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Trans Mongolian Discovery

Departing: Beijing, China - 21 days
Countries visited: China, Mongolia & Russia

Now, here's an incredible journey. Begin by walking the Great Wall of China. Then ride the rails through northern China, far across the vast expanses of the Gobi Desert and the Siberian steppe. Still farther on, we find an historic city where Islamic and orthodox architecture stands side by side. And in the distance, we discover Russia's two grandest cities.

  

 

Itinerary

Days 1-3. Beijing
Beijing will prove unforgettable, all your 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 begin with some of the city’s greatest highlights, the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and of course 'The Wall' stretching 10,000 Li across the distant hills.


Day 4. Trans Mongolian Railway
At last to Beijing Station and aboard the first of the trains that will carry us across Asia. We're off!
Traveling northwest towards Mongolia we settle in to our comfortable compartments as we pass through mountains and watch from the window as the towns and villages and the scenes of local life of Inner Mongolia go by. In the evening we settle down to our first night aboard as we cross the Gobi Desert.


Day 5. Ulaanbaatar
Bounded by Lake Baikal to the north and the Great Wall to the south is the Mongolian Plateau and Gobi Desert. This was the homeland of the brilliant, tough, well-drilled horsemen who, for over 500 years from the 13th century, plundered and occupied lands and cities from the Yellow River to the Danube. At daybreak, classic scenes of traditional nomadic life greet us as the train winds impressively across the Mongolian steppe and into the capital. Ulaanbaatar is a contradiction - a metropolis amid endless grass steppe, concrete apartment blocks and traditional gers.


Days 6-8. Ulaanbaatar and the Mongolian Steppe
Whilst here you'll visit all the main attractions including Gandan Khiid - the country's largest Buddhist Monastery, and the Zaisan Memorial commemorating the Soviet Union's soldiers killed during World War II. The wide open spaces beckon and we answer the call by driving to Terelj National Park to spend two nights in a traditional ger - faithful in design to those still used by the country's nomadic herdsman. The air is fresh and the scenery glorious. 

We return to Ulaanbaatar to further explore and enjoy our last night in the quirky capital.


Day 9-10. Aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway to Siberia
We board our evening train bound for north Siberia. Leaving Mongolia at Sukhbaator and travelling beyond the Russian border town to Ulan Ude, then west along the southern shore of the world's deepest freshwater lake - Baikal.


Day 11. Irkutsk and transfer to Lake Baikal (Siberia)
We find Irkutsk after our train trip north. It's a charming city with a history dating from the fur and tea trading days when it began as an isolated Cossack outpost. Aristocratic exiles from the west brought a touch of elegance with their ornately decorated wooden houses, 
while Asian traders from Mongolia and China introduced a touch of the Orient. 


Day 12. Lake Baikal, Irkutsk and onto Kazan 
Nearby, the small traditional village of Listvyanka by the shores of Lake Baikal is typically rural Russia and a perfect spot to relax. We return to Irkutsk for our afternoon walking tour before making our way back to the railway station to meet our late night train to Kazan.


Days 13-14 Aboard the Trans Siberian Railway
We join the Trans Siberian Railway and travel via Novosibirsk, Omsk and Ekaterinburg booming over the steel bridges spanning Siberia's nerve system of 5,000 rivers. Through the Ural Mountains to onto our next stop, Kazan.


Days 15. Welcome to Kazan!
One of Russia's most progressive cities and the heart of the countries Islamic region, home to some fascinating mosques and cultures.


Days 16 -18 Kazan and onto Moscow
Early this evening as we make our way to the far side of the Volga, on past its suburbs and into the heart of Moscow, the train arrives the following morning, almost casually on time. Moscow will amaze you, its palaces and public buildings restored to their former glory. The echoing vastness of Red Square, the splendid twirled cupolas of St. Basil's across the cobblestones, and the Kremlin itself - that fabled palace-fort of gilded domes where we marvel at the exquisite collection of royal treasures in the stunning Armoury Chamber. Ride the palatial underground rail system, adorned with chandeliers, mosaics and baroque bas-relief and perhaps a river cruise or a magical evening at one of Moscow's great theatres or State Circus.  Our last rail journey is aboard the overnight express to St Petersburg.


Days 19 -20. St. Petersburg
It is the city on the water, the "Venice of the North", standing resplendent on the delta of the Neva River. St Isaac's Cathedral, richly filled palaces and museums, wide boulevards and canals. The gilded halls of the Hermitage Museum 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. Yet for all this, St. Petersburg remains one of Europe's best kept secrets. 


Day 21. Depart St. Petersburg
The last day has arrived too soon. The adventure is complete, the legendary rail journey that started many days ago has taken you across Asia, through lands and cultures literally worlds apart.

Note: Some of our Trans Mongolian Discovery departures offer an alternative itinerary that includes 1 night in Ulaanbaatar and 2 nights in Lake Baikal. Please contact us for additional information and specific dates. 

 

Essentials

Group Size
15 maximum, plus Tour Leader.

Accommodation
Hotels - 9 nights (twin share)
Mongolian Ger - 2 nights (shared)
Siberian Guesthouse - 1 nights (twin share)
Trains - 8 nights (4 berth)

Meals
Many breakfasts (12), a lunch (1) and dinners (2) are included.

Travel by
Train: Comfortable 4 berth sleepers.
There are 5 rail sectors on this journey
- Beijing to Ulaanbaatar (1 night)
- Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk (2 nights)
- Irkutsk to Kazan (3 nights)
-Kazan to Moscow (1 night)
- Moscow to St. Petersburg (1 night)
Other: For ‘Scheduled Sightseeing’ we generally use a small minibus, and for ‘City Exploring’ we use local taxis, public transport, underground metro and go on foot.

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

Sightseeing
Scheduled Sightseeing is part of the itinerary and includes all transport, entrance fees and English speaking local guide.

Beijing: Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall.

Ulaanbaatar: Zaisan Memorial, National History Museum, Gandan Hiid Monastery, Terelj National Park & Genghis Khan statue.

Irkutsk (Siberia): Walking tour of city, Museum of Wooden Architecture, Limnological Museum, Lake Baikal. 

Kazan: City Tour including Kazan Kremlin

Moscow: City tour, St.Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Kremlin and Armoury Chamber. 

St. Petersburg: City Tour including Hermitage Museum and Palace Square.

City Exploring is further sightseeing outside the itinerary guideline with the Group Leader. 

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