many Mongolians cling to their traditional nomadic ways, grazing cattle and living on the steppes. We travel out across the grasslands to understand more about their lifestyle and spend the next two nights in a traditional ger set amongst rock formations and wild rolling hills. Later we rejoin the train to head north in to Russia's vast Siberian wilderness.

Day 9. Aboard the Trans Siberian Railway

Days 10-12. Irkutsk & Lake Baikal
Our first stop in Russia is the Siberian capital Irkutsk, an important tea trading hub. On arrival in Irkutsk we transfer to Lake Baikal and relax in a lakeside guesthouse taking in the local port and picturesque Siberian village of Listvyanka, famous for its intricately decorated wooden buildings. Transferring back to Irkutsk we board the train to the modern heart of Russia - Moscow.    

Days 13-15. Trans Siberian Railway
Journey across the Ural Mountains which divide Europe and Asia, passing vast Taiga forests bound for Moscow.

Days 16-17. Moscow
After 4 nights on the train we wake in a city reborn with stores overflowing with imported  consumer goods, a far cry from the dowdy days of the Soviet era. We have time to take in the sights, and Red Square, with the coloured onion-like domes of St. Basil's, and the red brick facade of the Kremlin are top of the list. We visit a Matryoshka factory (traditional Russian nesting dolls), where you can try your hand at making them, before enjoying a tasting at a vodka museum. For a different perspective, we remember the heady days of the space race by visiting the Cosmonautics Museum housed within a soaring 100 metre high titanium obelisk to see artefacts and memorabilia before boarding our last overnight train to St. Petersburg.

Days 18-19. St.Petersburg
Get acquainted with this beautiful city of richly filled palaces and museums, wide boulevards and canals. Home to the the world famous gilded halls of the Hermitage Museum that are hung with the works of Da Vinci, Rembrandt and many other great masters, and beyond the city lie the incomparable summer palaces of the Tsars at Petrodvorets.

 

Essentials

Group Size
15 maximum.

Accommodation
Hotels - 6 nights (twin share)
Mongolian Ger - 2 nights (shared)
Siberian Guesthouse - 2 nights (twin share)
Trains - 8 nights (4 berth)

Meals
Breakfast (11), Dinner (3).

Travel by
Train: Comfortable 4 berth sleepers.
There are 4 rail sectors on this journey
- Beijing to Ulaanbaatar (1 night)
- Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk (2 nights)
- Irkutsk to Moscow (4 nights)
- Moscow to St.Petersburg (1 night)
Other: For 'Scheduled Sightseeing' we generally use a small minibus.

2 Berth Rail (Optional)
Available for a supplementary price only when two people book and travel together. Available on all rail sectors between Beijing and St.Petersburg.

Sightseeing
Scheduled Sightseeing is part of the itinerary and includes all transport, entrance fees and English speaking local guide and may change according to group demands and availability. Below is a sample of the planned activities for this journey. 

Beijing: Local markets, morning Taichi, kite making.

Ulaanbaatar:  Zaisan Memorial, National History Museum, Gandan Khiid Monastery, Terelj National Park.

Irkutsk (Siberia): City tour including Regional Museum, Museum of Wooden Architecture, Limnological Museum.

Moscow: Matryoshka factory with master class and Cosmonaut Museum.

St.Petersburg: Dinner with artist Yury Petrochenkov and his wife, Russian Museum of Ethnography, Russian Banya. 

Visas
Required for China, Mongolia & Russia. Sundowners Overland will provide all required invitation letters and full visa support including detailed visa guidelines.