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Trans Mongolian Express

Departing: St Petersburg, Russia - 21 days
Countries visited: Russia, Mongolia, China

This is an amazing adventure for aspiring travellers seeking a great experience in a short time. Take in the highlights: Russia's greatest cities, remote Siberia, Mongolia and the Gobi Desert; and Beijing. Travel the rails with the Trans Siberian and Trans Mongolian railways.

  

 

Itinerary

Days 1-3: St.Petersburg 
Our adventure begins in St. Petersburg where you'll be amazed how well the city fathers have preserved the 18th century architecture. It's a city of canals, standing resplendent on the Never River. We'll include a city tour and a visit to the Hermitage - one of the world's greatest art galleries, along with some free time; before we take an overnight train to Moscow. 

Days 4-6: Moscow 
These days the national capital is fairly buzzing with activity, but Red Square is much more sedate, with the colourful onion-shaped domes of St. Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin watching over it. We'll ride the city's Metro together and see its chandeliers and artworks. Perhaps you'll use this vast underground rail network to see other parts of the city in your free time. Just after midnight on Day 6 we board the train bound for Siberia.

Days 7-9: Trans Siberian Railway 
We join the Trans Siberian Railway booming over the steel bridges spanning Siberia's nerve system of 5,000 rivers. We pass over the Ural Mountains which divide Europe and Asia, and we cross the Irtysh and Ob rivers en route to Irkutsk and Lake Baikal deep in Siberia. 

Days 10-12: Irkutsk and Lake Baikal 
In Irkutsk, you'll enjoy our walking tour of this interesting city with a history dating from the old fur and tea trading days, and ornate houses which once belonged to exiled aristocracy from Russia's west. A two-night interlude at nearby Listvyanka on the shores of Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake, is a great way to relax and take in the museums prior to joining the Trans Mongolian south for Ulaanbaatar.

Day 13: Trans Mongolian Railway 
We settle into life on board, enjoying the company of our fellow passengers and a picnic in our cabin. The train arrives at Naushki, the Russian border town where formalities are completed and then continue across no-man's land to Sukhbaatar where Mongolian officials board the train for visa formalities before we continue on to Ulaanbaatar.

Days 14-16: A taste of Mongolia 
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. 

The capital displays ancient Buddhist origins, echoes of its days as a Soviet satellite nation, and modern development with shiny new apartment blocks where the more affluent citizens live. Recent arrivals from the countryside opt for cheaper and traditional gers which abound in some areas. We'll spend time exploring the city, including visits to Zaisan Memorial where Soviet solders are honoured, and Gandan Khiid Monastery to see its monks and the massive 25 metre statue of Megid Janraisig - the lord who sees in every direction. 

We'll travel out over the grasslands to Terelj National Park to spend a night in a traditional ger and get a taste of the life of Mongolia's nomads before returning to the capital for one more night.

Day 17: Trans Mongolian Railway 
A morning departure aboard the Beijing Express. We travel over the steppe-lands of northern Mongolia and to the south, the Gobi desert which until the middle of this century was the rough track across this desolate country.  This afternoon we arrive at the Mongolian border town of Dzamyn Ude. After formalities are completed we continue on to the Chinese border town of Erlian for immigration and customs formalities. Here the train's bogies are changed from a wider gauge used by Russia and Mongolia to a narrow Chinese gauge.

Days 18-21:Beijing 
You'll enjoy your three days in the Chinese capital where our included sightseeing features Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven and more, before venturing out into the countryside to walk on the Great Wall, which stretches its way for around 5,000 kilometres across the distant hills - a perfect way to end your journey! 

 

Essentials

Group Size
15 maximum, plus Tour Leader.

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

Meals
Many breakfasts (13), a lunch (1) and a dinner (1) are included.

Travel by
Train: Comfortable 4 berth sleepers. There are 4 rail sectors on this journey
- St.Petersburg to Moscow (1 night)
- Moscow to Irkutsk (4 nights)
- Irkutsk to Ulaanbaatar (2 nights)
- Ulaanbaatar to Beijing (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.

St.Petersburg: City tour, Palace Square, Hermitage Museum.

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

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

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

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

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

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