Experience a journey of a lifetime as you visit two continents and travel by rail across nearly 4,000 miles to experience ever-changing landscapes and the fascinating cultures between Mongolia and Moscow.

Starting at: $16,295 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The <i>Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express</i>, traveling along Lake Baikal  Mongolian nomad on the steppes  Archer at the Naadam Festival, Mongolia.  Credit: Barbara York  Naadam Festival wrestlers  National Horse Guard in ceremonial dress, Naadam Festival  Main street in Ulan Ude  Village along Lake Baikal  Traditional and modern architecture of Yekaterinburg  The Kremlin in Kazan  Sky blue domes of the Annunciation Cathedral in the Kazan Kremlin  St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow  View of Moscow's Kremlin  Traditional landscape in Mongolia with <i>ger</i> and livestock

The Trans-Siberian Express

A Private Train Trip from Mongolia to Moscow Featuring the Naadam Festival Aboard the Golden Eagle

14 days from $16,295

Experience a journey of a lifetime as you visit two continents and travel by rail across nearly 4,000 miles to experience ever-changing landscapes and the fascinating cultures between Mongolia and Moscow.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

This was a wonderful trip. I thoroughly benefited from my time with Smithsonian.  An added bonus is that so many people on the tour are knowledgeable that we learn from each other. 

- Barbara H.

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. 

- Pat R.

I really enjoyed this trip and will recommend it to my friends.  The was just ‘as advertised,’ the voyage of a lifetime by private train.  A unique experience with the most professional and personable staff.

- Ken T.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

Join us for an adventure of a lifetime! Attend Mongolia’s incomparable Naadam Festival, then board the legendary Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express for one of the most epic train journeys on Earth, traveling nearly 4,000 miles through five time zones and across two continents. You’ll learn about diverse cultures as you meet with local people and attend a variety of traditional performances.

Highlights Include

  • Ulaanbaatar: Observe Mongolian culture during the Naadam Festival, a centuries-old celebration renowned for its traditional nomadic competitions. After two days, board your train and head north to Russia.
  • Lake Baikal: Learn about the unique cultural identities of the indigenous Buryat people and a group of “Old Believers” in Ulan Ude. Admire the magnificent scenery of Lake Baikal, a World Heritage site, as your train travels along the shoreline. Learn about the people who settled in Irkutsk, the “capital” of Siberia, during a visit to the Decembrist House Museum.
  • Siberia to the Urals: See historic trains at the open-air Trans-Siberian Museum in Novosibirsk. Crossing from Asia to Europe, visit Yekaterinburg and the site where Russia’s last tsar and family were executed.
  • The Volga and Moscow: Tour the Kazan Kremlin, a World Heritage site, and learn about the cultural history of Tatars, Cossacks, and Russians. See major landmarks of the Russian capital during a panoramic tour.

This was a wonderful trip. I thoroughly benefited from my time with Smithsonian.  An added bonus is that so many people on the tour are knowledgeable that we learn from each other. 

- Barbara H.

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. 

- Pat R.

I really enjoyed this trip and will recommend it to my friends.  The was just ‘as advertised,’ the voyage of a lifetime by private train.  A unique experience with the most professional and personable staff.

- Ken T.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. / Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Fly to Ulaanbaatar and transfer to a centrally located hotel for a three-night stay. Upon arrival, meet fellow travelers at a welcome dinner. (In-Flight, D)

Day 3 — Ulaanbaatar

Today is the beginning of the incomparable Naadam Festival. A celebration of Mongolia’s land and traditions, the festival spotlights the nation’s three most popular sports, archery, horse racing and wrestling. For centuries Naadam has served as a test of the courage and strength of nomadic peoples and attracts enthusiasts from all corners of the country as well as from abroad. 

Following breakfast at the hotel, attend the celebratory opening ceremony of the Naadam Festival. In the afternoon transfer a short distance outside the city to witness the long-distance horse-racing event.

Dinner this evening features a performance of traditional Mongolian throat singing. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Ulaanbaatar

Naadam competitions continue today. Attend the archery and wrestling competitions this morning.

In the afternoon venture about an hour outside the city to enjoy the beautiful alpine scenery of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, with the opportunity for some horseback riding or light hiking. Enjoy lunch at a ger (Mongolian yurt) camp, and admire the giant 131-foot stainless-steel-clad equestrian statue of Genghis Khan.  Enter the interior of the horse on an elevator and admire the view from a platform perched on the horse’s head.

Return to Ulaanbaatar in the evening in time for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Depart Ulaanbaatar / Board train Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

Transfer to the train station and board the luxury Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express private train.  Depart Ulaanbaatar and head north to Siberia. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Ulan Ude

Today arrive in Ulan Ude, the capital of the Buryat Republic, founded in 1666 by Cossacks as a winter encampment on the Selenga and Ude Rivers. The city later prospered as a major trading post along the tea route between China and Irkutsk. The indigenous people of the region, the Buryats, resisted frequent attempts to infiltrate their culture and traditions. Today, the unique cultural identity, language and spiritual beliefs of the Buryat people make a visit to Ulan Ude a fascinating experience.

Tour the most interesting sites in and around the city, including the largest Lenin head in the world.  Make a visit to a village of Old Believers and enjoy a concert featuring local singers and musicians. Rebelling against Patriarch Nikon’s 1652 reforms of the Orthodox liturgy and ritual, the Old Believers fled or were exiled to Eastern Europe and then to Siberia. In their isolated Siberian villages, these groups have been able to preserve their 17th-century traditions, clothing, architecture, language, and style of singing. In 2001, UNESCO entered the culture and unique choral music of the Trans-Baikal Semeiskie, as they are called in Siberia, on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Lake Baikal

A spectacular part of the journey today is spent winding through tunnels and around cliffs along the shoreline of Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake. Baikal’s great age and isolation have produced one of the richest and most unusual ecosystems on Earth.  A World Heritage site, Lake Baikal holds twenty percent of the world’s unfrozen fresh water.

Stop en route for a barbecue at the lake’s edge and an opportunity to sample smoked fish prepared by the onboard chefs. For the more adventurous, there is time to take a swim in the crystal clear, but very cold, waters. 

Explore the village of Listvyanka, a small lakeside settlement on the shore of Lake Baikal, including Saint Nicholas Church with its 16th-century icon, and the Baikal Limnological Museum, which explains the origin of the lake, its characteristics as the oldest and deepest lake in the world, and its species. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Irkutsk

Morning arrival in Irkutsk. The city began as a wooden fortress founded by Cossacks in 1661.  Fortified and armed to a greater degree than other Siberian settlements, Irkutsk became a staging area for trade convoys and exploring expeditions, and by the early 18th century, settlers had already built 13 churches.

The area has been a place of exile since Genghis Khan offered it to captives as an alternative to death. Czarist and Bolshevik political exiles from the 18th through the 20th centuries ended up bringing culture and education to Irkutsk after their terms of slave labor ended. Under the Soviets, many thousands more were sentenced to gulags and ended their days in Irkutsk. Many of them worked to build the Trans-Siberian Railway, which passes through Irkutsk and has helped it remain a commercial force.

Today’s all-day tour includes the major sights and museums of this cultured little city, including examples of the classic wooden architecture for which the area is known. A highlight is a visit to the Decembrist House Museum, the former home of Sergei Volkonsky and his wife, Maria.  The Decembrists were a group of young Russian officers who had served abroad during the War of 1812 and become advocates of democratic reform. In December 1825, they tried to force the Senate to sign a manifesto abolishing serfdom and instituting reforms. Their rebellion was quickly put down, and five of the leaders hanged. The rest were sentenced to forced labor in Siberia. Many of them, with their wives, settled in Irkutsk after their terms were over, and brought with them education and culture. Enjoy a special concert of classical music and a glass of champagne in the drawing room. Return to the train in the evening to continue the journey. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Aboard the Train

Rolling through the vast Siberian taiga, spend the day relaxing, chatting, and attending lectures on board the private train. As the train passes Krasnoyarsk on the Yenisei River, balance for a moment at the geographic center of Russia. (B,L,D)  

Day 10 — Novosibirsk

Today stop in Novosibirsk, Siberia’s largest city with a population of roughly 1.6 million, and its industrial and scientific center. Novosibirsk did not exist before the Trans-Siberian Railway was built, growing up around the place chosen for the rail line’s Ob River crossing. Nikita Khrushchev relocated his best scientists 30 km from here in 1959, in a special town built expressly for scientific research, called Academgorodok, or "Academy City."

During the morning stop, explore the central part of the city, including Lenin Square, home to Russia’s largest Opera House, and wander among the nearly 100-year-old steam and diesel engines and rail cars in the open-air Trans-Siberian Museum. (B,L,D) 

Day 11 — Ekaterinburg

Cross from Asia into Europe at Ekaterinburg. The cultural and architectural influences of European and Asian civilizations come together here, in one of Russia’s largest cities. Founded in 1723 and named after Catherine I, Ekaterinburg is where the last czar, Nicholas II, and his family were placed under house arrest for months before the Bolsheviks executed them in July of 1918. Today, the Church on the Blood stands over the spot where the czar and his family were killed. The young family has been canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church, and declared martyrs, as holy passion-bearers, reverent believers who were tormented by the Soviets for their beliefs. The church was designed in the early 20th century Russian/Byzantine style that Nicholas favored. (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Kazan

The final stop before reaching Moscow is in Kazan, the beautiful capital of the Republic of Tatarstan on the Volga River. Genghis Khan and his successors conquered Russia as far as Kazan, which became the capital, or khanate, of an offshoot of the Golden Horde. When Ivan the Terrible won Kazan from the Khans in 1552, making the Volga a Russian river, he brought with him Orthodox Christianity. Today a Russian Kremlin wall surrounds the old town, and both Orthodox churches and mosques are found in the city. The UNESCO-listed Kazan Kremlin is the highlight of the city tour. It is said to be the only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia, although little of the original fortress remains from the time of the Golden Horde. Ivan the Terrible built new walls on top of the older ones, adding the Annunciation Cathedral and razing the original Qol Sharif Mosque, now gloriously rebuilt. The entire ensemble shows the synthesis of the Tatar and Russian cultures. Tonight is the last night onboard the private train. (B,L,D)

Day 13 — Arrive in Moscow

Arriving in Moscow mid-day, transfer to a restaurant for lunch followed by the afternoon tour of the city’s highlights. Founded in 1147 by Yuri Dolgoruky (literally “Yuri of the Long Arms”), Moscow rose to prominence during Mongol domination and eventually became the Russian capital. Eclipsed for 200 years by St. Petersburg, Moscow was restored as a political center after the October Revolution in 1917 and served as the capital of the Soviet Union until 1991. Modern Moscow is a booming metropolis, dignified yet dynamic, where ancient churches sit shoulder to shoulder with 21st-century financial institutions, and where the new high-rise commercial district of Moscow-City is changing the face of the city forever. Tour the classic sights of this 850-year-old capital city, including a drive by some of Moscow’s best-known places – Red Square, the Duma building where Russia’s governing body meets; the Bolshoi Theater; the forbidding Lubyanka prison where the KGB was headquartered; Moscow State University on the Sparrow Hills for a panoramic city view; the moving World War II Memorial and Victory Park on Farewell Hill; and the 16th-century Novodevichy Convent.

Before transferring to the hotel, pay a visit to the Kremlin and the Armory Museum. The Moscow Kremlin reminds modern-day Russia of its medieval past. Built on the site of Prince Yuri's hunting lodge, the Kremlin overlooks the Moskva and Neglina rivers. In the mid-14th century, the Russian princes, ruling from the Kremlin, became so powerful that Moscow was named the center of the Russian Orthodox Church. Under the guidance of Ivan the Great, Moscow extended its influence and soon became the seat of Russian political power as well. Today, the Kremlin remains the center of Moscow and Russian politics. Inside the fortress walls are palaces, cathedrals, government buildings and the Armory Museum. Built in the 16th century as a warehouse for the Kremlin's weaponry, the Armory was transformed into an exhibition hall and museum in 1814. It now houses Russia's national treasures, such as religious icons, Faberge eggs, a bejeweled chalice belonging to Prince Yuri, and Catherine the Great's ball gowns and shoes. Dinner at a local restaurant precedes a night tour of UNESCO-listed Red Square with its imaginatively decorated St. Basil’s Cathedral. (B,L,D)

Day 14 — Depart Moscow

The tour concludes this morning with transfers to the airport for international departures. Those who wish are invited to join the optional post-tour extension to St. Petersburg. (B, In-Flight)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)