The Trans-Siberian Express
Experience a journey of a lifetime as you travel by rail across nearly 5,000 miles and pass through six time zones to experience ever-changing landscapes and the fascinating cultures between Beijing and Moscow.
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All in all this was an outstanding adventure—unique background information, excellent city guides, and also all the attention to detail and safety was greatly appreciated. Would urge anyone to take this Journey and experience the vastness of Russia.”
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It is one of the most epic journeys on Earth, crossing two continents and linking the capital cities of two of the world’s largest countries. Travel nearly 5,000 miles through six time zones along the Trans-Siberian Railroad and experience magnificent, ever-changing landscapes.
Discover the grandeur of imperial Beijing during tours of important sites, then continue north through the Gobi Desert to Ulaanbaatar. Learn about the fascinating cultures of Eurasia, stopping to experience daily life in cultural capitals and remote villages with visits to museums, schools, and private homes. Witness Mongolia’s timeless traditions as you watch herdsmen compete in athletic contests and visit an authentic nomadic ger. Take a cruise on Lake Baikal, and learn about the Slavic peoples of Irkutsk, savoring a home-hosted meal in a family’s dacha. Enjoy overnight hotel stays in Ulaanbaatar and Irkutsk, which allows additional time to explore. Travel across two continents aboard the legendary private Tsar’s Gold, featuring modern comforts and amenities as well as nostalgic, traditional décor. Your route traces the mighty Amur River through narrow valleys, passes villages along the steppes, and winds through the breathtaking Ural Mountains to conclude in Moscow with a highlights tour. Even the most experienced travelers will be spellbound by this journey!
Days 1-2 — U.S. to Beijing, China
Depart for Beijing. After crossing the International Date Line, arrive in China the following day. Regent Hotel
Day 3 — Imperial Beijing
As an introduction to Chinese history, visit the Temple of Heaven (a World Heritage site), where the hubbub of local seniors singing and dancing in the park outside the temple grounds is as exciting as the architecture inside is majestic. Then visit Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world, which symbolizes the political center of China. Continue into the Forbidden City (a World Heritage site). Standing at Noon Gate, looking at the massive, imperial buildings spread out before you, it is easy to imagine the grandeur of China’s later dynasties. This evening, enjoy a festive dinner of Imperial cuisine overlooking Beihai Lake. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Beijing
Follow an expert into the hidden alleyways of Beijing’s hutong neighborhoods to see courtyard-style homes and learn about the principles of feng shui. Explore the Yonghegong Lama Temple, the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in Beijing. Then board an overnight train to the Mongolian border. You will be on this train only for one night before transferring to your private train in Mongolia. Chinese train (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Border Crossing, Mongolia and the Gobi Desert
Arrive at Erlian and explore this rapidly growing border town before crossing into Mongolia. Board the Tsar’s Gold private train and continue the journey north through the Gobi Desert as you settle into your comfortable cabin. Tsar’s Gold (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Arrive in Mongolia’s capital city this morning. Taking an overnight bag, visit the Gandan Monastery and the Fine Arts Museum. Visit the home of a prominent musician to learn about traditional Mongolian music. Khan Palace Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Ulaanbaatar
Spend the day in the countryside. On the way out of town, stop by an orphanage dedicated to giving disadvantaged children a helping hand. Continue to Terelj National Park to watch a mini-Naadam festival featuring wrestling and archery competitions and the excitement surrounding the spectacular horse racing events. Return to the train in the evening. Tsar's Gold (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Ulan Ude, Russia
Bid farewell to the Mongolian steppes as the train rolls on through the valley of Selenga, the largest river of Mongolia. Shortly after crossing the border, the train makes a special stop just for Smithsonian Journeys travelers. Disembark and visit a village of Old Believers, a community of adherents to a pre-reformation Russian Orthodoxy. Drive by motorcoach to Ulan Ude to meet up again with the Tsar’s Gold. Here, the train joins the main route of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Lake Baikal
The entire day is dedicated to Lake Baikal (a World Heritage site). Before noon arrive at the old station of Port Baikal, located directly on the shore. Absorb the breathtaking scenery during two stops along the ancient tracks, which run parallel to the shore. Enjoy a short boat ride on the lake and some time to swim or visit a picturesque Baikal village. If the night is warm, dinner will be served as a picnic on the shores of the spectacular lake before reboarding the train. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Irkutsk
Arrive in Irkutsk, the “capital” of Siberia, this morning and check into your hotel with your hand luggage, leaving your larger luggage secured on the train. Spend the day exploring elaborately decorated 19th-century izbas (log houses) with ornately carved eaves, known in Russia as “wooden lace.” Stop by at the Volkonsky House Museum, former home of Maria Volkonskaya, wife of Count Sergei Volkonsky, a famous “Decembrist” who settled in Irkutsk after the December 1825 uprising in St. Petersburg. The exhibits and artifacts depict the life of the women who followed their husbands into exile. Enjoy a concert in the former reception room, followed by a champagne reception. Tonight, have dinner in a local dacha as guests of the owners. Marriott Courtyard Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Crossing Siberia
Reboard the train this morning and travel through the landscapes of Eastern Siberia with its mountains, crystal-clear rivers, and verdant slopes. On board, enjoy lectures about Siberia by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. A social get-together complete with caviar and vodka tasting familiarizes you with Russian hospitality. Tsar's Gold (B,L,D)
Day 12 — Novosibirsk
Arrive at Novosibirsk, Siberia’s biggest city, and enjoy a traditional Russian welcome featuring balalaika music. Visit the Trans-Siberian Monument and the mighty Ob River. After dinner, the train continues westward. (B,L,D)
Day 13 — Yekaterinburg
In the afternoon the train stops in Yekaterinburg, the capital of the Ural Mountains and the border between Asia and Europe where Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Visit the Romanov execution site, view the city’s ornately decorated wooden houses, and stop by a monument marking the border between Europe and Asia. From now on your train is on European ground. (B,L,D)
Day 14 — Kazan
After breakfast, arrive in Kazan, the old Tartar capital on the banks of the Volga River. On a guided tour of the Kazan Kremlin (a World Heritage site), learn about the bloody relations of the Tatars, Cossacks, and Russians. Visit a school for musically gifted children and listen to a special performance. Return to the train for your last dinner on board. (B,L,D)
Day 15 — Moscow
Arrive in Moscow late in the morning. After checking in to your hotel, take a guided tour of the Kremlin (a World Heritage site) and its beautiful cathedrals. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner then stop by Red Square to view the colorful St. Basil’s Cathedral illuminated against the night sky. Kempinski Baltschug Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 16 — Depart Moscow for the U.S.
Depart for the airport for return flights to the U.S. (B)