Trans Siberia Express Winter Trip: Russia, Mongolia, China, 23 days
For many, this trip is the fulfillment of a long-cherished wish: the winter by train through the vast steppes of Siberia and Mongolia and then on to Beijing. The first whistle of the Trans-Siberian Express sounds in Moscow, which looks magical under a blanket of snow. Along the way you can undertake all kinds of winter activities.
Join our international group for a rich cultural experience. Most participants will come from the Netherlands and Belgium. You will find almost all have a superb command of English. Your guide addresses the group in Dutch and English.
Join us for this enchanting experience!
- Moscow - Train to Kazan
- Kazan - train to Yekaterinburg
- Yekaterinburg - train to Irkutsk
- arrival Irkoetsk
- Irkutsk - Listvyanka (Baikal lake)
- Listvyanka, excursion Tannah Island (Baikel . Lake)
- Listvyanka - Irkutsk
- Irkutsk - train to Ulaanbaatar
- Arrival - Ulaanbaatar
- Ulaanbaatar - Terelj national park
- Terelj NP
- Terelj NP - Ulanbataar
- Ulaanbaatar - train to Beijing
- Arrival Beijing
Day by day
Day 1 Moscow
Day 2 Moscow
Day 3 Moscow - train to Kazan
You will meet the tour leader and other participants at our hotel in Moscow. Your guide will organize a welcome meeting for the group to get acquainted and to get an overview of the days to come.
Our trip begins in the winter capital of the former Soviet empire. The oldest part of Moscow is rich in historic buildings. Especially within the defense works, the Kremlin, there are many churches and palaces. We use the metro for a tour to view the beauty and splendor of the stations. In the Soviet era, Moscow had a reputation for being uninteresting due to the grey and the vastness, but in recent years this has changed . In the center of the city , much work has been done; many churches have been rebuilt or restored, open spaces in buildings have been filled and the Manege Squafre is now a walking area. There are many restaurants, trollies and kiosks where you can buy something to eat or drink.
A city walk takes you naturally to the famous Red Square, Krasnaja Ploshchad, the most famous place in Moscow. The car-free square in front of the Kremlin has changed considerably in recent years: a medieval church and an 18th-century gate have been rebuilt and the façade of the GOEM department store has been sandblasted from gray to beige. The Lenin mausoleum still remains with the preserved body of the former Soviet leader. Do not forget to view the many museums with invaluable art from former private collections. The Pushkin Museum has mainly 19th-century impressionists, Tretjakow is famous for the old icons. The elegant Nowodewitsji monastery is also worth a visit. At the cemetery we find the graves of many Russian celebrities, generals, politicians, writers and actors.
Opposite the Gorki park is a garden with statues of fallen Soviet heroes. You can shop for free time on the Arbat, a pedestrian promenade with shops, restaurants and many souvenir shops. Besides T-shirts you will find many typical Russian items like icons and wooden matrjoshka dolls. Nowadays modern versions of this are also for sale with all rulers of Russia.
Trans-Siberian Express - Kazan
Day 4 Kazan
Day 5 Kazan - train to Yekaterinburg
Day 6 Yekaterinburg
On the third day we leave for the train station in the evening. We are preparing for the first route from Moscow to Kazan. At the station it seems as if everyone is simultaneously trying to get on the train and find his or her place. The tour guide has the tickets for our group and the places are designated by the provodnik (chariot or car). You sleep in four-person sections on sofa beds with mattresses; the bedding is handed out.
At 8 o'clock in the morning the train enters the capital of the autonomous republic of Tatarstan, Kazan. Turkish and Mongolian peoples, the Tatars, lived along the Volga River and used Kazan as a refuge in the 13th century. We still experience this when visiting a city that is also called the Istanbul of Russia; East and West meet here. In the whitewashed Kremlin you will find the largest mosque in the country, in addition to the usual palaces and churches. In the appearance of the inhabitants of Kazan, Asian facial features become less prevalent. For hundreds of years, the Russians and Tatars have been living together peacefully.
At Yekaterinburg)8 o'clock in the evening of day 5 we take the train to Jekarterinburg. The place where the Romanov family spent their last days in July 1918 before being brutally murdered. With its nearly one and a half million inhabitants, this is the fourth largest city in the Russian federation. Because of its location it forms an important rail junction and is also seen as the gateway to Siberia. In the 19th century the city developed as a real industrial city with various machine factories and steel producers. Staal from Ekaterinburg found its way around the world. In the historic heart of the city you will find the Plotinka Dam, where industrial development started. It is now an impressive industrial monument. The iron foundries around this place have been converted into popular museums and are favorite plaster spots for the local population.
Trans-Siberian Express - Yekaterinburg
Day 7 Yekaterinburg - train to Irkutsk
After our visit to Ekaterinburg we take the Trans-Siberian Express again. At the stations and in the train, the Moscow time is held, but the train restoration prepares the meals at local times, so that your stomach will at least continue to follow the daily routine. The food on the train is varied in terms of supply and quality, but generally reasonable. For about € 15, - you can consume a complete meal including soup, bread, a main course and a drink. Often the restoration also has a small shop where you can store chocolate, noodles or something to drink. However, this is more expensive than what you can buy at stopovers to supplement the meals. On the platform is the local population with food products ranging from blinis (stuffed pancakes) to dried fish. Take enough small money in rubles for these purchases, because change can be a problem. At a number of stations there is a stop that lasts long enough to stretch your legs. At each stop, the wheels are checked by striking them with a rod.
When you get off, make sure that you do not stray too far from the train. The departure is not indicated by a whistle as we are used to in the Netherlands, but the train simply starts without any announcement. Also never cross another track because if freight trains pass by lengths of one kilometer you can not get to your train in time.
Day 8 Train
Day 9 Train
Day 10 arrival Irkutsk
In the course of day eight, we will make a short stay in the industrial city of Omsk. Meanwhile, the time outside the train is already three hours before Moscow time. The train then continues over the immense Barabinskaja steppe, where only snow can be seen up to the horizon. Just before Nowosibirsk, the train travels over the frozen river Ob on a 700-meter-long bridge that dates back to the early days of rail construction.
The next day the train takes you through vast snow-covered birch forests, cheered up by the white obelisk at kilometer post 3932, which indicates that you are exactly half way on the way from Moscow to Beijing. Especially the cabins of the village Minino around kilometer 4070 are picturesque in the winter landscape. Shortly after the stop in Krasnoyarsk, which was forbidden territory for foreigners due to the nuclear industry in Soviet times, the train crosses the wide Yenisei. Then follows a hilly area with many bridges.
After 5185 kilometers we arrive in winter Irkutsk, in 1651 arise as a garrison settlement and trading post. The trade in tobacco and skins made the city prosperous and many of the old houses still radiate their wealth. The churches, such as the 18th century Spaskaja, are the oldest stone buildings in Siberia. The White House was built just after 1800 in classicist style for the fur trader Sibirjakow. Later it became the home of the governor, now it houses the university library. Irkutsk has districts that still consist entirely of wooden houses. You have plenty of time to view this city before we travel to the impressive, frozen Baikal lake.
The Baikal Lake
Day 11 Irkutsk - Listvyanka (Baikal lake)
Day 12 Listvyanka, excursion to Tannah island
Day 13 Listvyanka - Irkutsk
Day 14 Irkutsk - train to Ulanbataar
Day 15 Train
Frozen Baikal lake winter RussiaAfter our stay in Irkutsk we travel to Listvyanka, a village on the Baikalmee r, the largest freshwater reservoir in the world. In the winter the lake freezes completely. During an optional excursion we can ride sledge dogs, swim in the frozen lake, ice fishing and warm up in a Banja, a Russian sauna. Close by is an open-air museum with wooden houses.
The next day we make an excursion from Listvyanka to Tannah Island. We make a spectacular trip across the frozen Baikal lake by hoovercraft. On the island we visit the recently opened visitor center that explains the special flora and fauna and ecology of Lake Baikal. Then we take a short walk (3 km) through the surrounding forest and enjoy a lunch.
After staying in Listvianka we return to Irkutsk and get back on the train the next morning, which travels via the southern shore of Lake Baikal. At Ulan-Oede, the railway curves towards the south towards Mongolia. In the course of the evening we pass the border of this country with Naushki, which has always been wedged between Russia and China. The pink painted station of the Mongolian border town of Sukhbaatar is an unimaginable mix of architectural styles.
Day 16 arrival in Ulaanbaatar
Early in the morning we arrive in Ulaanbaatar, where our local representative awaits us to take us to the hotel. When the rooms are assigned everyone can take a shower and freshen up. This is followed by an exploratory tour through the capital, which houses a third of the Mongolian population. New Japanese cars can be seen here alongside horses. From the Zaisan memorial, on a hill south of the city, you have a beautiful view of Ulaanbaatar and surroundings. On the Red Square of Mongolia, Sukhbaatar Square, you can clearly see that most buildings were built under Soviet influence.
An excursion goes to the natural history museum, where you get a good overview of the flora and fauna of Mongolia. In addition, there are two complete dinosaur skeletons that were found in the Gobi in the twenties of the 20th century.
For the rest of the day in Ulaanbaatar there are various excursion possibilities. One is a visit to the Gandantegchinlen Chiid, the largest and most important monastery in Mongolia. It escaped devastation because the government wanted to preserve it as a model of religious oppression. Next to several temples there is a new, 25 meter high statue of Buddha that replaces a copy melted down by the Russians in the 1930s. It is advisable to visit this monastery before 11 am because the temples are open and you see the monks praying.
Another possibility is the Winter Palace, which is located just outside the center, where the Buddhist leaders, Bogd Khan, lived until 1924. It is an extensive complex with temples in a walled garden. In the historical museum you get a very nice overview of Mongolian history and traditions.
Terelj National Park
Day 17 Ulaanbaatar - Terelj National Park
Day 18 Terelj NP
Day 19 Terelj NP - Ulaanbaatar
Day 20 Ulaanbaatar - train to Beijng
In the morning we leave for Terelj National Park . It depends on the weather and road conditions how long we will do over the 66 kilometers. Once arrived everyone can find their bed and warm themselves by the stove in the very well insulated ger's. The next day there is a ride by horse on the program (inclusive). Here too, a dog sled ride or a walk through the snow is possible.
In the afternoon you have the time to go into the city, buy the last souvenirs at the State Department Store or the Sky shopping center and make purchases for the last two train days. The train to Beijing leaves the next day in the morning hours. Passports and luggage are checked in the train at the border with China. At the same time, the wheel carriers are exchanged in connection with a different track width.
Day 21 arrival Beijing
Day 22 Beijing, excursion Great Wall, Summer Palace
Day 23 Beijing
The train arrives around 14.30 in Beijing, the capital of China. The center of the city is located around the Square of Heavenly Peace, where the famous Forbidden City, the mausoleum of Mao and the Great Hall of the People are located. Of the innumerable temples that formerly adorned the city, there are a few worthwhile to visit. Beijing is a huge city, and it is easiest to travel by taxi or taxi-van here. To illustrate: to get from one attraction to another, you will be on the road for half an hour!
In Beijing the day after arrival an excursion to the Great Wall and the Summer Palace (in winter) is on the program. We take the time to walk a part of the wall and view the immense palace. The next day you can visit the Forbidden City or the Temple of Heaven. In the evening you can eat the famous Peking duck. An appropriate conclusion is a visit to a performance of the Peking opera or the Kungfu show. The next morning our trip comes to an end.
Dates and prices
Conditions "Guaranteed leave"
$380 . - Single Supplment - Hotels
$294 . Estimated out of pocket, weekly expenses
$40 . Group tip pot
Beiing . Hotel Extension night
$110.00 . Double Room
$110.00 . Single Room
Deposit - 20% of total costs upon booking - Non-refundable
Balance due 60 days prior to departure date
Please refer to Terms and Conditions for cancellation penalties. Penalties increase as the closer cancellation comes to departure date. For this reason, we highly recommend you procure travelers insurance to avoid any unforseen expenses.
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Questions? Call Luke Neal 484-995-2964. (West Coast)