Trip SummarySee full itinerary
Come along on an awe-inspiring adventure traversing three great nations - Russia, Mongolia and China. From the opulence of Moscow and St Petersburg to the grace of imperial Beijing, travel along the most famous railway in the world through the heartland of Siberia and the vast grassy steppe of Mongolia - this trip showcases rail travel at its finest.
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The country we know today as China actually derives from a long line of smaller civilisations dating back six millennia. China’s influence on modern life is nothing short of remarkable having given the world a huge array of inventions such as paper, the compass, gunpowder and even pasta. The country is steeped in traditions and ancient practices and it is all just waiting to be rediscovered by you.
China’s rapid development over the last 20 years has helped transform it into a global economic super power, but its historic roots are here to stay. You only have to visit one of the many temples, the Great Wall or the Terracotta Army to see that!
Day 1 St Petersburg
Also known as The Venice of the North, St Petersburg is one of Europe’s most compelling cities. With its baroque architecture, opulent palaces, sprawling squares and a series of crisscrossing rivers and canals, it’s easy to see why St Petersburg is considered the jewel in modern Russia’s crown. Spend the afternoon exploring before a group welcome meeting in the evening.
Day 2 St Petersburg
After a guided walk of the city, the afternoon is yours to explore. Perhaps visit the Orthodox Church on the Spilled Blood, named so after the attempt to assassinate Tsar Alexander II here in 1881, or visit Peter the Great’s ghoulish collection of curiosities at the Kunstamera. In the evening, enjoy a plate of blini or a few glasses of vodka.
Day 3 St Petersburg
Take the opportunity to stretch your legs before we board the overnight train this evening. Why not check out the enormous collection of art at the State Hermitage Museum or catch a matinee at the Mariinsky Theatre.
Day 4 Suzdal
Part of Russia’s Golden Ring, Suzdal still retains much of its Soviet-era charm. Go on a guided walk along the town’s narrow winding lanes, past monasteries, cathedrals and decorated wooden cottages, before relaxing with a glass of honey mead on the riverbanks.
Day 5 Moscow
Transfer to the vibrant city of Moscow. With a history of great revolutions and political intrigue, spend some time discovering some of the city’s many secrets. Perhaps visit Victory Hill, the site where the Russians overcame Napoleon in 1812. Completed in the mid-nineties, the park contains chapels, statues, obelisks and over 1,400 fountains, one for each day of the Great Patriotic War.
Day 6 Moscow
Visit Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, the State Historical Museum and the Kremlin with a local guide. Legend has it that Ivan the Terrible had the architects of St Basil’s Cathedral blinded so they couldn’t build anything as beautiful again. Afterwards, visit Lenin’s Mausoleum.
Day 7-10 Moscow/Trans-Siberian Railway
Settle in and enjoy the next three days aboard the famous Trans-Siberian railway.
Day 11 Lake Baikal
Head to the world's largest freshwater lake, Baikal. Stay on Baikal's tranquil banks for a firsthand experience of life in remote, provincial Russia. While here, why not get steamy in a traditional Russian sauna.
Day 12 Lake Baikal
Enjoy a free day exploring the lake and its surrounds at your own pace. Go swimming (if it’s not too cold), hike to lookout points in the surrounding hills or relax by the lake with a book. In the evening, enjoy a hearty Siberian meal at the guesthouse.
Day 13-14 Irkutsk/Trans-Mongolian Railway
Explore the historic streets of this former boomtown. Visit the former home of Maria Volkonsky, wander past the town’s original wooden houses and stop off at the Central Market to sample the huge array of local produce and pick up supplies for the next train journey.
Day 15 Ulaanbaatar
A true Intrepid destination, UB (as it’s affectionately known) is a city where you’ll find elderly Mongolians in traditional dress, business suit-clad entrepreneurs and young monks. Visit a ger district on the outskirts of town to learn more about these communities, enjoying a cup of tea with some of the residents.
Day 16 Terelj National Park - Ger Camp
Rolling green meadows, thick forest and spectacular rock formations all make up this incredible national park. Hike to a Buddhist retreat before spending the night in a ger camp. Tonight, learn how to make buuz – traditional Mongolian dumplings.
Day 17 Ulaanbaatar
Stop at the imposing Genghis Khan Monument, dedicated to the Mongolian warrior who conquered more than half of the known world in the 13th century. Enjoy some free time on returning to UB, perhaps visiting Mongolia’s largest active monastery or watching a traditional contortion performance.
Day 18 Ulaanbaatar - Beijing
Stock up on supplies before embarking on the next leg of our train journey to Beijing. Say goodbye to the relative time warp of Mongolia, get comfortable and watch the scenery change from rolling green meadows to rocky desert to the built-up modernity of the city.
Day 19 Beijing
After a quick freshen up at the hotel, get out onto the streets of Beijing and experience China’s contemporary culture. Perhaps visit Tiananmen Square or the Forbidden City, the largest palace complex in the world, or head to the Temple of Heaven Park to see tai chi demonstrations, kite-flying and traditional dance performances.
Day 20 Beijing
Our Trans-Mongolian adventure ends this morning.
To get a detailed PDF of information for this trip including full itinerary, country guides and travel advice on visas, money, insurance and the local weather, download our trip notes. By doing so you’ll also be kept updated on all the latest news, offers and stories on this particular trip. Happy reading!
Minimum age 18 years old.
Ger (1 night), Homestay (2 nights), Hotel (8 nights), Overnight sleeper train (8 nights)
11 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
Bus, Boat, Ferry, Minibus, Train, Metro, Overnight sleeper train
Maximum of 12 travellers per group
Allow USD $600 for meals not included.
This tour is operated by Intrepid Travel.
Our Real Gap Experience Tours are guided tours that are run through our (other) favourite travel companies. Typically, most of your travel will be on a bus/coach and you will stop off at a number of different destinations in your chosen country. We won’t be able to offer you a buddy list for these trips as people will book through different companies.
Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay.
You will be assigned a personal travel adviser who will co-ordinate your programme with you. Feel free to contact them at any time before you go, or when you are on your travels.
In addition, you will have access to a 24 hour emergency contact number so you can contact one of our staff at any time should you need to.